Sports and National Identity Politics


Sport is a popular activity. During the 19th century, it was used as a form of “patriot games.” It served as a source of national identity, a source of pleasure and a means of maintaining national power. In the modern era, sports are more than mere pastimes. They have become an emblem of distinction and power. The following are some of the ways in which sports can be a source of national identity politics.

In competitive events, participants are graded according to “result” or “weight.” These subjective measures are used to determine a winner, but may be corrected through penalties and handicaps. Objective measures are time taken to complete a course, or a score assigned to a particular performance. Judging occurs in boxing, gymnastics, and mixed martial arts, and involves subjective and objective measures of performance. Sports, such as golf or tennis, require participants to practice the rules and etiquette of competition before being allowed to compete.

While the earliest records of sports date from the late 17th century, modern sports have their roots in the middle ages. The concept of a sports record began to emerge during the Restoration era, when Puritans drove traditional pastimes underground. As a result, organized games began to take their place. The Marylebone Cricket Club (founded in 1787) led the development of organized games, including cricket. The club also embraced rational competition.