Globalization and Sport Essay

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The emergence and diffusion of modern sport is bound up in a global network marked by power relations and global flows. The development of national and international sports organizations, the growth of competition between national teams, the worldwide acceptance of rules governing specific (western) sport forms, and the establishment of global competitions are all indicative of the globalization of sport.

Global sport is connected, but not reducible, to the ideological practices and intentions of specific groups of people from particular countries. The receptivity of national popular cultures to non-indigenous sport products is active and heterogeneous; however, there is a political economy at work in the production and consumption of global sport products. In the past, and continuing in the present, some male members of western societies have acted as a form of established group on a world level. Their tastes and conduct, including their sports, were part of this, and these practices acted and act as signs of distinction, prestige, and power. Given this growth in the multiplicity of linkages and networks that transcend nation-states, some argue that we may be at the earliest stages of the development of a ”global culture,” of which sport is a part. This process entails a shift from ethnic or national cultures to ”supranational” forms based upon a combination of the culture of a superpower and of cosmopolitan communication and migrant networks.

However, there is considerable debate as to whether global sport is leading to a homogenized body culture -specifically, along western or American lines. Yet global flows are simultaneously increasing the varieties of body cultures and identities available to people in local cultures. Global sport, then, seems to be leading to the reduction in contrasts between societies, but also to the emergence of new varieties of body cultures and identities.


  • Maguire, J. (2005) Power and Global Sport: Zones of Prestige, Emulation and Resistance. Routledge, London.

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