Sport and Apartheid South Africa: Histories of Politics, Power, and Protest
by Michelle M. Sikes, Toby C. Rider and Matthew Llewellyn (edited by), published by Routledge, (2022), 9781003205272
This collection of essays contains the current scholarship on the role of sport in apartheid South Africa and an analysis of the international response, allowing a varied approach to teaching the topic. Students could choose a sport depending on their interests – the book has essays on cycling, mountaineering, athletics, football, boxing, rugby and even chess! – and make presentations on the impact of apartheid upon their chosen areas. Chapter 1 examines how the sporting boycott movement was driven by the newly decolonised African states in the 1950s, not by Western nations. Its power was evident in the success of the Olympic sports ban and the cricket and rugby controversies of 1970. One result was the announcement of South African Prime Minister Vorster of a new ‘multi-national’ sports policy. Students could investigate the civil disobedience, pitch invasions and harsh police actions against protesters that were a feature of this time. You could also debate whether ‘constructive engagement’ (as promoted by the British government and sporting authorities) was justified or whether complete isolation for South Africa should have been pursued. This can be explored through Chapter 11, which assesses the role of fan community behaviour towards rugby in South Africa. This links to a broader discussion of sporting boycotts/protests and politics, possibly including the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign or the Russian war against Ukraine. As the Jamaican-born academic Stuart Hall suggested, the sports boycott ‘found a way of bringing home to people who thought that sport was time out from real life, that real life was in the centre of time out’.