• The Role of Sport as a Mediator in International Relations

      Schneider, Robert C.; The College at Brockport (2016-10-13)
      Sport, beginning with athletes, has historically brought persons from around the world together (Tomlinson & Young, 2011). Despite the propensity of sport to reinforce intense competitive attitudes toward opponents and anti-social behaviors (Marasescu, 2013), the opportunities for goodwill throughout and beyond sport are many. Loyalties, bonds, and friendships are established through shared international sporting experiences between competing nations (Darnell, 2010; Darnell & Black, 2011). Host nations, including citizens and governments of sporting events can accommodate visiting nations by featuring attractions unique to their cultures, e.g., food, customs, history, recreational activities, and wonders of nature. Social gatherings, complementary touristic activities, and privately arranged meetings offer convenient opportunities for fans, citizens, and even government officials, including heads of state to interact in a non-political, neutral sporting environment (Brownell, 2014). The in-person interactions resulting from sport, has long been known to help remove learned prejudices (Allport, 1954), allowing for positive dialogue between nations. Through sport, nations can consistently and persistently create accurate and favorable portrayals of nations, one athlete, coach, official, organizer, and fan at a time. With an open mind and optimism, sport, as a mediator can, in fact, enhance international relations.