George Wright, “Sport and Globalisation,” Olympic Review, October/ November, 1999. George Wright, “Globalisation and Sport,” Debate, New Political Economy, July, 1999. This contribution aims to assess the relationship between sport and globali-zation. Capitalism has always been global, while national economies have been situated in the global accumulation process.
But since the late 1960s, capitalism has been restructured toa point where today it has become more globalized than ever. This restructuring can be understood on economic, political and ideological levels. The conomic level is characterized by an acceleration of global production processes, a new international division of labor based on low paid, flexible, labor relations, and new international marketing strategies.
These changes have led to the acceleration of the centralization and concentration of capital, resulting in extreme wealth and income disparities worldwide. Global restructuring has been expedited by new computer and satellite telecommu-nication technologies that have emerged in the past 20 years. On the political level, governments have abolished Keynesian approaches, intensified he dismantling of the public sector, deregulated the economy, and have taken steps to weaken organized labor.
This political project (called neo-liberalism) has resulted in the subordination of national sovereignty to the prescriptions of international treaty regimes, such as Bretton Woods (the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank), Maastricht and the North American Free Trade Agreement, etc. What this means is that Transnational Corporations and Banks have increasingly more power than nation-states over controlling national conomies.
The neo-liberal project has also inculcated a “free-market” ideological climate which dominates public life and political discourse throughout the world. The globalization of sport can also be understood on economic, political and ideological levels. Globlizing Tendencies in Sport The globalizing changes occurring in sport represent multiple, and over- lapping tendencies that are located at the national, regional and global levels. These tendencies include: increased involvement by global telecommunication oligopolies, including News Corp.
Disney, and AOL-Time-Warner, in the control of the scheduling and production of sporting competitions, the use of sport as a marketing device, and the ownership of sports franchises; using the new international division of labor to produce sports equipment and shops; international sports organizations and federations??”such as the International Olympic Committee, the International Federation of Football Associations and the International Amateur Athletics Federation ??”generating enormous revenues by selling television rights and sponsorships to TNCs. d the proliferation of foreign athletes on professional teams. The tendencies described above (and many more) are being used to profit from the globalization processes occurring in the world economy. A question which arises from this observation is: How can the changes occurring in international sport be understood in relationship to the restructuring of the global political economy? The Relation between Sport and Globlization The expanding literature on the relationship of sport to the globalization process is not conclusive.
One perspective argues that the international changes occurring in sport are an example of “Americanization,” rather than “Globali-zation. ” The reason for this view is that the strategies, products and Imagineering associated with sport around the world is predominately “American”-oriented. This can be seen in the proliferation of sports on television, particularly on cable outlets such as Star TV in Asia, BSkyB in Great Britain and Eurosport, and in the consumption patterns and lifestyles promoted. For example, Oakland Raiders Jackets, San Jose Sharks Jerseys nd Nike Air Jordan’s are being worn by young people all over the world.
Peter Donnelly explains “Americanization tends to be viewed as a one-way process in which American cultural forms, products and meanings are imposed on other cultures at the expense and form of domestic culture. ” The argument concludes that sport is another form by which the world’s population is subjected to American cultural hegemony. Another perspective argues that the changes occurring in sport is an aspect of globalization. Jean Harvey and Genevieve Rail state that modern sport has always perated in the global economy, but there are discernable tendencies in recent decades that indicate that sport is moving towards being globalized.
The authors explain that “political, economic, and cultural global dimensions are inducing a process of homogenization of sport through Western com-modified sport forms. ” They also emphasize that sport contributes to globalization by assisting “the development of a global mass consumption culture. ” By inference, their analysis shows that what is occurring in sport transcends the dictates of a narrowly-defined “American” cultural hegemony. Rather than an either/or debate, one could surmise that the changes occurring in sport are part of the globalization process, though that process is dominated by American strategies and forms.
This should not be surprising because the United polices and strategies that are promoted throughout the world capitalist system on all levels. This is underscored by the fact that the United States is the biggest economy in the world. An example reinforcing this point is the fact that 61 per cent of Nike’s 1996 sales was in the United States. Further-more, many of the ccumulation strategies utilized by sports managers around the world were generally conceived in the United States.
For example, the privatized model used to finance international sports festivals??”such as the Olympic Games, the World Athletics Championships, or the World Cup??”was formulated by Peter Ueberroth when he organized the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Nevertheless, as an example that the globalization of sports is not a “one-way” process, football has effectively penetrated the United States sports market since 1994, the year the World Cup was held in the United States. As Harvey and Rail argue, where sport is increasingly important to the globalization process is as a means to promote commodity consumption.
As examples, Brian Stoddart reports that in 1993 the four major professional leagues in the United States sold $9 billion worth of franchised goods; while the three major television networks generated $2. 2 billion in sports related advertising and the cable networks generated $800 million. Furthermore, when the Japanese J-League football games were put on commercial television that same year, that programming generated $300 million orth of sales for Sony Creative Products and one million new depositors for Fuji Bank.
Although there is sports programming specifically tailored to female television audiences (fgure skating, women’s gymnastics, the Olympic Games, etc. ) the main target for sports marketing are males between 14 and 42. Sports television networks also promote non-sports programming televised on other channels its parent firm owns. This is excerpted froman article first published in New Political Economy Ouly, 1999). That article was also published in Olympic Review (October/ November, 1999).