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Class/race divisions in sport by country

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Class/race divisions in sport by country

Postby jservuk » Sat, 05 Sep 2015, 09:41

How is it that in Brazil, Germany, much of the world they have 1 major national sport that transcends class/prosperity divisions, whereas in much of the English speaking world the sport you follow more or less defines which class/social group you are from? Go to Madrid/Munich and you will see the monied people in their suits there is big numbers as well as the more ordinary fans.

In the UK, prior to the 90s football was working class, but then the move to all-seater and higher pricing brought in more affluent supporters, which in turn pushed football more into the realms of popular culture in the UK, so it is now much more homogenous. RU is becoming less elitist in some areas, but it doesn't have the following in the big cities. Cricket is probably less class-ridden in terms of fan base, but it lags behind i terms of general popularity, attendances, TV audiences etc.

This question has been triggered by the 2 threads on here about SA and race politics. My question is more general about how and why this happens. Maybe someone can find a list of sports/social grouping demographics by country.

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Re: Class/race divisions in sport by country

Postby Rowan » Sat, 05 Sep 2015, 17:40

Just a few personal observations:

Working as a sports journalist in New Zealand I noticed quite a distinct racial divide, not only in terms of which sports people chose to play, but also in terms of for which clubs. For example, the cricket matches I attended were almost exclusively white. Meanwhile, across town the softball games were almost exclusively Maori with a few Pacific Islanders involved. So as far as summer sports went, the racial divide was definitely reflected in the choice of sports. But in winter things were a bit more complicated. Rugby union pretty well reflected the demographics of that country, mostly white but a signficant number of Maori and Pacific Islanders involved. However, certain clubs were Polynesian-dominated. Of course, these tended to be from the working class suburbs where the Polynesian population was much higher. However, some clubs - such as Poneke - tended to have something of a Polynesian 'culture,' and the Maori and Pacific Island contingent was disproportionately high for the area. Meanwhile, rugby league was definitely Polynesian-dominated, while soccer was almost exclusively white (including minorities from the Mediterranean region).
If they're good enough to play at World Cups, then why not in between?

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Re: Class/race divisions in sport by country

Postby AUCKLANDREUNION » Sat, 05 Sep 2015, 18:54

This is one of those subjects in which you will end up with a flawed result if you take a small area and generalise.

In the Auckland area , the vast majority of Rugby clubs (Union or League) would have a higher number of Polynesian players than anyone else. in turn the All Blacks have four Blues players going to the the World cup, three of them are Polynesian.

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Re: Class/race divisions in sport by country

Postby Rowan » Sat, 05 Sep 2015, 19:10

AUCKLANDREUNION wrote:This is one of those subjects in which you will end up with a flawed result if you take a small area and generalise.

In the Auckland area , the vast majority of Rugby clubs (Union or League) would have a higher number of Polynesian players than anyone else. in turn the All Blacks have four Blues players going to the the World cup, three of them are Polynesian.


Sure, my comments were about the Wellington region. I spent a year in Auckland but didn't play (or cover) sports there. It was during my mispent youth between high school & uni. :twisted: I got a job at Lincoln Toys on the Great South Road :lol: and went to an awful lot of gigs and concerts. That's what I remember about Auckland . . .
If they're good enough to play at World Cups, then why not in between?

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Re: Class/race divisions in sport by country

Postby AUCKLANDREUNION » Sat, 05 Sep 2015, 19:55

Boy o Boy a Lincoln Toy, thats a long time ago, Auckland has changed a lot since then.

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Re: Class/race divisions in sport by country

Postby jservuk » Sun, 06 Sep 2015, 09:58

Interesting, so soccer in NZ seems to be the sport of the white middle class. I would say that the take-up in the US is from a similar social group ("Soccer Moms" etc), though obviously this is countered by the huge Hispanic and sizeable global diasporas in the US who would follow soccer.

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Re: Class/race divisions in sport by country

Postby Rowan » Sun, 06 Sep 2015, 17:40

jservuk wrote:Interesting, so soccer in NZ seems to be the sport of the white middle class. I would say that the take-up in the US is from a similar social group ("Soccer Moms" etc), though obviously this is countered by the huge Hispanic and sizeable global diasporas in the US who would follow soccer.


I was at uni in the Midwest a little over 2 decades ago, played on the soccer team and saw a bit of rugby, and my impression was that not many African-Americans were involved in either sport. Plenty of whites, of course - as well as Hispanics, other minorities and immigrants involved with the round-ball code, but I don't recall coming across a single African-American in all the games I played. Perhaps one of our American friends could enlighten us further on the sporting demographics in the US.

As an aside, I think it's a little ironic that the mostly white folk of the US are called 'Americans' and the mostly native folk of Central & South America are stuck with foreign-sounding labels such as 'Hispanic' or 'Latin(o).' :thumbdown: :evil:
If they're good enough to play at World Cups, then why not in between?

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Re: Class/race divisions in sport by country

Postby Coloradoan » Mon, 07 Sep 2015, 19:17

In the US, football and basketball are pretty much followed and played by all. Soccer and lacrosse tend to be whiter, although in the case of soccer it is also popular amongst the immigrant communities so is less so than lacrosse. Lacrosse and hockey are the white upper middle class sports. Rugby draws from a pretty good mix of backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses, although on a per capita basis it's most popular with Polynesians.

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Re: Class/race divisions in sport by country

Postby Rowan » Tue, 08 Sep 2015, 18:34

Generally we find that, when it comes to sports, Africans and African-Americans are much more inclined to follow the money trail than play amateur or semi-pro sports simply for enjoyment. This is, of course, quite understandable.
If they're good enough to play at World Cups, then why not in between?

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Re: Class/race divisions in sport by country

Postby NedRugby » Wed, 09 Sep 2015, 18:54

Are you suggesting they are genetically pre-disposed to being greedy?

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Re: Class/race divisions in sport by country

Postby Rowan » Thu, 10 Sep 2015, 07:35

NedRugby wrote:Are you suggesting they are genetically pre-disposed to being greedy?


Interesting such a notion should spring so readily to your mind. It shouldn't be necessary to clarify this to anyone with an unprejudiced perspective, but it's about economic factors, of course, and a lot of the hardships Africans and African-Americans face have been created by European (and white American) prejudice and exploitation. Sport offers a way out, and countless articles have been written about this topic.
If they're good enough to play at World Cups, then why not in between?

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