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Sport has provided opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to excel and to overcome social inequalities’. Discuss this statement with reference to a chosen code of sport and historic context Essay Example

  • Category:
    History
  • Document type:
    Essay
  • Level:
    Undergraduate
  • Page:
    3
  • Words:
    2078

Sport has provided opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to excel and to overcome social inequalities’. Discuss this statement with reference to a chosen code of sport and historic context

The survival and identities of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people are expressed through culture and sports. Through art and sports, the indigenous people are able to express their culture vividly. They can also express their identity, history and their relationship to land. Thus, sport is an essential element in the culture of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Aboriginal communities unite and participate at higher levels of competition through sports1. Historically, the ATSI communities have experienced various hardships because of the initiatives of the government to control and assimilate their people into a civilized culture including sports. The development of sports in the ATSI can be track from Aboriginal historical timeline2. As we discuss how sport has helped the ATSI people to prosper and overcome social inequalities, reference is made to the Australian Sports Commission code of Behaviour and historic context of the Indigenous.

Before colonization the ATSI people survived on hunting and gathering over the Australian landscape and could travel from one place to another in search of basic needs. Through nomadic nature of life and social gatherings, the indigenous renewed kinship ties and established games which become the basis for sports3. There existed geographical differences between communities creating diversity in how cultural expression. The main elements of cultural expression among the traditional indigenous include dance, music, oral storytelling, and art and craft4. However, contemporary Aboriginal art has changed due to colonization and regional differences. New forms of cultural expression including sports have been generated among the ATSI people. In particular, sport helps to establish indigenous identity and develop role models for young people in the Indigenous community5. The sporting activities in Australia are conducted based on the code of Behaviour that seeks to protect the social rights of all groups of people including the Indigenous Australian. The code holds all the participants in sport accountable to their behaviour and one of the principles it stipulates is equal treatment and demonstration of right social behaviour.

Therefore, in reference to the Aboriginal historical context and the code of sport, the social rights of the Indigenous people are safeguarded which creates more opportunity for prosperity and social inclusion6. The indigenous people participated in different forms of sport for a long time only that they were traditionally based. The development of sports activities by the Indigenous people was done in a way that they served the interests of the community and brought people together. The same spirit is still upheld by ATSI people who value participating in sport events7. Currently, sport has become a powerful force in the life of Indigenous people in Australia. Participating in organized sport events increases the self-esteem for the indigenous people. It also promotes social interaction, teamwork and development of new skills8. In addition, when individuals participate in sports in their early stages of life they may strengthen their bodies and prevent conducting chronic diseases. Therefore, through sport, the young indigenous people are able maintain their bodies well placing them in a better position of not getting chronic diseases when they grow old. According to AIATSIS, early participation in sport help reduce misuse of substances, crime and harming self9. Given that the Indigenous people are at a higher risk of being affected by these issues, we can argue that sport has provided an appropriate way through in overcoming these risks.

Historically, indigenous people in Australia are considered cultural minorities and the most affected by social and economic problems. However, the interesting part is that although the ATSI people are exposed to poor education, health and recreational services compared to other populations they are developing ways of overcoming these challenges10. The indigenous people have incorporated sports in their definition of identity. It is true that they prosper in sports at different levels not only in organized Indigenous sports competition, but also in mainstream11. The Aboriginal people across Australia continue to develop through sport activities arranged by organizations, such as Aboriginal Circle and the North American Indigenous Games. The organizers of sport activities use both traditional games and European sports to assist athlete from ATSI community to excel. The person behind the establishment of Indigenous Games is Willie Littlechild who is a role model to young Indigenous people, especially the Hobbema12.

There are sports that are considered part of the identity for the Aboriginal people and this discloses a multifaceted interaction between two particular varieties of sports. First, the Indigenous people have the opportunity to excel in mainstream sports. These sports are based on the philosophy of equal access to opportunity and social inclusion13. In other words, mainstream sports focus on promoting a sense of belonging to all communities which place the Indigenous people in a better position to display their true identity. Second, organizing all organizations in the Indigenous community, which comprise of Western forms of sports indicates a tendency to resist assimilation policies and response to practices of racism that were imposed on Aboriginal communities14. Instead, the indigenous people try to reconstruct their identity through sport. In fact, the indigenous people are attempting to promote a nation that recognizes western sports while maintaining the cultural heritage of the people.

Among all the sports Indigenous people participated, those that managed all the hardships included baseball and hockey. The ATSI community has various leagues for both baseball and hockey teams. Sports such as rodeo and boxing, although practiced are still not popular compared to baseball and hockey15. Currently, the Aboriginal communities have a strong sense of self-determination and are more interested in controlling their affairs, more so in regard to developing in sport. The communities consider recreation a contributing factor to their prosperity in terms of development and a way through which they can construct their identity of the Aboriginal people16. For instance, most students from the Aboriginal community are seen sporting among others Adidas and Nike as an indication that they have accepted wear from the mainstream. According to Steinhauer this shows that popular culture has been accepted by the Aboriginal communities17. This is also a manifestation that the Indigenous people can live like other people across the world and equally participate and excel in sport and therefore deserve to be treated equally in the society.

Sport stars from the Aboriginal communities have also played a major role in representing differences and identity of the indigenous people. Some of the most common local heroes are Ted Hodgson and Willie Littlechild and are also role models to young Indigenous people18. In addition, there exist some native people in Canada who have prospered in sport, such as Jordan Tootoo who is well known to have excelled into the NHL19. Being among the few Aboriginal people to excel to this level despite the challenges he encountered makes him a role model to the Indigenous people. Whenever Jordan Tootoo came to Rexall Place to play many people from the Aboriginal community gathered around to watch him. The ATSI see him as a person who persevered to make it through sport as a result of the past colonial practices by the non-indigenous people.

The fact that people from the Indigenous community admire their heroes implies that their identity is being manifested in sport20. When a famous Aboriginal comedian known as Don Burnstick was questioned about how Jordin is a role model to many people across Canada, and especially among the indigenous people he responded that he had created a big name in the mainstream and that he is a superstar to the Aboriginal people21. In deed, Aboriginal people who have experienced the world concerning sports have tried to share their experiences with others in their communities to develop a new perception about sport. Hargreaves asserts that upon gaining status, the experiences of racism and oppression they encountered encouraged them to build their own identity through sport22. The Aboriginal people celebrate their identity through the sporting events performed in their community and areas around.

Conclusively, sports play an important role in the community of the Indigenous people. Even before colonization, there existed different forms and style of sport which defined the identity of the Indigenous people. Despite the past experiences of racism and oppression, the ATSI people are learning from these experiences and mistakes as they attempt to make their lives different. The basis of identity for the ATSI people is through both the traditional sport and European sport. In reference to the historical context, the Aboriginal people are brought together through sporting events, something that makes them proud of their identity. The Indigenous community has produced heroes, such as Ted Hodgson, Willie Littlechild and Jordan Tootoo and this encourages the Indigenous people belief that they can make an impact in the society. Therefore, the ATSI people should continue to use sport to stand out and overcome social inequalities they face in their day to day lives.

References

Albert, T. Indigenous Sporting Greats, Rigby/Pearson Education, Port Melbourne. 2008.

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Studies (AIATSIS). 2014. The Little Red Yellow Black website, http://www.aiatsis.gov.au/lryb/

Foureyes, T. Hobbema and Sport: A Historical Overview of an Aboriginal Community. An Essay submitted to meet the requirements of HIST 470 in the Department of History & Classics University of Alberta.2005.

Gorman, S. Legends: The AFL Indigenous Team of the Century 1905-2005. Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra. 2011.

Hargreaves, J. Heroines of Sport: The Politics of Difference and Identity. London and New York: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data, 2000.

MacKinnon, J. Tootoo carries hopes of Inuit. Edmonton Sun, 27 November 2004.

Steinhauer, N. Name-brand clothing, Native Values, and Community Status. Canadian Social Studies, 31.4: 162-165.1997.

1
Albert, T. Indigenous Sporting Greats, Rigby/Pearson Education, Port Melbourne. 2008.

Foureyes, T. Hobbema and Sport: A Historical Overview of an Aboriginal Community. An Essay submitted to meet the requirements of HIST 470 in the Department of History & Classics University of Alberta.2005.
2

Foureyes, T. Hobbema and Sport: A Historical Overview of an Aboriginal Community. An Essay submitted to meet the requirements of HIST 470 in the Department of History & Classics University of Alberta.2005.
3

4
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Studies (AIATSIS). 2014. The Little Red Yellow Black website, http://www.aiatsis.gov.au/lryb/

Foureyes, T. Hobbema and Sport: A Historical Overview of an Aboriginal Community. An Essay submitted to meet the requirements of HIST 470 in the Department of History & Classics University of Alberta.2005.
6

7
Gorman, S. Legends: The AFL Indigenous Team of the Century 1905-2005. Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra. 2011.

8
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Studies (AIATSIS). 2014. The Little Red Yellow Black website, http://www.aiatsis.gov.au/lryb/

10
Foureyes, T. Hobbema and Sport: A Historical Overview of an Aboriginal Community. An Essay submitted to meet the requirements of HIST 470 in the Department of History & Classics University of Alberta.2005.

11
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Studies (AIATSIS). 2014. The Little Red Yellow Black website, http://www.aiatsis.gov.au/lryb/

12
Hargreaves, J. Heroines of Sport: The Politics of Difference and Identity. London and New York: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data, 2000

Foureyes, T. Hobbema and Sport: A Historical Overview of an Aboriginal Community. An Essay submitted to meet the requirements of HIST 470 in the Department of History & Classics University of Alberta.2005.
14

15
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Studies (AIATSIS). 2014. The Little Red Yellow Black website, http://www.aiatsis.gov.au/lryb/

Foureyes, T. Hobbema and Sport: A Historical Overview of an Aboriginal Community. An Essay submitted to meet the requirements of HIST 470 in the Department of History & Classics University of Alberta.2005.
16

17
Steinhauer, N. Name-brand clothing, Native Values, and Community Status. Canadian Social Studies, 31.4: 162-165.1997.

Foureyes, T. Hobbema and Sport: A Historical Overview of an Aboriginal Community. An Essay submitted to meet the requirements of HIST 470 in the Department of History & Classics University of Alberta.2005.
18

19
MacKinnon, J. Tootoo carries hopes of Inuit. Edmonton Sun, 27 November 2004.

Foureyes, T. Hobbema and Sport: A Historical Overview of an Aboriginal Community. An Essay submitted to meet the requirements of HIST 470 in the Department of History & Classics University of Alberta.2005.
20

21
MacKinnon, J. Tootoo carries hopes of Inuit. Edmonton Sun, 27 November 2004.

22
Hargreaves, J. Heroines of Sport: The Politics of Difference and Identity. London and New York: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data, 2000