Sports as a Sociological Area
The socialization of sports, through nostalgia, mythology, invented traditions, flags, and anthems, serves to nurture and refine the sense of national identity. As a cultural phenomenon, however, sport can also reinforce or undermine ethnic defensiveness and exclusivity. In the case of the Balinese cockfight, for instance, men’s identification with their birds allows them to express hostility.
In the context of international sports, this role has been more ambiguous and contradictory. On one hand, global sports can strengthen cosmopolitanism and encourage cultural exchange. On the other, global sports can strengthen ethnic defensiveness and exclusiveness.
During the Cold War, sports played a vital role in international competition between the United States and its Soviet-bloc opponents. In a number of famous confrontations, including the Olympic water-polo and ice hockey matches between the United States and Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968), sports victories were seen as proof of ideological superiority.