The race for supremacy: The politics of 'white' sport in South Africa, 1870-1910

11 Jul 2016

In line with policies of imperialism, Britons of the late Victorian era believed themselves to be superior culturally, economically and politically when compared with other groups of people. This led to a promotion of things British, including sport, in the new regions of the Empire. In South Africa, however, this imposition of culture alienated an Afrikaans population, who, despite their European origins, were now as much a part of South Africa as the other groups that inhabited this area. Based on research conducted in South African archives over the past decade, this article examines the early development of 'white' sport in South Africa and its link to the politics of the late nineteenth century. Although a significant amount of work has concentrated on 'race' relations between black, coloured and white participants in the history of South African sport, this investigation reveals how the progress of sports such as cricket, rugby and soccer was tied to an antagonistic relationship between the two dominant white factions - the Afrikaners and the British. As such, this article marks an original contribution to the field.