Despite their differences in origin and form, sports have a common characteristic: they are physical contests between teams and individuals. They are usually governed by rules to ensure fair competition. They also serve to promote individual identity and community identity.
Sports have been influential in the formation of national identities. A sports team’s victory can create a passionate identification with the team. When a sports star is injured or loses, fans can feel despair. On the other hand, fans can also feel elation. A last-minute goal can change a defeat into victory.
Historically, the West has been the dominant force in sports. Its dominant economic power and design have ensured its dominance in the marketing of sports. However, sports are increasingly bound in interdependency chains and are becoming part of a wider globalization process. This process may be diminishing Western power.
The 20th century saw the development of transnational cosmopolitan cultures and the formation of a worldwide network of interdependencies. The growth of modern sports has been influenced by these developments. Modern sports have been marketed as signs of distinction and prestige.
A large number of international sports federations and organizations exist in the West. Their headquarters are also located in the West. They are dominated by a white male elite. The hegemonic masculine notions of sports may be challenged in Asian and African cultures.
In the early 20th century, sports were also a part of liberal nationalist political struggles. During the Soviet bloc, football clubs were centers of resistance to French colonial rule. In South Africa, the “Cape Coloureds” won the right to participate in sports.