The political sociology of power in sport: a comparative analysis of the 1956 and 1981 Springbok rugby tours to New Zealand

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 17
  • Abstract:

    The political sociology of power in sport has been undervalued as a field of study for many years. The predominant reason for this phenomenon is that the “innocence” of sport as a power politics vehicle shields the underpinning currents and trends of political manipulation of sport. In the formulation and application of policies, governments (or individual politicians) adopted either a value-driven or a strongly regulated approach to sport. In this regard the Springbok rugby tours to New Zealand in 1956 and 1981 provide a valuable insight into how governments’ policies could manifest in various opposing degrees of power politics. Max Weber’s theoretical apparatus to categorise sport action is regarded as very useful in categorising the various degrees of applied power politics. The investigation in the article was done on the basis of his exposition of sport. It is evident from the findings in the article that during and between the 1956 and 1981 Springbok tours significant changes occurred in both South Africa’s and New Zealand’s public policies, conceptualisation of sport and the application of power politics.