Sports through discrimination and social division

Sport brings together millions of people, without contemplating their sex, colour, gender, age, nationality or religion. Nowadays sport is considered as an expression of people, an important mean to defeat each form of racism and gender discrimination and has thus the potential to play an important role in creating an inclusive and sustainable society.

Sports outreaches political matters, wars, and differences at least should do. Sport can be the bearer of strong messages related to every topic, it can create idols and myths that in some historical cases performed a role of prophets in their own home. Sports activities work especially as social means, that vary from the local to the national and international level, it could be categorized in leisure as well as competitive sports, can support the integration of migrants, and more generally inclusion and participation in society of persons belonging to minorities.

In other words, engaging and participating in sports events can be an ideal platform to foster inclusion, through a mutual acceptance of diversity and respect while combating racism, discrimination, and exclusion. Whatever sport is, it is perceived as an area free from any discrimination, where each human being can undress his bad labels while spending time with people from different social backgrounds in a healthy way.

However, the first form of discrimination takes place when the discipline becomes competitive since you would be forced to be relegated to a level that suits you, thus it is clearly a paradox. If we reflect on the message preached by Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic games, we will find out how he originally adopted a humanistic sporting tradition. Coubertin’s values consisted of creating a fair field  where many athletes from various background challenged each other’s with the same rules and same desire of taking part in a cohesive sport community, Furthermore, discrimination, hate, and political matters were neglected and left out in the dressing room and all participants appeared in a neutral capacity[1]. Actually, this should be the true spirit even if it remains utopic.  

Back to present reality, these hypothetic theories are partially respected because of every day many athletes still suffer the plague of discriminations committed by groups of supporters, highlighting the paradox of sport. During last year’s Many initiatives have been taken, especially from the European Commission, like the “white paper on sport” which purposes were about the development of activities through a social and economic focus, with the aim of fighting any form of discrimination and achieving a social inclusion through sports activities. This paper is an important first step even if it has not reached its goals because equality in sport is far from being achieved. There are still many barriers to demolish in this world made of effort and sweat but if we don’t sensitize citizens’ consciences as well as the way of competing, all efforts will be frivolous.

Furthermore, sport shouldn’t be a massive show full of incorrect indoctrination where just a few people are entitled to take profit. In addition to that, that sport always mirrors more countries problems such as political divisions or ethical conflicts. The bond between politics and sport is too close that we cannot recognize two different spheres of power; inevitably the political one controls the sports one. Sport is driven by political dirty games that attempt to affect its development by allocating a huge amount of money. National discriminations are perceived in the sport’s core, let us think about how sports celebrations allow each community to glorify itself through a strengthening of identity shared by participants and spectators. Single athletes compete for their honour but at the same time, they represent their flag ensuring that after several years’ people will remember the nationality. The stadium is the symbol of social and race division; best places are guaranteed for riches people whereas poor and discriminated people are seated far away.

In conclusion, this phenomenon is essential to play a key role in the modern society because it has a fundamental function in social integration, moreover, it fosters the integration of minorities, respect for others, loyalty, integrity and other values that sometimes lacks in modern society. Considering South Africa, the sport has contributed to overtake barriers imposed for decades by apartheid, giving a huge contribution to the achievement of the integration project desired by Nelson Mandela that nowadays is still carrying on. Alternatively, in Cuba, it is conceived as a cornerstone of society in order to establish a country safe and just for a peaceful coexistence, free from any prejudice. By Carlo Arrigoni  

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