An investigation into the impacts sports culture has on a global scale.

Sports have always been an integral part of many cultures. It gives individuals and minorities a sense of belonging and presents itself as the best opportunity for people from diverse backgrounds to unite. With the Internet and television, now more than ever we are more exposed to sport nationally and internationally.

Society not only plays sport, we now participate in them virtually, and involve ourselves through being spectators or hard-core fans. Sport attracts tourism, and has the capacity to influence our understanding of gender, socio-economic issues and build the identity of a city and nation (LSU, 2016).

This essay will examine and investigate how sports and sports culture impact societies around the world. It will further explain the unity sport provides on a local, national and international level.

Commonly, sport is defined as an “organised, a competitive and skilful physical activity”. Sport has become a global force, a common language that anyone in the world can understand (Princeton University Press, 2017). It is a universal source of entertainment, competitiveness, and unity commonly recognised by the United Nations.

Sport is an essential element of many modern-day cultures, and has is recognised as a human right by the United Nations “sports and play are human rights that must be respected and enforced worldwide: sport has been increasingly recognised and used as a low-cost and high-impact tool in humanitarian, development, and peace building efforts” (United Nations, 2014). The United Nation declares sport as a fundamental right and a powerful tool, “in 1978, UNESCO described sport… as a “fundamental right for all”. They further describe sport to have a “unique power to attract, mobilise and inspire. By its very nature, sport is about participation. It is about inclusion and citizenship. It stands for human values such as respect for the opponent, acceptance of binding rules, teamwork, and fairness” (United Nations, 2014).

Sports and displays of athleticism have been a part of society for thousands of years. The earliest recorded sporting event in history was the Ancient Olympic Games in 760 BC (Topendsports, 2014). While only one event – a ‘footrace’ – was hosted, throughout history sports such as wrestling, equestrian, javelin, jumping etc. have been added to the Olympic line-up (Topendsports, 2014).

The first international Olympic Games were held on the 6th of April 1896, in Athens, Greece. There were 241 males, which represented 14 nations and competed in 43 events (History, 2009). The second Olympiad was held in 1900, in Paris, France. Housing 997 athletes, 22 of them, being women. All athletes were from a range of 24 countries, which competed in 95 events (History, 2009). Today the Olympic Games are the most watched sporting event in history with 26 sports played in the summer Olympics (Topendsports, 2013). Our most recent 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janerio housed 11,237 athletes from 204 countries (International Olympic Committee, 2016).

It is evident, that the evolution of the Olympic Games alone has had a significant impact on international culture as a globalising force, improving athlete and spectator opportunities, while also international links.

Accordingly to Adam Hofstetter, journalist for the Atlantic, “sports have long been idealised as a way to heal wounds, mend fences, and rise above differences among cultures and nations” (Hofstetter, 2010).

In 2008 the province of Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia after its bid to be recognised as Europe’s newest country (Bilefsky, 2008). This was long after a civil war that had killed 10,000 people and numerous years of limbo under the United Nations rule (Bilefsky, 2008).

After its years of living as a new founded country, 2016 marked the beginning and recognition of Kosovo as independent. The Kosovo Olympic Committee introduced eight athletes to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games (USA TODAY, 2016). Head of the Kosovo Olympic Committee Besim Hasani said, “for the first time, we are feeling what it means to be equal among all the other athletes” (USA TODAY, 2016). Furthermore, Kosovo has also become a member of FIFA and UEFA, which will allow them to compete in the 2018 World Cup qualifying (USA TODAY, 2016).

2017 has marked its first year of Kosovo competing in the FIFA qualifiers, with Australian football star Besart Berisha flying to home to represent the country where he was born (Trégourès, 2017). While losing to Iceland 2-1, the game was more than a football match. It is acknowledge that sports diplomacy has been an integral strategy played by Kosovo to “garner international recognition” (Trégourès, 2017). Kosovo’s participation in international sport events such as the FIFA qualifiers and the Olympic games has been a symbolic way for a newly deemed independent country to show evidence of its existence.

It is evident how diplomatic sports can be, in the instances of Kosovo’s and its independence. It is still evident that countries such as Serbia, Russia and Greece are opposed to allowing the country to participate in friendly games (Trégourès, 2017). This can be seen where the following countries opposed FIFA to allow Kosovo to participate in leagues such as the UEFA. It was not until 2013 that Serbia pledged to stop obstruction Kosovo’s path into international sporting organisations (Trégourès, 2017). While Kosovo still faces difficulties stepping into other international organisations, it is through the adoption of sports that has allowed the independence of Kosovo flourish and become a symbol of the countries identity (Trégourès, 2017).

The Olympic Truce is an ancient tradition dating back to the 9th century B.C (Gary and Rubin, 2012). The Truce “provides safe passage for athletes, families, and pilgrims traveling to the Olympic Games. For seven days before, during and seven days after the Olympic Games, in the spirit of peaceful cooperation, participating countries agreed to cease all conflicts” (Gary and Rubin, 2012).

During the conflict in Yugoslavia, that included the Security Council sanctions against athletes from the warring sides to travel to the Barcelona Games. The International Olympic Committee reintroduced the Truce by calling all nations to view the Olympic truce and allow athletes and spectators to roam freely to and from the games (The Sport Digest, 2014). The Committee went further and established a Truce document tittles “Building a peaceful and better world through sports and the Olympic Idea” (The Sport Digest, 2014), this urged nations to respect the Truce seven days before and seven days after the Olympic Games (The Sport Digest, 2014). It was then that the truce gained immense support.

In October of 2011, the 66th Session of the General Assembly implemented Resolution 66/5 with a view to “building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic idea” (Gary and Rubin, 2012). The Truce was signed by 193 Member States of the U.N. to observe the Olympic Truce for 45 days from the opening ceremony of the XXX Olympic games to the closing ceremony of the XIV Paralympic games (Gary and Rubin, 2012). While we must acknowledge that this Truce has not always been respected by all countries through history, it still provides encouragement to nations to unite and respect one another in order to “enhance the well-being of vulnerable people throughout the world” (Gary and Rubin, 2012).

As a globalising and culturally unifying force, sport also has beneficial impact on the international economy through tourism. Major sporting events not only attract fans on a national level, but also on an international level stimulating thee economy through the increased tourism. This can be seen during the FIFA World Cup and the Rugby World Cup were the hosting countries have made an impression on fanatic fans and as a result have increased their tourism rate.

According to Professor Simon Shibli, Head of Sports Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam, “fans and tourists bring in money that normally wouldn’t be there… This money benefits accommodation providers, local travel, shops – even car parks” (Thorne, 2015). Sports tourism provides the opportunity for increased media coverage, which entices travellers to explore a new opening and also serves the opportunity for tourists to create relationships with locals, which will further stimulate the frequency of tourism in that particular country (Thorne, 2015).

Sports tourism provides the country the opportunity to “showcase the cultural heritage of the country such as its history, historical sites, food, music and overall what makes the host unique and interesting” (Rampersad, 2015). This is prevalent through the opening ceremonies of the Olympic and World Cup Games. These events generate a rapid and increasingly competitive media market, were broadcasters compete to secure the rights to broadcast these events (Gratton, Shibli and Coleman, 2005). This rewards broadcasters with blanket coverage at a peak time and increases the marketing benefits to the city in both a short-term and long-term stretch (Gratton, Shibli and Coleman, 2005).

Moreover, this is a catalyst for the expansion and improvements of local infrastructure and urban regeneration including hotels, sporting arenas and facilities, transport networks, telecommunication (Rampersad, 2015). In 1994 Brisbane was set to house the World Masters Games (Gratton, Shibli and Coleman, 2005). This was predicted to cost the city more than $2.8 million to organise, however, generated revenue of $50.6 million from economic activities (Gratton, Shibli and Coleman, 2005).

In Indianapolis during the 1970s, the mid-western US city was suffering through a decline of its manufacturing base, the popular car industry. Schimmel explains that the result of the city not having an image was resulting in its dramatic decline, and through sport, this was able to ignite economic regeneration (Gratton, Shibli and Coleman, 2005). An estimated $1.7 billion in public and private resources were invested in the cities construction between 1974-1984, where sports infrastructure was largely emphasised. The city then became a regular host of notable sporting events, during 1991 up to 18 sports organisations and 9 sporting facilities also providing the opportunity to employ 526 people (Gratton, Shibli and Coleman, 2005). Davidson estimated that the contribution of sports organisation, facilities and events had an economic contribution of $133 million (Gratton, Shibli and Coleman, 2005).

The image of Indianapolis and rate of tourism rapidly increased and this showcases the benefits of sporting events as a catalyst for economic regeneration – and this can be observed all over the world.

While sports culture enables the generation of peace and alliance between countries and serves as a catalyst for economic regeneration. We must acknowledge the driving force and popularity behind these ideas, that is their fan following.

Support for and alignment with a particular athlete or team enables a sense of belonging for fans known as ‘sports identification’ (Balint, 2010). It provides an escape from the realities of day-to-day life, creates a sense of engagement and relation to others, can establish a sense of unity and can boost self-esteem (Balint, 2010). According to Allen R. McConnell, a Professor of Psychology at Miami University, the strong connection fans have with their teams and sporting idols, is deeply rooted in our “ strong need to feel connected, to be part of something greater, to be something more than just an individual on an island…it’s a very basic social need” (Balint, 2010). Research demonstrates that, for these reasons, supporting a team is beneficial for individual wellbeing (Almendrala, 2015) as “people are looking for ways to identify with something, to feel a sense of belonging-ness with a group of like-minded individuals” (Almendrala, 2015). Wann further emphasises that “fandom allows you to gain those connections, which then, in turn, provides you with social and psychological health” (Almendrala, 2015).

While athletes and teams provide a sense of unity amongst their fans, athletes find a source of motivation and determination from the support of their spectators.

According to Wann “some athletes thrive under this pressure, [while] others don’t”. Without a crowd at the Super Bowl or the NRL Grand Final, these sporting events would not be as high profile and compelling as there are today.

While all sports are different and varying levels of noise control are required for crowds respectively, the American NFL League is one that goes hand in hand with the energy that the crowds produce. The Detroit Lions vs. the Chicago Bears in 2011 was a game that many have not forgotten. The Lions home crowd defended their team immensely, causing the Bears to committed nine false losing 24-13 (Schalter, 2013).

Former Lions defensive end Lawerence Jackson recounts the atmosphere of that night “The Fans. They just went crazy the entire night. With the penalties they were forcing, it was special. I think that was probably the most energetic game that I’ve ever played in” (Schalter, 2013). He further emphasised how dependent athletes are on their fans, “you attach to that energy, and you want to do something that keeps that energy going. It just takes you to a different level, in the sense that you’re not afraid – almost like you’re invincible” (Schalter, 2013). In the instance of an NFL game, silence is a worrying sign – and as a result of this players often feel the pressure to pump up the fans (Schalter, 2013). Lawerence explains that this chanting can often fuel the momentum of the game, silence is natural but certain positions and players on the field often need the support and sound for the crowd as a source of motivation, focus and adrenaline. Lawerence says “it’s a collective, it’s not just one play: it’s the whole game. There are times when you need to be loud, no matter what. When the offense turns the ball over… that’s done with. But the defence is out there… at that point more than ever – we need to let the visiting team know we’re not giving in. We’re going out there to kick some ass” (Schalter, 2013).

While it is evident that according to the type of sport, crowd activity can act as a source of distraction impacting the focus of the athlete and atmosphere of the game. However, it is evident that for a range of sporting events, an energetic crowd acts as a fuel of motivation for their beloved athletes. In the cases of the NFL, constant sound and chanting aids the momentum of the game and provokes the athletes to outperform their opponent.

It is evident that the culture of sports impacts the world and its people in a diverse range of ways. It enables the unification of nations and acts as a source of identity for its fan and further provides them with a sense of belonging. It establishes relationships between athletes and their home and urges cities and countries to modify and regenerate their surroundings in order to stimulate and improve the economic well-being of their nations.

It is evident that sports culture is globally recognised. Since its first origins in the world, sport has been a crucial component in the disposition of society. It influences on national economy, and its abilities to unite nations and communities will continue to prevail.

 

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Arsenals first team re-enacted Arsene Wenger’s worst nightmare.

Arsenal was left in shambles after Sunday’s game against Liverpool FC.

Arsenal’s significant 4-0 loss had their performance labelled as “absolutely disastrous” and “unacceptable” by their manager Arsene Wenger after the team were a ‘ghost side’ at Anfield.

17 minutes into the first half, Robert Firmino secured Liverpool’s first goal of the match, heading the ball past Arsenal’s keeper Petr Cech, who palmed it to the back of the net.

Wenger’s starting line-up disappointed Arsenal fans, having newly transferred Alexander Laccazette sitting on the bench for the first half of the game. Fans continued to question Sanchez starting in centre field, after being sidelined for the season opener against Chealsea, due to a previous injury.

Liverpool dismantled the Arsenal side, leaving little hope for a comeback in the second half after Salah robbed Bellerin to settle the margin 3-0. Shortly after Salah sinking the ball into the goal to bring Liverpool up into second place on the table.

After this week’s performance, Wenger’s future relationship with the club has come in to question despite his contract being recently extended by two years.

“From the first minute to the last minute [Arsenal] were not at the level requested for such a game. Not physically, not technically, not mentally and we were punished. That’s basically it. Of course, you can analyse the chances we gave away, but I just think overall the performance was not at the requested level,” said manager Wegner in a short press conference after the game.

 

With the transfer market coming to a close end, and after today’s performance it was clear Arsenals players were torn in a decision to stay at the club. With Arsenal’s defender Mustafi wanting to leave after a bittersweet 12 months with the club, beg the question as to whether Oxlade-Chamberlin and Sanchez’s career at the club are now on the rocks.

While it may be too early to predict Arsenal’s finishing place on the ladder this season, many fans have lost their confidence in the team’s strategy.

The NRL to make finals history with the games first pair of female referees.

The NRL has announced the league’s commitment to bring more gender equality to the game with the introduction of female referees.

While 2017 has seen more women commentating and reporting on the game, the industry said Australia will see female referees on the field from round 26 this year.

However, referees boss Tony Archer failed to give them the cut to referee the main games this weekend. The decision is set to shake up the ‘boys-only’ stigma the NRL holds.

Renowned NRL referee Bill Harrigan supported the decision, encouraging a fair go for ladies who met the standard for professional NRL refereeing.

“I’m deadset against tokenism and I’d never appoint a referee just because she’s a woman. But the whole squad knows that she has earnt it,” the legend told the Daily Telegraph.

While female referees Belinda Sleeman and Kasey Badger have demonstrated their ability this season refereeing the Holden Cup and NRL touch games, these women are ready to set foot in the rugby league finals round.

The upcoming rounds not only mark the finals football for the year, but also a stepping-stone for female referees. Sleeman and Badger have been selected as touch judges for the opening week of the finals.

Badger will be waving the flag in Friday night’s showdown between the Roosters and Broncos at Allianz Stadium. Sleeman will man the line in Saturdays clash for a sudden-death final between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Penrith Panthers.

Archer recognises the significant contribution ladies like Sleeman and Badger are making to the game and the quality of refereeing.

“They are not part of the women’s program – they are simply part of our overall emerging referees squad,” Archer said.

With the referee’s big boss in high spirits, the finals rounds will have these women in the spotlight to not only welcome the NRL finals, but a bench mark in the NRL referee history.

Kygrios exhibits unlawful sportsmanship and aggressive rage after another horrific loss in this year ITF Tour.

It is not the first time this year we have seen the Australian tennis star suffer and blame a sports injury for an epic loss.

Nick Kygrios continues to showcase a lack of sportsmanship in this year’s loss at the US Open.

The 22-year old relived his past; this comes after battling against his courtside box during the defeat, while also needing a medical time out to cater to a shoulder injury.

After going down to fellow Aussie John Millman 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the opening round in New York City. It seemed that the young tennis star was unable to acknowledge his disappointing defeat and attitude.

In the fourth set, Kygrios was issued a code violation by umpire Carlos Ramos. This was after linesmen reported the player swearing on court, a claim that Kygrios has publicly denied.

Kygrios told the chairman, “I didn’t swear. You can’t give me a code. You don’t even know what I said”.

Shortly after, the tennis star destroyed his racquet in a rage of anger, accumulating a second code violation and a mandatory point penalty to begin the fourth set.

Earlier this year, Kygrios made a statement claiming he no longer loved the game as he once did.

“There are players out there that are more dedicated, that want to get better, that strive to get better every day, the one-per-centers,” said Kygrios after his loss to Millman at the US Open. “I’m not that guy.”

This follows his lack of dedication during this year Cincinnati Masters, he told media “I was playing basketball… every day for two hours. I played an hour of basketball before I played David Ferrer in the semi-final.”

Kygrios admits his new coach Frenchman Sebastien Grosiean deserves better, as there are other tennis players who have the dedication and drive he is lacking, to progress in the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

Kygrios has been chosen to compete for Australia in the Davis Cup Semi-final against Belgium, which begins later this year on the 15th September.

The Davis Cup will be one of the last tournaments of 2017 for Kygrios.

Hat-trick Heartbreak, the eagles suffer yet another heartbreaking loss.

Ingleburn Eagles fans flocked down to Ron Dine Memorial in support for the All Age 3 finals day.

The Eagles were hoping the third time would be a charm today, after having made the final for the last two years, however, coming home with a defeat.

The game started slowly with the Eagles defending against their opponent, the Bradbury Bears. After fifteen minutes in, the nerves of both teams calmed and players stepped up to the ball. Eagles players defended hard, giving any opportunity to give to their striker to take a shot for goal.

Eagles Co-Caption Ricky Davidson says, “we started off shaky but by the time that whistle blew we all knew that we had to make this year memorable.

“Half time gave us the opportunity to regather and come out harder than we did in the first half.”Untitled.png

The last 15 minutes saw a yellow card awarded to both teams, for misconduct and foul play. Neither the Eagles nor the Bears were strong enough to execute a goal during 90 minutes of game time.

“We created more opportunities than them where they only looked dangerous on set pieces, which is what has been an issue for us this season especially against Bradbury”, said Eagles player Dean Morgan.

After 0-0 at full time, the finals went into extra time with two halves played for fifteen minutes each.

Aggression from both sides was at its all time high, fighting for the goal to break the games drought. Lindsay Short was able to score the Eagles first goal during extra time, later followed by a goal from the Bradbury bears.

The Eagles then stepped into an even penalty shootout. With a man down after a controversial red card during the second half, this did not dampen their spirits. The first penalty goal taken by the Eagles spirits where soaring, taking the lead 2-1.

As the score became neck to neck, the pressure set in for each of the goalies to save the reputation of their team. With only two shots left, the scoreboard read 5-5.

Ricky Davidson took the last shot for the Eagles, angling the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal proved no match for the bear’s goalie saving their last shot.

The eagles stood stunned as the last bears player stepped up to take the games last goal, with pressure riding high the midfielder took the shot high into the left corner causing eagles goalie to dive and miss the goal.

Dean explained the heartbreak after the third consecutive loss. “Its just hard to swallow losing another penalty shoot out in consecutive years. When it gets to penalties it’s a toff of a coin”.

With some players vouching to hang up their boots after years for playing for the Ingleburn Eagles, it has only the club to come back next year with a stronger team.

We are yet to see what the 2018 league is yet to bring.

Richmond’s AFL grand final awakening

Richmond produced its best on the biggest stage and has fulfilled the dreams of there lifelong fans.

This year, the AFL Grand Final housed two of the most competitive sides in the competition. The Richmond Tigers were set to face and battle out against its hidden long-time rivals the Adelaide Crows.

Richmond fans have dealt with multiple wooden spoons, save our skins and ‘Ninthmond’ jokes but this year’s grand final saw nothing but black and yellow flood the field.

Tension and angst flooded the MCG as Tigers and Crows fans flocked in support of their teams to take out this years Grand final.

This was the first time Richmond had seen a final, after a long 37-year wait.

And today, their drought was put to an end. The Richmond Tigers defeated the Crows with a 48-point lead in front of 100,021 fans and the MCG.

The Adelaide Crows came out with a firing start, managing two goals in the opening minutes of the game.

Shortly after goals were rewarded to Tigers players Josh Caddy and Bachar Houli to tighten the gap between the teams. But the Crows hit back to lead with an 11-point lead in the first break.

For a quarter and a half, Richmond led by 28 points leaving the Crows goalless, with motivation and adrenaline running high. Crow’s Taylor Walker broke Adelaide’s goal drought through the third term.

The Tigers were quick to fight back, taking the next four goals to break free with a 48-point lead early on in the game moment where Richmond fans stood in a state of disbelief, beginning to anticipate that this year was theirs.

Despite Adelaide coming back to score three late consolation goals, the spirits of the Tigers prevailed and took the team to victory.

While both teams performed, this years AFL final proved to be the highlight for the underdogs. Finally providing the opportunity for the Tigers to step up and claim the 2017 Premiership, a moment long awaited for die-hard fans.

David Reynolds takes home the Bathurst 1000 claiming a 4th win

The Bathurst 1000 was plunged into chaos the Australian weather lived up to its unpredictable nature, causing the V8 drivers to battle through a whirlwind of rain.

The weather did not serve as an obstacle for Aussie jokester and Holden driver David Reynolds securing his first place victory. The 32-year-old driver battled through the horrific weather conditions, and a series of crashes and safety cars in the end stages.

The victory secured by a 4 second lead on his fellow drivers.

The days efforts tested all drivers to their limits, “I’ve got nothing left to give” Reynolds said.

Reynolds partner Luke Youlden was speechless, excited to have won his first Bathurst 1000 on his 18th attempt. The teammates stood together with pride to honour the team’s victory.

Reynolds mentioned his gratitude towards his teammate and crew, “I am absolutely spent. This bloke drove unbelievably all day. My crew was faultless. Man, it was just a perfect day. It was so good.”

Reynolds celebrated in a ‘true Aussie’ style taking off his racing boot as a glass for a victory champagne drink.

Reynolds and Youlden’s win was also a victory for the team and owner Betty Klimenko.

Reynolds moved to Klimenko’s team two years ago, from former powerhouse FPR to substitute Erebus walkout Will Davison. Joining Erebus has proved a solid professional move for Reynolds.

“This team just ticks every box,” he said.

Team owner and dedicated V8 personality Klimeko was visibly emotional after her team conquered ‘the mountain’, unable to offer comment on the win.

Reynolds pitted for slick tyres with 31 laps to go, and with his focus and determination he was able to drive and achieve a historic win. This years Bathurst 1000 resulted in an epic win for the underdogs.