Understanding Sport Culture traces and analyzes the development of the modern field of sport from its ancient and medieval precursors (the festivals of Greece and Rome, and games such as folk football), through to its inception in the mid-nineteenth century as a set of activities designed to instill character and discipline in students in exclusive British public schools, up to its transformation into a global institution and popular spectacle. The narrative also focuses on and provides a detailed account of the gradual coming together of sport and the media. It explains how this relationship has accentuated sport's status as one of the most important sites in contemporary culture, while simultaneously threatening its existence.

Introduction: Playing Sport

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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