Whitenss, sport, and united states foreign policy

Por: Gerald Gems.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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This paper will discuss the ethnocentric concept of whiteness, its application to the practice of sport, the use of sport as a colonizing process, and its implications for peace or conflict in the world. Whiteness is more than a racial connotation or a skin color. It invokes rights, privileges, and social status unavailable to non-whites. This study encompassed research in several archival sources, including United States government documents. It addresses the potential of sport as a diplomatic force.


The contribution is based on research and analysis of primary and secondary historical sources including archival material: Bishop Museum Archives, Honolulu, Hawaii; United States Library of Congress Documents; United States National Archives; Young Men’s Christian Association Archives, University of Minnesota.

Results and Discussion

For more than a century the United States has unofficially practiced such a policy in its imperial ventures in the Pacific, Caribbean, and Central America. American religious missionaries, military personnel, and administrators introduced western sport forms to subject peoples. They particularly inculcated the game of baseball, with its inherent value system and the capitalist virtues of work discipline, teamwork, individualism, and a distinct deference to authority. Such traits mirrored particular Protestant religious values. Exclusionary and condescending sporting practices in American colonies, however, established a racial and cultural hierarchy.

Discussion/ Conclusions

As part of the globalization process sport has the power to change peoples’ lives. It can bring people together for the most noble purposes or it can foster rivalry, bitterness, and difference. In 1969 Honduras and El Salvador went to war over a soccer game. For such reasons it is imperative that western and other capitalist nations, particularly the United States, promote a more inclusive strategy of respect, brotherhood, and mutual ideals rather than political ends. It has that opportunity to reverse its past sporting practices in the current Middle East crisis.






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