From Dabour to Russia: on the relationship between national team results and poly polarization

A stormy week has passed for the Israeli team, and it seems that the opposing results of the two games can not better reflect our social reality.

Even before the great victory over Austria, the team had to deal with the sharp disagreements and socio-political statements, which continued to float following Mons Dabour’s statement regarding the riots during Operation The Wall Guard. There were those who saw the victory of the team and the conquest of Dabour as a triumphant answer to democracy, rejoiced that Dabour did succeed in conquering and functioning under public pressure and saw his conquest of the goal as a worthy response to racism against Arabs. On the other hand, there are those who found it difficult to be happy, burst into shouts of contempt or wrote in various posts on the networks that he should not get dressed, and certainly not play for the Israeli team.

Politics in Israel fails to stay off the football field, and not just there. In recent weeks it has also been treading on very sensitive places, and as always it has divided us into the familiar groups of left and right. Some would say that politics and football have been mixed for a long time. This said that there is quite a bit of truth in it, and the question that needs to be asked is whether this situation will ever change. How is it that we repeatedly come to those bad and polarized places that tear us apart from within? Why do we not learn from past experience?

Everyone was quick to respond to the affair – political commentators, MKs on both sides of the map and also many fans who did not spare their opinions. Let’s face it – we are experiencing this polarized reality in a loop, and it would not be unreasonable to assume that this will not be the last time. Without taking one position or another, the ones you have heard enough of, just say it was frustrating to see the divided reality through the eyes of the team. Just when I was thinking how hard it was, I discovered that she was not the only one fighting to succeed in holding her role as a mediator. At the Olympics, perhaps the greatest symbol in the world of sports for unity, similar difficulties arose.

The goal of the Olympics is to create solidarity among the people of the big world, to educate the younger generation and to practice through sports the message that different countries and different nations can live in peace. After all, the five rings combined with each other symbolize this unity. But what is seen on the ground is backed up by research – the pressure to win the Olympics is enormous and can worsen relations between different teams and countries. The Olympics is actually the largest national parade there is. The impressive opening ceremony, in which the countries march with the flag, reinforces the separate identity and personal and different national pride of each country.

This has not always been the case. The first Olympic Games in the modern era were held in Greece in 1896. People from 14 countries competed with each other, but on their own behalf, as individuals and not as representatives of their own country. Only in 1906 did the competition become such that the identity of its representatives mainly represented the state and the nation. Such a representation attracts the interest of many more people and makes it easier for them to connect to the competition, because they identify with a common symbol, with the flag and not with the competitor himself, but this is also what it has from the disadvantage that divides and emphasizes that there are groups of different countries.

A blatant expression of politics. Jesse Evans at the Berlin Olympics | Imagebank GettyImages, Central Press

The interlocking rings following the symbol of brotherhood and connection are in constant tension with different national sentiments of each country. It even has a research name: the paradox of the Olympics.

Although the motto of the 2008 Games in Beijing was “One World, One Dream”, researcher Shirley Sheng and colleagues from various universities in China found that the games made Chinese people perceive cultural differences between West and East more radically, preferring the identity of their team. The inner. The Olympics did not really succeed in its mission and the differences were only felt to be strengthened. Long before that, at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Adolf Hitler had hoped to take advantage of the event to illustrate the superiority of the German people, and angrily abandoned the stadium after the victories of Jesse Evans. But there is no need to go back – just a few weeks ago we saw how easily winds can blow between countries after Linoy Ashram won the gold medal. The athletic spirit did not seem to succeed in those moments, to say the least.

At the same time, the researchers say that the competition in the Olympics is a good basis for cooperation. This is also the message of a new book published just this week called “The Power of Us”. Even if there is competition between athletes and countries, the researchers say, it still allows the ground for sharing and brotherhood, due to the fact that there are laws that are agreed upon by all parties. In the end, at the Olympics or football game each side chooses the option of competing with each other instead of the option to fight. We saw that in the event with Ashram and the Russian team we would not have been able to end the saga if there had not been a clear agreement in the end that there is a committee, there are laws and they are the ones giving the last word.

Linoy Ashram, an Israeli artistic gymnast, receives a gold medal from Alex Giladi
The good can be found even in this story. Ashram | Imagebank GettyImages, Laurence Griffiths

The researchers come with a very clear message about the research of the Olympics – even if there are different groups and each group has its own identity it is possible to cooperate, but it requires consent. The Olympics, they argue, are reminiscent on a deeper level that competition is ultimately, paradoxically, a ground on which to cooperate. These are actually the messages that social psychological researchers also offer to convey to leaders and politicians – want to succeed in running between different groups instead of clashing with bloody wars and hatred? Try to create agreed-upon common rules of the game together.

So in the first game the team recorded a nice victory and in the second it suffered a painful defeat. Although the results were very polar, as was the political reality, the team also implemented the researchers’ advice somewhere – it chose to play and not fight.

The author has a bachelor’s degree in communication, economics and psychology.

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