Sportizenship: the complex links between citizenship, sports and national identity

Jelena Dzankic
Citizenship and sports

Sport is not only a manifestation of a physical contest. It is also a manifestation of cultural and national elements of a society. National sporting contests are often said to instil a sense of community in a state. By attending and supporting different sporting events, people reinforce the identity dimension of citizenship. Supporting a team emphasises an individual’s link to his or her polity, be it a city, a sub-state entity or a country.

With the Olympic buzz in the air, I often come to think about states, and flags, and the feelings that the exercise of physical competition inspires. Over the thirty years of my Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav life those states, flags and feelings have changed. Many times. I remember when at the Olympics I cheered the country whose tricolour flag had a big red star in the middle.

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