According to Gibbon, the Roman Empire was falling for over 400 years, and the eastern part ruled by Constantinople for over almost a thousand years after that. Western Europe endured centuries of warfare and chaos from the Middle Ages through _ well, to be honest _ now.
In all those times of decline, apparently sports were always important. Constantinople was consumed with horse racing at the Hippodrome until the very end, Rome had its bread and circuses. The Middle Ages had jousting. And minor games like dice and hand fights have been popular everywhen and everywhere.
The thing is that sports are an extension of philosophy, basic components of the universe made manifest. Rules and how to break them, referees and bribery, training, fair play, cheating and the role of luck. All these are demonstrated in sports in a less destructive way than they are in warfare or life itself. And outcomes are nicely temporary.
For some fanatics, in all ages, sports may become a consuming religion. For others it provides a gateway into tribal initiation. Spectators can be as obsessed as participants.
Philosophy, in fact, can learn a lot from sports. The role of reality intervening in goals often has only passing acquaintance with pure logic and reason. Something to remember.