Sport, Racism, and Ethnicity

Sport, Racism, and Ethnicity

Sport, Racism, and Ethnicity

Sport, Racism, and Ethnicity

Synopsis

Considers racism experienced by athletes in South Africa, the Caribbean, Canada and the USA as well as in Britain. The contributors examine topics such as how cricket in the Caribbean has stimulated national and racial self-consciousness and to what extent women are accommodated in sport in Canada.

Excerpt

Over the past decade or more there has been a notable growth of interest in the study of sport, racism and ethnicity. Numerous developments have undoubtedly contributed to stimulate this interest, but three sets of considerations appear to have been of decisive importance. First, black sportsmen and sportswomen within various countries have experienced remarkable ‘successes’ in international sport. In May 1990 a British television documentary indicated that at least 50 per cent of Britain’s athletic squad and 50 per cent of current British boxing champions were black. Second, such a disproportionately high level of athletic participation by various ethnic minority cultures has often been used by liberal-minded sports enthusiasts and certain academics to argue that sport itself is relatively free from racism and that sport, more than any other sphere of society, enjoys a certain degree of democratization and equality. As such, it has been, and continues to be, necessary to challenge certain cherished sporting beliefs that sport itself is inherently free and voluntary. Finally, the development of the non-racial sports movement in South Africa, the Olympic Project for Human Rights, which led to the ‘Black Power’ demonstration at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games, and other self-consciously political protests such as the national-popular protests which have characterized English cricket tours to the West Indies, are but three examples of the way in which sport itself has been central to struggles of popular resistance against dominant groups. Modern developments, not least of which is the work of the late C.L.R. James, provide numerous examples which might be used to refute Ralph Miliband’s statement of the early 1960s that sport itself is not conducive to any form of consciousness (James, 1963).

What is common to all of these considerations is that they dramatize sport as an arena through which various groups actively re-work

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