A Game of Two Halves: Football, Television, and Globalisation

A Game of Two Halves: Football, Television, and Globalisation

A Game of Two Halves: Football, Television, and Globalisation

A Game of Two Halves: Football, Television, and Globalisation

Synopsis

Professional football is one of the most popular television 'genres' worldwide, attracting the support of millions of fans, and the sponsorship of powerful companies. In A Game of Two Halves , Sandvoss considers football's relationship with television, its links with transnational capitalism, and the importance of football fandom in forming social and cultural identities around the globe. He presents the phenomenon of football as a reflection postmodern culture and globalization.Through a series of case studies, based in ethnographic audience research, Sandvoss explores the motivations and pleasures of football fans, the intense bond formed between supporters and their clubs, the implications of football consumption on political discourse and citizenship, football as a factor of cultural globalisation, and the pivotal role of football and television in a postmodern cultural order.

Excerpt

The day I commenced the research for this book in August 1998 I arrived at the BayArena, home of German first division side Bayer Leverkusen. The name of the ground had been changed at the beginning of the season to promote the team's sponsor and owner - the pharmaceutical multinational Bayer. I had bought a season ticket for the largest section of the recently redeveloped ground named 'Family Street'. Nothing in the crowd savoured of the scenes of football-related violence and hooliganism that had come to sum up the public image of the sport in the years before and after the Heysel disaster in which 39 fans were killed in 1985. Even the overt display of masculinity and sexist chauvinism so often associated with football fandom seemed strangely lacking. Indeed, the spectators in 'Family Street' accurately reflected its name. Families, fathers with their sons and daughters, mothers and their children slowly took up their seats, protected from the warm August sunshine by the ground's glass roofing, and avidly followed the pre-game entertainment on newly installed giant video screens. And in contrast to the 1980s, when the term 'rushing' referred to the practice of rival fan groups storming sections of the ground occupied by fans of the opposing team, there was very a different 'rush' at the BayArena. At half time hordes of fans, often driven by their children, fought their way to a newly built onsite McDonald's restaurant. It was here, under the golden arches of McDonald's, that my research began.

As spectator football is subject to dramatic transformations, it has become increasingly popular. Football fandom now crosses age, gender, class and geographic divides. Even in the United States, where 'eleven men in funny shorts' have traditionally evoked more irritation than enthusiasm, officials of the newly founded professional soccer league now proudly state that soccer's popularity has overtaken traditional North American sports such as ice hockey. If the first day of my research had indicated football's commercial nature, the last day of my fieldwork, which I spent among an enthusiastic crowd of DC United fans at Washington's RFK Stadium - 43 games, 17 stadia, and 15 months later - powerfully illustrated the global state of the game. Yet what are the premises of the global presence and appeal of professional football clubs? How do football clubs form the ground for the fandom of millions of supporters from different social,

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