Olympic Truce? Not! Emerging Political Science Shows Us that International Sports Are Actually Bad for World Peace


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All eyes turn to South Korea for the start of the Winter Olympics this week.

There is always a political political component to this Olympics and indeed all major international sporting events. This year, much of the commentary will focus on how the olympics is providing a platform for cooperation between the Koreas--they are marching under a single flag and joining forces for Women's hockey. But emerging political science suggests that contrary to popular perception, international sporting events are not catalysts for peace -- in fact, just the opposite is true. A new peer reviewed academic paper by my guest today Andrew Douglas Bertoli shows that major international sporting events actually contribute to international conflict. Andrew designed a rather ingenious experiment to prove this case. He looked at every world cup from 1958 to 2010 last found that the countries that barely qualified for the world cup were significantly more likely to start an international conflict than countries that did not qualify. The reason he posits? Nationalism.

The paper titled Nationalism and Conflict: Lessons from International Sports appears in the December issued of journal International Studies Quarterly; and in this conversation we discuss how exactly he designed this experiment, what he found and why it is important to understand the link between sports, nationalism and conflict.

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