Monday, April 4, 2011

Sport Diplomacy: Quelling tensions between India and Pakistan, but not Boston and New York

Even though I don't understand a thing about cricket, I've actually been pretty interested in it for the past week. Last Monday I started an internship, and one of my co-workers has been talking about the India-Pakistan match, and how it's a monumental occasion. Being an avid baseball fan (I don't even want to talk about the Red Sox right now, I'm not going there, it's not starting off well), I'm interested. I mean, cricket is theoretically comparable to baseball....kind, no, not really.

Sport diplomacy. It's a concept that I think is brilliant and I want to learn more about. Every two years during the Olympics there's a sense of international warmth and goodwill for a few weeks - it's hard not to notice. Sports transcend language, culture, and politics and can bring together enemies and/or those with whom a society may have nothing in common - save for the love of a sport and the common experience that goes with it, whether participating or just being a fan.

Obviously, sport diplomacy can ease tensions and put more lighthearted spirit on serious disagreements between nations. But, as mentioned in the blog post I linked to, it can be an effective tool of public diplomacy on a grassroots level as well, by putting people on an even playing field (pun very much intended). Instinct says that sport diplomacy would place more emphasis on competition, but in reality it's the simpler things in life that serve to bond people across borders and cultures.

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