Social Sciences

Start Free Trial

How do sports impact international harmony and understanding?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Despite the many negative comments in the previous posts, I think you only have to look as far as the Olympic Games to recognize that international harmony can exist between most nations. The recent Games were a great example of how thousands of athletes from hundreds of nations can come together...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Despite the many negative comments in the previous posts, I think you only have to look as far as the Olympic Games to recognize that international harmony can exist between most nations. The recent Games were a great example of how thousands of athletes from hundreds of nations can come together in the spirit of athletic camaraderie. These athletes develop life-long friendships while proudly representing their widely diverse nations. Other positive examples include the recent Notre Dame football game in Ireland and the regular NFL and Major League baseball games played in Europe and the Far East. These games bring new fans to the sport and a better understanding of baseball and football in areas where other sports (specifically soccer) rule.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Sports can cause problems between countries, and sometimes rivalries and violence. However, sports also give countries something to have in common. In the Olympics, we celebrate our similarities as well as our differences. It gives everyone a whole new perspective.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Yes and no--but a little bit more no than yes.  The biggest international sports event, the Olympics, have often revealed high tension between countries.

In 1936, many American and international leaders tried to organize a boycott of that year's Olympics, to be held in Nazi-ruled Germany.  One of the important policies of the Olympics is that the teams can't discriminate on the basis of race or religion--a rule that Nazi Germany was obviously breaking. Unfortunately for boycott supporters, Avery Brundage, the president of the International Olympic Committee, was fairly anti-Semitic himself, and faught hard against a boycott. (you can read more about that on the US Holocaust Memorial Museum website http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007087).

 

In 1976, most of Africa boycotted the Olympics to protest New Zealand's having broken the unspoken agreement among a lot of teams to avoid playing with South Africa while South Africa continued to oppress its black citizens under apartheid (that's about 15 years before Invictus, if you've seen that movie!)

1980 (Moscow) and 1984 (L.A.), the US and the USSR, respectively, boycotted each other's Olympics.

This year, there were some problems with the Lebanese judo team refusing to train alongside the Israeli team. They made the olympic event coordinators put up a division through half the space so that they could train separately. You can read more about that in a Telegraph (UK newspaper) article here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/judo/9433680/London-2012-Olympics-Lebanon-judo-team-refuse-to-train-alongside-Israel.html

On the other hand, North and South Korea have been at war for sixty years, and they regularly compete against each other without incident.  And the fundamentals of the Olympics are peaceful and noble--in ancient Greece, warring city-states were required to adhere to a ceasefire (a temporary peace, called ekecheiria) for the duration of the Games, so that athletes could travel and compete safely. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

If sports always contributed to international understanding and peace, we would not have as much conflict as we do.  For example, India and Pakistan often play cricket against one another.  This has not led to peace and understanding.  During the Cold War, the Olympics were held every four years.  They contributed to peace and understanding so well that they were boycotted in 1980 and 1984 (by the US and its allies and then the Soviet bloc) due to Cold War tensions.  At that time, sports were really being used as another arena in which to compete for global dominance.  Victories (see US Hockey team, 1980 Olympics) were seen as expressions of national worth.  This does not show much in the way of evidence that sports leads to harmony and understanding.

http://www.enotes.com/1980-sports-american-decades/olympics-1980

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Sports do not always contribute to international harmony and understanding. In fact, I would say that rarely do sports contribute to these concepts. Consider some international sports--soccer, skiing, gymnastics, skating, and etc. The competitive nature of sports would seem to be an obstacle to harmony and understanding. When you factor in language barriers, it would seem that the blockage becomes even bigger. That does not mean that individual competitors cannot be good will ambassadors for their sports. In fact, many individual competitors do go on to promote these fine ideas. The sport, however, does not.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team