Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 12: Cultures in Sports

As I mention in my Day 9 post (Bodies in Sport):
For reasons that will become clear, I appreciate the way NBC covers the Olympics: they frequently jump from sport to sport. [...] The reason I happen to like this, given my own research interests, is that we get to see the variety of bodies (body types) that participate in sports and, from this, the relationship between body and sport. Moving from the Bobsled [...] to speed skating [...] and then to short track speed skating [...] is an exercise in the varieties of human embodiment.
It is likewise interesting to the see the move from sport to sport in terms of nationality. That is, what nations excel at what sports? As I write, America and Germany go down the wire in Team Nordic Combined. A few channels over, Canada is destroying Germany in hockey.

I don't have much new to say here, as I have already been dealing with this issue tacitly throughout my Olympic posts. It does, however, corroborate my points about bodies. It would be silly to argue that Germany simply doesn't have inherently talented hockey players; that the genetics of Germans have not mixed in just the right way to produce hockey excellence. It probably isn't simply access to ice either. Germany does not suffer from tropical climes that might work against success at cold, winter sports. They are currently in second place in the overall medal count. And as my German friend has reminded me, because of Germany's population this is rather impressive medal production. It seems far more plausible that Germans, by and large, have simply not invested in hockey for whatever reason. A cultural "decision" has been made with respect to hockey, and that call means that tonight Germany went down to Canada 8-2.

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