Date of Award

Fall 1976

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Theoharis, Athan

Second Advisor

Prucha, F. P.

Third Advisor

Bicha, Karel


During the years when Suez and Sputnik, Berlin and the Bay of Pigs made the headlines, many Americans turned to sport as a subject. which could be pursued for relaxation in the midst of the stress of the Cold War. An investigation of American sport during the critical years 1953-1963, however, discloses that Cold, War pressures "increased the traditional usefulness of sport as an instrumentality for accomplishing something else. This study examines the extent to which the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations utilized the diplomatic and political potential of sport to mobilize foreign and domestic opinion behind Administration policy objectives. By illuminating one salient aspect of America's Cold Way response to a perceived communist threat, and by revealing new techniques in United States politics and diplomacy, this study can enhance significantly current impressions of American sport and the nature of the Cold War. Despite the magnitude of public commitment to sport (as illustrated by the amounts of time and money spent on sport), its historical significance has until recently received little study and acquired even less academic respectability. Viewing sport as a diversion from the more "serious" functions of life, social scientists did not regard sport as posing problems which warranted study or required an explanation. In response to such sports parochialism, this study indicates that government officials in post World War II America slowly came to recognize the more sophisticated functions of sport as builder of national solidarity, source of communication, and ambassador in international diplomacy. More effective use of these special functions of sport did not fully occur to government and sports officials, however, until the military and political dimensions of the Cold War began to crystallize in the early 1950's. Only then did officials seize upon sport in their search for more creative responses to '"peaceful coexistence" and for novel diplomatic overtures for a sustained cultural and ideological struggle...



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