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An over-represented minority! Non-mainland French athletes in L’Équipe (1946–1968)

Abstract : After the Second World War, the French athletics team included many sportsmen from outside mainland France, mainly from Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia), Black Africa, and Overseas, who distinguished themselves by their performances at the highest national and indeed international levels. How did the French sports press, in particular the mainland press, report these performances, which overturned colonial hierarchies and challenged “white superiority”? This article will describe the coverage, from a quantitative perspective, of these non-mainland athletes in the columns of L’Équipe, France's main multi-sports daily newspaper (after first determining the origin of the members of the French athletics team and pinpointing the arrival and gradual integration of athletes born outside mainland France). [Observations are limited here to male athletes. Women born outside mainland France joined the French athletic elite later than men, making it difficult to include both male and female athletes in the context of a single study. After 1945, the first French woman born outside mainland France to join the athletic elite was Martinique's Emma Sulter in 1970. In the United States, no African-born American woman picked up a gold medal until the 1948 Olympic Games.] Our objective is to test the hypothesis that these coloured athletes from the French colonies were discriminated against in the media. Indeed, American studies with comparable subject matter have shown different media coverage for “white” and “black” sportsmen. Our results show that the French athletic elite opened its doors to the colonies during the second half of the twentieth century, as the first wave of non-mainland athletes was integrated into the French team between 1946 and 1968. In fact, athletes from Maghreb were present in relatively high numbers; those from Overseas were starting to be integrated, and the numbers of people coming from Black Africa were reaching their highest levels. During this period, L’Équipe gave non-mainland athletes proportionately higher coverage than was warranted by their presence in the elite. This over-representation was even more marked in the case of athletes from Overseas and Black Africa (while it seems that North Africans had slightly less coverage compared with their presence in the French team). It would appear, therefore, that in terms of quantity France's main sports daily did not discriminate against athletes who were not born on the mainland, but quite the reverse, with the relative exception of athletes from Maghreb. Several interpretations of this over-representation will be considered, including: a disparity in terms of practice level between the groups of athletes; the particular features of French colonial history with regard to racial stereotypes; and the effect of mental categorization.
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https://hal-univ-bourgogne.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00562136
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Soumis le : mercredi 2 février 2011 - 18:57:42
Dernière modification le : vendredi 8 juin 2018 - 14:50:23

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Karen Bretin-Maffiuletti, Carine Erard. An over-represented minority! Non-mainland French athletes in L’Équipe (1946–1968). European Journal of Sport Science, Taylor & Francis, 2009, 9 (4), pp.245-256. ⟨10.1080/17461390902763409⟩. ⟨hal-00562136⟩

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