There is an anthropological view that sports is not simply sports, it can be seen as the embodied culture of a country. As Fuji implies in his article, sports can be used by political and social leaders to instill a particular series of values in citizens. He also suggests that sports as embodied culture is especially useful in two areas: childhood education and gender.
As Fuji mentions Susan Brownell’s ethnographic study of Chinese women track and field athletes in his article that sports can be used to instill particular cultural disciplines into Chinese athletes as well as citizens in general, I think that’s right. For instance, in China, sports is related to national honor tightly. Nearly all Chinese athletes think it’s their responsibility to win competitions for the nation’s glory. Even after they win competitions and are interviewed, their first sentences are always “I pay deep sense of gratitude to my country, the Party and the People”. Sports is not merely sports in China; it is a way to present China’s power. Therefore, sports, in a way, is used to imbue particular values in citizens and actually also contributes to build up a unique national identity.
Sports also play an important role in childhood education. For instance, some Americans invest significant time and money in childhood sports they think sports, as an embodied culture, is beneficial for their children to become people who have self-esteem, perseverance and confidence.
In the gender aspect, sports stands for masculinity. Women are seen in disadvantageous position in sports merely because of their gender. Even in the U.S., which has a federal law requiring equal opportunities for boys and girls in educational institutions, including school sports, a number of girls are still judged unfairly such as they could not have great grades as same-age male athletics just because they’re female.
In conclusion, anthropology is useful to explore the multiple meanings in sports, but at the same time, it also raises problems that exist in sports. What we can do is to utilize anthropology as a way to provide solutions for those problems.
Reference: Sports as Embodied Culture Author: Fuji