Sport, politics and black athletics in South Africa during the apartheid era: a political-sociological perspective
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The article examines the relationship between sport and politics in South Africa from a political-sociological perspective, with a specific focus on the status of black athletics in apartheid South Africa. The narrower focus aims to outline how white civil society and the National Party government utilised athletics as a mechanism to enforce the policy of separateness/apartheid in the South African society. In the process, white dominated political structures and centralised political processes were used to dominate and regulate black athletics in South Africa (1894-1976). The structures and dynamics of black athletics were, for more than a century, manipulated and dictated for political and related reasons. The manipulation took place in three broad identifiable periods, namely: 1884-1960 – the period of “informal” segregation, when the national body, provinces and clubs used race as a mechanism to enforce cleavages in society. The second period stretches from 1960-1976, when the National Party adopted a more assertive direct role to enforce their sports policy. The last period, between 1976 and 1992, signified another direction change, when government stepped back and only set the broader framework for the regulation of athletics in South Africa. In each of the periods, the politics-sport power relationship will be explained in relation to the regulation of black athletics in the country.