Chapter 1: Introduction: Playing Sport Next Chapter

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Introduction: Playing Sport
Introduction: Playing sport

There's a Nike television commercial that neatly encapsulates the relation between the notion of play and the contemporary cultural field of sport. The setting is a soccer match between the national teams of Brazil and Portugal. As the players walk, side-by-side, through the concrete subterranean passage that leads onto the field, the scene is clearly recognizable as early twenty-first-century sport, characterized by strong capitalist, bureaucratic and media inflections. The sides (selected by managers appointed by the respective national federations) are wearing national colours, with the shirts supplied by multinational sports companies (Brazil, for instance, have signed a long-term contract, and are closely associated, with Nike). Many of the players – Roberto Carlos, the Ronaldos, Figo, Ronaldinho – are instantly recognizable ...

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