Watching the World Cup today, I was pleased to see the “Say No to Racism” campaign. It is remarkable the power of sports and competition to pierce through prejudice. From Jesse Owens dominating performing in the Olympics in front of Hitler to Jackie Robinson paving the way for acceptance of African Americans in professional sports, we have seen the power of sports in society.
It is one thing to “say no to racism” and it is another to actually do something about it. After watching the last several World Cups, it is remarkable to see how much more diverse the teams have become. As our countries have become more diverse, it makes sense that our football teams would, but far too often nationalism can include subtle if not overt prejudice.
In an insightful article called “Germany’s Soccer Squad Boasts Ethnic Diversity”, Srecko Matic writes:
“Of the 23 players representing Germany at the World Cup, 11 have foreign backgrounds…. The sport plays a leading role in a successfully multicultural society today, (and) Germany hopes to reap the rewards with its ethnically-diverse team on the pitch in South Africa.[Former Captain Michael] Ballack was notable for being born in the former East Germany when he made his national team debut in 1999. His replacement has a Tunisian father, and is well-versed on the collective goals of a diverse group of players.
‘We are a team,’ says Khedira. ‘We all want success at the World Cup, never mind where you come from.'”
What is the best way to overcome racism, prejudice, and stereotypes? The answer remains relationship.
In what ways have you seen sports make a positive difference in society?