Humans have practiced and participated in sports for thousands of years. Because sports have existed for so long and can be found in some form everywhere on Earth, they are a great way to join different societies and bring people together. Here are 7 of the ways sports can bridge cultures.
Not speaking the same language as someone can seem like an impossible hurdle to overcome when trying to communicate. One way to bridge this gap is to engage in some shared physical activity. After only a few minutes of either learning a local sport or participating in a shared one, you will start to see the non-verbal forms of communication you use to speak. This communication can be used off the field as well.
The passion individuals have for sports is so strong that it can overcome cultural tension. There are several instances of peace through sports, but one of the most famous happened in 1995 when Nelson Mandela helped South Africans differing cultures avoid a civil war through their shared passion for Rugby.
-Put Big and Small Societies on an Even Playing Field
Sometimes the hardest cultural gap to overcome is one of size. Sports solve this problem by taking two different countries and cultures and putting them on a level playing field, allowing each player and team just as good of a chance of as anyone else. It’s how Trinidad and Tobago, a country with a population of just over 1.3 million can play in the same tournament as China, with a population of more than 1.3 billion, which is what happened in the 2006 World Cup.
-Allow You to Travel Abroad and Be Immersed in a Different Culture
Programs like GLA’s Costa Rica: Sports Service Adventure(1) uses teens shared passion for soccer and sports to learn and connect with local communities. The program gives teens an opportunity to live on a coastal village while creating new friendships with local youths all through a shared passion for sports.
Sharing the history of anthers culture can be a huge stepping stone to better understanding each other and how societal differences originally started. Learning about why certain rules in shared sports are different between cultures and how that came to be is a great way to jump start the conversation.
Branching out and getting to know people from other cultures can be difficult if you share nothing in common. Playing sports together is a great way to get to know people of all cultures and build life-long friendships.
-Teach Rules to Live By
One of the biggest rules that you learn with sports is that of sportsmanship and respecting and admiring your opponents and teammates alike. When you take this outlook and apply it to the world, it allows you to see different cultures and people as equals, no matter their background or education. Athletic activity can build a foundation to live by, and one that can shape the world in positive ways as it brings all cultures together with the shared passion of sports.
Contributed by Alex Anderson