Historically, sports have played a major role in the formation of national identities. They also help youth develop valuable life skills such as teamwork, cooperation, and independence. In addition, participation in sports can improve mental health.
In the 20th century, sports played a role in the liberal nationalist political struggles in countries around the world. They were marketed as signs of distinction and prestige. Several universities have established centers for the study of sports in society.
Modern sports are a part of a larger globalization process. This process involves shifting power balances, multidirectional movements of people, and the development of a variety of body cultures in different parts of the world. It is possible that these processes may be having unintended consequences.
For example, some non-Western cultures resist Western sports. Their traditional sports are still popular and may challenge hegemonic masculine notions of sports. They also maintain indigenous recreational pursuits. However, many non-Western sports have been marginalized or displaced by the arrival of modern sports.
The introduction of modern technology has enabled images and money to travel much more quickly. Thus, sports are now marketed worldwide as a way to display a sense of pride and distinction. Some people are not athletes, but they continue to participate in sports throughout their lives.
During the 19th century, gymnastic clubs emerged in countries like Austria, Russia, and Germany in the midst of a struggle for independence from the Russian empire. The Slavic gymnastics movement known as Sokol was also active during this time.