The rise of competitive sports in England: constructing character and national identity

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Abstract

There is a widespread belief that competition is a ‘natural’ phenomenon in human beings, and that it should therefore be fostered in such subjects as physical education, and certainly within the national sporting context. However, my research rejects this truth claim about competition and competitive sports being ‘natural’ and instead examines how competition has been used as a governmental art since the post-Second World War (1939-1945) in England. In this sense, I explore how physical education has been constituted as a governable problem. Focusing on the post-Second World War context in England, I argue herein that there is a close relationship between physical education pedagogy, sports policy, and the construction and regulation of the body. In particular, I consider one of the central ‘problems’ that dominates the literature on the governance of physical education – that of moral/social behaviour. This is aligned with the emergence of nationalistic discourses following the devastating effects of the Second World War, when competitive sports became a technology with which to rebuild the nation.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationSportageous
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

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