There is always a political component to the Olympics. 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 shows that major international sporting events actually contribute to international conflict.

Andrew Bertoli, a post doctoral fellow at Dartmouth, studied at every World Cup from 1958 to 2010 to create a data set of countries that either barely qualified for the World Cup or barely missed the World Cup, losing by just a few points.  He compared those sets of countries and found that countries in the World Cup were significantly more likely to start an international conflict than countries that did not qualify.

The reason:  Nationalism.

The paper, titled Nationalism and Conflict: Lessons from International Sports appears in the December issued of the journal International Studies Quarterly. 

Andrew Bertoli is on the podcast this week to discuss his experiment and the link between sports, nationalism and conflict. If you have 20 minutes and want to learn what political science can teach us about international sporting events, have a listen.

To access to this podcast episode: subscribe on iTunesStitcher,  Spotify or get the mobile app to listen later 

 

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