15. Keys Rise of International Sport

15 Keys Rise of - The Rise o f International Sports Organizations 2 T he Rise o f International Sports Organizations As the nineteenth century's b

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2 The Rise of International Sports Organizations As the nineteenth century's burst of nationalism and imperialism pushed the world toward an integrated system of nation-states, it also spawned new forms of internationalism. The half-century before World War I saw a striking proliferation of international organizations, both private and . governmental, devoted to endeavors as diverse as standardizing weights and measures, promoting a universal language, humanizing the condi- tions of war, and safeguarding public health. In the 1890s a new form of organization appeared, whose mission in some senses touched on all of these fields: the international sport organization. By 1914 about a dozen such groups had been formed to regulate individual sports and interna- tional competitions. As their power and influence grew, they would come to play a critical role in shaping the "imaginary world" of global sport. These bodies, as structures that disseminated ideas and practices to virtually every country aspiring to membership in international soci- ety, helped to channel and shape the explosion of nationalist movements in the twentieth century. . As was true of the international system more generally, the world of sport was fundamentally a European creation. Though claiming universal relevance, international sport was run at the outset almost exclusively by white, Christian, aristocratic or upper-middle-class European men. Like the international political system, the sport system was framed as a means of making the world more humane, orderly, and peaceful. Idealistic in- ternationalism, a movement that sought to promote peace through in- ternational contact, was a powerful current in the period when the first international sports organizations were founded, and the imprint of 40 The Rise of International Sports Organizations 41 their birth in the milieu of peaceful internationalism is visible in these brganizations' continued adherence to the idea that sport promotes peace as a central element in thei17 claims to legitimacy. International nongovernmental organizations, as sociologists john Boli and George Thomas have suggested, "seek, in a general sense, to spread 'progress' throughout the world: to encourage safer and more efficient technical systems, mote powerful knowledge structures, better care of the body, friendly competition and fair play." Sport organizations fit clearly within these parameters, with one major exception. While most intermi- tional nongovernmental organizations are characterized by strong norms of open membership and demdcratic decisi~n making, sport organiza- tions are typically governed autbcratically, with selfTappointed member- ships and often with closed voting procedures. 1
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This note was uploaded on 05/25/2011 for the course HIST 303 taught by Professor Salesa during the Fall '10 term at University of Michigan.

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15 Keys Rise of - The Rise o f International Sports Organizations 2 T he Rise o f International Sports Organizations As the nineteenth century's b

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