Meanings Given to Physical Activity and Sport by Different Cultural Groups

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Meanings given to physical activity and sport by different cultural groups


The role of competition • Many western countries value sport partly because it is thought it prepares people for living and working in a capitalist society based on the concept of competition. • Some societies value enjoyment, participation and playing for social and health benefits, eg. The Vietnamese. • Greek and Italian cultures value competition as a means of pursuing national pride.

Links to cultural identity • Many countries have sports they feel identifies them as a people. Eg. Soccer for Croatia, Greece and Italy; Rugby union for Ireland and Pacific Islands. • Activities such as bellydancing, Tai Chi, and Linedancing all have inks to different groups and cultures.

Relationships to ‘health’ • Concepts of health and physical activity vary between cultures. • Many cultures view sport as entertainment and social interaction. Eg. Western Countries, pacific Islands • Asian countries tend to encourage activities that maintain good health or to find spiritual fulfilment. Eg. Yoga

Ways of thinking about the body • Ancient Greek philosophers believed the body was a ‘temple’ and developed sports that emphasised physique and skill. • Asian philosophy emphasises the balance of mind, soul and body. • Western countries see the body as a machine to be trained and developed to achieve success in competition. • Body shape has also been emphasised – athletic, muscular, suntanned bodies are admired in Australia. This has led to many problems with body image and eating disorders because of unrealistic sterotypes.