19. Smart Not Playing Around

19. Smart Not Playing Around - I I I I I 2 Not playing...

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2 Not playing around: global capitalism, modern sport and consumer culture BARRY SMART Throughout the twentieth century leading sporting figures, chairmen of economic corporations with direct and indirect interests in sport, think tanks, and social analysts preoccupied with making sense of the contemporary world recognized the unique ~ocal appeal and globa~ signifi~ance of sport. At the beginning of the present century, m the context of a w1de-rangmg analysis of the consequences associated with the globa_l impl~mentatio~ of neo-li~eral free-market economic policies, sport was descnbed _as the most Important thmg in the world' (Beck 2000: 62). , Early m the last century Walter Camp, a formative figure in the development of ~eri~an football, reportedly referred to sport as "'the broad folk highway" of the nation ~Po?e ~99_7: 3). In 1939 Mass Observation confirmed the status of sport as a key socialmstitutwn by pointing out that sport-related economic activity represented 'th~ biggest English industry' (Kuper 2003: 147-8). In 1985 the Henley Centre estimated that sport constituted the sixth largest employment sector in the UK (Mason 1989: 10). In the closing decade of the century the founder and chairman of Nike commented that sport was at the heart of contemporary culture and increasingly defined 'the culture.ofthe world' (cited in Katz 1994: 199). Sport is an economically significant, highly popular, globally networked cultural form. It occupies} prominent place in a 'deep area of the collective sensibility' (Eco 198?: 160) and 1.s able, as Nelson Mandela reportedly suggested, to mobilize the sentiments of people in all countries in an unrivalled manner (Carlin 2003). The Secretary General of the United Nations subsequently endorsed this view when he remarked of one sport, football, that it is 'more universal' than the UN and that the FIF A World Cup brings the 'family of nations and peoples' together 'celebrating our common humanity' in a way that few other cultural events can equal (Annan 2006). As the century progressed, the commercial world drew increasingly on sport's cultural capital value to raise the global profile and appeal of corporate brands and to expand the global market for their products. Taking stock towards the close of the 6 I I I I I Not playing around: global capitalism, modern sport and consumer culture twentieth century, one analyst remarked that professional sport, the media and corporate sponsorship constituted a seemingly indivisible trinity, 'a golden triangle' from which ea~h of the parties was able to derive substantial profit (Aris 1990: 9). Subsequently, professional sport became more closely articulated with the media, in particular television, commerce and the world of corporate sponsorship (Smart 2005). This state of affairs received a ringing endorsement from FIF A President Sepp Blatter who, speaking in defence of the growth in World Cup sponsorship money in the run- up to the 2006 tournament, remarked that ' [ w ]hat is important is a partnership between soccer, the economy and television which benefits all sides' (Anonymous 2006). Without doubt, the growth of a global sport network has been very closely
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19. Smart Not Playing Around - I I I I I 2 Not playing...

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