What is the significance of sports in German culture? What are the most popular kinds of sports in Germany? Who are some of the most famous German athletes? How have sports affected and reflected German culture since 1945? In what ways are the recent controversies surrounding the German Men’s National Soccer Team indicative of larger social and cultural issues facing Germany today?
Sports are highly valued in the German culture. Elite sports organizations in German were supported by the government as early as 1914. Sport has since been experiencing government support ever since, for national representation benefit. In the World War II aftermath, new sport organization umbrella emerged. The Germany National Olympic Committee (NOK) was set up in 1949, and the German Sports Association (DSB) in 1950. The NOK was structured to represent the Germany Olympic deal, and the DSB was established as the umbrella organization in the nation, standing for all sport federations. These organizations merged in 2006 into the German Olympic Sport Confederation (DOSB). Sports culture is thus deeply rooted in German (Zhang, Huang & Nauright, 167). In addition the country also has gymnastics club which was established in the 19th century. The origin of this club lies in the democratic and liberal tradition and culture of Germany civil society. All free men claimed the right to freely organize gymnastic clubs. They were unwilling to remain lower-ranking and victims subjects of the upper class aristocratic, but wished to be responsible of their own fortune, lives, minds, and bodies. The gymnastic clubs of Germany were a result of European enlightenment spirit and liberty drive, and of nationalism political movements. All individuals who shared the aims of the German nation integration, enlightenment, civil rights and liberty were welcome in the gymnastic clubs (Kruger, 1587).
The significance of sport in German Culture is promotion of integration in the country. Clubs are the most significant form of organized spare and leisure time in Germany. According to Kruger, (1586), sports also play a significant role in social bonding in society and culture. Sports clubs are highly the largest aspect of the German club culture. They in on one side work as a means of spending free time and enjoying sociality and German coziness by means of sports, games, leisure-time playing, and bodily movement. On the other side, clubs express unique group interest and personal motives. Germany sports clubs are also an essential lobby for various sports, and generally for body and sport culture in the country’s culture, politics and society. The limits and potential for German culture and society to integrate people of various religion, birth, language as well as cultural and social backgrounds, are at least partially reflected in the sports clubs integration capability. This implies that, such people demonstrate an interest in being a part of the sport club system of German by joining and taking part in leagues, sporting contests and gymnastic or sporting events. The current German National Soccer Team can be considered and is actually propagated by the Football Association of German as a successful instance of integration since players and the their fans come from different countries of origin, including Turkey, Poland and different African countries among others. The National Soccer Team is a clear testimony in the political debate to the fact that Germany turned to an immigration country. Perhaps, an initial step in the cultural and social process of integration can also happen through sports clubs. For instance the entire Turkish football clubs participating in the complex system of soccer league and playing over culturally mixed or/and German teams (Kruger, 1586).
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Germany most popular sport is soccer. Football is regarded as a major cultural event in Germany. Soccer’s triumphal march towards being the most popular sport in Germany is mainly because it has cultural creative power which can blossom under particular history conditions (Tomlinson and Young Tomlinson and Young, 1). Football was initially just a sport that was purely meant for enthusiasts of round leather. It has since advanced to a sport of spectator which captivated tens of thousands that had never played the sport under competitive situations. In 1950s, football eventually managed to be a mass-media event in Germany, so big to even be utilized for political purpose. According to (Tomlinson and Young, 2) Germany football can transmit and carry non-sporting webs of meaning and turn to a focal point of socialization process. It thus a cultural event in which various different meaning patterns has been acknowledged. One of the main reasons that soccer is the most popular sport in Germany is due to Bundesliga; its premium product that was founded in 1963, for professional national league organization, with competitive games across the country. The Germany Bindesliga has 18 teams with FC Bayern Munich being the most successful team. This team won its 25th championship in 2014/2015 season. The team has achieved 24 out of 25 championships since the Bundesliga foundation (Zhang, Huang & Nauright, 168).
Germany today has a huge number of athletes participating in different kinds of sports. Among the most famous athletes in the country today include Franz Beckenbauer who is a footballer, and the only German who won in the worldcup as manager and a player. The other famous athlete is Martin Kaymer who is a golf player in the country. He was the second golf player in the country to win major-tournament. Martin Kaymer was named as the best golf player in the globe in 2011. Krupp Uwe is the most famous hockey player in the country, Dirk Nowitki the most famous athlete in basketball, and Sebastian Vettel and Micheal Schumacher the best racers (Moving to Germany, 2019). Although there are famous players in almost every sport in the country, it is important to note that football players are more famous than other sports athletes. Some of the famous German football players at international level include Mesut Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, and Marco Reus.
German had invested a lot in sports before the beginning of World War I. However, by the end of the World War II, the industry had experienced so much destruction and a lot needed to be done to rebuild it. The love for sport and use of sports clubs as a social culture highly fueled the reconstruction of the sports industry in the world. German developed in sport manufacturing and also in field participation. Sports were done for competition, economic benefits, socialization and a symbol or representation of Germany as a country in the face of the world (Zhang, Huang & Nauright, 168). Sport has also been used as cultural integration ground for a long time where people in the country stand with their team especially in the international level as a country. Sports clubs are used today as social integration center where people of different divide meet and interact with sports as a shared interest.
The recent incident involving resignation of Mesut Ozil following what he termed as hypocrisy and bigotry victimization is a big blow to the efforts of integration in Germany culture (Schuetze, 1). Germany has been trying to integrate people of different culture to create a new nation or what they term as an immigration nation. The country has been making great strand forward with engagement of minority in sports, earning position and title and flying the country flag high. The recent claim of racism in the men national team is a misfortune act that demonstrates Germany continuing mistrust to Turkey immigrant offspring and constant questioning of their political loyalty. Before full integration, Turkish descendants may be forced to prove their loyalty time and again, even after they have played a great role in making Germany great in the face of the world. This shows that the racism, hypocrisy and other vices experienced in 1990s are still deep rooted in the country.
Kruger, Michael. The History of German Sports Clubs: Between Integration and Emigration. The International Journal of History of Sport, vol.30, no.14, pp. 1586-1603.
Moving to Germany. Top 10 Sports in Germany. 2019, https://www.movingto-germany.com/top-10-sports-in-germany/. Accessed 4 May. 2019
Schetze, Christopher. Mesut Ozil’s Exit From German Soccer Team Strokes Debate on Integration. The New York Times, 2018 July 23.
Tomlinson, Alan, and Young Christopher. German Football: History, Culture, Society. London: Routledge, 2006.
Zhang, James J, Huang Haiyan, and Nauright John. Sport Business in Leading Economies. London: Emerald Publishing Limited, 2018.
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