Section 12: Sports

Section 12: Sports

“The Early Phase of Sport’s Globalization … Sportive Nationalism as a Global Strategy … Why the Olympic “Movement” Is Not a Peace Movement … Making Connections”
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  • 12. Sports > The Early Phase of Sport's Globalization > Lecture
  • 12. Sports > Sportive Nationalism as a Global Strategy > Lecture
  • 12. Sports > Why the Olympic
  • 12. Sports > Making Connections > Interview Video

12. Sports > The Early Phase of Sport’s Globalization > Lecture

  • The globalization of modern sport began during the last decades of the 19th century, a period of intensive internationalization we have identified elsewhere in this course as the second phase of globalization from the middle of the 19th century to 1914.
  • We have also described the Red Cross, the scouting movement, and the International Olympic Committee as idealistic internationalisms that appeared during this period and have gone on to great success as global institutions.
  • These transnational organizations included some major sports federations that appeared during the second phase of globalization.
  • The clustering of these dates of origin clearly demonstrates how the early globalization of sport coincided with the intensive internationalization of this era.
  • The first phase of the globalization of sport thus coincided with many other globalizations, including the international expansion of scientific organizations and practical international projects such as the Universal Postal Union.
  • The League of Nations, the United Nations, the vast empires of modern science and sports, and countless international arrangements of equal or lesser scope all trace their ancestry, to some degree, to the European Enlightenment and its promise to serve what the American Philosophical Society called in 1778 “the common interests of humanity.
  • ” The idea that international sport can contribute to the healing of conflicts between nations was first formulated by the founder of the Olympic movement, the French nobleman Pierre de Coubertin.
  • Traumatized, like his entire generation of Frenchmen, by the military disaster of the Franco-Prussian war, Coubertin saw sport of competitions as having two kinds of strategic value.
  • Second, the cultivation of sport would strengthen the young French males whose military service would defend France against future threats from Germany.
  • The IOC continues to do business with repressive dictatorships on a regular basis while claiming that engagement with the Olympic movement and its values will soften the hearts and change the minds of the authoritarians to whom it grants the right to stage the games.
  • The IOC’s rhetorical antidote to the brutal political realities associated with putting Olympic games in Beijing in 2008 or Sochi in 2014 are sentimental cliches about the Olympic family and its so-called values.
  • Now, let us return to the early phase of the globalization of sport in search of other formative influences that coincided with the birth of the Olympic movement just before the turn of the century.
  • The British empire was by far the most important factor in the early globalization of sport.
  • At the elite British public schools, sports played an important role in training the next generation of colonial officers and administrators who would be called upon to discipline the darker-skinned populations of the imperial realm.
  • In 1895, one headmaster described this doctrine of imperial sport as follows- “Englishmen are not superior to Frenchmen or Germans in brains or industry or the science and apparatus of war.
  • ” In the history of the British empire, he says, it is written that England has called her sovereignty to her sports.
  • The global diffusion of sport, notes Professor Alan Bairner, certainly owes much to the imperial exploits of the British with sports such as cricket and rugby union becoming rapidly and firmly established in various corners of the British Empire.
  • In summary, the globalization of sport during the early period originated in political strategies formulated by a French nationalist educator, Coubertin, and the political elite in London that was running the British empire.
  • One of his successors as president of the IOC, the American business tycoon and Olympic evangelist Avery Brundage said in 1965 that “the Olympic movement today is perhaps the greatest social force in the world.
  • Like his countryman Pierre de Coubertin, Rimet believed the sport could be a force for good.
  • Today, it is unthinkable that a man of Rimet’s integrity and sincerity could ascend to the presidency of FIFA or any other major international sports federation.
  • These positions are now dominated by the opportunistic and sometimes corrupt sports politicians who populate the offshore world of Olympic sport.

12. Sports > Sportive Nationalism as a Global Strategy > Lecture

  • International sports competitions are both symbolic reenactments of the competitive globalization process and economically significant examples of the global market in action.
  • The global sports entertainment industry includes the Olympic movement, its affiliated federations, and many other professional leagues around the world.
  • Spending on large sporting events alone was estimated to be $140 billion in 2012.
  • Global sports contests can be thought of as global economic competition presented as entertainment.
  • Nation states are the only eligible contestants at global sports festivals such as the Olympic Games or the football World Cup.
  • Sportive nationalism also takes the form of a state-sanctioned ideology that promotes sport as a multifaceted resource for various forms of social engineering.
  • This sports-functional ideology is currently an unchallenged international dogma, a global consensus about the importance of a nation’s being both internationally competitive and being prepared to use sport to promote various forms of social development.
  • The social policy goals include improving the health of the population, promoting social cohesion and community safety, and stimulating employment and economic growth.
  • The leaders of Zambia and Namibia and Jamaica have appealed for private investments in sport the governments cannot afford.
  • The government of Malta invests in sports to create what it calls a sports economy that will result in quality jobs.
  • Sport in Ireland is called an investment in the health and well-being of the country.
  • The government of Fiji promotes sport as nation-building.
  • The government of the Azores sees sport as having raised the Azores to prominence in the wider world.
  • The topic of globalized sport is relevant to other major themes in this course.
  • The spectacular collapse of the French World Cup team in South Africa in 2010 that involved a rebellion by black players destroyed the illusion that racially-integrated sports teams might rescue France from the failure of multiculturalism in France.
  • Some countries have gone on the global athletic labor market and recruited foreign athletes by offering them money and passports to win international medals for their adopted countries.
  • The global governance of international sport is not well-understood by sports’ worldwide audience.
  • For the purpose of understanding who governs the International Olympic Committee and its affiliated major international sports federations and how they govern, we should apply the concept of offshore to the international sports world.
  • This characterization applies equally well to the power elite who control the levers of the international sports system today.

12. Sports > Why the Olympic “Movement” Is Not a Peace Movement > Lecture

  • The International Olympic Committee, or IOC, and its major affiliates such as FIFA can be understood as an offshore enterprise zone for make believe diplomats, ambitious opportunists, and a number of criminals whose corrupt behaviors and escapades have received less media attention than they deserve.
  • Juan Antonio Samaranch, the unrepentant Spanish fascist who occupied the IOC presidency from 1980 to 2001, brought with him from Francoist Spain an authoritarian style that facilitated the bribery of many IOC members, damaged the prospects for moving against doping, and produced a generation of compliant formally elected appointees who were eventually instructed to address the IOC President as excellency In 1985, Samaranch conferred Olympic orders on the East German dictator Erich Honecker and the architect of the East German doping system Manfred Ewald.
  • By my count during his term of office, Samaranch presided over the induction of 83 members and honorary members of the IOC.
  • A striking number of those elected turned out to be criminals or frauds or simply ethically dubious people whose presence among the Olympic elite should raise serious questions about the values the IOC claims to represent.
  • Major General Francis Nyangweso, IOC 1988, served the murderous dictator Idi Amin throughout the eight years of Amin’s regime from 1971 to 1979 as army commander, minister of culture, and ambassador.
  • IOC President Sumaranch brought Nyangweso into the IOC in 1988.
  • Franco Carraro, IOC 1982 an Italian politician and football executive, was forced out of the Italian Football Association as a consequence of his involvement in the Calciopoli scandal that involved the rigging of professional football games.
  • The former South Korean CIA operative and taekwondo entrepreneur Kim Mi-Young, IOC 1986, wound up serving prison time in Seoul for corruption in his native country.
  • In 2005, the ICO ethics committee ruled that his willingness to be bribed and to solicit bribes for London’s 2012 Olympic bid was contrary to the ethical principles derived from the Olympic charter and the IOC code of conduct, and it was of an extremely serious nature.
  • The Indonesian timber magnate Muhammad Bob Hasan, IOC 1994, a longtime crony of the disgraced former Indonesian president Suharto, was convicted in 1998 of defrauding the Indonesian state of $75 million and sentenced to a six year prison term.
  • In February 2011, he was reinstated as a member of the IOC despite the fact that he had violated ethical principles and tarnished the reputation of the Olympic movement according to an IOC spokesman.
  • Guy Drut, IOC 1996, a French Olympic hurdling champion and former French sports minister, was handed a 15 month suspended sentence in 2005 by a French court on account of his involvement in a kickback scandal at Paris City Hall.
  • Primo Nebiolo, who was inducted into the IOC in 1994, served as president of the international Track and Field Federation for almost two decades.
  • Pescante retained his position on the IOC and was made Minister of Sport by Silvio Berlusconi after his election as Prime Minister in 2001.
  • Joseph Sepp Blatter, IOC 1999, has since 1998 been the president of the International Football Federation, or FIFA, which in recent years has become notorious around the world as a financially corrupt organization.
  • That FIFA president Blatter remains in office and in the IOC after the revelations of corruption within FIFA in 2011 is a testimony to the sheer power of the International Federation autocrats.
  • Gunter Heinze, IOC 1981, a former general secretary of the East German National Olympic committee, was an unapologetic facilitator of doping in the former East Germany and who served on the IAAF medical commission.

12. Sports > Making Connections > Interview Video

  • There’s a distinction that has to be made here, and that is the distinction between the Olympic movement, per se, and the practices of the athletes who are doping themselves.
  • To a remarkable extent, the image and stature of the Olympic movement as an idealistic internationalism is surviving rather well, even in the face of all the doping scandals.
  • It’s still important to differentiate between the so-called Olympic movement, which is advertised by the International Olympic Committee as a kind of peace movement.
  • That the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, considers itself to some extent a group of diplomats who have a global function, and that is to manage international competitions amongst national teams that compete against each other.
  • The past century plus of Olympic sport has also been the bloodiest century in human history when you look at the wars that have been fought and the number of victims who have died in these wars.
  • So you can’t establish a cause and effect relationship between Olympic competition, which is a global event, and a decrease in the amount of the violence that human beings are wreaking upon each other.
  • Why are there so many corrupt officials in the IOC? There are a striking number of corrupt or ethically compromised people in the IOC because the international sports federations in this day and age, including the International Olympic Committee, constitute a kind of an offshore enterprise zone for a lot of opportunistic people who are looking for power, who are looking for a public profile, who just like to be in control and enjoy the privileges of first class air travel, five star hotels, et cetera.
  • Now, as far as the International Olympic Committee today, it’s important to remember that the president of the IOC between 1980 and 2001 was Juan Antonio Samaranch.
  • Most of the people in the International Olympic Committee as of today are people who were picked by Mr. Samaranch.
  • So his standards regarding the sorts of people he wanted to see in the IOC were probably different from yours and mine.
  • Are corporate sponsors the only interests the IOC answers to? Who the IOC answers to.
  • An interesting situation developed in the spring of 1999 when the IOC was in terrible trouble due to revelations that a certain number of members of the IOC had, at least allegedly, been paid bribes for their votes to situate the games in this city or that city.
  • The reason this was an interesting episode is that it actually addresses your question, to whom or what is the IOC accountable? Now, caught in an embarrassing bribery scandal, Mr. Samaranch, the power in the IOC, clearly felt that public relations measures were necessary because, to a certain extent, he and the IOC were accountable to, let’s call it public opinion, that there is only so much scandal that any institution can tolerate or survive before it becomes necessary to take countermeasures.
  • So what you do is you say, we, the Olympic movement, are indeed accountable to the body of decent opinion in the world, and we are going to change.
  • In order to help us change, we are going to enlist these international notables who will constitute a committee to which the IOC is actually answerable.
  • If some countries can’t afford to compete at the elite level, how can the Olympics claim fairness and values of equality through international sports competition? Well, sports is never a matter of complete equality.
  • You can’t come close to leveling the playing field across the globe because there are going to be a lot of relatively wealthy societies that are going to invest a great deal of money in making sure, for reasons of sportive nationalism, that they are fielding a respectably performing contingent of athletes at the Olympic Games, at the World Cup, at the World Track and Field Championships, et cetera.

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