Module 4 – Racism in Sport

  • Saturday, 25 November 2017 18:03
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Title of the module: 

Racism in Sport  

Module objective(s):  The objective of the module is to introduce the notion of racism especially in its relevance and consequences in sport, raising students' awareness of what racial discrimination is. The aim is to deal with sport as a positive symbol for social acceptance conveying the image of multi-ethnic teams representing one nation and competing for a common goal.
Other objectives include how to make students aware of the problems related to racial discrimination and how to raise the students’ awareness that diversity is not something to be afraid of. The ambition is to transform students from listeners (active) into thoughtful subjects who question themselves on the present, reflecting on events of a recent past. The issue to be addressed in addition to being particularly current, also lends itself to an interdisciplinary approach.  
Key learning outcomes/learning challenges/learning problems: 

Learning outcome 1: Gained awareness about the manifestations of racism in sport

By the end of the module students should be able to:
• Define and understand the term racism and identify how racism is manifested in different forms using examples from sport
• Examine their own attitudes towards racism

In order to stimulate inquisitiveness about the topic, in the classroom the students can begin by listening to some musical pieces like Peter Gabriel "Biko", etc., or by watching the videos of sport champions that have been icons in the fight against racism and influenced people deeply, e.g. Michael Jordan (he fought against racism) and Jesse Owens (1936 Olympics). What can be relevant are also videoclips or study of some cases of football matches that seems to be one of representing stages of violent racism against blacks, racism with a political background, racism within the nation between north and south, racism with a religious background (that is racist behaviour, attitudes or conditions being exhibited by competitors, spectators, organizers of the competition or the rules of the game themselves). Students themselves can be prompted to come up with a many possible manifestations or racism as they can with real or imagined examples and you can discuss these with them. All these forms of racism are manifested in stadiums and in sports competitions, and therefore the reference goes to the phenomenon of the ultra-, the extreme xenophobic right that has in its stadium curves its strongholds through the exposure of swastikas and Celtic crosses, monkey chanting and throwing bananas onto the pitch, etc.

Since sport is in its essence a fair and playful competition in which the winner wins, the competition itself should be seen as constituting personal improvement either when it is an individual sport (athletics, etc.) or it is a team game, and the attitude of the winner that overemphasized the domination of the winning does not belong to the sport. The attitudes of revenge in winning or haughty superiority in the winner can originate repulsion and violence because it gives the sport a dimension that it does not have. The sport does not consider the race or the sex of the participants it exalts the same skills giving everyone equal opportunity to express themselves in the competition. It is an important vehicle for integration, respect and solidarity among all participants and spectators. Again, you can discuss with students how all these phenomena are related to racism.

In order to raise awareness about the importance of fighting against racial discrimination it is of great value to include students’ own experience, so that to be able to transfer their values in sport from classroom to the school life and to the social life. The students will be invited to present the results of their research into forms of racism and the strategies used. It is expected not only that they have managed to identify the connection between musical pieces, sports figures and acts of violence that take place in the stadiums, but also that they have deepened the understanding of some of the figures or characters, leaders of civil rights movements, symbols of the struggle against racism, e.g. Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King and moreover especially that they can refer to their concrete experience and can make the fight against racial discrimination part of their everyday life.

Learning outcome 2: Overcoming racism

By the end of the module students should be able to:
• Explain the consequences of prejudice and discrimination
• Identify ways in which attitudes can be challenged and changed
• Appreciate diversity as a precious resource which allows students to widen their minds and broaden their horizons.

The teacher begins the activity with students by providing them two pieces, in which there are two antithetical positions on the theme of racism. Suggestion: the first text is a fragment by Abram Lincoln, in which he opposes slavery, the second is the position of T. W. Hoit in support of the superiority of the white race. The students then, divided into groups, are to be invited to reflect on one of them and each group will have to produce a document in which the key points emerge, the arguments supporting theses of Lincoln or Hoit. At the end they will be called to express their own arguments in a joint debate.

This first part of the activity can be supplemented by the second part, in which the teachers of physical education divide students into groups in which are students of different nationalities, ethnic backgrounds, traditions, etc., and ask them to first remember or research for some games form the past form their traditions and then decide new rules for sport games of the past. First, they need to explore and present sports games or games including physical activity form their traditions that were played by children in the past. All together can then try these games out and have fun. Next, the students should be invited to compare some games which are part of their own national/ethnic background and write down new ones or supplement old games with new aspects or new rules. Students should be free to work as they wish. In this way they will combine critical and creative thinking with ethical education. They will have the possibility to improve their own ideas and set their own rules. These “new” games will be played by them and be part of sport activities of the entire school on special occasion or when schedule allows.  

Possible additional learning outcomes 

Some additional learning outcome of the module will be that students will be able to:

• Understand, reflect, argue and analyse the interrelation between facts of sport and demographic, social and economic phenomena of national, European and global scope.
• Create messages and positive values in defence of human rights.
• Conform/confront the events form the past with personal experience.
• Express critical motivated judgments.
• Tackle and compare different points of view.
• Involve interdisciplinary activities like writing texts of various kinds: argumentative, reflective, poetic, expositive, multimedia, etc.
• experience to be citizens of the world: aware, autonomous, responsible and critical, who know how to learn to live in harmony with others, respecting people and rules, for the benefit of themselves and the whole community. Citizens who, through the development of correct, responsible, tolerant and supportive attitudes, fight any form of racism that is more or less subtle, based on prejudices, which discriminates those who are "different", preventing from feeling part of society and fully realizing their personal and citizen needs.  

How to learn and work with this module –specific instructions that teachers and students may require and which relate to the whole module, including specific references to the cross-curricular approach: 

The topic of racism (in sports) can be addressed using the cross-curricular approach through different school subjects interconnecting the analysis and understanding of e.g. selected articles of the Declaration of Human Rights, concerning fundamental freedoms and the reading and reflection of expert comments and narrative texts related to sport and to the most varied experiences, (life stories, marginalization, of child exploitation, of racial prejudices), through history, and many other domains.

The competences needed for overcoming racism are related and are part of active citizenship such as the need to protect human rights and to take on significant and socially recognized tasks of personal service: towards the elderly, the disabled, the sick, the needy in general. Through the knowledge of the rights and duties of the citizen, teachers are also able to promote the awareness that only by treating others with dignity each one can gain respect for oneself.

Students are thus provided with an opportunity to learn to reflect on their behaviours, to observe reality from different points of view, which allow to consider and respect multiple visions, in an intercultural approach from near too far, when tackling the issue of racism in cross-curricular manner.

In particular, the learning process should be responsive to the individual needs of the learners, their development and the need to train students who are aware of the great challenges that (multi-ethnic society and globalization) in our time are facing and the need to strengthen the knowledge of the European identity from a perspective of opening to the other, of mutual respect and revision of our lifestyles. The lessons also aim to start promoting the social and civic competences foreseen at the end of the students’ education path: full respect for human rights, including that of equality as a basis for democracy, awareness and understanding of the differences between systems of values of different religious or ethnic groups that are the basis for a positive attitude. This means manifesting both a sense of belonging to the place where one lives, to one's own country, to the European Union and to Europe in general and to the world, and the willingness to participate in the democratic process. It also includes the demonstration of a sense of responsibility as well as understanding and respect for democratic principles; constructive participation also involves civil activities, support for social diversity, cohesion and sustainable development, and a willingness to respect the values and privacy of others.

When cross-curricular does happen, it can positively change the learning process: “Two things happen. First, young people are encouraged to integrate learning experiences into their schemes of meaning so as to broaden and deepen their understanding of themselves and their world. Second, they are engaged in seeking, acquiring, and using knowledge in an organic – not an artificial – way.” (Beane, 1995)  

Key educational content / subject areas associated with the module: 

• (Language/Foreign languages) stories of sport/racial prejudices and reflection on them.

• (Economy & Laws) the rights of children, of women, the elderly, the disabled, etc.

• (History) the different forms of racism in history, modern slavery, etc.

• (Civic Education) the fundamental principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

• (Civic Education) identifying the role of the active citizens in the democratic life of the state, non-governmental organizations, United Nations Organization.

• (Sports education) forms of racism in sports, UEFA campaigns against racism, measures against racism etc.

• (all subjects) stories of child exploitation, marginalization, racial prejudices and reflection about them.

• (all subjects) use of familiar examples and models of protection and defence of human rights: non-governmental organizations, United Nations Organization, etc.  

Further details of the key educational content that will be covered and that contribute to the delivery of the module, including  
(i) Brief reference to the most effective methods or modes of learning: 

• role-playing

• active learning

• discussion group

• learning through actions, learning by doing

• cooperative learning

• peer learning 

(ii) Brief reference to the modes of assessing secondary school students (in relation to the learning outcomes): 

• self- reflection

• self-recording

• event sampling

• probing in discussion  

(iii) Bibliography/resources: 


• Beane, J. A. (Ed.). (1995). Toward a coherent curriculum. Alexandria: ASCD.

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