Sociology of Sport

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To what extent is sport increasingly becoming an ideological tool to promote national militarism?

To start with, this essay cites Stan Goff(2008), a former Army Special Forces soldier, who asserted: “The military is a violent macho culture and so as are many sports. Warfare did much to shape the gender roles that now dominate our culture, even those aspects of the male script that are no longer recognizable as martial”. Indeed, the relationship between governments and sport has often been an integral part of the politics pursued by a certain contry. The power of sport articulated in rallying people round big events, has served as an intermediary between the society and the state. According to Allison(1993) the essence of government involvement in sports vary from one community and society to the next, and government intervenes for one of the following reasons:Firstly, to safeguard the public order;Secondly, to maintain fitness and physical abilities among citizens;Thirdly, to promote prestige and power of group, community, or nation;Fourthly, to promote a sense of identity, belonging, and unity among citizens;Fifthly, to reproduce values consistent with the dominant ideology in a community or society;Sixthly, to increase support for political leaders and government;Lastly, to promote economic development in the community or society. In modern days, the emerging power of terrorism and its organization has resulted in enhancement of activities incorporated into promoting militarism especially in powerful and wealthy nations as U.S. and Great Britain. What is more, with the help of media, “sport along with other popular cultural practices is being co-opted into a wider strategy that positions the military, government, media and citizens in a joint ceremony of supportive affirmation of militarism”(Kelly, 2010). In particular, displays of nationalism in sport have been consolidated by usually government-controlled media, which influence the audience via spectacular productions of national cultural symbols, and hero-ficates so called “War on Terror” process.(Butterworth, 2008;Kelly, 2010). This essay suggests that the increasing propensity to promote militarism as part of important sports activities is rooted in the increasing commercialization and significance of sport for the citizens. In fact, the usage of sport as a tool to break a trail for militarism politics approval from the society is not an innovative approach at all. History shows a lot of examples that illustrate how authorities gain control on sport and use it as a source for disseminating a certain ideology. For example, “In Franco’s Spain, particularly during the early years, football, just like other public institutions, was characterized by a high level of intervention by the authorities in its administration, organization, ownership and control, so the political regime of the country was reflected in the structures of the sport”(Duke;Crolley, 1996). Furthermore, Duke and Crolley(1996) reveals that administration of the football clubs at that time was in the hands of the military with presidents appointed by the regime. In the core of Franco’s actions towards sport, laid the promotion of a feeling of Spanish national identity and propagandizing Spanish nationalism. Another example for utilization of sport for political and militaristic purposes in Spain in the last century is the Basque team that went on a tour in Eastern Europe and South America under the pretext that they were raising money and prestige(Duke;Crolley, 1996). Indeed, the real reason for these trips were the desire for spreading the political discourse of the Basque Country and gaining supporters, friends and sympathizers. To continue with the examples of sport being used as an instrument for militarism ideas in the past, the impact that communism had on sport in Eastern Europe took place in creating teams property of the military. An example for that are the clubs established in the...
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