Sport in Capitalist Society: A Short History
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- Why are the Olympic Games the driving force behind a clampdown on civil liberties?
- What makes sport an unwavering ally of nationalism and militarism?
- Is sport the new opiate of the masses?
These and many other questions are answered in this new radical history of sport by leading historian of sport and society, Professor Tony Collins.
Tracing the history of modern sport from its origins in the burgeoning capitalist economy of mid-eighteenth century England to the globalised corporate sport of today, the book argues that, far from the purity of sport being ‘corrupted’ by capitalism, modern sport is as much a product of capitalism as the factory, the stock exchange and the unemployment line.
Based on original sources, the book explains how sport has been shaped and moulded by the major political and economic events of the past two centuries, such as the French Revolution, the rise of modern nationalism and imperialism, the Russian Revolution, the Cold War and the imposition of the neo-liberal agenda in the last decades of the twentieth century. It highlights the symbiotic relationship between the media and sport, from the simultaneous emergence of print capitalism and modern sport in Georgian England to the rise of Murdoch’s global satellite television empire in the twenty-first century, and for the first time it explores the alternative, revolutionary models of sport in the early twentieth century.
Sport in a Capitalist Society is the first sustained attempt to explain the emergence of modern sport around the world as an integral part of the globalisation of capitalism. It is essential reading for anybody with an interest in the history or sociology of sport, or the social and cultural history of the modern world.
Illustrated’, Collected Works, Moscow, 1974. Lenskyj, Helen, Out of Bounds: Women, Sport and Sexuality, Toronto, 1986. ——, Inside the Olympic Industry: Power, Politics, and Activism, New York, 2000. Levine, Peter, A.G. Spalding and the Rise of Baseball: The Promise of American Sport, New York, 1987. Light, Robert, ‘Ten Drunks and a Parson: The Victorian Professional Cricketer Reconsidered’, Sport in History, vol. 25, no. 1 (2005), pp. 60–76. Lockhart, Robert Bruce, Giants Cast Long Shadows,
none of the machinery of punishment or exclusion that amateur bodies abroad cultivated.44 Amateurism at the elite level uniquely thrived into the twenty-ﬁrst century in the United States, paradoxically home to the most commercialised sports culture in the world. Sport had emerged in American universities in the nineteenth century on the British model of middle-class amateurism. By 1900 gridiron football had become the major winter spectator sport in America, emerging rapidly from its origins in
sports. In the north-east of England, the popularity of wrestling among both sexes was such that when the local rules were revised in 1793 they explicitly forbade women from competing. ‘It would much hurt the sport were that they admitted into the ring’, argued a correspondent to the Sporting Magazine.11 Such opinions were increasingly heard at this time. The campaign against women’s sports was part of the general oﬀensive that sought to impose a new morality on the working class. As with the
gave a speech at the 1936 Olympics’ Congress of Physical Education on ‘The Science of Educating the Body’ in which he called Hitler ‘the great leader of the German people’ and ended his lecture by quoting from a speech from the Führer.42 In Britain, as elsewhere, the political nature of the Berlin Games was downplayed. ‘Surely one of the greatest sports festivals of all time, [that] made its magniﬁcent contribution towards a ﬁtter youth and more peaceful international relationships’, declared
in English Football, 1884–85’, in Stephen Wagg (ed.), Myths and Milestones in the History of Sport, London, 2012, pp. 32–56. 20 Tony Collins, A Social History of English Rugby Union, Abingdon, 2009, ch. 2. 21 Dave Russell, Football and the English, Preston, 1997, pp. 25–35. 22 Jules Rimet, Le Football et le rapprochement des peuples, Zurich, 1954, p. 47. 23 The importance of shared informal attitudes to amateurism is discussed in Collins, A Social History of English Rugby Union, pp. 147–50. 24