As you may very well know, the Winter Olympics kicked off yesterday in Pyeongchang, South Korea. It is a major event for the whole world, not only in terms of sports but also politics, with the tension between North and South Korea running high. Nevertheless, people in Turkey and the media seem to have no interest in the event, and even the people in sports have not mentioned the Olympics in their columns, blogs or Twitter accounts.
Although eight Turkish athletes are participating in the games, none were given sufficient coverage by the local media and this brings an important question to mind, “Why people in Turkey do not love any sports other than football?”
The main reasons would be the lack of interest in other sports on a policy-making level and the fact that there simply has not been enough events to create a broader sports culture in Turkey.
The historical background of football’s unchallenged status in the country is a completely different topic, and understanding that background would not be enough if we wanted to boost interest in other sports.
Turkey should adopt a more simple and fundamental approach by simply promoting other sports and creating opportunities for more people to try different sports.
However, since the early days of the Republic, the Turkish government is locked in a circle of investing in football given it always has been the most popular sports in the country. The investments have continued throughout the years and football has become the huge industry it is today.
In other words, the football industry and its dominance in Turkey are the results of a policy that offered uninterrupted support.
Now, I am aware that it is impossible for any Turkish policymaker to ignore football’s importance and direct their investments towards other sports because it would have serious consequences. But since having a broader sports culture would help diversify our society and bring up healthier generations, immune to the toxicity of a dominant football culture, we need the state to actively push other sports.
As I said, because football dominates the field of sports in Turkey, the state cannot expect pressures from the people thus it should take the first step.
I believe that it is crucial to explore the other disciplines since good examples in other sports can also help football cure itself of the complex and corrupt nature of its economics. Turkish youth have the potential to do more than simply watch the Olympics if they are given the right opportunities.