Nationalism and sport
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Nationalism and sport are often intertwined, as sports provide a venue for symbolic competition between nations; sports competition often reflects national conflict, and in fact has often been a tool of diplomacy. The involvement of political goals in sport is seen by some as contrary to the fundamental ethos of sport being carried on for its own sake, for the enjoyment of its participants, but this involvement has been true throughout the history of sport.
The Olympic Games are the premier stage for nationalist competition, and its history reflects the history of political conflict since its inception at the end of the 19th century. The 1936 Summer Olympics held in Berlin was an illustration, maybe best acknowledged in hindsight, where an ideology was developing which used the event to strengthen its spread through propaganda. The boycott by the United States and politically aligned nations of the 1980 Summer Olympics and the Soviet Union of the 1984 Summer Olympics were part of the Cold War conflict.
When apartheid was the official policy in South Africa, many sportspeople adopted the conscientious approach that they should not appear in competitive sports there. Some feel this was an effective contribution to the eventual demolition of the policy of apartheid, others feel that it may have prolonged and reinforced its worst effects. Many African nations boycotted the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, as a result of then New Zealand Prime Minister Robert Muldoon allowing the All Blacks to tour South Africa. The issue would later come to a head during the 1981 Springbok Tour.
In the history of Ireland, Gaelic sports were clearly carried on with nationalist overtones: for example, for most of the last century a person could have been banned from playing Gaelic football, hurling, or other sport, if the person was seen to have played soccer, cricket, rugby or any other game which was seen to be of British origin.
The nationalistic Italian fascists also created Volata as their own home-grown alternative to soccer and rugby. It was intended to be a replacement for the popular British games that would be of a more local character, tracing its heritage back to the earlier Italian games of Harpastum and Calcio Fiorentino. However, unlike its Gaelic equivilants, Volata was short-lived and is no longer played.
The policy of Spanish football team Athletic Bilbao of only picking Basque players is strongly linked to Basque nationalism.
- National sport
- Amin, Nasser. Football And Flags. CounterCurrents. September 22, 2006.