It looks at the thirty-year course and the changes in the objectives of the sports boycott of South Africa. Black South Africans initially proposed the boycott as a strategy to integrate sport, and Western governments and international sporting federations such as the International Olympic Committee later applied the boycott with similar intentions. At first, South Africa's ruling National Party dismissed all demands to either integrate sport or extend political rights to blacks, but prolonged international isolation forced it to make concessions, and by the mid-1980s the government had accepted integrated sport. The international sporting community readmitted South Africa to competition in the early 1980s in acknowledgement of state president F W de Klerk's political initiatives and commitment to a universal franchise. Sport remains an integral element of post-apartheid politics. State president Nelson Mandela and his government believe that sport can unite black and white South Africans and contribute to social and political change. Indeed there have been moments, such as South Africa's victory in the 1995 World Rugby Cup, when unity through sport seemed possible.
But through careful analysis Booth argues that sport will never unite South Africans except in the most fleeting and superficial manner.