Sport and Corporate Nationalisms

By Michael L. Silk; David L. Andrews et al. | Go to book overview

3
The Making of the Global Sports
Economy: ISL, Adidas and the
Rise of the Corporate Player in
World Sport1

Alan Tomlinson


Introduction

The last quarter of the twentieth century was a crucial phase in the remaking of the political economy of world sport. Many sports rooted in particular histories, traditions and cultures, and in many cases seen as the embodiment of political values and a national identity, were remade in the image of a burgeoning international economy and a rapidly expanding global communications infrastructure. These were not by any means smooth and seamless transitions, and an incipient globalization process was not a simple alternative to forms of nation-building and nationalist rivalries as expressed in international competition. Indeed, international sporting competition is a very public realm that demonstrates the interdependency of the national and the global. But few national sports cultures would remain untouched by the increasing influence of the corporate and media interests that began to see in sport the perfect vehicle for their own expansionist, supra-national ambitions. In the 1960s in the USA, new models of sports finance, and the associated business of sport marketing and event management, began to be established as the vestiges of amateurism and voluntarism in sport were swept aside by rapacious entrepreneurs. In the 1970s and onwards, sports in the US/North American canon the Big 4 teamsports of American football, baseball, basketball and ice-hockey were further commercialized and remade around a logic of commodification. Individual sports such as tennis and golf were revolutionized as television coverage, concomitant revenues and associated sponsorship laid down the foundation for the Golden Triangle of sport, television, and corporate sponsor, so brilliantly consummated later in the century in mega-events such as the Olympic Games and the men's soccer World Cup, and on a more everyday scale in the UEFA (European

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