The Colonization and Mediation of
In Chapters 4 and 5 it was claimed that the speed with which exercise and sport have been colonized has increased of late, and especially in the era of disorganized capitalism. This theme is explored further in this chapter, which focuses mainly on changes in the organization and appeal of football in England over the same time period. The first section sets the scene historically and examines the emergence and unfolding of the Premiership against the background of the newly state-sanctioned business ambitions of media personnel such as Rupert Murdoch, and its product, the hypercommodification of football. The second section considers in more detail the ramifications of football's newfound 'mediation': 'actual' audiences have been in part displaced by 'virtual' audiences. In the third section the notion of celebrity is revisited. Building on the discussion in the last chapter, the nature of the development of celebrity in English football is addressed via a comparison of the lots of modern 'Gazza' with postmodern 'Becks'.
Like many other sports, association football, or soccer, has declined in schools during the era of disorganized capitalism. Dunning (1999: 121) cites the Football Association's (FA) estimate of a 70 per cent decline in opportunities to play soccer in English schools. He notes, however, that, correlatively with this, there has occurred a fivefold increase in the number of independent, non-school-affiliated clubs catering for the 9–16 age range. Indeed, in many respects the people's game would seem quite healthy in England. In 1991, for example, around 45,000 football clubs were affiliated to County Football Associations, fielding between them