How sport helps to understand the modern system of nation states and modern nationalism. The "sportization" of international relationships and domestic politics
Sociology Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz Graz, Austria
Although modern sport is a global phenomenon, it does not overcome the concept of nationality. On the contrary, the sport-system supports and generates a variety of nationalisms because of its division into national Olympic committees, national sport associations, and nation based audience loyalty. Since the end of World War II for many decolonized and young countries sport became a main vehicle for legitimizing and defining both the state and the nation. In Western countries, too, sport has immense importance for the political-system. Public sport-funding, the organization of sport mega-events, and the fate of being successful makes sport important for political elites but also unpredictable. Furthermore, sport transforms the meaning international relationships in creating a sport-based system of international stratification. In this sense, sport is the continuation of politics by other means. However, sport also transforms the meaning of nationalism by shaping a kind of "sport-nationalism" that no longer stresses uniqueness, military virtues, or the image of others as total different cultures (i.e. the barbarian, the uncivilized). Sport-nationalism is more related to global shared norms, emotions and images of what nations should be and of what nations should become. Therefore, world sport becomes an important frame for both international relationships and domestic politics.