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This issue: Sports and Politics
Sports in general, and the Olympics in particular, have never been
free of politics. Allegations of bribery and cheating had already been
part of the Olympics for centuries before that noteworthy day in 67 AD
when the judges proclaimed the Emperor Nero winner of the Olympic
chariot race even though he had been thrown from his chariot and failed
to complete the race.
No doubt the judges who crowned Nero were keenly aware of his
proclivity for executing those who displeased him. In the modern sports
era, survival and success depend largely on the favour of corporations,
whose power to provide or withhold funding and sponsorships now shape
every aspect of sport, including athletes’ incomes and lifestyles. It is
now difficult to remember that only a few decades ago, corporate logos
were strictly forbidden at Olympic events, while athletes were
prohibited from accepting any kind of payment for their involvement in
sports. The corporate conquest of sports closely parallels the corporate
colonization of nearly all aspects of modern life. Accompanying this in
recent years has been the increasing injection of militaristic content
into sports spectacles. In Canada, hockey games are now commonly
preceded by rituals honouring militarism. In the United States, similar
spectacles have been staged for years.
In this issue, we feature resources which remind us that resistance
to the commercialization, corporatization, and militarization of sports
is also part of our heritage. We recall the International Workers’
Olympiads which took place between 1925 and 1937, and the workers’
sports organizations which flourished in a number of countries.
With the Rio de Janeiro Olympics under way, we feature an analysis of
the way a constitutional coup is being carried out in Brazil while the
attention of the media is on the sports spectacle in Rio.
We also look at the extraordinary witchhunt under way against Russian
athletes. Various sports federations have taken the unprecedented step
of banning Russian athletes from entire sports, not for anything the
individual athletes themselves have done, but to punish the Russian
government. The pretext for these bans is a hurried report by a Canadian
lawyer which claims that the Russian government (or, as the media
routinely say, “Putin”) carried out a mass doping program. While there
are undoubtedly Russian athletes who used performance-enhancing drugs
(as there are in many other countries), most of the ‘evidence’
underlying these sweeping allegations is based on the word of one man, a
former Russian coach who now lives and works in the United States.
Russian officials and athletes were not interviewed and were not given
any opportunity to give their side of the story. Nor were Russian
athletes given the opportunity to undergo drug tests to determine
whether they had in fact taken performance-enhancing drugs. They were
simply banned without any pretense of due process. Meanwhile athletes
from other countries, such as the United States, who have used banned
drugs in the past are being allowed to compete.
Distracted though we are by sports, we do have some other content in
this issue, including an analysis of the recent coup attempt and
counter-coup in Turkey, and a story about a movement for ‘conscious
food’ in Bolivia.
In the Organizing section, we remember the women of Greenham Common,
whose nineteen-year protest at a British nuclear weapons site developed
new ideas about organizing and civil disobedience.
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Sports and Politics
Sports and politics have always been intertwined, though perhaps
never as much so as in the current era. Find resources and the
relationship between politics and sports, today and in the past, in the
Connexions Subject Index here.
This Week on Connexions.org
The Olympic Smokescreen for the Brazilian Coup
While the world focuses on the Rio Olympics, the coup government in
Brazil is moving rapidly to impeach the democratically elected president
Dilma Rousseff. The Olympics have become their smokescreen. The world's
media are gathered in Rio, but this is one story they're not interested
in covering. Telesur reports on what is going on behind the scenes. Read more
Keywords: Brazil – Regime Change
Ban of Russian Olympic Team: Cold War at its 'Best'
The New Cold War is now in full swing and the West
is using both old and new tactics, in order to demonize and discredit
all of its opponents: from Russia to China, Venezuela, North Korea,
South Africa and Iran. The War against the 'coalition of unwilling' is
constantly diversifying. Propagandists in North America and Europe are
inventing new weapons of mass intellectual and information destruction.
Nothing is left intact. The latest ‘battle’ is truly unconventional, one
could even say ‘innovative’ - it is an attempt to demonize Russian
athletes and prevent them from participating in the Olympic games. Read more
Keywords: Olympics – Witchhunts
The World Cup and the Corporatization of Soccer
Huge global sporting contests, their boosters promise, will
transform the nature of the host country. The billions South Africa
poured into hosting the World Cup were touted by some as a form of
development. The result? The month-long euphoria of the contests was
followed by the hangover of dealing with an expensive unused or
underused stadium infrastructure scattered across that developing
country. Host countries pay FIFA for the privilege of hosting the
competition, then foot the bill for most of the tournament, while FIFA
takes most of the revenues. Read more
Keywords: Football – Sports History
Turkey: A war of two coups
On 15 July 2016 a section of the Turkish armed forces attempted to
take power from the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP, came
very close to its objective, but was ultimately defeated. This article
examines the causes of the failed coup and its social and political
effects on the Turkish society. Read more
Keywords: Coups – Turkey
Abundance for everybody - 'conscious food' supports a thriving urban activist community in Bolivia
A group of Bolivian activists engage in 'conscious eating' while
resisting capitalism and climate change and valuing everyone's work.
Finding alternative ways to live and work together around a new set of
values is part the transition they are working to achieve. They are
re-imagining economic and social relations by putting community needs
ahead of individualistic personal benefit and generating an economy with
values very different from how society operates at large. Read more
Keywords: Economic Alternatives – Food
Book of the Week
The Struggle for Canadian Sport
By Bruce Kidd
Bruce Kidd, a former track star,
documents the development and transformation of Canadian sport in the
twentieth century. Canadian sports were turned on their head during the
years between the world wars. The middle-class amateur men's
organizations which dominated Canadian sports since the mid-nineteenth
century steadily lost ground, swamped by the rise of consumer culture
and badly battered and split by the depression. In The Struggle for
Canadian Sport Bruce Kidd illuminates the complex and fractious process
that produced the familiar contours of Canadian sport today -- the
hegemony of continental cartels like the NHL, the enormous ideological
power of the media, the shadowed participation of women in sports, and
the strong nationalism of the amateur Olympic sports bodies. Read more
Keywords: Canadian Sports – Sports History
The women of Greenham Common taught a generation how to protest
There is a urgent need for the environmental movement and
the labour movement to work together. This requires seriously addressing
the question of what happens to the working people whose jobs depend on
the current economic system, the system we have to replace. Read more
Keywords: Protest – Grassroots Peace Activists
International Workers' Olympiads
International Workers' Olympiads were an international sporting
event arranged between 1925 and 1937 by Socialist Workers' Sport
International (SASI). It was an organisation supported by social
democratic parties and International Federation of Trade Unions.
Workers' Olympiads were an alternate event for the Olympic Games. The
participants were members of various labour sports associations and came
mostly from Europe.
The Workers' Olympiads were created as a counterweight for the
Olympic Games, which were criticized for being confined for the upper
social classes and privileged people. The international workers' sports
movement did not believe that the true Olympic spirit could be achieved
in an Olympic movement dominated by the aristocratic leadership. Pierre
de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee, had always
opposed women's participation and supported the cultural superiority of
white Europeans over other races. His followers, Henri de
Baillet-Latour and Avery Brundage, were openly anti-Semitic and both
collaborated with the Nazis. On the contrary, the Workers' Olympiads
opposed all kinds of chauvinism, sexism, racism and social
exclusiveness. The Olympic Games were based in rivalry between the
nations, but the Workers' Olympiads stressed internationalism,
friendship, solidarity and peace. Read more
Keywords: Sports – Sports History
The White Man in That Photo
One of the most famous photos in sports history depicts John
Carlos and Tommie Smith standing on the Olympic podium in Mexico City in
1968, holding their black-gloved fists in the air in a black power
salute. There is a third man in that photo: Peter Norman, a white
Australian who won the silver medal in that 200-meter race, and his
story is much less known. Read more
Keywords: Olympic History – Sports History
At last, what we’ve all been waiting for: a video game that
let’s you experience the contradictions of capital accumulation as
analyzed by Karl Marx – without having to become a capitalist yourself. More
Keywords: Capitalist Crises – Games
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August 11 – 21, 2016
Vancouver Queer Film Festival
the best in independent queer cinema, the Vancouver Queer Film Festival
is Vancouver's second largest film festival and the largest Queer arts
event in Western Canada. The festival hosts a variety of performances,
workshops, panels, parties and more, facilitating a unique queer space
for 11 days each August.
August 13, 2016
East Toronto Canvass for $15 and Fairness
Enders in Toronto, let's make some noise! Join us in the neighbourhood
to spread the word and help build the Fight for $15 & Fairness
movement. Communities across Ontario are mobilizing to strengthen
working conditions in our province - including recent actions in Oshawa,
Rexdale, West Toronto, Sudbury and Ottawa.
August 23, 2016
International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition
date August 23 was chosen as the International Day for the Remembrance
of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition because during the night of August
22 to August 23, 1791, on the island of Saint-Domingue (now known as
Haiti), an uprising began which set in train events which were a major
factor in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
The Connexions Calendar is an
online calendar that exists to advertise events that support social
justice, democracy, human rights, ecology, and other causes. We invite
you to use it to promote your events. Adding events to the Connexions
Calendar is FREE. We'll give you a username and password which you use
to log on. Use the contact form to arrange for a username and password. Read more →
August 18, 1823
Uprising of tens of thousands of slaves in the British colony of
Demerara (in what is now Guyana). The rebellion is defeated, with more
than 100 slaves killed and other executed afterwards. However, the
events cause anger and revulsion in Britain and help push public
sentiment for the abolition of slavery.
August 19, 1953
CIA-sponsored coup in Iran
In Iran, a coup sponsored and directed by the CIA overthrows
liberal-leaning Premier Mohammed Mossadegh, who had nationalized the
Iranian oil industry. The coup puts the pro-Western Shah Mohammed
Pahlevi into power, who quickly gives control of the oil industry back
to U.S. and British oil companies. The coup becomes the defining event
in modern Iranian history, leading to the 1979 revolution and to Iran’s
continuing suspicion of and hostility to the United States.
August 19, 1957
Violence breaks out at the copper miners’ strike in Murdochville,
Quebec when police are ordered by Premier Duplessis to suppress the
strike. The government’s actions help to turn public opinion against the
reactionary Union Nationale regime, laying the groundwork for the Quiet
August 22, 1791
Outbreak of the Haitian Revolution
Slaves of Saint Domingue (Haiti) rise in revolt, triggering the Haitian revolution.
August 25 – September 2, 1921
Battle of Blair Mountain
Coal miners in West Virginia battle police, armed strikebreakers, and
the U.S. army in what comes to be known as the Battle of Blair Mountain.
For five days, between 10,000 and 15,000 coal miners seeking union
recognition fight against the government and the coal companies. More
than 100 are killed, hundreds are injured. In the end, the miners lose
the battle, but prevail in the longer term: by 1935, all miners in
southern West Virginia win union recognition and better wages and
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This issue was edited by Ulli Diemer.
812A Bloor Street West, Suite 201
Toronto ON M6G 1L9 Canada
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