Sport Stars: The Cultural Politics of Sporting Celebrity

Sport Stars: The Cultural Politics of Sporting Celebrity

Sport Stars: The Cultural Politics of Sporting Celebrity

Sport Stars: The Cultural Politics of Sporting Celebrity


In a culture obsessed with celebrity, sportmen and women are some of the highest profile figures. We are fascinated by sport stars' lifestyles, love lives, and earning power. Sport Stars investigates the nature of contemporary sporting celebrity, examining stars' often turbulent relationships with the media, and with the sporting establishment.Through a series of case studies of sporting stars, including Diego Maradona, Michael Jordan, Venus Williams and David Beckham, contributors examine the cultural, political, economic and technological forces which combine to produce sporting celebrity, and consider the ways in which these most public of individuals inform and influence private experience.


To speak of a culture of celebrity nowadays is nearly to commit a redundancy.

(Gitlin, 1998, p. 81)

Stars represent typical ways of behaving, feeling and thinking in contemporary society, ways that have been socially, culturally, historically constructed.

(Dyer, 1986, p. 18)

Its drama, its personalities and its worldwide appeal mean sport is the new Hollywood.

(Bell and Campbell, 1999, p. 22)

Raymond Williams' invaluable glossary of cultural terms Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, although compiled as recently as 1976, does not include a definition of the word "celebrity". Such an omission would be unthinkable had Williams been writing now - at the beginning of the twenty-first century, since celebrity has become a primary product and process underpinning what David Rowe has termed late capitalism's "culturalization of economics" (1999, p. 70).

According to Marshall (1997), the contemporary celebrity is an embodiment of the twinned discourses of late modernity: neo-liberal democracy and consumer capitalism. Indeed, Western liberal democracy represents a political system preoccupied with "the personal, the intimate, and the individual" (ibid., p. xiii); incorporates an equally solipsistic regime of economic (re)production (consumer capitalism); both of which are nurtured by the supreme technology of hyper-individualization (commercial television).

From the outpourings of the commercial media, whom Braudy (1997, p. 550) refers to as the "arbiters of celebrity," we are, at least superficially, privy to a wealth of information that encourages us to develop a sense of familiarity, intrigue, and sometimes obsession with celebrity figures. While the celebrity is usually a complete stranger, and someone we are never likely to meet, nor ever truly know, the virtual intimacy created between celebrity and audience often

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