Sport in German culture: introduction

Hough, Dan (2007) Sport in German culture: introduction. German as a Foreign Language (2). pp. 3-6. ISSN 1470-9570

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For some, sport has never simply been something that helps keep the waistline trim and the circle of friends tight. Politicians, businessmen, philosophers, artists and many others have analysed the relationship between sport and society, politics and culture through a variety of different prisms with the aim of teasing out some of the many deeper meanings that may underpin these particular relationships. Yet it is also true that one does not have to be an apostle of the exuberant American boxing promoter Don King – a man who once proclaimed that an Evander Holyfield versus Lennox Lewis boxing match had the potential to be “greater than life itself” – or of the former Liverpool manager, Bill Shankly (“football is not a matter of life or death, it’s much more important than that”) or even intellectual heavyweights such as French philosopher Albert Camus (who famously observed that all he knew about morality and obligations “he owed to football”) to realise that sport and politics have sometimes been decidedly uneasy bedfellows. Readers over the age of 30 will no doubt remember that successive Olympic Games through the 1970s and 1980s were boycotted by various sets of countries for overtly political reasons; the 1976 games in Montreal took place without the presence of 25 African nations that stayed away in protest at the New Zealand rugby team touring South Africa; the 1980 games in Moscow saw over 60 nations refuse to attend in support of the USA’s criticisms of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; in 1984 the Soviet Union returned the compliment, as it and 13 other (mainly eastern bloc) states stayed away from the Los Angeles games. Symbolism has also been overtaken by action on occasion, the most well-known example probably being the 1969 ‘Football War’ between El Salvador and Honduras. Although the conflict, despite popular belief to the contrary, was not actually caused by football (but rather by political differences, mainly around the issue of immigration, between the two states), riots at a series of football games did indeed do much to escalate tensions.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Depositing User: Daniel Hough
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:18
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2015 10:07
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