In this paper Norbert Elias’s concept of the ‘drag-effect’ is argued to be important for exploring the complexities of the relationship between national identity and sport. Elias’s distinct sociological perspective is briefly outlined before the importance of Elias’s drag-effect is considered alongside other much more popular concepts commonly used in the study of nationalism and sport. The concept of the drag-effect is then applied to help make sense of the relationship between contemporary English national identity and sport, using specific examples from the sport of association football. Future researchers are encouraged to make greater use of Elias’s drag-effect for studying the complex relationships between other national identities and sports.
KEYWORDS: Elias; national identity; football; habitus; British