Alternative programming: Extra time with South Africa

Soccer might not be a big sport in the United States, but the World Cup is without a doubt the biggest global athletic event. Media outlets estimate that over 3 billion people will watch the World Cup this year, and it stands a chance of becoming the most watched event in human history.

That said, as with all sporting events, the organization of the World Cup is not without intense scrutiny and criticism. As we saw during the Sochi Olympics, the years of intense prep work that go into putting on a massive sporting event often disrupt countries and leave them in economic or social turmoil.

We’d like to direct attention to World Cup Soccer in Africa: Who Really Wins?, a documentary that deals with these ripple effects and how they transformed South Africa in the wake of the 2010 World Cup. As you can no doubt tell from the tone of this post and the title of the film, the effects were not positive. The DVD includes interviews with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and soccer star Jomo Sono, both of whom offer valuable perspectives on their home country.

We’re all looking forward to the World Cup, but it’s important to recognize that any event at such a large scale can have a strong negative impact on its host. With Brazil also hosting the Olympics in two years, one can hope that they find a way to channel their high profile into meaningful social and economic advancement.

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