In this week’s discussion, I read about the history and influence that America and Youth Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) had on sports and religion in South America; Brazil, and Puerto Rico. Brazil is a country that is rich in sporting history. Their men’s soccer football and women’s volleyball, among others, have been very successful in global competitions. Sporting activities were introduced to Brazil by different European countries, American missionaries, the YMCA, and Germans. The YMCA was crucial in the process as they came into the country as missionaries to spread Christianity. They believe sports go hand in hand with Christian beliefs. On the other hand, Puerto Rico was a colony of Spain before the arrival of Americans. After the Spanish American war in 1898, the Spanish left Puerto Rico. However, the country was already dominated by the catholic society. Americans viewed this as backward and therefore felt they were the bearers of the right and burden to spread Christianity in the country. The YMCA was significant in the spread of Christianity in Puerto Rico because they went in as an army and navy YMCA but still spread Christianity and encouraged physical activities.
The themes that dominate this week were Christianity, sports, and racism. Christianity had an influence on how America found its way into Brazil and Puerto Rico. The main organization that spread Christianity was YMCA which felt that it had the duty to do so. They were allies to the United States’ invasion of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines. They believed Spanish Catholicism that dominated Puerto Rico at the time was backward. They felt the need to introduce Anglo-Saxon Protestantism which they termed as civilized and culturally progressive. Christianity begot sports in both countries. The general feeling was that spiritual health was tied to physical health. Therefore, sports spread through the region replacing cockfighting and samba dances that were the main source of entertainment in the region. In Puerto Rico, we find a strong theme of racism through the early stages of sports. Black people and women were seen as outsiders in sports. The hierarchy favored ‘Spanish men’. Women would engage in sports, but not during regular hours.