“There is something else at play in this centennial Copa América. The original impetus for this tournament was to honor the 100th anniversary of Argentina’s declaration of independence from Spain and its push across the Andes to help liberate Chile. In other words, the 2016 Copa America is a centennial celebration of a centennial celebration. Moreover, the idea of a continental tournament was itself a nod to Simon Bolívar’s desire for American unity across the entire Western Hemisphere.”

As a student that is new to sport history, I had no idea of this cultural and historical significance of the Copa América. I knew that the sport itself played a large role in Latin American culture, but never even considered that it could have been linked to political events like the liberation of Latin American countries from Spanish rule. I am not a huge soccer fan myself (though it is one of my favorite sports to watch), but I have always thought of soccer as a very celebratory, lively, and resilient sport, and have always known it to have significant historical roots. This little bit of information in this quote has now given me a glimpse into the reason why! Understanding something so commonly known as the Copa América as a celebration of a resilient moment in Latin American history helps me tie the sport as a whole into my greater understanding of history.

With this new consideration that sports like soccer are not only a part of history, culture, and national identity, but a reflection and celebration of these aspects of life, I’ll be able to better apply what I learn in this class to prior knowledge of political history – particularly of politics and culture throughout the Americas.

Additionally, I have always thought of sport as just sport, not a vessel for other motives. This reading’s exploration of reasons why the Copa America Centenario may have been decided on despite it being an “off year” for the regular tournament inspires me to think critically about events like this, as I don’t usually think about the idea that the popularity of soccer (and other big sports) can be a means to influence spectators of the sport.