Game changer: the role of sport in revolution

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Sport is generally understood as a conservative social institution that reaffirms the established values and norms of a society. It is not seen as a mechanism for radical political or social change but a means for individual transformation within a society. This article explores that notion by examining how sport has been used by twentieth- century political revolutions. While considering twentieth-century revolutions, it takes the Cuban Revolution as a particular case study to illuminate the use of sport in remaking of society and persons. The article begins with a general discussion of revolution and sport’s relationships to it before briefly considering the two most prominent twentieth-century revolutions, the Russian and Chinese. The thrust then focuses on how the idea of revolution was understood in Cuba prior to the success of 1959 as well as immediately after. The article then examines the Cuban revolutionary state’s explicit emphasis on sport as a means for producing the New Man. In all, the article argues that contrary to the common assumption that sport and revolution do not mix, sport can play an important role in the major social and political transformations
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-746
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2014


  • revolution
  • sport
  • Cuba
  • twentieth century
  • political theory
  • state


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