24. Andrews Ritzer Grobal Global Sports

24. Andrews Ritzer Grobal Global Sports - 3 The grobal in...

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Unformatted text preview: 3 The grobal in the sporting glocal DAVID L. ANDREWS AND GEORGE RITZER It is the responsibility of any true intellectual leader to challenge, provoke, and stimulate debate, which is something David Rowe (2003) unquestionably achieved in his article ‘Sport and the repudiation of the global’. Looking to re—animate the stagnating globalization of sport debate, Rowe called into question widely acknowl- edged assumptions pertaining to the constitutive interdependence of the (sporting) global and the (sporting) local. This he achieved by contesting sport’s ability to ‘resonate at the global level’ and argued that sport may, in fact, ‘be unsuited to carriage of the project of globalization in its fullest sense’ (Rowe 2003: 281). His position was prefigured on sport’s importance, as an enduring emotive marker of local (communal, regional, national) belonging and identification. Specifically, sport’s ‘constant evocation of the nation as its anchor point and rallying cry’ evidences its ‘affective power”, making it impossible for sport to be ‘reconfigured as postnational and subsequently stripped of its “productive” capacity to promote forms of identity’ (Rowe 2003). Accordingly, sport’s symbiotic relationship with ‘localized, nationally inflected forms of identity’ make it antithetical to the process of globalization; the emergence of supra—national social systems and institutions that transcend the local in _ establishing a post-particular global order (Rowe 2003). Suitably roused, within this discussion we provide a counterpoint to Rowe’s provo— cations; not least because critical engagement is the sincerest form of intellectual flattery, but also since his repudiation of the very possibility of the sporting global falsely polarizes globalization and localization in a manner that implicitly privileges, perhaps even iromanticizes, the local. Thus, our aim is to challenge this tendency observable within the sociology of sport, and more broadly in the literature on global- ization in general, including that within cultural studies. For, as Grossberg noted: Current thinking about globalization is too often structured by an assumed opposition between the local and the global, where the local is offered as the intellectual and political corrective of the global. This is captured in the popular demand to “think globally and act locally” Such celebrations of the 28 T he grobal in the sporting glocal local are often under-theorised, based on either a particular definition of knowledge as facts and a model of inductive empiricism, or an assumed identi- fication of the local with the site of agency and resistance. (Grossberg 1997: 8) Rather than articulating the global and the local as polarities upon the globalization continuum (an approach which virtually necessitates the privileging of one pole over the other), it is important to View the “complementary and interpenetrative’ relations linking homogenization and heterogenization, universalism and particularism, sameness and difference, and the global and the local; the global being complicit in the ‘creation and incorporation’ of the local, and vice versa (Robertson 1995). There are, of course, a number of examples of sport—related research that have explored the _‘ constitutive interdependence of the (sporting) global and the (sporting) local. For I instance: Houlihan (1994: 357) highlighted the differential exposure to, and reception of, globalizing sport forms within contrasting local cultural contexts; Donnelly (1996) stressed the need to reassert the ‘articulation between the local and the global”; Miller et al. (2001) provided countless examples of the interconnective, yet productive, tensions between global corporate capital and local sport cultures; and, Maguire (1999, 2000) exhaustively explicated the multidirectional and multicausal aspects of global—local sporting interdependencies. While the aforementioned represent important contributions to understanding the global—local nexus as it pertains to sport, this strand of inquiry has yet to be exhausted. Returning to Grossberg, there is a general recognition that ‘the local and the global are mutually constitutive, although the exact nature of this “mutual constitution” remains to be specified, and has yet to be adequately theorized’ (Grossberg 1997: 9). Given the applicability of such an observation‘to the sociology of sport, this project accents the need for globalization theorists to fully engage the complexities and variations issuing from the constitutive inter-relationship between the global and the local. In looking to further the understanding of the contemporary sporting landscape, we offer an alternative approach that counters the tendency to fetishize the local by reinscribing the influence of the global in shaping structures, practices, and experiences of the local. In doing so, we illustrate some (if by no means all) of the‘variants through which global—local forces and tensions become manifest within the sporting realm. The dominant perspective on this issue, most associated with the work of Roland Robertson, is the idea of the glocal (and the process of glocalization) involving the integration of the local and the global (similar terms in the literature are ‘hybridiz— ation’ and ‘creolization’). However,rthis ignores a second key idea 4 the grobal (and grobalization) — that highlights the fact that there are global processes that overwhelm the local rather than neatly integrating the two. Given these two terms, the key dynamic in the process of globalization shifts fiom the tension between the local and the global to that between the glocal and the grobal: whereas glocalization theorists View cultural forms as practices as operating in a constant tension between the global and the local, we View the terms grobal and glocal more instructive in this regard. 29 David L. Andrews and George Ritzer This is based on the assumption that virtually no ‘areas and phenomena throughout the world are unaffected by globalization’ (Ritzer 2004: xiii). This implies the declining, or even disappearing, relevance of the local and the need to reconceptualize virtually everything we think of as local as glocal. Rather than viewing the core tension as existing being between the global and the local, and certainly as evidenced within the sporting realm, our contention is that the local has been so effected by the global, that it has become, at all intents and purposes, glocal (Ritzer 2004: xiii, xi). Thus, the processual and empirical continuum through which we conceptualize globalization is bounded by grobalization (‘the imperialistic ambitions of nations, corporations, organizations, and the like and their desire, indeed need, to impose themselves on various geographic areas’) and glocalization (‘the interpenetration of the global and the local, resulting in unique outcomes in different geographic areas’): the grobal and the glocal (Ritzer 2006: 338, 337). . ' However, the local persists in the glocal and grobalizing forces can never be totally triumphant over the glocal; they are not, and could never be, universal in scale and scope. However, simply because of the impossibility of a grobal monoculture in sport, or any other cultural realm for that matter, it would be injudicious to summarily repudiate, a la Rowe (2003), any meaningflil influence of the grobal in favour of a privileging of the glocal, let alone the local. Hence, within the following sections, we briefly discuss four suggestive sporting scenarios, and illustrate the manner in which they exhibit — in varying inflections and to varying intensities — the necessary, but never guaranteed, interpenetrative relationship between the grobal and the glocal. Indigenous incorporation Contemporary sport represents a particularly complex, andat times contradictory, domain. In one sense, there is a compelling case to be made for sport being the ‘most uniVersal aspect of popular culture’ (Miller et al. 2001: l); virtually all contemporary societies incorporate, and in many cases strongly identify with, some form of competitively-based, popular physical culture. While sport’s very ubiquity suggests its grobal scope, its uneven social resonance points to the importance .of glocal particularities in shaping the contours of the sporting landscape. Hence, the appeal of the glocalization thesis is apparent. However, adherence to it limits the ability to explain the complexities underpinning the development of the modern sport order. Put another way, sport’s evolution is simply more complex than that which involves the interpenetration of the global and the local. Pre—modern sport forms could certainly be considered local; they were focused around substantively distinct, place bound, and organically conceived, controlled, and experienced physical cultural practices. As such, the pre-modern sporting landscape was comprised of a patchwork of localized game forms that, although displaying significant common elements, were sufficiently distinct (localized) according to local rules and customs so as to prohibit them acquiring wider resonance and mobility. The initial stages of the transformation fiom pre—modern particularity to today’s post- particular, universalized (grobalized) sport system can be traced to eighteenth and 30 T he grobal in the sporting glocal nineteenth century Britain (Bottenburg 2001; Elias and Dunning 1986; Guttmann 1978; Holt 1989a). The nation’s position at the forefront of the socially, politically, economically, and culturally transformative processes of urbanization and industrial— ization, led to the standardization, codification, and bureaucratization of many trad- itional sport forms first occurring within the British context. Britain’s imperial reach and aspirations (and such ‘imperialism’ lies at the heart of grobalization) at this time subsequently led to its popular sport forms (particularly association football, cricket, field hockey, and rugby, but also, boxing, golf, horse racing, rowing, track and field athletics, and tennis) becoming globally diffiised along complex chains of global interdependency (Maguire 1999) which derived from, and indeed helped facilitate, ' intensifying colonial and/or commercial relationships forged between Britain and the rest of the world. Britain — particularly during what Hobsbawm (1989) described as the Age Of Empire, 1875—1914 — acted as a forcefiil agent of grobalization in seeking to impose itself, and its interests, economically, militarily, politically, and culturally, around the globe. The“ modern sport forms developed within a British context were subsequently spread and legitimated through what were expansive imperial and commercial networks; sport thus becoming a vehicle and expression of British—led grobalizing forces. These sports were differentially popularized according to the nature, and thereby the social constitution and sporting habitus, of the British incursion (Bottenburg 2001: 176). Cricket’s elite social habitus made it an important vehicle for the advancement of the British imperial project. Since “‘Playing the game” was a combined physical and moral activity, and exercise in the art of being “British’” (Holt 198919: 236), it was used as a vehicle for embodying and imposing the physical and cultural superiority of the colonizer over the colonized. Conversely, the working—class demeanour of association football (by the late nineteenth century it had outgrown its patrician beginnings), meant commercial and trade links were the ‘most propitious outlets’ in the export of the game to the rest of the world. Thus, the sizeable British working—class diaspora of manual labourers, combined with the influence of expatriate artisans, teachers, and cosmopolitans, helped establish the game wherever their roving employment took them (Giulianotti 1999). Regardless of the particular forces responsible for the grobal difflrsion of ‘British’ sporting practices, their rapid intrusion into foreign climes created grobal—local sporting tensions. The spread of this incipient universal sport order resulted in the displacement of many localized traditional pastimes, and their replacement by, what were, alien sport forms. However, local sporting cultures did not disappear, they " became glocal. In other words, within many national cultural contexts, newly transplanted sport forms were rapidly popularized and incorporated into local (communal, regional, but primarily national) sporting cultures and soon became perceived and experienced as authentic or natural expressions of cultural collectivity. The indigenous incorporation of alien sport forms into the local resulted in’the British provenance of many modern sport forms being rapidly obscured, if sometimes never wholly forgotten. For instance, C. L. R. James’ (1963) classic account of cricket in the West Indies vividly illustrated the transformation of an imposed or transplanted 31 ll ll David L. Andrews ana7 George Ritzer sporting practice into a local context. Initially an embodied symbol of British colonialism, James illustrated how cricket’s enthusiastic and creative appropriation by the West Indies’ populace rendered it an emotive and embodied expression of self- identification and — ironically but not surprisingly — cultural resistance over the colonial power from whence the game originated (see also Beckles 1998). A similar scenario was also enacted in India, where the gradual indigenous appropriation and incorporation of the game into the Indian sense of self, ultimately resulted in cricket’s position and influence as a central part of the ‘colonial ecumene’ becoming so eroded that the very ‘idea of the [independent] Indian nation emerged as a salient cricketing entity” (Appadurai 1996: 91, 97, italics added). Given its more widespread diffusion, there are even more examples of organic glocalization within the football world, where the acknowledged ‘global game’ (Giulianotti 1999) simultaneously exists and operates as a source of collective identity and pride for the national populaces, in numerous locations, at one and the same time. The grobalization of sport was further instituted during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with the emergence of the international sporting organiz- ations and competitions, national governing bodies and leagues, that structured, regulated, and administered sport at regional, national, and international levels. The establishment of the International Rugby Board (originally the International Rugby Football Board) in 1886, the International Olympic Committee in 1896, the Federation Internationale de Football Association in 1904, the International Cricket Council (originally the Imperial Cricket Council) in 1909, the International Association of Athletics Federations in 1912, and the F e'de’ration Internationale de - Basketball in 1932, created the universal institutional architecture to which national sporting bodies were compelled to_ adhere if they desired to be included within the international community of sporting nations. Hence, with regard to participation and spectatorship, sport mirrored, and helped literally embody, broader grobalizing trends pertaining to the hegemony of the nation-state as the organizing structure of modern society (Hobsbawm 1990). It also proved to be the regulated embodiment, and affirming expression, of the distinctly Western (specifically North Atlantic) values of competition, progress, and achievement; modern values which, unsurprisingly, simultaneously underpin the liberal democratic, urban industrialist, and market capitalist societies from whence the modern sport order emerged. Corporate re-constitution / The first phase of sporting grobalization created a universal structure for sport within which glocal (national) sporting traditions flourished: ‘distinctive corporeal tech- niques, playing styles, aesthetic codes, administrative structures and interpretive vocabularies’ (Giulianotti and Robertson 2004: 549). This ‘universalization of particularism’ (Robertson 1992: 100) has become a core feature of the second phase of sport’s grobalization; that in which, from the mid-twentieth century onwards, imperial capitalism has increasingly been replaced by ‘late’, or cultural, capitalism as the motor of grobal change (Jameson 1991, 1998). According to the precepts of late 32 The grobal in the sporting glocal capitalism, ‘culture is integral to the economy; it provides the economy with a new dynamic, a new source of growth, a new world of possibilities for profit and for control’ (McRobbie 2005: 155). So, in the second half of the twentieth century, sport (initially in the United States and Canada, subsequently in Western Europe, Japan, Australasia and beyond) became commandeered by the advancing late capitalist order (a key grobalizing force), and became evermore aggressively structured in a manner which placed economic (profit maximization) ahead of sporting (utility maximization) motives. Not that sport was previously devoid of any commercial association; however, the magnitude of sport’s post-war commercial reformation was certainly unprecedented, as it became irreversibly incorporated into the workings of global capitalism. ‘ - Today, virtually all aspects of the global sport institutions (governing bodies, leagues, teams, events, and individual athletes) are now un-selfconsciously driven and defined by the inter—related processes of: corporatization (the management and marketing of sporting entities according to profit motives); spectacularization (the primacy of producing of entertainment—driven [mediated] experiences); and, com— modification (the generation of multiple sport-related revenue streams). Moreover, since sport cultures around the world have become evermore subject to revision by this late capitalist strain of grobalization, sport’s institutional infrastructure is beginning to reflect a high degree of global uniformity. Geographically disparate examples of the corporate sport modality (Andrews 1999, 2006; McKay and Miller 1991) now openly embrace a profit—driven managerial structure and marketing orientation. That contemporary sport (leagues, teams/ franchises, tournaments/events) should display high levels of organizational commonality can be attributed to the commercially—driven corporation becoming the primary organizing institution of late capitalist society. The commercial corporation is, effectively, the inStitutional vehicle through which late capitalism has become grobal; corporatized elements such as sport (education, religion, and health domains being equally applicable in this regard) becoming both a product, and an important process facilitating the grobalization of late capitalism. Despite corporate sport’s grobalized/grobalizing countenance, in many senses it remains inveterately glocal. Whereas earlier phases in the instantiation of global economic relations attempted (with limited success) to engage the global marketplace as a unitary, un—differentiated entity, the cultural orientation of late capitalism has led to a recognition and embracement, however superficial, of the particularities of the micro (city, region, or indeed, nation-based) marketplace. Presently, transnational strategizing involves the mobilization of the cultural differences earlier forms of global strategizing had sought to overcome (Dirlik 1996: 29; Morley and Robins 1995). Many sport organizations may be grobal in their scale (through their very corporate structure) and scope (constantly looking to extend market geographies through team and/or broadcast expansion); nevertheless, much of their’commercial strategizing focuses on sport’s enduring capacity for stimulating popular (consumer) consciousness and behaviour at the glocal level. This is especially true of sport teams/ franchises (be they in the National Football League, English Premier League, or 33 David L. Andrews and George Ritzer Super 14 competitions), which collectively comprise a glocal sport economy of particular versions (the individual teams/franchises) of a ‘very general phenomenon’ (Robertson 1995: 40); the particularity of which is routinely constituted through contrived and formulaic appeals to some form of indigenous sporting and cultural authenticity, be that linked to their ‘home’ constituencies or the external markets they seek to penetrate through various international initiatives (Giulianotti and Robertson 2004). More generally acknowledged transnational corporations (for that is what major sport teams/franchises have become) are perhaps even more adept at shaping and usmg glocal sport practices, symbols, and celebrities as conduits for realizing their grobal ambitions; ensuring their corporate footprints transcend the boundaries of nation-states, by operating ‘simultaneously in different countries around the world on a global scale’ (Morley and Robins 1995: 223). Rather than seeking to neuter; cultural difference through a strategic global uniformity, these transnational corporations have acknowledged that securing a profitable global presence necessnates operating in the languages of the local. This frequently involves the appropriation, within marketing campaigns, of evocative aspects of the local culture — such as glocalized sport practices, teams, and celebrities — as a means of ingratiating the transnational brand within the glocal context, and thereby interpellating glocal consumers. Interestingly, both sport-related (i.e. Adidas, Nike, Reebok) and non— sport (i.e. Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Vodafone) corporations, have mobilized sport’s unparalleled position as a vehicle of glocal identification and resonance, during the process .of becoming transnational (Amis and Cornwell 2005; Jackson and Hokowhrtu 2002; Silk and Andrews 2005; Silk et al. 2005). Nike is a particularly interesting case in this regard because, within certain contexts, the corporation is positioned as being unequivocally grobal. As Nike’s co-founder, and then CEO Phil Knight stated: ’ We want the brand to stand for the same thing all over the world. We don’t want the brand to be different in Europe or Asia, but we knowthat is not easy I accept our Americanism with an asterisk. Our goal is to be a global com— pany. We will never duck our American heritage, and that’s not a bad place to be. As a friend of mine once said to me, America and sports is like France and cooking. , (Quoted in Hatfield 2003) This sentiment can be contrasted with the glocalized nature of much of Nike’s advertising, which either through universal, or more geographically focused cam- paigns, offers a multi—accented Vision of the Nike brand (Silk and Andrews 2001). Ev1dent within Nike’s engagement with its major national markets, this transnational sporting glocalization is perhaps best exemplified Within a recent campaign for Nike Japan. The campaign developed by Wieden and Kennedy-Tokyo is focused on encouraging Bukatsu, the Japanese school sports club system, and thereby youth sport 34 T he grobal in the sporting glocal participation in general (in a manner not dissimilar from Nike’s global ‘Just Do It’ or ‘I Can’ campaigns). However, the means by which this is communicated are unambiguously domestic. The entire campaign is centred around the birth and ‘ exploits of an anthropomorphized breaded pork cutlet, created in the kitchen of the archetypal Japanese grandmother. Within a series of television commercials this, doubtless, staple part of Japanese home cooking: j ostles while training with Japanese soccer star Junichi Inamoto; plays one—on—one basketball while its shedded breading covers the court floor; and, creates similar problems while running in a high school track race. The peculiar juxtaposition between the traditional food item and youth sport participation is explained by the fact that the Japanese for breaded pork outlet is Katsu—kun, and Katsu also means to win. Hence, the double entendre proves meaning— ful for the local initiate. ‘ As with transnational campaigns in general, Nike’s Katsu-kun campaign asserts the ‘new dynamics of re—loCalization’ (Morley and Robins 1995 : 115) wherein indigenous cultures become imagined through the commercially inspired inflections of the local. Thus, grobal entities such as Nike are responsible for instantiating multiple glocals, in a manner which “does not mean any serious recognition of the autonomy of the local’ but is intended to recognize and advance superficial and largely caricatured ‘features of the local so as to incorporate localities into the imperatives of the global’ (Dirlik 1996: 34). All of which points to the fimdamental grobal—glocal problematic, that cultures, both national and sporting, are increasingly being constituted by an external and commercially propelled locus of control; the glocal thus being imagined and authenticated ‘from above or outside’ since much ‘of What is often declared to be local is in fact the local expressed in terms of generalized recipes of locality’ (Robertson 1995). Universal differentiation Williams (1994: 377) has charged sport (specifically what he termed ‘sporting “muzak”’) as being a major contributor to the ‘flattening out of difference in post- organized capitalism’ through the indiscriminate global dissemination of sports ‘taken from localized cultural contexts’. Countering this explicitly grobal position, there is 'an argument to be made that, rather than producing a sporting monoculture, high profile ‘ global sport spectacles’ (Tomlinson 2005: 59) have been co-opted into the apparatus of grobal-glocal capitalism, such that they actually contribute toward the ‘constant reinvention of particularity’ associated with the process of glocality (Giulianotti 2005: 204). There are a number of sporting spectacles that superficially unite the world’s populace in acclamation for sport in general (namely the Olympic Games or the Commonwealth Gaines), or for a particular sport (namely the FIFA Men’s World Cup or the lAAF World Championships), or for a particular nation (the NFL Super Bowl). However, such institutionalized and spectacularized paeans to sporting universalism are misleading and inaccurate (c.f. Martin and Reeves 2001), since these globally disseminated events actually contribute, in a glocal sense, to the instantiation of what Maguire (1999, 2006) characterized as being a condition of 35 David L. Andrews and George Rilzer diminishing contrasts and increasing varieties, and that which Robertson (1992? 102) referred to as the ‘particularization of universalism’. The grobal penetration of Olympic Games television coverage is remarkable, with worldwide audience figures for the 2004 Athens Olympics approaching 3.5 billion individual viewers; meaning approximately 60 per cent of the world’s population watched an Olympic broadcast at least once (Wilson 2004). However, the grobal commonality nurtured by these sporting ‘mega—events’ (Roche 2000) is more a spectacular unity—indifference, than a serious contribution to global homogenization. Rather than transcending them as was the original, if na‘i‘ve intent (Guttmann 2002), today’s staged presentations, and mediated representations, of the Olympic Games have consistently been forums for the accommodation and advancement of highly nationalized interests and concerns. As Tomlinson noted, illustrating the implicit strategic glocalization of the modern Olympic phenomenon in its late capitalist incarnation, ‘the allegedly pure Olympic ideal has always been moulded into the image of the time and place of the particular Olympiad or Games’ (Tomlinson 1996: 599). Grobal in reach and philosophy, the Olympic Games are inveterately glocal in performance. Nowhere is this glocality better exhibited than in the highly chor- eographed spectacle of the game’s opening ceremonies (Hogan 2003; Tomlinson 1996, 2005). Although making perfunctory reference to the modern Olympics’ intemationalist origins through a ‘quota of Olympic—style spirit—youth, universalism, peace, and the like’ (Tomlinson 2005: 11), the interpretive programmes within opening ceremonies, and indeed the structure and delivery of the games as a whole, speak to the ‘staging of the nation” for internal and external audiences (Hogan 2003). The former is motivated by a need to advance historical, contemporaneous, and aspirational senses of self for an expectant, and potentially politically malleable, home audience (Silk 2002). The latter is prompted by the need to spectacularize, through ‘place marketing” strategies, urban/national space as a mechanism for stimulating tourism and other forms of global capital investment (Whitson and Macintosh 1993, 1996; Wilson 1996), within what is a ‘period of intense inter—urban competition and urban entrepreneurialism’ (Waitt 1999: 1061). Despite being at the forefront of a ‘worldwide sport culture given an unpre- cedented profile in the mediated global culture’ (Tomlinson 2005: 36), even in terms of regular Olympic television broadcasts, glocal cultural proclivities often impinge upon the mediated grobal spectacle. Most of the television coverage of such events is selected from the international feeds of the host broadcaster. Those nations with sufficient econbmic and technological resources are able to locally embellish the generic coverage — much of which is bound up with the host’s ‘presentation of self to the global (tourist and commercial) marketplace (Silk 2001: 297) — through preferred event and athlete selection, customized commentary, expert analysis, and feature segments. The largest client broadcasters also utilize their own ‘unilateral’ cameras in order to better address the Olympic preferences of their national viewership (MacNeill 1996; Silk 2001; Silk and Amis 2000). In MacNeill’s (1996) terms, this demonstrates how realizing a spectacle of accumulation (based on revenues tied to viewership) is significantly related to it also being a spectacle of legitimation 36 The grobal in the sporting glocal (corroborates normalized discourses pertaining to sport, the nation, and their relation). Hence, global coverage of the Olympic Games results in myriad different. glocal representations of the Olympic spectacle, linked to a concomitant multiplic1ty in terms of the different ways the Olympics are lived at the glocal level (Bernstein 2000; Knight et a1. 2005; Spa et a1. 2003). Depending on the venue, partner broadcasters also frequently look to incorporate and mobilize difference within their coverage through recourse to the Otherness (social, cultural, historical, political, and/or geographic) of the host location. Such broadcasts of sport spectacles thus adopt. both interiorized and exteriorized forms of strategic glocalization, in that they Simul— taneously seek to customize coverage to internal indigenous markets, while embellishing it through recourse to aspects of external (pertaining to the host context) local differences (Silk 2001). I . I Corporate sport’s glocal underpinnings are equally evrdent in the strategies of the transnational broadcasters, and corporate entities, for whom sport is a highly resonant and effective means of incorporating ‘localities into the imperatives of the global’ (Dirlik 1996: 34). Among the grobally—oriented media oligarchies (McChesney 1997), Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is arguably the most informed and aggressive mobilizer of the sporting glocal. Paraphrasrng Chyi and Sylvie (2001), while News Corporation’s television network is grobal, its sporting content is deliberately not. News Corporation has consistently used sport to facilitate what are effectively glocal growth strategies, (Andrews 2003; Herman and McChesney 1997). As an archetypal transnational corporation, News Corporation recognized the importance of incorporating elements of localized difference and particularity within their grobal strategizing (Morley and Robins 1995; Robertson 1995). As Murdoch himself outlined: You would be very wrong to forget that what people want to watch in their own country is basically local programming, local language, local culture I learned that many, many years ago in Australia, when I was loading up With good American programs and we’d get beat with second—rate Australian ones. ‘ (Quoted in Schmidt 2001: 79) Sport was identified as commanding ‘unparalleled viewer loyalty in all markets., and could therefore be used as a ‘battering ram’ to enter media markets more effectively, and indeed rapidly, than any other entertainment genre (Murdoch 1996). Nationally inflected sport coverage (i.e. EPL in the United Kingdom, NFL in the USA) thus provided a mechanism for inserting what were new and unfamiliar televi51on broadcast platforms (BSkyB and Fox respectively), into indigenous cultures. Within these and other national broadcast contexts, News Corporation exemplifies the very essence of corporate transnationality; its sport—oriented ‘environmental scanning’ (Gershon 2000: 83) underpinning strategies through which it is able t‘olseamlessly operate within the language of the sporting glocal, simultaneously, in multiple locations (Dirlik 1996: Silk and Andrews 2001). 37 David L. Andrews and George Ritzer Dichotomous agency It should not be overlooked that individuals, and indeed groups, do have the oppor- tunity to ‘adapt, innovate, and maneuver” within the sporting world we have outlined (Ritzer 2006: 337). In other words, and paraphrasing Marx’s maxim, people do make their own grobal—glocal sporting lives, but not in the conditions of their own choosing. One’s ability to act with some degree of autonomy is contingent on the contemporaneous nature of grobal—glocal relations, and the individual/group’s particular social, political, and/or economic location. Nevertheless, there are numerous examples where popular resistance to corporate sport has become mobilized and expressed through locally inspired antagonisms toward the forces and expressions of sporting grobalism (as well as glocalism). Returning to News Corporation’s prototypical glocal sport strategizing, the market uncertainties implicit within the sport media economy — particularly the imponder— ables surrounding bidding wars for television broadcasting rights — galvanized News Corporation’s vertical integration agenda (Schmidt 2001), and led to investments in sport leagues, teams, and stadia ownership. These provided News Corporation with a position of ascendancy within the television rights fees scramble, since the purchasing or establishment of sport leagues relinquishes the need to bid for television rights while the ownership of sport teams puts media corporations in the advantageous posrtion of negotiating with themselves. In addition, the control afforded by sport property ownership also provides networks with the ability to generate significant revenue from the migration of game coverage to lucrative pay-per—view television platforms: something central to News Corporation’s long-term transnational strategiz- mg (Herman and McChesney 1997; Murdoch 1996). News Corporation’s initial phase of vertically integrating its sport media empire came within the sport of rugby league in both Australia and the United Kingdom. While the transformation of the economi- cally floundering but highly traditional British Rugby Football League (RFL) into the fully—corporatized Super League under the stewardship of BSkyB (News Corporation’s subsidiary in the British television market) represents an interesting case study of grobal—glocal sporting tensions (Denham 2000; Falcous 1998) concomitant developments within Australian rugby league provide a better illustration of the glocal response to grobalizing forces, or perceptions thereof (Grainger and Andrews 2005; Phillips and Hutchins 2003). I In April 1995, and aware of the need to generate popular programming content for its new Foxtel pay, television platform, News Corporation invested AUS$500 million in a Super League, made up of six teams comprised of elite players prized away frdm the rival Australian Rugby League (ARL) owned by Kerry Packer. Two rival leagues proved unsustainable in the Australian market leading, in December 1997 to the ARL-Super League merger to form the National Rugby League (NRL). owned in equal partnership between the Murdoch and Packer camps, like its British counterpart the Australian Super League initiative paid due deference to contemporary sport’s grobalizing proclivity, through seeking to rationalize and modernize the game along strictly commercial lines (Crowe 1999; McGaughey and Liesch 2002; McKay and 38 The grobal in the sporting glocal Rowe 1997). The most significant consequence of the ARL-Super League union was a ‘program of club rationalization’, the most prominent casualty of which appeared to be the storied South Sydney Rabbitohs club (nicknamed the Souths), which was slated to be closed due to its lack of profitability (Phillips and Hutchins 2003: 225). Thus News Corporation wielded the axe on one of the original, and most celebrated and successfiil, teams in Australian rugby league history (Grainger and Andrews 2005). Fortunately for the Souths, there was a widespread backlash against the decision to deny the club entry into the new NRL. Since the club had a long established relation- ship with the working-class, Redfern, community from whence it originated, the Souths’ travails came to be seen as something of a metaphor for working-class communities in Australia in general. According to Rabbitohs’ legend, George Piggins, an 80,000 strong protest march on 12 November 2000 in support of the club’s reinstatement, included many people ‘who had no interestrin rugby league. They were there because what had happened to us was a symbol of what was happening elsewhere in Australia as giant corporations cut and closed, downsized and played havoc with the lives of ordinary people’ (Piggins 2002: 290). As well as being emblematic of the demise of the Australian working class, Souths also became a medium for the expression of wider anti-grobalization, pro- ‘Australian’, sentiment. There existed a burgeoning resentment toward the expanding infiltration and influence of grobal corporate values and interests in general. Piggins continued, ‘Many ordinary Aussies, football fans or not, saw us as part of a much bigger picture — a society in which economic rationalism and corporatisation and globalization had already had a crushing effect on many’ (Piggins 2002: 230). Within the Australian rugby league context, Murdoch came to be seen as the ruthless face of grobal capitalism; Souths the core Australian ‘values and attitudes that mean little to the game’s new paymasters’ (Hadfield 1999: 7). ' “ That there should be an organized popular resistance to such rationalized grobal sporting initiatives is telling in and of itself, regardless of whether it had any influence on the club’s eventual success in the Australian Federal Court which led to its forced reinstatement in the NRL in March 2002. Nevertheless, it is less clear whether the Souths reinstatement was indeed a telling example of resistance to grobalization. What on the surface appears to be a ‘glocal alternative’ may in fact have become an example of the grobalization of cultural processes and practices that exudes the nothingness associated With grobality, meaning, as Ritzer (2004: 3) puts it ‘a social form that is generally centrally conceived, controlled, and comparatively devoid of distinctive substantive content’. For example, there is a very real possibility that the Souths’ (re)incorporation into the league could ultimately lead to the club’s traditional working—class, community-based identity becoming diminished in the face of the NRL’s aggressive corporatization, speCtacularization, and commodification. For, ‘revivals of anything local, especially those that are successful, are likely to be grobalized and thereby lose their local character’ (Ritzer 2004: 170). Grobal sport processes, practices, and artefacts can frequently be subject to forms of defensive resistance by glocal constituencies. Conversely, there are also instances ’ where grobal artefacts and practices are mobilized as de facto expressions of 39 David L. Andrews and George Ritzer opposition to the sporting glocal; the importation and mobilization of externally derived expressions of sporting difference can act as expressions of resistance Within, and indeed toward, a glocal context. For those sport consumers looking to express their alterity from the cultural mainstream, the aim is to provide the opportunity to consume the sporting Other. Within many settings, this revolves around the engage- ment with expressions of American popular culture, or Americana (Jones 1988; Lealand 1988). Far from seeking to realize a sporting monoculture, the exportation of American sport forms — even more than the American film and music genres that have become the cultural vernacular of the global popular (Kellner 2003) — represent a potential source of identity rooted in difference and opposition for, predominantly, youth and young adults located in disparate national settings (Andrews et a1. 1996). The complicating factor being, the sense of sporting and aesthetic American Otherness communicated in, and through, these exports is by no means uniform in its cultural significance, nor in the manner in which it is consumed at the local level. As Van Elteren (1996) noted, there are ‘multifarious, and often complex ways in which US popular culture forms [and indeed the very idea of America itself] are mediated and received abroad among various audiences and in diverse local contexts’. Never- theless, the complexity of the relationship between the grobal and the glocal is once again underscored, for as the sporting grobal (in the guise of a New York Yankees cap or a Manchester United shirt) is performed as part of a culturally alternative youth identity, so the perceived traditional elements of the sporting glocal are normativer reasserted. Conclusion Through this discussion we have examined sporting scenarios that exhibit — in varying ways and to varying intensities — the necessary, but never guaranteed, interpenetrative nature of the relationship between the sporting grobal and the sporting glocal. Such relationships are never easy to discern. Witness Manchester United’s supporters’, at times, violent and vitriolic response to the club’s purchase by the American businessman, Malcolm Glazer. Although intuitively tempting to view this as a clash between grobal and local interests, the Manchester United~Glazer conflict actually encompasses a tertiary phase of sporting grobalization being confronted by an already glocalized sport culture, which has convinced itself of its own organic local—ness: You get the impression [from the vociferous anti-Glazer response] that Manchester United has been run as some sort of worker’s cooperative or hippie commune for the benefit of mankind. And it hasn’t. The fact that one rich man owns it now, and a different rich man owned it last week will make no difference at all to these fans, no difference whatsoever. They’ve had no say in the running of the club, they’ve still got no say in the running of the club. (Mick Dennis, Daily Express journalist, on Simon Mayo Show, BBC Radio 5, 20 May 2005) 40 The grobal in the sporting glocal Manchester United fans are by no means the only constituency to have fallen foul of fetishizing the sporting glocal, by not acknowledging the grobal relations complicit in the structure and experience of contemporary sport forms. This affliction is also in evidence within the sociology of sport community. Under the influence of what has become a persuasive glocal hegemony within the sport literature — and itself prompted by the celebratory populism that pervades much cultural analysis (McGuigan 1997) - many researchers are transfixed with identifying, and subsequently seeking to rescue, the residues of the sporting local. The inference of such projects would appear to be that the organically local, sporting or otherwise, is somehow actively resistant to the forces of globalization. Within a late capitalist world dominated and driven by expressions of nothingness, sporting somethings, described by Ritzer (200427) as ‘a social form that is generally indigenously conceived, controlled, and comparatively rich in distinctive substantive content’, are a virtual impossibility. Therefore, the rescuing and resuscitating of the sporting local represents a highly questionable form of oppositional intellectual practice. Blinded by the political potentialities of the sporting local, many researchers cannot extricate themselves (even if they wanted to), fiom the binary logic of the global—local relation. It is in this sense that Grossberg referred to theory as letting researchers ‘off the hook’, by providing interpretive logics, and indeed frameworks, through which researcher’s a priori assumptions are confirmed through their filtered engagement with the empirical (Grossberg 1992: 113). Rather than replicating such tautologous theorizing, within this discussion we have sought to disrupt the global—local hegemony by both problematizing the very possibility of the local within conditions of intensive and extensive globalization (leading to the concept of the glocal), and simultaneously reinscribing the importance of the global (through the concept of the grobal). The complexity and variability within the grobal-glocal schema encourages one to excavate the ‘ycontinuities and differences’ (Giulianotti and Robertson 2004: 562) which mark the multitudinous expressions of sporting globalization. As such, it represents a more usefitl and insightful model for examining the contemporary sporting popular. The issues addressed here in the study of sport are repeated in work on many other areas of the social world, especially as they relate to globalization. There is a widespread tendency to glorify the power of the actor, the local and more recently the glocal. As a result, the importance of the global, or more specifically what is called here the grobal, tends to denigrated. There is no question that the actors, local and glocal are important, but it would seem unquestionable that the grobal is also of great importance. A more fully adequate analysis of globalization needs to examine the interrelationship among all four (if not more) of these elements — the actor, the local, the glocal and the grobal. Yet, a wide range of social scientists are inclined to exaggerate the importance of the first three and to downplay, if not totally deny, the importance of the last element — the grobal. One does not have to, indeed one should not, give primacy to grobaliz— ation in order to include it as part of a wide-ranging analysis of globalization. Why the Widespread tendency to privilege the actor, the local, and the glocal? In 1 part, we think, it is linked to the political sympathies, the populism, of most social 41 David L. Andrews and George Ritzer scientists. They are generally on the side, explicitly or implicitly, of ‘the underdog’ and in most grand narratives on, or totalizations about, globalization, the actor, local, even the glocal are seen as at risk in the face of grobalization. There is a tendency to look for, and as a result to find, ‘heroism’ at all of these levels in the face of grobaliz— ation. While there are certainly instances of such heroic stands at all three levels, the tendency to look for and therefore to find them leads to what Veseth (2005) has called ‘globaloney’. More specifically, the tendency to identify such heroism in the world of sport at the level of the actor, the local or the glocal would also qualify for the label of globaloney. Veseth argues that any attempt to simplify complex issues leads to globaloney. More specifically, globaloney is characterized by the elevation of one image — say, the heroic local sport fan or club — to represent globalization in its totality. Thus, the message here is that the study of the globalization of sport requires that researchers and analysts look at all of the key elements, without a priori elevating the significance of one or more and denigrating the importance of others. Another cause of this imbalance in the study of globalization is remnants of the impact of postmodernism. While few of those Who adopt the positions being criticized here can be seen as postmodemists, they seem to have been affected, explicitly and implicitly, by many of its tenets and critiques of modernism. This leads, for example, away from a focus on such totalizations as globalization (and perhaps grobalization) and toward a concern for narrower and more specific elements such as the actor, the local and even the glocal. Similarly, it is related to the postmodern tendency to ‘decentre’ analyses away from the centre (the global or grobal) and in the direction of what are seemingly more peripheral elements in the globalization process (actor, local, glocal). But this move clearly goes too far when all we focus on is the periphery and in the process totally ignore, or greatly reduce in significance, processes at the centre of globalization. As pointed out above, the study of sport is not alone in this tendency. One also sees this, to take another example, in the study of consumption. Here, there is a decided tendency to accord power to the consumer (the consumer as ‘hero’ rather than ‘dupe’) and the process of consumption (including ‘shopping’) and simultaneously to greatly minimize, if not eliminate, the power of advertising, marketing, and a wide array of consumption settings like WalfMart and Disney World. 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