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The 16th man by Clifford Bestall Essay

The 16th man by Clifford Bestall documents how a sport brought a divided nation together. In 1994, after 50 years of civil war and injustice South African government was finally overthrown and taken control of by Nelson Mandela. Mandela took the job of President with much more then governance to be done. He also had to racially unite a heavily segregated nation. With a whole country on its shoulders, the South African Springboks gained support from every nation, and every race as they made an unbelievable run into the final match against the a heavily favored New Zealand team where they defeated the All Blacks with a score of 15-12.Questions that came to mind while watching the documentary varied as I learned more about the whole thing. My first question was: Did Nelson Mandela know before the games that he would unite the country through rugby? Or was this the opportunity he needed to start the turnaround in the country?

Another question that came to my mind was: Did other teams know what they were apart of as they faced South Africa? Or where they clueless to the fact that they were playing a team that was carrying a whole country on their shoulders? The final question I thought of was: How did a sport that was predominantly fight help unite all races?Overall, I realized how a sport can unite a country. Nelson Mandela said “Sport has the ability to change the world. It has the power to inspire, the power to unite people that little else has . . .

It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers.” I also believe sport can be considered on the same platform as religion. Of course it is not religion, but the way people view it helps it to be on a religious status. By saying this I mean that if a sport can unite a country it means that enough people believe in the sport to let it happen, just as in religion when people believe in a common thing it brings them together through that God, or whatever belief it may be.


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