Gaming the World: How Sports Are Reshaping Global Politics and Culture

By Andrei S. Markovits; Lars Rensmann | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION: GOING GLOBAL—SPORTS,
POLITICS, AND IDENTITIES

Sports matter. They hold a singular position among leisure time activities and have an unparalleled impact on the everyday lives of billions of people.1 We show how, why, and for whom this has been the case for well over a century on both sides of the Atlantic. Analyzing the continuities and changes that have characterized sports cultures in the United States and Europe, we find complex processes involving global transformations alongside persistent local and national factors.

This book poses the following questions: How has a continuing process that we call “postindustrialization” and “second globalization” transformed sports? More specifically, How have developments since roughly the 1970s—in the advanced industrial capitalist economies of the liberal democracies of the United States and Europe—altered key aspects of contemporary sports cultures? And, to what degree have globalized sports and their participating athletes in turn influenced postindustrial societies and identities? Which role do sports play in globalization, and to what extent are they an engine of cosmopolitan political and cultural change? At the same time, how have sports successfully maintained traditions in the continuing battles for their very identities? And how have sports reconciled

1 A humoristic and exaggerated example of a sports fan's dedicated life can be found in Joe
Queenan, True Believers: The Tragic Inner Life of Sports Fans (New York: Henry Holt, 2003). Of
course, in Queenan's ironic book the problem of political fanaticism among mass movements
resonates, which is the subject of Eric Hoffer's 1951 social science classic; see Eric Hoffer, The
True Believers: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements
(New York: HarperCollins, 2002
[1951]).

-1-

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