Does elite sporting success have a lasting impact on national pride?

  • Elling A
  • Hilvoorde I
  • Dool R
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Like many other countries, the Dutch government increased investments in elite sports in the last decennium, partly driven by the ambition to organize the Olympic Games in 2028 in the Netherlands. One of the most important legitimations for this ambition is that elite sports events and national performances should foster national pride, social cohesion and international prestige. In this article we present and discuss the results of a study on the relation between Dutch international sport performances and the development of national pride. The outcome is based on 27 longitudinal measurements among the adult Dutch population in the years 2008-2010 in which European and world Championships men's soccer and a summer and winter Olympic Games took place. The results support the common belief that international sporting success of Dutch athletes contribute to the testimony and expression of national pride and belonging. But the extent to which national pride can be increased by national sporting success seems to be rather limited. The data show that national performances in international sport events may lead to small, short term eruptions in feelings of national sporting pride and wellbeing, especially among athletes, men and non-immigrants. The results especially indicate, however, that national pride is a rather stable characteristic of national identification that cannot easily be increased by improving national sporting success and winning more Olympic medals. Adapted from the source document. Reprinted by permission of Amsterdam University Press




Elling, A., Hilvoorde, I. van, & Dool, R. van den. (2012). Does elite sporting success have a lasting impact on national pride? Mens En Maatschappij, 87(2), 101–124. Retrieved from

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