This week, I read two articles on early sports history; those articles were “Changing the Cultural Landscape” by Claudia Guedes and “The Early Evolution of Modern Sport in Latin America: A Mainly English Middle-Class Inspiration?” by J. A. Mangan. Both of these articles similarly delved into how sports of English origin were delivered to and spread across Latin America and how they ultimately became the modern day sports of the region.
“As was the case in many other countries, it was the English who introduced what
would become Brazil’s most popular sport – soccer football.” (Guedes 2011, 2595)
Looking back at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the dominance Brazil has displayed in soccer throughout the sport’s history, this quote sits as a reminder that soccer would not have been Brazil’s most beloved sport today, had it not been for Great Britain bringing and introducing the sport to Brazilians early on in the late 1800s. Not only does the quote discuss how the English are responsible for implementing soccer into Brazilian culture, but it also discusses how the English shared soccer across many countries beyond Brazil. It speaks larger to the British’s extraordinary impact on sports origins for countries around the world and their overall dominance on the global stage in the 19th century.
“Elmer Johnson, who has written at some length about the physical education work of the YMCA, contends that South America was ‘one of the most difficult areas to penetrate’.” (Guedes 2011, 2599)
As American missionaries made their mark across Brazil, they found it to be an absolute struggle to establish the YMCA and the spread of Christianity within the country, as the quote above entails. But soon enough, as Guedes goes on to describe in the article, the YMCA would finally become a staple in Brazilian culture through the decision to provide sports from within the organization. The inclusion of sports allowed the YMCA’s members to discover sports such as volleyball and basketball, both of which ultimately belonging among Brazil’s most popular sports. Thus, the massive challenge that American missionaries once faced was finally accomplished, thanks to sports.
“The point has been made, ‘with epigrammatic forcefulness’, that ‘the history of all cultures is the history of cultural borrowing’.” (Mangan 2001, 35)
As Geudes addressed in her article, Mangan would also go on to discuss in his article about Great Britain’s hefty contributions towards planting the seeds for sports culture across many different countries. The above quote from his article is tying in the history of modern sports being developed by the English and how they are then essentially being “borrowed” by countries such as Argentina and Brazil. Not only does this quote speak towards those two countries, but it also expands towards many other countries throughout Latin America that have long been impacted by the English’s presence as it pertains to sports origins.
- ‘Changing the cultural landscape’: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09523367.2011.627200
- The Early Evolution of Modern Sport in Latin America: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/714001585