Sports & Politics

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It is not an issue of whether sport and politics mix, but how they mix. Discuss this statement with reference to one example from List A and one example from List B.

This essay is going to discuss the presence of both the ideologies of fascism and racism in sport, and their impact on the idea of sport and politics mixing. This will be done using various other works and critiques on these subjects.

Primarily the essay will identify the relationship between sport and politics with a reflection on the notion that sport is political by nature.

It will then look at the up rise of fascism in the early twentieth century in Italy under Mussolini’s jurisdiction, and consequently the effect it had on sport and politics, with relation to the states, societies and sports using historical examples. Thirdly it will discuss one of the key issues of politics in sport- racism; and the impact that the power of politics has in the matter.

Finally this work will summarise the themes chosen and conclude the relationship between politics and sport based on the arguments supported on fascism and racism ideologies.

The relationship between sport and politics has always been fiercely debated, some believing that they do mix, others claiming that they don’t, whilst the rest just assume that politics is inherent within sport despite the care free attitude towards sports- where people see it as one of the greatest forms of escapism. “Sport is a social process for the continuous repression of childhood drives.” (Brohm, 1971). Sport is a vast phenomenon, with it’s popularity ever increasing universally which is why it is a great catalyst for politics in society. Like many other institutions, Sport is conciliated through the means of the State’s apparatus and thus it takes on a political form. “Sport is also an instrument of the bourgeois hegemony, in the Gramscian sense of the word, that is to say it is one of those secondary arms of the state which enable ‘one social group to exercise its hegemony over national society as a whole . . . through organisations such as the church, the trade-unions, political parties, the schools etc’.” (Brohm, 1974). Certainly in many political regimes internationally, Sport is used as a method of regimentation, for example Eastern European countries’ men are led into specific Sports systematically with relation to their man power in the labour force in industry.

Politicians are regularly the stem for organising sporting events, with examples being bidding for hosting the Olympic Games, and consequently Sport becomes a site of power and conflict politically. In the past century there have been numerous examples of global sporting events being used as political statements, such as the cold war and the Olympics and Sport with the Apartheid. “... governements view sport almost exclusively in instrumental terms, as a convenient and malleable means towards some other policy objective” (Houlihan, 1977). Essentially Houlihan suggests that governments use Sport as a tool to meet political ends. Others believe that sports should be kept completely separate from politics, or vice versa. This notion is mainly justified by the suggesting that politics in sport could completely tarnish the innocence and freedom that originally once was. As the two professions of being for example a professional Football player and a Member of the British Parliament couldn’t be further apart the thought of them being separate is a sensible one. “For the sake of our athletes in Beijing, let’s not mix politics with sport”. (Cram, 2008)

“Fascism is a form of political behaviour marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons and democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without...
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