Value and Values in Global Sport
Summary and Keywords
Since Antiquity, sporting bodies and performances have been assigned an economic value, and sporting events, particularly those with large audiences, have been organized with a view to their capacity to generate wealth and reinforce social hierarchies. At the same time, athletes have long embodied moral and ethical values such as virtue, beauty, purity, and sacrifice. Sport is thus a prime context in which a society negotiates the relationship between the material, in the form of value, and the symbolic or ideational, in the form of values.
Sport and the sporting body can be commodified when they are assigned a value calculated in terms of a standardized currency and traded in a market. However, even in capitalist societies, sport often retains features that are shaped not by the market economy but the gift economy—in which exchange is governed by values such as honor, trust, and prestige. Sport offers a wealth of examples in which value and values come into conflict, exposing the fact that they are not incommensurable, but rather economic value is simply one kind of culturally constructed value among many.
Victors in the ancient Greek Olympic Games received only awards made from plants, including a crown of olive branches, but returned home to be bestowed with material riches. An elite Roman man produced gladiator games as a “gift” to his supporters, but in deciding whether to allow a defeated fighter to live, he had to weigh the cost of losing a gladiator (who was a valuable piece of property) against displeasing his supporters. The association that runs Japanese sumo is not a modern legal corporation; rather, its members are retired wrestlers who have bought the wrestling name of an elder that has been passed along for as long as 250 years—and the name cannot be bought with a bank loan. In the name of amateurism, 19th-century Victorians banned professionals from taking part in Olympic sports amidst the massive commodification of leisure and popular culture that accompanied the rise of the modern industrial economy.
Much of the Cold War was fought using athletes as proxies for the socialist and capitalist economic systems, as socialist nations denounced the exclusive gender and class values of “bourgeois” sports and sought to create an alternative model. After the end of the Cold War, the influx of capital into sports finally led to the death of the amateur ideal, quickly followed by the emergence of the migrant professional athlete. At the start of the 21st century, the massive revenues in college sport challenged the American notion of the unpaid student-athlete, while the global trade in athletes sucked ever greater numbers of athletes from the Global South into the professional sports of the wealthy Western countries as well as, increasingly, East Asian and Middle Eastern countries.
Sport is a fascinating realm for examining conflicts between value and values, and how they are shaped by the global economy in the 21st century, taking on new forms that echo the past while moving into uncharted territory.
Concerns about value and values have been part and parcel of sport since Antiquity. The bodies and performances of athletes have always been assigned an economic value, and sporting events, particularly those with a large audience, have been organized with a view to their capacity to generate wealth and reinforce social hierarchies. But athletes have also long embodied what society views as virtuous, important, and desirable: in other words its values, such as virtue, beauty, purity, and sacrifice. Recreational sport and physical training outside of the competitive arena have often been considered to express higher ideals than high performance sport, with the ideals being specific to the cultural context. In the West since the late 19th century, sports have been widely viewed as a method of character training for youth, instilling discipline, willpower, teamwork, and the amateur ideal. In Japan, sports, and especially martial arts, have been seen as a way of instilling the martial spirit, or bushidō. These values are, in turn, publicly displayed in sporting events that may be motivated by economic and power interests, often leading to accusations of the moral corruption of sport. Sport is thus a prime context in which a society negotiates the relationship between the material, in the form of value, and the symbolic or ideational, in the form of values. Although seldom examined from this perspective, sport can contribute insights into the long-standing debate in anthropology about tensions between value and values.1 Despite the fact that the nature of sport has undergone fundamental transformations over the centuries, this tension characterizes sport in the neoliberal era as much as in the ancient world.
In societies in which a market economy dominates, sport can generate wealth in a number of ways. For example, sport and the sporting body can be commodified when they are assigned a value calculated in terms of a standardized currency, traded in a competitive market, and evaluated against other sports and sporting bodies. However, even in societies steeped in capitalism, sport often retains features that are shaped not by the market economy but by the gift economy, in which exchange takes place in reference to a system of relationships rather than the market, governed by concerns over honor, trust, solidarity, prestige—in other words, in moral and cultural values.2
A key reason that sport often becomes entangled with non-commodified aspects of human life is that it is closely connected with the human body, which is integral to so many of life’s processes that do not lend themselves to economic valuation. Health, gender, bodily movement and performance, sexuality, identity, reproduction, eating, emotions—and, at the very bottom of it all, basic survival—are all so central to daily existence that while they may sometimes be bought and sold as commodities (e.g., in the transplant organ trade, restaurants, or sex industry), they cannot be completely fenced in by market principles. The sporting body lends itself to commodification, but because the object being commodified is the body, it is capable of evoking emotional and moral responses much more powerful than conventional commodities. In the context of public contests, this body can be further situated within cherished narratives that generate even more powerful emotional and moral connotations, such as a contest between “the U.S.A.” and “China,” or between representatives of the white and black “races.” The phrase “commodification of the body” implies that the body may be subordinated to the power of the market, but it may be more accurate to reassign the direction of influence as the “bodification” of market exchange.
Sport offers a wealth of examples in which one realm of exchange comes into conflict with another, producing debates and tensions. Thus, it can provide insights into the social implications of different economic systems, how meanings are assigned within those systems, and what happens when those meanings are contested. At the point where two systems meet, we often find conflicts that expose the fact that value and values are not incommensurable, but rather economic value is simply one kind of culturally constructed value among many.
The Athlete’s Value and the Sacred Economy in Ancient Greek Sports
The Ancient Greek Olympics, which ran from the 8th century bce to the 5th century ce, featured many practices that were deliberately intended to sequester the event from economic concerns. In contrast to the ranking systems of modern sports, in Ancient Greece only the first-place winners of competitions were recognized. Inside the sacred sanctuary of Olympia, they were honored with natural symbols, such as a crown of olive branches, a palm frond, and showers of foliage and fruit thrown by spectators; it was only after the games and outside the sanctuary’s boundaries that they were handsomely rewarded in goods, money, and lifelong benefits.3 With material rewards on the line, it is not surprising that cheating, doping, bribery, competition fixing and city-state hopping (the equivalent of nationality hopping today) were as common then as they are two millennia later. Most athletes came from elite backgrounds, and Greeks did not share the modern admiration for athletes who rise from poverty to riches, but rather, as Philostratus put it in the 3rd century ce, “set a higher value on abilities that have been handed down from father to son. Therefore, the Olympic victor who comes from a family of Olympic victors is more glorious.”4 Only rarely did poor athletes utilize the modest prizes from local competitions to work their way up to the Panhellenic games. More commonly, elites used their athletic celebrity status to enhance their status and launch political careers.5
Conflicting moral and ethical values converged around the bodies of athletes. They were regarded as paragons of masculine sexuality, and the combination of sweat and olive oil that was scraped from their bodies was bottled and used as a tonic. That it was a sought-after commodity is suggested by the fact that its sale was used to raise revenue for gymnasia. Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder complained that magistrates sold it for an amount equivalent to US$450 million in 2019.6 However, athletes violated the important ethical values of “moderation in all things” and “nothing in excess,” including exercise. The Greek physician Galen of Pergamon (129–216 ce) complained that athletes “spend their lives in over-exercising, in overeating, and oversleeping like pigs.”7
Olympia, along with the sites of the three other contests that comprised the Pan-Hellenic Games, was a temple complex financed by a “sacred economy,” regulated by sacred laws, that showcased the conspicuous consumption of goods for devotional purposes.8 Over their thousand-year history, the Olympic Games revolved around a spectacular sacrifice to Zeus. Although a copy of the sacred laws for Olympia has never been found, laws from other sanctuaries suggest that the games were enmeshed in a business cycle of land leasing and revenues from the sale of sacrificial animals, as well as sponsorship of the building of temples and monuments inside the complex.9
In sum, market exchange, gift exchange, and strongly held cultural values were thoroughly intertwined in Olympia. For the most part, the games remained subordinate to the festival, ensuring that the market exchange never overwhelmed the sacred economy.10
Value and Values in Roman Sports
Roman sport was highly commodified and became more so over the centuries, from the Republican period (3rd century bce to 1st century ce) to the end of the Roman Empire (4th century ce). Romans romanticized Greek sports as emblematic of a more exalted system of values than their own, and the Olympic Games and “Greek sports” flourished after the Greek mainland became a province of the Roman Empire in the 2nd century bce.
Throughout the Roman Empire, as a gift to their supporters, powerful men staged gladiator fights, which articulated the tension between value and values. Gladiators were usually enslaved non-Roman prisoners of war who were admired as paragons of masculinity but held in contempt as barbarians. Their owners provided them with food, medical attention, and training facilities. If a gladiator survived three years, he was released from the arena, and after five years he was granted full freedom. However, he was permanently stigmatized as infamia and never obtained full citizenship. The ambivalent attitude toward gladiators is an early example of the pattern, common in the 21st century, of the physical prowess of a sporting body trumping the low value assigned to the person inhabiting the body.
A gladiator represented a valuable commodity, some being worth more than the annual salary of a Roman soldier (about twelve thousand sesterces). Price inflation was an ongoing problem for the owners, and the government repeatedly instituted price controls. The show’s producer financed the spectacle, which could involve contracting a troupe from a gladiator school if he did not sponsor his own. Contracts that have survived specify a rental fee of eighty sesterces if the gladiator survived but a compensation of four thousand sesterces if he was killed or maimed. This built an interesting conflict of values into the games. Fights were brief and choreographed, and 20 percent to 50 percent of fights ended in a death. When one fighter acknowledged defeat by dropping his weapon and raising his finger, the referee stopped the fight to allow the spectators to signal a decision. Reprieve was signaled by a fist or two fingers pointed out, while death was signaled by a thumb pointed into the throat. The spectators’ response depended on the quality of the fight and the reputation of the fighter. The producer issued the final decision. If the crowd demanded death, the producer was faced with a dilemma: the death would cost him a large sum of money no matter whether he owned or had rented the gladiator; if he saved the gladiator, the spectators might feel he did it to save his investment, controverting the purpose of the event, which was to gain their support with a display of generosity.11
The producer’s dilemma is a moment when value (of the gladiator as property) and market principles came into conflict with values (of generosity towards the masses) and the spirit of the gift. The value of saving a human life did not play much of a role.
Commodification in Japanese Sumo
The coexistence of two different sportive models, one highly permeated by market forces and another free of commercialization, is a common phenomenon. Sumo in Japan, while highly lucrative, is sequestered from certain market principles that permeate other professional sports such as football and baseball. Although portrayed as an ancient art that embodies an essential, unchanging Japanese character, its history is marked by discontinuities. Court sumo, a form of entertainment and power display for emperors, had been defunct for five hundred years when, in the 17th century, sumo reemerged as an “invented tradition” intended to establish continuity with the past and inculcate certain values and norms—even though its reemergence was stimulated by new forms of conspicuous consumption and commercialized leisure unleashed by the growth of Eurasian trade.12
Sumo tournaments took different forms, including a vulgar entertainment that often ended in spectator brawls. In 1751, the “professional” groups involved in for-profit sumo in Edo (the former name of Tokyo) established the predecessor of the Japanese Sumo Association—one year before the organization widely regarded as the first national sports association, the Jockey Club, was founded in Britain.13 In a 1772 court case that is considered to be a turning point, the association in Edo successfully challenged the right of village “amateurs” to charge admission to sumo tournaments. Although distinctly modern concerns drove the organization of the sport, namely who controlled the revenues from admissions, the court justified its decision with reference to the values of an idealized and largely fictional ancient past.
During its encounter with Western modernity, Japan crafted, in sumo as in other realms, combinations of market and non-market principles that were novel in comparison with the West, because they were the product of a process of accommodation between global capitalism and a non-Western culture. In the 21st century, sumo still maintains a strategic relationship between rituals claimed to be ancient and modern economic practices. One of the most interesting manifestations is the composition of the Japan Sumo Association, which originated in the practice of retired ex-wrestlers or “elders,” delivering requests to shoguns to hold tournaments. By the early 20th century, this had crystallized into the 105 elder positions that comprise the association, each position bearing the wrestling name of the elder who first occupied it. The positions are held like stock shares and must be purchased. Only a retired wrestler with Japanese citizenship is eligible to purchase a share when it becomes available due to retirement or death. The organization is not a corporation and profits are distributed in the form of a monthly salary, giving the elders an incentive to maintain high income for the association. Association rules prohibit the posting of elder shares as collateral, ruling out the use of bank loans to raise the share price (reportedly as high as US$4.5 million), but this has not prevented scandals in which elders have been exposed for raising the purchase price utilizing dubious sources. In one case, the loan came from the yakuza (organized crime), whose guarantee of repayment consisted in the threat of blackmail.14 The association became a “public interest corporation” in 2011 and took over the selection of an elder’s successor, but the rules remained byzantine by usual corporate standards.
Sport and Christian Values in 19th-Century Britain
In 19th-century Europe, the conflict between the value and values of sport coalesced around disagreements over whether sport should lead to material gain. Inspired by a reinvention of Ancient Greek values imbued with post-Enlightenment and mid-19th-century Christian ideology, Victorians invented modern sport as an activity designed for amateurs, namely participants who were not materially rewarded but strove to develop ethical values such as fair play, integrity, honor, obedience to authority, and loyalty to the team. At mid-century, these values were drawn from a Christian revivalist movement called muscular Christianity. Proponents of muscular Christianity reacted against the cerebral and introverted approaches to Christianity inspired by the Romantic movement, which they viewed as emasculating. They advocated a physically vigorous masculinity in the service of God, country, and empire, and viewed team sport as a way to develop values such as courage, moral duty, and self-sacrifice.15 By the late 1850s, muscular Christianity had become the foundation of the educational philosophy in the elite public schools charged with the education of boys of elite families. It was in these schools that modern team ball sports like football, rugby, and cricket emerged, and in this context sport took on its modern forms: Rules were codified and standardized, records were kept, and sports clubs and governing bodies were formed to organize contests and leagues.
The newly organized sports were the domain of elites and their children. But the sports that they codified arose out of ball games and other sports played by the common people in towns and villages of Britain and elsewhere.16 As with sumo in Japan, in Europe and North America new forms of commodified popular culture arose out of these popular practices, of which the circus was the first manifestation on a mass scale. Many sports had a professional base in circuses, where boxers, acrobats, strongmen, equestrians, gladiators, and others could earn a living. Elites were anxious to distance themselves from the chaotic and morally questionable popular sports because these working-class professionals threatened their portrayal of sports as character building and morally high-minded, which served their attempts to appropriate sports for their own purposes.17 Elites also considered the mixing of social classes in sports inappropriate and feared that manual laborers had an unfair advantage because they were stronger. Material disinterest came to be a key moral value attached to respectable sport, and adherence to the values associated with amateurism became increasingly rigid, particularly in Britain.
Nevertheless, the taste for sport in its standardized form, particularly football, trickled down the social scale. New transport technologies now enabled athletes and teams to travel and compete against others who played sport according to the same rules. Churchmen, who were often public school graduates, encouraged their working-class parishioners to play sports. Factory owners promoted sport to quiet worker unrest and improve their work ethic.18
While capitalists played sport because they had the leisure time to do so, time was at a premium for blue-collar workers, for whom sport competed with work and livelihood. During the Industrial Revolution, work time in Britain became increasingly regulated: on the one hand, the state legislated limits on the time that employers could expect workers to work, prescribing a half workday on Saturday, for example; on the other hand, the Lord’s Day Observance Society lobbied successfully for a national ban on non-religious activities on the Sabbath. Saturday afternoons were the only time when blue-collar workers could play sport and not jeopardize their wages or their salvation, but for those who aimed to pursue sport seriously, this window was limiting. Sport became a flashpoint for a conflict over “broken time”: Sports clubs compensated their most promising athletes for lost wages to train or compete at times when they were supposed to be at work; elites contended that broken time violated the amateur ideal, which for them was one of the fundamental values of sport. At the same time, elites were keen to ensure that blue-collar men kept themselves occupied during their leisure time to reduce the possibility of civil unrest.19
British football was professionalized in 1884, which further alienated it from elites and their values. Public schools abandoned the sport, which they now associated with working-class values, in favor of rugby. Pressure from working-class rugby clubs in the industrial north for broken time payments led to the fission of the sport into two distinct codes in 1895: the northern games became rugby league, played with thirteen players a side, while the southern game, played with fifteen players a side, became rugby union.20 To this day, rugby league, wherever it is played, continues to be regarded as a working-class sport, and it has not benefited from the globalized commodification that rugby union has enjoyed.
Broken time polarized the social classes of 19th-century Britain, and sport was its locus. It was a conflict over the value of players, their labor, and their athletic abilities, but one that was entangled in the moral values of sport.
Stratified Value and Values in Contemporary Sports
Sport remains a stage for conflicts between value and values to this day. For all the feel-good talk of the integrating and harmony-creating potential of sport, it has the power to polarize and exclude. This power is perhaps all the more insidious in that, for many, playing and watching sport is primarily a matter of personal taste, a view that masks the inequalities inherent in participation in sport.
This is the basic insight that we owe to French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who developed the most systematic analysis of the relationship between sport and social class.21 A taste for golf, tennis, skiing, or equestrian sports generally signifies elite social status in the industrial West, tastes that have increasingly become global as non-Western nations develop economically and their nouveaux riches join the transnational elites. Football, boxing, and—at least at the elite levels—basketball, baseball, and gridiron football are identified with athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds. Rather than being a matter of personal choice, the taste for a particular leisure activity, including the sports one practices or watches, is in fact determined by class position and ultimately material power. Members of different social classes gravitate toward different sports and often dislike each other’s sports and their associations. For example, members of elite rugby club in Buenos Aires disdain the chaos, the drunkenness and the lack of civility of football games, the sport of the masses.22
There is nothing natural about the connection between a sport and the categories of people who are attracted to it, despite common folk representations of particular sports as embodying the “character” of a social group or nation. In Bourdieu’s vocabulary, the class symbolism of sports results from the competition for status that involves the exchange of material, social, cultural, and symbolic capital, through which members of one social class distinguish themselves from another through their consumption of goods, control of services, and mastery of practices. This process of distinction generates the “social (or class) value” of a sport. That is, playing or watching a particular sport marks someone as a member of the social class with which the sport is associated and ascribes to the person the values that the sport, its practice, and its enthusiasts are thought to embody (e.g., refinement, lawfulness, orderliness vs. roughness, lawlessness, disorderliness). These associations in turn enable people to rub shoulders with certain classes of people, to be able to talk about different topics, to inhabit different spaces, and so on, all of which determine their position in the social hierarchy.
In some cases, social value can be attributed to the resources required to engage in a particular sport; for example, to enjoy horseback riding, one must own or hire expensive animals and equipment, in addition to space, time, and the labor of others. But in other cases, the social value of a sport cannot be explained in terms of material resources needed. Rugby union and rugby league require similar supplies (a ball, appropriate clothing, a pitch with two goalposts); yet, for historical reasons, the two sports have different class associations.
The social value of a sport is historically and geographically contingent. A sport can change class value over time or can have different class values over space. For example, after France’s loss to Germany in the 1870–1871 war, Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, imported rugby into the country in hope that it would raise the morale of Parisian elites.23 In the early 20th century, however, the sport was appropriated by working-class men in the southwest of the country and was long associated with their left-leaning and anti-clerical republicanism and antagonism to Parisian elites. As the sport grew in importance in the 1990s, particularly after its professionalization and the influx of wealth that it subsequently experienced, it was re-appropriated all over the country by the middle classes, anxious to distance themselves from the working-class associations of football.
In addition to social class, many other social categories determine the social value of particular sports, such as gender, age, ethnicity, and race, which may operate either separately or in combination with social class. Some sports, such as synchronized swimming, figure skating, and netball, are generally viewed as “women’s sports” for historical reasons or because of the stereotypical gendering of certain values such as grace and elegance; if men take part, their masculinity often comes under suspicion. Age also determines sport preferences: while few eighteen-year-olds are to be found on golf courses, an elderly person riding a skateboard or a BMX is viewed as eccentric. In racially segregated societies, members of racial minorities may be excluded from the sports of the majority. In the United States and Europe, they are seriously underrepresented in elite activities such as golf, tennis, and winter sports.
Furthermore, sports involve people who play different roles and have different investments in them, including athletes, spectators, coaches, managers, sponsors, and club owners, and the social value of a sport is complicated by these structural dynamics. For example, as European football became heavily commercialized in the 1980s, the most successful clubs became extremely valuable commodities, bought and sold by oligarchs, oil-state princes, and other billionaires, but their fan bases continued to be largely working class. In North America, basketball and gridiron football teams can feature a majority of African Americans, but when the latter attempt to coach or manage, they face serious obstacles. Specific sports thus have their own internal class-, race-, and gender-based stratification. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the fact that 21st-century sport is a global phenomenon means that sports are assigned social value according to potentially conflicting criteria. For example, football (or soccer) in the United States is the sport of both middle-class privileged whites and generally underprivileged Hispanic minorities who brought a love of the sport from Latin American countries from which they or their forebears emigrated.
Where professional sport industries exist, sport has long offered one of the few paths to mobility to members of disadvantaged groups whose options for seeking a better life are limited. However, since the last decades of the 20th century, as the visibility of sport and the wealth associated with it increased dramatically, many young men (and to a lesser extent women) see a sport career as one of the few ways out of poverty, racism, class discrimination, and marginalization. As a result, racial minorities are overrepresented among athletes in certain sports: such as African Americans in gridiron football and basketball in the United States and East Africans in marathon running worldwide. Some have argued that the overrepresentation of racial minorities has multiple deleterious effects, including discouraging young people with minority backgrounds from pursuing non-athletic-oriented futures, masking the pernicious effects of racism in society, and fueling long-discredited racist theories about the physical superiority but intellectual inferiority of racial groups.24
Figure skating in the United States is a sport in which dynamics of class, gender, and race exclusion have interacted in interesting ways with professionalization. The sport is expensive because of the cost of operating indoor ice rinks, and historically, the sport was practiced in exclusive clubs in western Europe and in the northeastern United States, which were as much social clubs as they were sport oriented. It was also one of the few sports considered acceptable for women because it conformed to Western ideals of femininity. At the same time, commercial show skating had been a popular form of entertainment since the early 20th century, with a flourishing industry of traveling ice shows, skating movies, and later skating television specials. The industry had a symbiotic but sometimes antagonistic relationship with amateur skating. Many talented skaters were lured away from amateur competition by the possibility of earning a living from ice shows, but the professional option essentially offered an end-run around the constraints preventing women from participating in stereotypically masculine sports. Figure skating stars cashed in on Olympic medals to become the highest-paid female athletes in their day. After winning a gold medal at the Grenoble 1968 Olympics, Peggy Fleming signed a five-year television contract reported to be worth $500,000, making her the highest-paid female athlete of that era.25
Equally significant is the way that the professional opportunities allowed skaters to circumvent the race exclusivity of the clubs. Into the 1960s there was no black member of a skating club in the United States, and clubs controlled access to competitions, coaches, ice time, and other resources. However, in the 1940s, Mabel Fairbanks, the child of an African American father and a mother who was half Seminole Indian and half English, was able to craft her own path based purely on the entertainment value of her skating. Because no ice show would hire her, she performed before black and mixed audiences on her own 2×2-meter portable skating rink. By moving to Los Angeles she was able to find employment with shows that traveled to countries where audiences might include blacks, such as Cuba, Mexico, and the West Indies. With the tacit support of clubs that allowed her onto club-rented ice even while they excluded her from membership, she became one of the top developmental coaches in Southern California. She was one among many coaches and skaters from diverse backgrounds whom the economic opportunities in show skating enabled to prosper in a way that was impossible in the hierarchical and tradition-bound American northeast and western Europe.26
It was only after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that Fairbanks was able to secure entry of two of her African American skaters into local clubs. They went on to win national championships, and one of them became the first black principal in a major domestic ice show. Fairbanks mentored most of the outstanding minority skaters from the late 1980s, as Southern California emerged as a domestic and then global epicenter for the sport. Southern California became the stage for the shift of the domination of the sport at the top levels from Europeans and Euro-Americans to Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Asian American skaters. In contrast to football, rugby, and baseball, where migrants also dominate, figure skating remained a middle- and upper-class sport, and most of the new faces competed for their country of origin even if they trained with North American coaches.
A great deal of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was fought through medal counts in the Olympic Games and other international competitions. Athletes stood in as a proxy for two economic systems in their contest for global domination. The Soviet Union, after its establishment in 1923, initially denounced the capitalist values of competition and individualism as “bourgeois.” The class exclusivity in the sports of capitalist nations continued to be attacked by the socialist nations that emerged in the following decades. The socialist founders of the Soviet sports system were horrified at the millions of working-class people in their own country who had taken up the games that had emerged in Britain’s elite academic institutions; they believed that the games diverted them from their historically ordained revolutionary destiny. Their early efforts focused on nurturing a healthy, disciplined, and collectivist workforce through physical culture rather than competitive sport, but by 1925 they had come to accept the idea of competitive sport and semi-professional or professional athletes emerged in football, boxing, and wrestling.27
In the 1930s, the Soviet regime increasingly came to see competitive sport as a way to impress foreign countries, recruit the international working class to Communist values, and prove the superiority of the state-planned economy. In preparation for the return of the country to Olympic competition at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, the Soviet government banned the open payment of athletes. Soviet elite sport was financially supported by state-owned industries and, increasingly, directly by the state. During the Cold War, the conflict between the socialist and capitalist systems was played out in world sporting events, with victories portrayed by both sides as proof of the superiority of their system. The “state shamateur” athletes violated the Western rules and values of amateurism, but the socialist countries maintained a facade that athletes were only remunerated because they were also soldiers, workers, or students.
Gender equality was originally secondary to class equality, but gender came to figure prominently in these political and ideological contests over sport. Women’s sport in capitalist countries was poorly developed, and leaders of socialist regimes realized that investing in women’s sports enabled them to win more medals in international competitions, demonstrating that socialism had overcome the gender inequalities inherent in capitalism. The USSR promoted its women athletes like a Trojan Horse. The West retaliated by questioning the gender of these women, a move that gave rise to a history of profoundly questionable gender testing that continues to plague international sports to this day.28
After the 1949 revolution, the People’s Republic of China established a sports system in which men’s and women’s sport received equal government funding. The Chinese system differed from the industry-based Soviet system in that it was mainly based in the army and the central and provincial governments. Sport was particularly attractive to women of peasant backgrounds because it was a rare path to upward mobility, and coaches recruited rural women because they thought that they were used to hard work and could take the “bitterness” of training. Unlike in the West, men were not threatened by women’s presence in sport because sport was traditionally looked down on and was associated with manual labor.29 Amidst the embracing of market values that followed the collapse of the socialist Eastern Bloc, it has largely been forgotten that there was a time when Chinese sport, in particular, was viewed by freedom fighters as an inspiring model of class-less and race-less sport accessible to everyone.
Value and Sport in the Neoliberal Age
From the invention of modern sport until the last decades of the 20th century, the athlete’s value was largely traded in symbolic rather than economic terms. Despite the high levels of commercialization of many sports in individual countries, the global sports system was surprisingly impervious to market forces until the end of the Cold War. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) became the most prominent defender of amateurism, prohibiting Olympic athletes from receiving compensation under penalty of a lifetime ban. Football, which had professionalized in 1884, became a point of contention because until 1930 the Olympics served as the sport’s world championship. By the 1920s professional football leagues were becoming more numerous worldwide, and football had become the most popular spectator sport in the Olympics. When the IOC threatened to exclude the sport from the Olympics for violating the ban on professionals, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) responded by organizing its own world championships and opening it to professionals. The Olympic Games did not permit professional football players until 1984, but restrictions on the participation of top world players protected the prestige of the FIFA World Cup.
The irony is that while all these conflicts were being waged at the level of sport governance, professional athletes’ remunerations were modest. For example, in England, where until 1961 wages for professional footballers were capped, players’ maximum weekly salary in 1958 was £20 (the equivalent of about US$500 today), modestly better than the average male manual worker’s salary of £12.83.30 However, in contrast to athletes a half century later, they could generally count on a certain level of job security and loyalty from employers.
The IOC’s dogged adherence to the amateur ideal changed as corporate sponsorship and television rights revenues began to generate increasingly greater revenues in sport. Corporate sponsorship has been a part of modern sport since the mid-19th century. As far back as the first American Olympics in St. Louis in 1904, American sport was more commercialized than Europeans felt was appropriate, leading the founder of the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, to complain about “utilitarian America.” Those Olympics launched a conflict over the meanings of Olympic sport between western Europeans and Americans that has continued ever since. The western Europeans who dominate the IOC value neoclassical ideals, national ideology, culture, and education; but American capital contributes the lion’s share of the Olympic revenues through sponsorship and television rights fees.31
In 1984, when the Summer Olympics were held in the United States after a gap of a half century, organizers once again injected them with the hyper-commercialization that they had perfected in their domestic professional sports. Those games in Los Angeles were the first to be run as a private endeavor. Their aggressive approach to trademark licensing and corporate sponsorship revolutionized how Olympic Games were funded and sounded the death knell for the romantic ideal of Olympic Games untainted by the pursuit of profit. At the Seoul 1988 Olympics, the last in the Cold War era, the IOC finally allowed professional athletes to participate. It also created a global corporate sponsorship program and asserted control over the revenues from television broadcasting rights. Revenues from sponsorship and television increased exponentially in the ensuing decades.
Newspapers and radio had long played an important role in the relationship between sport fans and sport events, but in the late 1980s far-reaching technological and economic transformations in television broadcasting became the catalyst for a radical restructuring of professional sports, particularly the most popular such as football, rugby union, and basketball.32 Many countries were adopting privatization policies driven by neoliberal economic principles, which included ending state monopolies on television broadcasting. For the first time, private channels were allowed to compete with state-owned public channels (in the United States, private television channels had existed from the start, and Canada and Australia had a mixed private and public channel policy). These new for-profit channels were faced with the task of filling airtime as cheaply as possible, and sport (and later reality television) emerged as an ideal solution: It had mass appeal, particularly among men; it was unscripted; and it required little investment, initially at least. The commercialization of satellite television in 1982 brought images of sporting success to the most remote corners of the world, fueling fantasies of international success through sport, particularly among young men in the Global South.
Corporate advertisers flocked to the new media platform, further fueling the escalation of broadcasting rights and with it the exponential rise in the wealth of elite clubs, sport federations, and elite athletes. In 1992, the newly formed English Premier League received £304M (the equivalent of about US$565M at the time) from Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB channel for exclusive broadcasting rights, but in the 2016–2017 season this sum had increased to £5.14B (the equivalent of about US$6.4B in 2017).33
The professionalization of rugby union in 1995 illuminates how this influx of capital ultimately forced a recalcitrant elite sport to accept professionalization nearly a decade after the other major world sports had yielded. In the century after the 1895 split with rugby league, rugby union had attained global reach and attracted large amounts of corporate money in the form of sponsorships, television rights, and club ownerships; but players were prohibited from receiving an official salary, although unofficial payments were widespread. Since 1987 the Rugby World Cup had become a major sporting event run by the sport’s international governing body, the International Rugby Board (IRB, renamed World Rugby in 2014). Players around the world were increasingly unhappy and threatened to go on strike in the lead up to the 1995 World Cup, which marked the reentry of the new South Africa into international sport after the end of apartheid. South Africa famously won the championships, and Nelson Mandela donned the jersey of the Springboks, the national team, to present the trophy: This gesture is still held up as the paragon of how post-conflict reconciliation should be achieved. In the months leading to the game, IRB officials gave in to the player demands, fearing the cancellation of a World Cup with enormous symbolic significance. It remained for the national unions of the sixty-five member countries to implement the decision.
Some countries resisted professionalization because the elites who maintained control over the sport considered professionalization an attack on their values. Japanese opponents argued that it would damage the “spirit” (tamashii) of the sport.34 For upper-middle-class and upper-class families of Buenos Aires, Argentina, rugby clubs are contexts in which business deals are sealed, alliances (such as marriages) are forged, and elite statuses are secured from one generation to the next. They fiercely opposed the professionalization of rugby as antithetical to their moral values, and to this day club members ostracize any young man who seeks professional employment in global rugby.35
The United States is unique for its athletic higher-education scholarship system, which supports an entire industry of scouts, recruiters, managers, and counselors, combing high schools for athletic talent. In China around 2015, academies and for-profit firms began to emerge that specialized in securing athletic scholarships at American universities for Chinese students. Surprisingly, ice hockey, a sport with almost no Chinese grassroots participation, was targeted for this purpose. These dynamics illustrate the power of capital in reconfiguring global sport in the neoliberal age.
While universities derive enormous benefits from big-time college sports in the form of broadcasting rights, financial support from alumni, and publicity that markets the institution, they compensate athletes relatively cheaply with tuition fees, living allowances, and academic support. In the second decade of the 21st century, public criticism began characterizing the system as exploitative, particularly toward disadvantaged African American athletes, often the biggest stars in the most lucrative revenue sports, with calls for student athletes to be remunerated as employees rather than as students—a move that universities strongly opposed. The goal of many student athletes is to break into professional sport, but in reality only a tiny percentage manage to do so.36
The new configuration of sport as a capitalist system since the 1980s has facilitated its globalization. Team sports such as football, baseball, basketball, rugby, cricket, and ice hockey, and individual sports such as tennis, golf, track and field, gymnastics, figure skating, and boxing have seen a dramatic increase in the transnational mobility of athletes and coaches. Clubs and teams search for recruits further and further afield, bringing over promising players, mainly from the Global South. Teams and clubs are now corporatized entities in a thoroughly capitalist market in which the stakes are extraordinarily high, and they are embroiled in a cutthroat competition for athletic talent, leading them to offer staggeringly high salaries in return for performances on playing fields that will attract spectators and thus revenues. For top-level athletes, the value of the body is no longer a matter of symbolic or social capital but is more about economic capital. Yet few actually benefit personally from the enormous sums of money that revolve around sport: most professional athletes struggle on modest salaries, and cases of athletes earning millions in their twenties and falling into penury in middle age because of mismanagement, fraud, sport-related poor health, or bad luck are all too common.
At the same time, in many parts of the Global South, young men are increasingly unable to find work, as neoliberal development policies have resulted in the collapse of economies and labor markets.37 The provisioning practices of small-scale farming, for example, can no longer compete with industrial-scale commercial farming. This has resulted in entire societies becoming emigrating societies, with young men in particular now obliged to migrate to achieve the ideal of productive adult masculinity.38 But in contrast to the unskilled laborers who try and reach Europe or North America to eke out a living, successful migrant professional athletes are heroes both to urban elites in their transplanted homes and to their compatriots back in their home neighborhoods, villages, and countries.
These developments on a macro scale trickle down to the micro scale, where they have profound effects on the bodies of the athletes who are enmeshed in the system. Like a commodity, the athlete is “sold” and “bought.” Enormous resources depend on how the athlete is evaluated: the athlete’s own income and future, the team’s ability to mobilize fans and corporate sponsors, and the sport’s ability to attract media coverage all hinge on the value assigned to the athlete’s performance. The most intimate aspects of his or her body and actions are scrutinized on a daily basis by teams of medical professionals, trainers, coaches, and other specialists, who tell the athlete when to train, when to sleep, what to eat, and what to say.39 The athlete’s body is observed for any sign of improvement or decline, promise or failure, and action based on this valuation is swift. Employers demand considerably more of athletes while providing much less job security than was the case in the 20th century. The athlete relinquishes all agency to this cadre of specialists except for the agency to perform on the playing field. The anti-doping effort subjects athletes’ bodies to a different surveillance regime but with similarly extreme intrusions into athletes’ daily lives.40 Repeated court challenges have argued that anti-doping controls, particularly the requirement that top athletes report their whereabouts at all times, may be considered a violation of privacy laws, but courts have upheld the laws, thus prioritizing the international athletic disciplinary regime over human rights.41
As a result, the professional athlete’s very being has been transformed into an archetype of the neoliberal worker: self-responsibilized, flexible, and entrepreneurial.42 Athletes from the Global South who succeed in migrating to a sport career in the Global North may be doubly confronted with the neoliberal regime of valuation of his or her body along with a racist and neocolonial regime. Team managers see them as “naturally” skilled but undisciplined and unpredictable, which raises the specter of racist stereotypes, while spectators make monkey sounds and throw bananas onto the field.
Neoliberal Value Between “Traditional” and Modern Sports
The expansion of the market-oriented global sports system has increasingly threatened the survival of “traditional” sports in many parts of the world. In some cases, these sports are able to mobilize market forces to grow and adapt, ensuring their existence albeit in altered form. Sumo in Japan is one of the most prominent examples.
Before modern sports were introduced into China, the most widely practiced indigenous sports were the martial arts, called wushu. Wushu is one of the few sports in China that thrives outside the state-supported sports system. An institutional divide separates the “institute faction,” consisting of state-supported athletes, coaches, and administrators in the physical education institutes, from the “folk (minjian) faction,” consisting of masters and their students who practice in parks and are largely self-funded. The folk faction strives to maintain traditions that they believe have historically characterized the sport. One such tradition views the relationship between a coach and a student as a long-term master-apprentice bond that entails a reciprocal exchange of gifts and labor, in which no money changes hands. For example, a Beijing folk wushu instructor whom Susan Brownell interviewed in 2008 claimed with pride that he never accepted money from his students but instead accepted gifts, most commonly food. But he had begun taking on increasing numbers of students from overseas, who were in China temporarily and thus could not sustain a long-term relationship nor provide the expected labor and services that depend on local networks. So, the master had begun to accept cash payments. It is likely that the large number of foreigners in Beijing infused a great deal of cash into the wushu scene, transforming the gift economy of wushu instruction and apprenticeship, based on romantic ideals about the past, into a market exchange.
Unlike the rest of Africa, in Senegal traditional wrestlers are bigger celebrities than football players, and top wrestlers are regularly featured on billboards, in the press, and on television. The sport has a flourishing grassroots base in the wrestling contests practiced in every village, but the top levels of the sport are saturated by the market. The financial pressure of the market pushes the wrestlers toward the same neoliberal discipline of body and self as globalized sports but expressed in a local idiom. For example, many wrestlers search for otherwise long forgotten ethnic roots that provide authenticity to their techniques. They also engage the services of marabout specialists who employ magic (amulets, potions, Islamic prayers, animal sacrifices) to influence the outcome of the contests.43 Senegalese wrestling is a prime example of the entanglement of traditionalism with market forces.
Value and Values in Sport
On account of its unique characteristics as a form of embodiment and a genre of cultural performance that mobilizes intense popular emotions, sport is a realm in which the participants have negotiated the relationship between material value and immaterial values from Antiquity to the 21st century. In Ancient Greece and Rome, the market value of sport sat uneasily beside the values of the sacred temple economies and the gift economies. An important shift in the balance between the two occurred over the centuries, evident in the fact that after Greece was incorporated into the Roman Empire, the sacrifice to Zeus remained the centerpiece of the Olympic Games, which were still restricted to freeborn citizens—even while the most popular Roman sports featured rented slaves competing for their lives and freedom. Sport proved to be well suited to enact the conflicts between value and values in a way that was entertaining to the masses.
Changes in the nature of the global political economy have also been expressed in the commodification of the sporting body and sports events since the beginning of the modern era. For the new capitalist elites, the commodification of leisure in the early modern period transformed sports into a form of conspicuous consumption. In the 19th century, the values imported from muscular Christianity clashed with the values of proletarian and lowbrow sports in which athletes could earn a living by performing for the masses. Victorians banned professionals from taking part in Olympic sports amidst the massive commodification of leisure and popular culture that accompanied the rise of the modern industrial economy. During the Cold War, socialist nations contested the gender and class values assigned to sports in the capitalist West and sought to create a more egalitarian model. After the end of the Cold War, the influx of capital into sports finally led to the death of the amateur ideal, which was quickly followed by the emergence of the migrant professional athlete. At the start of the 21st century, the massive revenues in college sport in the United States challenged the image of the student-athlete, while the transnationalization of the structures that determine the value of the athlete’s body led to a global trade in athletes that sucked ever greater numbers of athletes from the Global South into the professional sports of the wealthy Western countries—and increasingly to wealthy East Asian and Middle Eastern nations as well.
All of these developments demonstrate that sport is a fascinating and important realm for examining conflicts between value and values and how they are shaped by transnational mobility, as the global economy takes on new forms in the 21st century, forms that echo the past while moving into uncharted territory.
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Kyle, Donald G. Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007.Find this resource:
MacAloon, John J., ed. Muscular Christianity in Colonial and Post-Colonial Worlds. London, U.K.: Routledge, 2007.Find this resource:
Berryman, Jack W. “Motion and Rest: Galen on Exercise and Health.” Lancet 380, no. 9838 (2012): 210–211.Find this resource:
Besnier, Niko. On the Edge of the Global: Modern Anxieties in a Pacific Island Nation. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011.Find this resource:
Besnier, Niko. “The Athlete’s Body and the Global Condition: Tongan Rugby Players in Japan.” American Ethnologist 39, no. 3 (2012): 491–510.Find this resource:
Besnier, Niko, and Susan Brownell. “Sport, Modernity, and the Body.” Annual Review of Anthropology 41 (2012): 443–459.Find this resource:
Besnier, Niko, Susan Brownell, and Thomas F. Carter. The Anthropology of Sport: Bodies, Borders, Biopolitics. Oakland: University of California Press, 2018.Find this resource:
Besnier, Niko, Daniel Guinness, Mark Hann, and Uroš Kovač. “Rethinking Masculinity in the Neoliberal Age: Cameroonian Footballers, Fijian Rugby Players, Senegalese Wrestlers.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 60, no. 4 (2018): 839–872.Find this resource:
Bourdieu, Pierre. “Program for a Sociology of Sport.” Sociology of Sport Journal 5, no. 2 (1988): 153–161.Find this resource:
Bourdieu, Pierre. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Translated by Richard Nice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984.Find this resource:
Bourdieu, Pierre. “Sport and Social Class.” Social Science Information 17, no. 6 (1978): 819–840.Find this resource:
Boyle, Raymond and Richard Haynes. Power Play: Sport, Media, and Popular Culture. Edinburgh, U.K.: Edinburgh University Press, 2009.Find this resource:
Brownell, Susan. Training the Body for China: Sports in the Moral Order of the People’s Republic. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1995.Find this resource:
Brownell, Susan. “Introduction: Bodies Before Boas, Sport Before the Laughter Left.” In The 1904 Anthropology Days and Olympic Games: Sport, Race, and American Imperialism. Edited by Susan Brownell, 1–58. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008.Find this resource:
Brownell, Susan. “Figure Skating in Southern California: From Frontier to Epicenter.” In LA Sports: Play, Games, and Community in the City of Angels. Edited by Wayne Wilson and David K. Wiggins, 71–91. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2018.Find this resource:
Burke, Peter. “Res et Verba: Conspicuous Consumption in the Early Modern World.” In Consumption and the World of Goods. Edited by John Brewerand Roy Porter, 148–161. London, U.K.: Routledge, 1993.Find this resource:
Canada, Tracie, and Niko Besnier. “Power Players: US Football and French Rugby,” SAPIENS podcast, 2008.
Collins, Tony. Rugby’s Great Split: Class, Culture, and the Origins of Rugby League Football. London, U.K.: Frank Cass, 1988.Find this resource:
Dine, Philip. French Rugby Football: A Cultural History. Oxford: Berg, 2001.Find this resource:
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Esson, James. “A Body and a Dream at a Vital Conjuncture: Ghanaian Youth, Uncertainty and the Allure of Football.” Geoforum 47 (2013): 84–92.Find this resource:
Fuentes, Sebastián. “La formación de los cuerpos jóvenes y su diversidad: Un estudio sobre la producción social de los cuerpos masculinos y distinguidos en el rugby de Buenos Aires.” Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios sobre Cuerpos, Emociones y Sociedad 18 (2015): 66–82.Find this resource:
Fuentes, Sebastián, and Daniel Guinness. “Nacionalismos deportivos con ‘clase’: El rugby argentino en la era profesional/global.” Antípoda 30 (2018): 85–105.Find this resource:
Gershon, Ilana. “Neoliberal Agency.” Current Anthropology 52, no. 4 (2011): 537–555.Find this resource:
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Goldlust, John. Playing for Keeps: Sport, the Media and Society. Ormond, Australia: Hybrid, 2013.Find this resource:
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Hartmann, Doug. Midnight Basketball: Race, Sports, and Neoliberal Social Policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.Find this resource:
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(1.) See David Graeber, Towards an Anthropology of Value: The False Coin of our Own Dreams (New York, NY: Palgrave, 2001); Susana Narotzky and Niko Besnier, “Crisis, Value, and Hope: Rethinking the Economy,” Current Anthropology 55, no. S9 (2014): S4–S16; and Joel Robbins and Julian Sommerschuh, “Values,” Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology, 2016.
(5.) Panos Valavanis, “Politics and Diplomacy in Ancient Athletics and the Olympic Games: General Remarks on a Brief Historical Survey,” in From Athens to Beijing: West Meets East in the Olympic Games, ed. Susan Brownell (New York, NY: Greekworks, 2013), 140–141.
(8.) Colin C. Renfrew, “The Minoan-Mycenaean Origins of the Panhellenic Games,” in The Archaeology of the Olympics: The Olympics and Other Festivals in Antiquity, ed. Wendy J. Raschke (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988), 13–25.
(11.) Kyle, Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World, 280–285, 312–319.
(15.) John J. MacAloon, ed., Muscular Christianity in Colonial and Post-Colonial Worlds (London, U.K.: Routledge, 2007); and J. A. Mangan, Athleticism in the Victorian and Edwardian Public School: The Emergence and Consolidation of an Education Ideology (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1981).
(17.) Susan Brownell, “Introduction: Bodies Before Boas, Sport Before the Laughter Left,” in The 1904 Anthropology Days and Olympic Games: Sport, Race, and American Imperialism, ed. Susan Brownell (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008), 4–13.
(21.) Pierre Bourdieu, “Sport and Social Class,” Social Science Information 17, no. 6 (1978): 819–840; Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, trans. Richard Nice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984); and Pierre Bourdieu, “Program for a Sociology of Sport.” Sociology of Sport Journal 5, no. 2 (1988): 153–161.
(22.) Sebastián Fuentes, “La formación de los cuerpos jóvenes y su diversidad: Un estudio sobre la producción social de los cuerpos masculinos y distinguidos en el rugby de Buenos Aires,” Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios sobre Cuerpos, Emociones y Sociedad 18 (2015): 66–82.
(24.) Doug Hartmann, Midnight Basketball: Race, Sports, and Neoliberal Social Policy (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2016); John Hoberman, Darwin’s Athletes: How Sport Has Damaged Black America and Preserved the Myth of Race (New York, NY: Mariner, 1997); and Brendan Hokowhitu, “Tackling Maori Masculinity: A Colonial Genealogy of Savagery and Sport,” The Contemporary Pacific 16, no. 2 (2004): 259–284.
(25.) Susan Brownell, “Figure Skating in Southern California: From Frontier to Epicenter,” in LA Sports: Play, Games, and Community in the City of Angels, ed. Wayne Wilson and David K. Wiggins (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2018), 71–91.
(26.) Brownell, “Figure Skating in Southern California.”
(27.) Robert Edelman, Anke Hilbrenner, and Susan Brownell, “Sport Under Communism,” in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism, ed. Stephen A. Smith (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2014), 602–616.
(31.) Brownell, “Introduction: Bodies Before Boas,” 50–52.
(32.) Raymond Boyle and Richard Haynes, Power Play: Sport, Media, and Popular Culture (Edinburgh, U.K.: Edinburgh University Press, 2009); and John Goldlust, Playing for Keeps: Sport, the Media and Society (Ormond, Australia: Hybrid, 2013).
(33.) Niko Besnier et al., “Rethinking Masculinity in the Neoliberal Age: Cameroonian Footballers, Fijian Rugby Players, Senegalese Wrestlers,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 60, no. 4 (2018): 845.
(35.) Sebastián Fuentes and Daniel Guinness, “Nacionalismos deportivos con ‘clase’: El rugby argentino en la era profesional/global,” Antípoda 30 (2018): 85–105; and Daniel Guinness and Sebastián Fuentes, “Argentine Rugby Gets Professional.” Anthropology News, April 27, 2017.
(36.) Tracie Canada and Niko Besnier, “Power Players: US Football and French Rugby,” SAPIENS podcast, 2008; Daniel A. Gilbert, “Not (Just) about the Money: Contextualizing the Labor Activism of College Football Players,” American Studies 55, no. 3 (2016): 19–34.
(37.) James Esson, “A Body and a Dream at a Vital Conjuncture: Ghanaian Youth, Uncertainty and the Allure of Football,” Geoforum 47 (2013): 84–92; and Besnier, Brownell, and Carter, The Anthropology of Sport, 239–249; and Besnier, et al., “Rethinking Masculinity in the Neoliberal Age.”
(38.) For example, Niko Besnier, On the Edge of the Global: Modern Anxieties in a Pacific Island Nation (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011); Caroline Melly, Bottleneck: Moving, Building, and Belonging in an African City (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2017); and Francis Nyamnjoh, “Cameroonian Bushfalling: Negotiation of Identity and Belonging in Fiction and Ethnography,” American Ethnologist 38, no. 4 (2011): 701–713.
(39.) Besnier et al., “Rethinking Masculinity in the Neoliberal Age,” 846–848.
(41.) Dag Vidar Hanstad and Sigmund Loland, “Elite Athletes’ Duty to Provide Information on their Whereabouts: Justifiable Anti-Doping Work or an Indefensible Surveillance Regime?,” European Journal of Sport Science 9, no. 1 (2009): 3–10.
(43.) Besnier et al., “Rethinking Masculinity in the Neoliberal Age,” 860–863.