The Integrative Role of Sport in Multicultural Societies
Sport participation has been recognized as an important socializing agent; the sport environment is considered a suitable setting for the development of social and moral values, particularly for youth. Therefore, it can be argued that participation in sport may reinforce understanding and respect of cultural diversity and foster the integration of migrants. In this paper, we review the existing literature on the integrative role of sport among individuals and groups with differing cultural backgrounds. The existing findings support the role sport may have in promoting integration; nonetheless, some controversy exists. On the one side, there is evidence suggesting that sport can promote interaction among people from different cultures, while also helping individuals maintain ties with their own cultural groups, thus facilitating the maintenance of their cultural heritage. On the other side, there are also indications that sport participation may accentuate cultural differences, thus evoking tensions. Therefore, it appears that sport participation per se may not have the strength to achieve the anticipated integration; rather, sport would provide a common ground where integration can be cultivated. Future directions are discussed to encourage the development of research that enhances further our understanding on the integrative role of sport in multicultural societies.