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

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

CHAPTER 2
THE EMERGENCE OF GLOBAL ARENAS

MAPPING THE GLOBALIZATION GF SPORTS
CULTURES BETWEEN COSMOPOLITANISM,
NATIONALISM, AND LOCALISM

In this chapter we will examine the evolution and transitions of hegemonic sports cultures from the nineteenth to the end of the twentieth century. Our story will feature the key cultural characteristics that this process engendered at two stages of global dissemination: the first coincides roughly with the industrial era of the latter two decades of the nineteenth century; the second we place approximately one hundred years later and identify with what has commonly been called the “postindustrial” epoch. While soccer, arguably the single most prominent and ubiquitous sports language in the world, is our special focus, we compare its history of globalization with that of other hegemonic team sports, namely basketball, baseball, football, and hockey which—among related phenomena in rugby and cricket—have emerged in an ever-expanding and ever-inclusive “global sports arena.”1

To a considerable extent, sports cultures march in step with global modernization processes. However, just like these, the globalization of sports cultures lacks a simple plot. While there appears to be an inexorable path toward homogenized global standards, tastes, and mores, the resilience of traditions and the local have not disappeared. If anything, we argue, the very factors that render the globalizing forces so powerful also bolster pur-

1 The notion of a global sports arena originates from the volume, The Global Sports Arena,
John Bale and Joseph Maguire, eds. (New York: Routledge, 1994).

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