Some people think that international competitive sports such as football bring conflict between people of different nationalities. Others think sport helps people and nations to understand each other. Discuss both views and give your opinion.
When two countries meet on the football pitch, basketball court or hockey field, feelings of passion and pride are ignited. Supporters cheer on their countrymen and countrywomen in the hope that they will be victorious. Whether such events unite or divide us is a fascinating question, which is worthy of discussion and debate.
There is certainly evidence that sport is able to cause problems. Fans can easily develop a sense of animosity towards opposing teams. The competitive element encourages them to consider their own nation in positive terms and to vilify the ‘enemy’. Emotions similar to those experienced during wars are often encouraged by the media. Friendly rivalry can turn into nationalism and even jingoism, and violence may erupt. There have been many cases where hooligans waving flags, carrying national symbols and chanting obscenely racist slogans have attacked supporters from other countries.
Yet the capacity of sport to bring individuals and nations together should not be overlooked. Those who follow their national teams regularly travel to matches abroad where they can experience and enjoy local customs, traditions and hospitality. This sometimes leads to the development of life-long friendships. It has also been argued by sociologists that international sport makes war less likely. They point out that the number of armed conflicts has diminished in the era of global sporting competitions and suggest that such events can release nationalistic pressure.
There is no doubt that tournaments such as The FIFA World Cup have had both a positive and a negative effect on relationships between countries. It is probably the case that such competitions magnify and exaggerate the emotions we already feel: they make angry racists angrier and more racist, and confirm the beliefs of more liberal-minded individuals that we should love our neighbors. In a sense, the question may be somewhat irrelevant because, due to the immense popularity of these matches, there is no prospect of them disappearing.
to ignite = arouse or inflame (an emotion or situation)
cheer on = support
victorious = successful
animosity = a feeling of strong dislike
to vilify = to say or write unpleasant things about someone or something, in order to cause other people to have a bad opinion of that person or thing
rivalry = a situation in which people, businesses, etc. compete with each other for the same thing
jingoism = the extreme belief that your own country is always best, often shown in enthusiastic support for a war against another country
hooligans = a violent person who fights or causes damage in public places
slogans = a short, easily remembered phrase used to describe the character of something, esp. a political idea or a product
sociologists = an expert in or student of the development, structure, and functioning of human society
armed conflicts = wars
magnify = to make (something) seem greater or more important than it is
liberal-minded = broad-minded, open-minded
irrelevant = not related to what is being discussed or considered and therefore not important
In a discussion essay such as this, this is a great sentence to finish your introduction: Whether ______________ is a fascinating question, which is worthy of discussion and debate.