Globalization of Sports
Modern sport is often considered to be a prime symbol of globalization. Many of the sport activities developed and codified in England during the latter part of the 19th century were exported to different parts of the world through the British Empire. Games such as association football (soccer) and rugby, first developed in the public schools of England, were adopted and adapted over time in nations across the world. For some of the former colonies, beating their onetime rulers at their own games became a point of significant pride. The West Indies cricket team, for example, became the best in the world, and the sport became a strong part of national identity in the Caribbean.
In other cases, nations adapted the sports imported from England to form their own games. Football in the United States, for example, developed from the sport of rugby and was used as a means of identifying the new world as distinctly different from the old. In time, football became the most popular sport in the country, and its Super Bowl championship became a massive cultural event that not only produces one of the most watched television shows in the country during any given year, but is also a key marker in American identity. While it is a sport played within national boundaries, it too is currently embarking upon an aggressive internationalization agenda in an attempt to develop the sport and the National Football League (NFL) brand throughout the world.
Globalization trends are long-term processes that have occurred in an uneven fashion throughout all parts of the world. Globalization also takes place at a number of levels. These, according to the anthropologist Arjun Appadurai, involve the interconnection of a series of scapes, or global flows. He highlights the ways in which various flows produce unique cultural realities around the world and points to five scapes that shape our social worlds. These ethnoscapes (flows of people), mediascapes (communication flows), technoscapes (technology flows), financescapes (flows of money), and ideoscapes (flows of ideas) operate in fluid and irregular ways to shape societies across the world.
It is important to note that these do not always operate in sync with each other, and these flows are also taking place in different directions. Therefore, while basketball players from across the world aspire to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA), few American soccer players would grow up with dreams of wanting to play in Major League Soccer (MLS) in that same country; leading male soccer players aim to play in England or in a top European league. Conversely, Women's Professional Soccer (WPS), the elite league for women's soccer in the United States, does attract the best players from across the world.
Role of the Media
It would be impossible to talk about the globalization of sport without considering the role of the media in this. Major media...