Entrenching apartheid in South African sport, 1948 to 1980: the shaping of a sporting society during the Strijdom-, Verwoerd-and Vorster administrations

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 10
  • Abstract:

    The debate on transformation and quotas in South African sport resurfaced just before the South African general elections in May 2014. Transformation has become a contentious, but key issue in post-apartheid South Africa. The formative stage of racial divide in South African sport can be traced back to the implementation of rigid apartheid policies into South African sport during the period 1948 – 1980. Between 1948 and 1956 not much was done to develop a formal sports policy, but under the leadership of Strijdom, Verwoerd and Vorster strong sports policies, based on the principle of apartheid, were initiated and enforced through legislation in South African society. The introduction of apartheid in South African sport dates back to much earlier, but in 1948 it became governed by law, which were strictly adhered to by the different National Party administrations for the next three decades. Key issues, such as the ongoing Maori question, South Africa’s exclusion from the Olympic Games and world soccer, Verwoerd’s Loskopdam speech, the Basil D’Oliveira debacle and the Gleneagles Agreement, contributed to the destructive influence on sport in the country, which was shaped by the sport apartheid laws. Set against the background of international resistance towards apartheid in sport, the National Party’s sports policy changed continually. By the end of the seventies, the interaction between sport, politics and policies had done enough to create a very complex situation, which can be seen as the historical background to the transformation issue in South African sport today.