Global Sports and Global Politics

Sports define our lives and provide us with ways to exercise, compete and entertain other people. They also reduce our stress levels and increase the quality of our lives.

Sporting events and competitions play an important role in national identity politics, as well as international relations. They are a vehicle for the creation and dissemination of traditions, flags, and anthems.

Throughout the 19th century and into the 20th, sporting contests served as a form of “patriot games” in which particular views of national identity were constructed. This role has often been criticized as inherently conservative and sometimes chauvinistic, but it is also important for the promotion of liberal nationalist political struggles.

The development of global sports can either strengthen or undermine hegemonic social relations. Especially in the developing world, sport can serve as a platform for the development of national and regional identities, and as an instrument for cosmopolitan integration.

However, global flows of people, technology, finance, images, and ideologies are transforming the shape and meaning of this development. They are bringing to the forefront a diversity of body cultures and identities that are increasingly in opposition to hegemonic masculine notions of the content, meaning, control, organization, and ideology of sports.

The core countries in the West (primarily Europe and North America) are still dominant in terms of the resources that they possess for sports development, including training facilities, coaching personnel, and financial support. Noncore countries, however, often have to rely on the generosity of Western nations for aid and technical assistance. They also suffer the so-called “brawn drain” from athletes from their core nations, who may choose to move to Western countries for better training facilities, greater financial rewards, and stiffer competition.