Sport and (International) Politics

General Information
6 – 8.05.2019
Number of Hours: 
Preliminary requirements: 

Basics of international relations (and, obviously, it is desirable to be interested in sport).

Course Description: 

Monday – 06.05.2019

15.00 – 16.30 (room 208)  

16.30 – 18.00 (room 208)  

18.00 – 19.45 (room 208)


Tuesday – 07.05.2019

16.30 – 18.00 (room 205) 

18.00 – 19.45 (room 205)


Wednesday – 08.05.2019

8.15 – 9.45 (room 13)    

9.45 – 11.30 (room 13)   


For a long time, an academic research on sport and its use as a political tool was ignored by mainstream Political Science and International Relations. However, nowadays, there is a different situation and sport in the context of international and domestic politics has become one of very popular topics. The aim of this course is to familiarize students with sport as a specific tool used by politicians to gain their political goals. Specifically, the course pays attention to sports diplomacy and ways how the undemocratic regimes and stateless nations work with international sport in connection with their political aspirations. For more information, see timetable of the lectures below.

Day 1 (6thMay)

Sport as a Political Tool

Basic introduction

What is modern sport?

Mass gymnastics and (national) ideology

Sports diplomacy

Day 2 (7thMay)

International Sport and Undemocratic Regimes

Documentary film about the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin (44 minutes)

Sporting events and undemocratic regimes

Documentary film about the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi (68 minutes

Discussion about sporting boycotts (connected to students’ essays – see below) and sport in the undemocratic regimes

Day 3 (8thMay)

Sport and (Stateless) Nations

Basque national football team as a political tool

Students’ presentations and following discussion

Documentary film about the role of sport within society (73 minutes)

Aims of the course: 

Aim of the course is to familiarize students with sports diplomacy and the ways how politicians use sport as a political tool.

Teaching methods: 

The course is based on the combination of a wide range of teaching methods: lectures (sports diplomacy in general, sport as a political tool used by stateless nation, etc.), discussion (sporting boycotts, etc.), screening of documentary films (sporting events and undemocratic regimes, etc.) and students’ presentations. 

Evaluation & Completion: 

1) Every student has to write an essay where she/he tries to answer the question: “Is sporting boycott a useful tool of diplomacy?”. The essay has to be sent to my e-mail jirkazak@kap.zcu.czby 30thApril 2019, number of characters must be from 3600 to 5400. Do not forget to use references. (From 0to 40 points)

2) Every student should participate in the lectures. (30 points: each day 10 points)

3) Group of students has to prepare a 15-minute presentation (in PowerPoint or Prezi) of their own research project about a topic related to sport and politics. They should describe the main aim of their project, why they decided to choose this topic, how they should get data, if they encountered any research problems, etc. That means students have to prepare some research project related to this course.[1](From 0to 30 points)

Minimum of 60 points to receive the credit

60-70 = 3,0-3,5 (D)

70-80 = 4,0 (C)

80-90 = 4,5 (B)

90-100 or more = 5 (A)


[1]If students want, they can continue working on their projects and they could consult them with the lecturer via e-mail jirkazak@kap.zcu.czin the future.

Additional Literature: 

Brentin, Dario – Tregoures, Loïc (2016). Entering through the Sport’s Door? Kosovo’s Sport Diplomatic Endeavours towards International Recognition. Diplomacy & Statecraft27 (2), 360–378.

Goldsmith, Marlene (1995). Sporting Boycotts as a Political Tool. The Australian Quarterly67 (1), 11–20.

Grix, Jonathan – Houlihan, Barrie (2013). Sports Mega-Events as Part of a Nation’s Soft Power Strategy: The Cases of Germany (2006) and the UK (2012). The British Journal of Politics and International Relations16 (4), 572–596.

Grix, Jonathan (2016). Sport Politics. An Introduction(Palgrave Macmillan: London).

Guttmann, Allen (1978). From Ritual to Record. The Nature of Modern Sports(Columbia University Press: New York).

Houlihan, Barrie (2014). The Government and Politics of Sport(Routledge: New York).

Kobierecki, Michał Marcin (2015). Dyplomacja sportowa. Sport jako arena prowadzenia dyplomacji międzynarodowej. Kultura i Polityka17, 109–124.

Murray, Stuart – Pigman, Geoffrey Allen (2014). Mapping the relationship between international sport and diplomacy. Sport in Society17 (9), 1098–1118.

Murray, Stuart (2018). Sports Diplomacy. Origins, Theory and Practice(Routledge: London) 

Pigman, Geoffrey Allen (2014). International Sport and Diplomacy’s Public Dimension: Governments, Sporting Federations and the Global Audience. Diplomacy & Strategy25 (1), 94–114.

Prabucki, Bartosz (2012). Gry sportowe jako element wzmacniający współczesne tożsamości etniczne. Analiza na przykładzie Basków. Homo Ludens1 (4), 195–207.

Shearer, Derek (2014). To Play Ball, Not Make War. Sports, Diplomacy and Soft Power. Harvard Internationl Review36 (1), 53–57.

Vaczi, Mariann (2015). Soccer, Culture and Society in Spain. An ethnography of Basque fandom. (Routledge: London).

Xifra, Jordi (2009). Building Sport Countries’ Overseas Identity and Reputation: A Case Study of Public Paradiplomacy. American Behavioral Scientist53 (4), 504–515.