ヒュ− G. L. タイラー
SPORTS,CULTURE & IDENTITY
AbstractIn the space of just one generation top professional sportsmen have attained a position in the world of entertainment where they can command tremendously high fees for their work, plus public appearances and endorsements. This sudden surge in the remuneration given to stars in the world of sport is a result of the mass media directing more investment into sport and away from other forms of entertainment like studio drama productions.This paper will assess the status of sport in society from an historical perspective. It will then go on to consider how some ethnic groups identify with sporting activities. Finally, it will briefly investigate the affect popular sports have had on traditional, ethnic games.
Key words：identity, culture, sport
“Sport is only preparation for work and
a reflection of the needs if a creative
is to survive and progress.ﾓ1)
An Historical Overview :“War is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means.”4) (Commonly rendered ‘War is the continuation of politics by other means). Karl von Clausewitzﾕs much quoted reference to war contains the central argument for governments to levy taxes and wage war. If we look back to the earliest civilizations we can see how the governments or ruling bodies at that time jealously guarded their power base. The rulers would therefore have a body of fighting men to protect the town, the land and the farmers. This‘armyﾕ also protected the status quo. They in turn allowed only the men - at - arms to practise swordsmanship, spear throwing or other forms of weaponry and, in so doing, created a class ridden society. The farming community was forbidden to bear arms although they were probably allowed other non-militaristic physical pursuits such as dancing, juggling or even wrestling.5)
The link between physical exercise,‘sportﾕ and military training was paramount right up until modern times. The reason for this was not only to afford protection to the rest of the population but also to demonstrate to the population the power of the rulerﾕs fighting men in order to deter any possible insurrections. In the case of the Roman Empire huge, elaborate hippodromes were constructed to house bloody spectacles as specially trained gladiators took on fierce animals or warriors from far off countries. In Europe during the middle ages tournaments were held in which all the latest elements of modern warfare, as it was then, were demonstrated by professional soldiers in the employ of powerful barons or princes.
The events were full of colour, pageantry, display, dancing, music as well as shows of strength. In themselves such events were major entertainment events.
The first systemized sporting competition we know about is the Olympic Games. There is a record of an Olympics in 776 B.C. although it is possible that there were others before this date. In contrast to Clausewitzﾕs words, the Olympics might be described as, “War by other means.”6) It is even conceivable that they could be looked upon as peace by other means, given that during their duration hostilities between city states were supposed to cease. In fact, warring states observed a truce and guaranteed all competitors safe passage during the period of the Olympics. Prior to the games themselves, delegations from the competing city states, or poleis, presented offerings and sacrifices at the temples dedicated to the various Gods who constituted the religious framework upon which Greek morality was constructed. The religious, ritual, and prestigious significance of the Games was so great that the stadium, which stood next to the temples, had to be moved on a number of occasions to allow for extensions to be made on the temples to accommodate the growing number of offerings.
The ancient Olympics were clearly more than just a ‘sportingﾕ festival. Apart from the offerings to the Gods, there was music, performances and large groups of spectators, some of whom traveled long distances to attend. It is not clear whether or not athletes received prizes but they were rewarded when they returned to their home states and were feted as heroes. There was obviously a great deal of prestige at stake as the ‘poleisﾕ would go to a lot of trouble to secure the services of fine athletes and trainers. Athletes from southern Italy were eagerly sort after even by states far distant from that region.7) After the second Persian invasion, around 480 B.C. Olympic athletes were given some kind of reward for victory at the Olympics. So, even at this juncture in history, athleticism and its participants begin to show some of the trappings associated with present day sport. The Olympics, although the most important‘sportingﾕ festival in Ancient Greece, was not the only one. The quadrennial Pythian Games, held at Delphi, honoured the God Apollo, whilst the Ismithian Games glorified Poseidon. The regularity and rationale for the games indicates that they fulfilled a purpose which was regarded as integral to the needs of the city states of ancient Greece. However, with the ascendancy of Christianity, references to the games cease around 500 A.D.
ENGLAND: Land of Sport“Yet more profound and yet more difficult to dramatize or specify in modern sport are some conceptual bases, latent within sport itself. These are conceptions about the correctness of submitting individual wills to a common purpose and the profits to be gained from long range planning - in other words, teamwork and training.”8)
England is often credited with being the birthplace of modern sports. Why should this country have played such a seminal role in evolving a host of localized recreations into a few clearly defined sports? Furthermore, why was this defining process concentrated into approximately one century starting around the middle of the eighteenth century? This same period saw England pioneering the industrial revolution. People were pulled off the land and enclosed in factories alongside machines to mass produce textiles and smelt iron in order to clothe its people and create a stronger infrastructure to solidify the growing might of the nation. The tremendous wealth which was created by all this industry also created a new leisured class which wanted to find pleasant distractions from their entrepreneurial endeavours.
There may have been some ethnic proclivities amongst the English to challenge ones physical capabilities. Certainly‘the wager,ﾕ betting on the outcome of a contest, seems to have been a distinctively English practice. But the concept of gambling itself marks a departure from‘classical sportsﾕ where the outcome could be decided by the whim of a God. Now the age of science was here and man, especially Englishmen , wanted to display his knowledge of the event and contestants by backing his judgment with money. But surely, was this not the speculative venture of an entrepreneur?
Apart from the influence of the English entrepreneurs the older aristocracy, who stressed the importance of gentlemanly conduct, were another social catalyst to the development of organized sport. The English nobility, being smaller and more settled than their European counterparts, had the luxury to think about a form of personal bearing which would separate and distinguish the noble from others of lesser rank. Part of this distinction should be the concept of fair play. Consequently, when the sons of aristocracy and merchants sat down together to formulate rules, or, a code of practise for a particular sport, the idea that the contest should be equal to all contestants would have been paramount. This ethic is still ingrained in the minds of Englishmen today when they play sport . If a person is seen to benefit from an infringement of the rules, then in the eyes of an Englishman this detracts from, or, even nullifies the result. This point was vividly illustrated in the World Cup soccer match between England and Argentina. England played for much of the match with only ten men . However, they were applauded by supporters and the press alike for their courage and effort despite the fact that they were narrowly beaten, in the end, after a penalty shoot-out. In contrast, six months after the game the Argentinean captain boasted to a magazine about how he over reacted to a touch by an England player which resulted in that player being sent off.
The power of Britain in the nineteenth century probably owes a lot to the pragmatism of the English aristocracy. Britainﾕs wealth no doubt owed a lot to the industriousness of its merchants and entrepreneurs. The children of these families were accepted into public schools, provided, of course, they had the money to pay for it. This was in contrast to the European aristocracy, which sent their children to exclusive schools where they would only mix with members of their same social class. Throughout history the upper, or ruling classes have promoted‘sportsﾕ activities and have then guarded their own right to participate in them with people of their own rank or choosing. Ironically, the establishment of a standardized set of rules democratized participation in organized sport and so, ostensibly, removed the notion that certain recreational activities were the exclusive preserve of the privileged classes only.In fact, the upper classes in England tried to maintain their superior rights through other means. They attempted to discriminate between professional and amateur, and in some sports, such as rugby and athletics, their legacy carried on until very recently. However, just as in the world of politics ordinary working people eventually gained the right to participate in sport without having to worry about the spectre of discrimination.
The interesting thing about the development of sport at this time is that there was an explosion of interest amongst the working classes. This suggests that society as whole was in a condition where it was ready to welcome the recreational format inherent in the structure of these games. That condition must surely have been the industrial revolution. The second half of the nineteenth century was a time of unprecedented wealth for English merchants and entrepreneurs in Victorian England. It was a time when Britainﾕs political and military strength was at its height. This success was all born out of the industrial revolution which began in the previous century. By now businessman and factory workers were used to their labours being valued by time and efficiency standards, items produced per hour, tonnage mined per day, working to preplanned specifications and teams of workers all working to the same goal. The organization, specialisation and bureaucratization of work was mirrored in the organization of popular sports. We see sports bureaucratized with their associations and governing bodies; rationalization by codified rules; specialisation with the assignments of particular positions and purposes for each player; quantified with precise times for play, lengths for playing surfaces and equipment, rigid criterion for scoring; and an obsession with the result and records.
The democratising of sport and thus, theoretically, placing it outside the realm of the class ridden society, gave it the potential for the creation of sportﾕs heroesﾕ who could reach an elevated status in society with the blessings of all classes. It therefore not only gave hope to people who had been sucked into the anonymity of the‘work forceﾕ but it also provided a social focus for those same people who had had to abandon their traditional culture. In the words of Richard Mandell,
“English sport then, supported, reinforced, and reflected fundamental assumptions that were necessary to maintain a public consensus when the folk and local culture were uprooted. They underlay the social discipline needed for subject for subjection to industrial work.”9)
One visitor to England who had an interest in sport and education, noted,
‘ . . that many of the new sports had been integrated into the social life of the English college preparatory (called “public”) schools.ﾕ But not all educationa- lists were in favour of competitive sport. Notably the Turnen opposed the concept of‘sportﾕ and develop- ed their own forms of gymnastic exercise which they claimed emphasised, “The cultural uniqueness of their nationalistic physical activities.”10)
This, and similar forms of physical exercise gained popularity in Europe during the nineteenth century. Despite the development of the Turnen , and their opposition to‘sport,ﾕ world wide interest continued to grow unabated. There were three major reasons for this: 1) Americaﾕs influence on sport in the twentieth century; 2) the revival of the Olympic Games; 3) the compelling nature of competitive sport.
The twentieth century saw America become the prime mover in developing and adapting sports. Big business took full advantage of the advances in transportation and telecommunications to commercialize sport and sell it nationwide. Sports like basketball, ice hockey, American football, and tennis have frequent breaks in the play which provide convenient opportunities for the sponsors to air their commercials. One reason given for the failure of the worldﾕs most popular sport, football, not taking off in America is the fact that it is not a sport which is conducive to regular commercial breaks, and so the television networks were not enthusiastic about broadcasting the sport. Despite the efforts of American sporting organizations to establish their own brand of sport into Europe they have only met with limited success. Europe and America made their sporting preferences known about a hundred years earlier, and those deeply ingrained feelings for a particular style of play will not disappear at the wave of a marketing manﾕs wand. However, the marketing of sport in the way that any commodity is marketed , is now part of the organization of popular European sports too.
The Olympic Games:When the French intellectual aristocrat, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, revived the Olympics in 1896, he believed, along with most of the European upper classes, that Olympian athletes should be strictly amateur, in keeping with the traditions of the ancient games. The early Olympics were very much a European and American affair (in fact the Games were never held outside these continents until 1956), and in the very first Olympics, there were only two competitors from outside those continents. The first three Olympics were held alongside World Fairs in the host cities, thus capitalizing on the potential public relations and commercial spinoffs for both the city and country. Very soon athletes from the different continents were competing but often they would be running for the team of their colonial masters. The marathon gold medalist in 1928 was Mohammed El Quafi from Algeria but running in French colours. And in 1936 Kitei Son from Korea won the same event for Japan.
The 1936 Berlin Olympics is considered by many to be the first in a new line of Olympic Games. This games witnessed the very palpable influence of the central government in using the Games as a propaganda instrument for the political regime. The facilities for, and the organization of the events, plus the results of the events themselves were to stand as testimony to the achievements of the entire political system. So important was it to Hitler to show to the world, or to the Aryan world at least, that his political ideology was superior, that he commissioned the making of the classic film‘Olympia.ﾕ The Director, Leni Riefenstahl, had eighty cameras at her disposal, the soundtrack was translated into four languages, revolutionary cinematography techniques were employed and the final product took a further two years to produce. The following Olympics was due to be held in Japan but the Japanese government took nationalist interests too far when they withdrew invitations to all foreign athletes and declared that it would be known as the‘Japanese Olympics.ﾕ Subsequent Olympics have been littered with political overtones in the shape of boycotts and overt political protests. The opening and closing ceremonies are showpieces to display some of what is considered to be the best, or most marketable, in that nations culture. The number of competing nations grows with each Olympiad. The rationale is probably the same as in the ancient games: the political mileage to be gained from a successful athlete is considerable, especially for emerging states or disadvantaged racial groups. At the other end of the spectrum, Americans appear to support the idea that achievement in the sports arena is evidence of a superior culture. For the former U.S.S.R. it was even more cut and dried, “The triumphs of the supreme athletes of the Communist states are to a large extent (and acknowledged almost everywhere to be so), the products of ideology, state planning and foreign policy.”11)
The influence of commercial sponsorship has become so great it could be argued that the interests of big business are intrusive and may even have an influence on the results of competitions. The Atlanta Olympics, frequently refered to as the Coca Cola Olympics, were held in the height of summer and energy sapping humidity, as was the 1994 World Cup soccer tournament. The latter event saw some matches scheduled for midday to coincide with prime time television viewing in Europe. There has been speculation as to whether or not Ronaldo was forced to play in the 1998 World Cup final, despite having suffered a fit, because his sponsors, Nike, demanded it. The track and field world championships held in Seville, southern Spain from August 21st- August 29th. 1999, saw the womenﾕs marathon scheduled for the morning. Although an evening start would have been cooler, T.B.S. broadcasting company Japan made the request so that the start would coincide with Japanese prime time viewing. Yet, only in the nineteen sixties a player was reprimanded at the Wimbledon tennis championships for displaying the logo of a sportswear maker, and the 1964 Olympic Games were held in October so as to avoid Japanﾕs stifling summer heat. Quite clearly the power of finance has triumphed over the ideals of amateurism.
One might argue that the liberals have been successful as since the Second World War the major powers have not come into a significant military conflict but their confrontations in the sporting arena have been fierce. It is difficult to speculate if there has been any meaningful enhansement of cross cultural understanding as a result of these contests, as their main purpose has been as propaganda for rival systems and nations. The protagonists in these contests could be likened to battle hardened soldiers, whereas in the early days of international competition there was a much greater likelihood that some of the competitors would be ex-public schoolboys, versed in the classics and with some notion of the higher ideals which helped give rise to interest in international sporting events. I would say now, at most international sporting events, the main issues are national pride and achievement which are put on display amid a backdrop of commercial opportunism and the potential for embellishment of the hostﾕs prestige in the eyes of the world.
Sport and Identity:So far we have followed the world wide development of physical activities into universally recognized entities known as sport. But what impact have these activities had on individuals and the communities in which they live? Are they peripheral adornments, or do they play some greater role in the workings of those societies? How closely do people in the community link certain sports to being a member of that community? Surely people are more likely to identify with work as, in most communities, so many people are doing it and it has such a major bearing on our lives. The Soviet regime once tried to mythologize and ritualize hard work. A miner named Alexei Stakhanov set‘recordsﾕ for digging coal from the seam. He dug one hundred tons, then two hundred tons and finally another miner surpassed his achievements and dug three hundred and ten tons. Unfortunately, most people were not interested in this kind of‘non-event.ﾕ There was also a lot of scepticism amongst normal working people who probably thought it was a ploy by their government to make them work harder.12)
“Sports, in sum, may be used to fulfill a plethora of functions: to define more sharply the already established boundaries of moral and political communities; to assist in the creation of new social identities; to give physical expression to certain social values and to, act as means of reflecting on those values.”13)
The place of sport in the lives of people from emigrant communities has provided some interesting studies. Early British settlers in Australia brought the amateur sports of rugby, rowing, lawn tennis, athletics and later netball and hockey.
They did not create any new sports. Australian rules football came to Australia at a time when there were still a number of different forms of football. Australian rules football was probably one of a number of local varieties of the game which existed in Britain at that time. The new settlers did not only retain the sports from their home country but the whole social infrastructure surrounding the game. They mimicked the clothes which were worn in Britain despite the unsuitability for the different climatic conditions. The British emigrants were keen to associate themselves with upper classes back in Britain who would have had the leisure time to indulge in these sports. For these settlers these sports allowed them to maintain a strong link with their home country and culture, and later, they were able to challenge the home country with the result no doubt acting as a symbolic measure of their progress since their departure. Not all the emigrants to Australia had pretensions to become a new aristocracy which may account for the absence of classism in the Australian game. The growing feeling of independence from Britain and the home countryﾕs feeling that to lose to a colony was an insult, led to the famous body line controversy during the 1932-33 international series when,“ the relatively simple fact of two Australian batsmen being struck by an English bowler had grown into a major imperial problem at the highest political level.”14)
Croatian immigration to Australia was very limited until the nineteen fifties. However, the original Croatian immigrants had established a football team and their club became a focal point for the newcomers. Now, many clubs bearing the name Croatia have been formed and a glance at their location and establishment date is a fair guide to the pattern of Croatian immigration. Similarly, on the development of football in northern Italy, Antonio Papoﾕs neat‘formulationﾕ indicates the affection British businessmen had for football, “With remarkable precision, the map of soccer retraces the map of foreign capital in the peninsula.”15) Immigration to America too, resulted in ethnic groups settling in a particular area and maintaining important elements of their own culture. It seems to be a common experience for many minority groups in America, and elsewhere for that matter too, that athletic prowess can lead to acceptance and recognition. People like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods immediately spring to mind.
National identity, chauvinism and sport seem to go together very well. Unfortunately, there are times when national governments see it fit to use sport as a diplomatic tool when the sportﾕs rank and file members might choose to go down a different path. When the Japanese military government banned baseball in 1941, they clearly identified it is as an enemyﾕs artifact which could only be damaging to the Japanese sense of resolve. The Spanish government in Cuba did the same thing in 1895 because they deemed that, “Opposition to Spanish rule came largely from upper-class nationalists who looked to the United States for their sports as well as for political ideals and funds.”16) Later in 1960 it was the American government which inhibited Cuban baseball to some extent by banning their players from playing in America. As a result, Dominican players began to appear instead.
Sport and Culture:“Still others, equally convinced that the displacement of traditional indigenous pastimes by modern sports has been a cultural disaster.”17)
Conservative thinking will always tend towards a negative view of the new in comparison with the old in any field of human endeavour. In relation to literature Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered a warning about paying too much reverence to the excellence of bygone days. He said of former American literary scholars,“listened too long to the courtly muses of Europe.”18) The African writer James Ngugi rejected the long established English dominance over any serious works emanating from that continent and choose to publish under his native name; Ngugi wa Thiongo.
These voices can be heard too, in relation to the adaption of ethnic games and pastimes to embrace some of the criteria which mark modern sports.
The Afghanistan‘gameﾕ of buzushi. seems to encapsulate the spirit of a people bound to an equestrian culture from centuries back. And it reflects the male chauvinism of the region which places so much importance on courage, strength and dominance. However, these scholars appear to lament the moves by the Afghan government to push its own form of the‘game,ﾕ called quarajai. The main objection seems to be the imposition of rules which fix the boundaries for the playing area, a specified number of players in a team and a strict definition of what constitutes a score. The fear of the scholars is that the raw, uninhibited passion of buzkashi, which defines the male culture of that region, will be lost due to‘bureaucraticﾕ intervention. The Brazilian combat sport, capoeiristas is now increasingly done without the addition of traditional songs. The American Indian game of stickball has dispensed with the ritual incantations of the medicine man and adopted uniforms and referees instead. Even Japanese sumo, which used to be performed in the grounds of temples, has likewise been secularized. Yokozuna are selected on the basis of their win/loss record rather than by the previous, more metaphysical method, of judging his character. Similarly, the roof supports for the dojo , four pillars which symbolized the Gods of spring, summer, autumn and winter, now only enjoy a token presence well above the dojo and out of the way of the camerasﾕ sight angles. Are these changes corruptions of the indigenous culture, or should they be welcomed as an expression of the contemporary culture?
The divide between modern and traditional can be seen between‘sportsﾕ as well as within the form of one‘sport.ﾕ Wrestling in Turkey draws many parallels with buzkashi; it is male orientated, demands strength and character and it is has a long history. But, the most popular sport in Turkey now is football. And for many Turkish people your preference for one sport holds implications for your whole character.
The football supporter is of the new world. They are sophisticated and worldly wise.The aficionados of wrestling see it as a kind of theatrical enactment of the pressures that face man in every day life. Formerly the wrestlers were refered to as“kabadayi,” or, men of honour, but now the term is considered to be somewhat derogatory.19)
But the modern does not always triumph over the old, and cultures do not suddenly change over night and discard those things which have had a positive effect in binding them together as community. For example, when football arrived in Melanesia it became a new sport which was subject to the old values of the community. The competitive element became subject to the gentle nature of the players. Instead of aggressively trying to defeat their opponents, the teams tried to help each other score goals. This same ethic is present amongst the Amazonian Xavante tribe in a log carrying activity, and a native America Indian game of lacrosse in which the teams play a long time trying to achieve a draw.
Whatever one feels about sport there can be no doubt that for three thousand years , or possibly longer, it has been a dynamic feature in the creative and moral developments of peoples throughout the world. Its importance may not always have been a constant feature of a society but nevertheless its effects have been both tangible and intangible. Who can say how valuable it was to a black Americanﾕs sense of self esteem and patriotism, to see Althea Gibson win two American Open tennis titles in 1957 and 1958 when racial prejudice was still very much the norm in that nation? On reflection, the pride and joy Americans felt forty one years later when Serena Williams achieved the same feat, must give all Americans a sense of hope that social prejudices and wrongs can be overcome and healthier attitudes can prevail. Similarly, when Irishman played a game of hurling in the nineteenth century, what part did that act play in strengthening their fortitude in the fight to gain independence from their English overlords? In contrast, the ancient Aztecs actually employed a ball game to resolve some of their political conflicts, so the results were instrumental to their political structure.
When you drive through the cities of England you can guess where you are from the colour of the football shirts that people in the streets are wearing.
The joy of winning, and the sometimes violent frustration which accompanies defeat, is testimony to the intensity with which fans identify with the changing fortunes of their teams. Furthermore, overseas supportersﾕ and sports clubs provide a dynamic link for expatriates and emigres to retain the umbilical chord with their mother countries and their estranged cultures. For these people, as well as the players, merchandisers and media barons who fuel the publicﾕs demand; sport is just as important now as when animals were slaughtered in the Temple of Zeus to garner good fortune in the forthcoming Games.
References:１．Richard D. Mandell. Sport: A Cultural History. Columbia University Press (1984), p.2
２．Nicholas Fishwick. English Football and Society,1910-1950. Manchester University Press(1989), p.150
３．Richard D Mandell. ibid.
４．Karl von Clausewitz. Vom Kriege (1832-4) bk. 8, ch6 sect B.
５．Richard D. Mandell. ibid. Introduction
６．Christopher R. Hill. Olympic Politics. Manchester Univ. Press (1992), p.32
７．Richard Mandell. ibid. p.53
８．Richard Mandell. ibid. p.133
９．Richard Mandell. ibid p. 157
10．Guttmann. Games & Empire. Columbia University Press p. 141
11．Richard Mandell. ibid. p.236
12．Richard Mandell. ibid. p.277
13．Jeremy Maclancy. Sports, Identity and Ethnicity. Berg p. 7
14．Sissons & Stoddart. Cricket and Empire (1984) George Allen & Unwin
15．Guttman. ibid. p.53
16．Guttman. ibid. p.81
17．Guttman. ibid. p.5
18．Ralph Waldo Emerson. WORKS 14Vols. Boston Houghton Miffin(1883-1893) 1:9,113 in "The American Scholar)
19．Jeremy Maclancy. ibid. p.26/27