An investigation into the effect of race and politics on the development of South African Sport (1970-1919)
There is confusion in literature concerning the early beginnings of sport in South Africa. Indications are that it was informal in nature and only took on organised form with the arrival of the British in 1795. Black spoLt similarly had obscure beginning, the dearth of literature in this respect being even more pronounced. There were occasional instances of Whites and Blacks playing together, but this was not a typical characteristic of early South African sport. South Africa's Black people developed their own sports teams and played mainly amongst their own race groups. This was a result of the prevailing class consciousness of the British, which excluded all except the most talented Boers from British clubs, and the incompatibility the Boer felt with the Black people. The result was development of 'racial' clubs that tended to cater exclusively for one particular group, with some sports clubs using religion as a means of demarcation. While there tended to be a racial exclusiveness about the early clubs, informal inter-racial contact was present. This tended to disappear when the belief was encouraged through legislation that the Black people were to develop as a separate nation. The introduction of an official colour bar in the Mines and Amendment Act of 1911 began the crystalisation of this idea. White sports clubs in South Africa had in some cases become founder members of international sports associations, and because these associations recognised only one organisation per country, Black sportsmen were denied access to international competition. By tho 1930s racial demarcation had fully permeated South African sport, effectively denying the Black sportsmen equal opportunity and equal facilities. Reaction by Black sportsmen led to, several non-racial spcrts organisations being Founded in South Africa. Already in 1946 a request for affiliation was made to the British Amateur Weightlifters by the Non-White South African Association, but this was turned down. This demarcation was· carried further with the election to power in 1948 of a Nationalist government which brought with it an apartheid ideology that manifested itself indirectly in sport through legislation such as the Group ·Areas Act, the Black Urban Areas Consolidation Act and the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act. In the fifties the dissatisfaction of Non-White sports organisations with sports oppression increased in intensity, and in 1958 a non-racial South African Sports Association was formed to further the interests of the non-racial sportsmen. There was considerable opposition from White sports organisations and the government. In 1963 the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee was formed to further the Olympic aspirations of South African sportsmen. exile in London in 1965. This organisation went into self Operating from this base, it set about creating a worldwide awareness of the plight of the Non- White sportsman in South Africa, co-ordinating and organising prot~st movements against South African teams and persuading sports associations and governments not to have sporting contact with South Africa.