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The Relationship Between Sport And Identity

1415 words - 6 pages

Sport and identity together have a unique relationship in which any regional or national place can use sport as a means to create a sense of identity. The relationship is complex and varied. Identity can be explained as understanding what or who a person or a thing is. Sport is capable of creating a feeling of nationhood and this is an important factor. It is important too for a nation to create a sense of identity but it is especially important for a regional area. For a small country to host a major sporting event is a significant achievement especially with having rivalry with bigger neighbouring countries. Nationalism can be expressed in a less aggressive manner through sport because ...view middle of the document...

No identity was seen through all this tensions. Sport was an important factor in South Africa gaining national identity. It was not just a game of rugby; it was a key factor in distinguishing culture, religion, ideology and most importantly identity in South Africa. Sport was a central figure in African society that was to aid the construction and strengthening process of regaining the Afrikaner identity.

Before the Afrikaner identity was established through a reconciliation process, discrimination was an obvious problem in the sporting world. Blacks were denied access to sports and entertainment amenities. In 1890, The International Rugby Board did not allow sporting occasions to occur between the races as the whites were afraid of losing to an inferior race, the blacks. Rugby was popular in the Eastern and Western Cape. The notion of apartheid started from the top as non-whites were not allowed to be a part of political affairs in South Africa. This was the case from 1948 until 1994. Segregation was to be seen in all public areas when the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act was introduced in 1953.

Sport is a powerful source in promoting the identity of a nation and South Africa is an example of this. Sport became their symbol of identity. “One Team, One Country”, this was the slogan the South African rugby team used during the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Everyone remembers the scenes of the South African team winning the World Cup but what is even more scripted into everyone’s mind is the image of President at the time Nelson Mandela standing on the podium with the team wearing the green Springbok rugby shirt. The rugby success was the symbol of the nation and Nelson Mandela used his domestic power to promote South Africa through the means of sport to the rest of the world through the international media coverage of the World Cup. At this time of the World Cup, South Africa was a world stage, international recognition was at stake. Media is a factor in creating identity, especially national identity. Gaining positive media coverage enhances the image and reputation of a nation. The whole world could see how South Africa succeeded in hosting an international event. Media is a powerful attribute that can create recognition for one’s country. Positive media coverage is an element that any national country would want about their nation. South Africa, through its triumphant rugby team and portrayed respected players in the media created a sense of identity for the country in which it greatly benefited from.

The relationship between sport and a region is very strong. Regional identity can be explained under the observation that part of an individual’s identity is fixed into the region they live in and not only the national area. A sense of belonging is established in a regional area just as in a national area but on a smaller scale. Through sport the people feel a connection to the region. Identity is associated with regional areas as rivalries...

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