Lecture 10: Hollywood [De]Constructions of the U.S. Sports Industry
Marketization—process of transforming something—in this case sport—into something that is exchanged in a market setting. In the past, at least in most Western contexts, sport was often seen as a public good—not necessarily something that inherently existed to be bought and sold but rather something that could provide social and health benefits to the broader public. Marketization is a recent occurrence whereby sport has come to be mainly thought of as something that needs to be bought and sold.
I. A Brief Primer of Capitalism
a. Economy system whereby society reproduces itself; system of producing, distributing, and consuming resources within a society; a specific type of economic system (with a specific focus)
b. Capitalism Idea is to take resources, turn them into commodities, and valueize them
c. Wealth is not distributed evenly within a capitalist society
a. Distinct capital relations between the different groupings
b. Industrial capitalists (owners) Workers (sellers of their labor) Economic profit (profit/surplus value: difference between the selling value and production cost)
1. Workers don’t have access to the means of production, but the
owners can’t create w/o workers
a. Symbiotic relationship between owners and workers they
need each other.
b. BUT critics of Capitalism say =Fundamentally exploitative
systemthe worker always making money for the capitalist
and alienated from the ability to control their life b/c they
We also discuss several other topics like Social stratification system based on what?
We also discuss several other topics like What is the definition of avoidable cost?
If you want to learn more check out What is the percent by mass?
rely on wages & owner’s decisions
II. Sports Industry
a. To be a player, you have to play by the rules of the capitalists.
b. Sporting Capitalist (owners of teams, media, brands Athletes/Workers (sellers of their labor to produce sporting commodities Economic Profit (profit/surplus value)
a. Capitalists Ruper Murdoct, Malcolm Glazer
c. Sports Industry grown tremendously over recent decades
a. Sport economy growing 23 times the rates of the GDP of many Western nationstates
b. We have seen a transformation in how sport is played, consumed and used for the public good.
d. Sport’s Unique economy If you want to learn more check out What are the steps on tracking the flow of blood through the body?
a. Sports are legal cartels.
1. Cartel—formal “agreement” among competing firms where there is a formal organization of producers and manufacturers to fix
prices, marketing, and production. Companies work together
2. This is it’s illegal in regular economy based on Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890
3. Courts exempted baseball and other professional sports from laws b/c sporting events are “entertainment” and not “business” If you want to learn more check out Who led the african americans to launch a prolonged assault on school segregation?
b. Unique business model for sport
1. Can collude against employees
2. Control streams of distribution
e. New strategies in global sport business
a. Reduce relative surplus value (mainly by controlling wages)
1. Hiring more international players b/c it is easier to “control” them. You pay them less and they sign young.
b. “Innovations” in global manufacturing
1. Child labor, Indentured labor, Health risks, Denial of basic human rights, Suppression of wages, Paying to work
2. Ways of controlling costs
c. Cutandrun “municipal capitalism”
1. Professional teams using the possible relocation of team against cities so that cities will build stadiums and give tax breaks
a. Build us a new arena for we’ll change cities. Use public
money to fund.
2. Many use the process of buying a struggling franchise, proposing relocation, forcing bidding wars, building a new venue, then
d. Corporate Monopsony: Market form in which only one buyer is able to control the market so that they get to buy from many sellers If you want to learn more check out What is the function of iron in the human body?
1. By eliminating competitors (ex: other leagues), you have an
advantage against entities looking for business partnerships
2. Branding the experience/experiencing the brand
a. Creating “spectacles” with the purpose to promote brand
3. Prospecting the sporting globe for emotional capital
a. Looking for new and growing markets to expand into.
Create new consumer base
III. Sport Labor Economics
a. The “arms race”—NCAA overcapitalization of athletics
a. About 60 % of athletic programs lose money.
b. The student body actually pays a lot toward the athletic department c. But the athletes are creating significant wealth for themselves, they are creating wealth for the coaches who are making millions.
d. Little evidence that investments in college athletics have significant positive effects. Having a good football teams doesn’t mean people will come to the school. IT’S A MYTH
e. Significant evidence that only a handful of athletic programs break even and that subsidies for the programs have grown rapidly
f. Basic accounting principles would show that few or no programs are truly profitable and most lose $10 million or more annually
b. An unfree labor market
a. Most major leagues have rules about how long an athlete must be in school before they can enter the league
1. Only the leagues with large amounts of black athletes makes the
stay in school for a year.
b. Worker already subjected to exploitation because they can’t realize their market value
1. Must give their market labor up for free first
c. Boxing is possibly most exploitive sport.
IV.Sabermetrics: Rationalizing Labor
a. Sabermetrics baseball analytics/ how we understand it
b. Attempt to identify market inefficiencies related to salary as a marker of performer. Ex: this player is a good hitter, but his hitting percentage isn’t as high as other people who are making as much money as him.
c. Try to make money off of inefficiencies
d. Inter and intracategorical inefficiencies
a. Allows data to be comparable
b. Inefficiency of performance as it relates to salary as well
e. ALWAYS RELATIVE
a. The moment an inefficiency is identified, everyone does it and it therefore becomes an efficiency.
b. Sabermetrics doesn’t work?
1. Method of successful teams is to find players who can outperform
what they’re being paid, but things like steroid use are often seen
in these cases as well
2. Most teams still using those tactics are struggling
Critically reading Moneyball
f. Constructing and deconstructing the film:
a. Consider how human being/athletes are being reduced to mathematical logic
b. What does Brad Pitt’s performance say about how we view managerialism is professional U.S. sports?
c. What does it say about market logics in sport more generally?
d. How does it reinforce dominant idea about sport as business, or does it challenge them?
∙ What does the author mean by “collective” or “popular” memory, and how does it differ from individual memory? What role does Seabiscuit play in shaping/contributing to the collective memory?
∙ How is the sentiment and tradition emphasized in this movie translated from the marketing standpoint?
Lecture 11Dystopic Sporting Futures I: Corporatization of Sport
Rollerball film centered on the corporatization of future society and the role sport plays in reproducing social relations. In lecture, we discuss how society has progressed in relation to that corporate condition depicted in the movie.
Dystopia: opposite of utopia; a vision of how a community or society is materialized in undesirable ways based on our current reality; often a depiction of dehumanization, the consequences of environmental disasters, etc.
I. Critically Reading Rollerball
a. Film is about the extent to which technology is going to come to control the human condition, and the role that sport will play in manufacturing consent for that technocratic rule.
b. “Rollerball” society is governed by a group of global corporate monopolies where democracy and government are given to the corporations. All aspects of society are controlled by the Majors
i. Majors: transport/food/community/housing/luxury/energy are controlled by the global “corporate autocracy”
ii. Corporate “command polity/economy—individual needs and wants supplied by corporations in return for absolute compliance. BUT IN
RETURN, they ask that you don’t question what they are doing/don’t
question the system
c. Projected what society would look like in 2018
d. But arguably, our society has become what they predicted.
e. Rollerball is a political tool for the corporations saying the masses will consent to the corporate control. And rollerball manufactures this consent.
II. Cathartic release and Narcotic Community
a. Cathartic release—place where people can release themselves from the everyday restraints put on them by society
b. Narcotic conformity—people’s lives are so defined, so drug use becomes a way to subvert those controls
III. Advancement of Group Ethics and Suppression of Individualism
a. In the film, there are corporate anthems instead of national anthems. People stand united for the corporate brand/structure.
b. Legitimization of authority no one questions authority/how society is structured c. Depoliticized Masses/Citizenry:
i. Every aspect of their lives is efficiently and effectively governed by the Majors.
ii. There is no resistance as they are provided with their needs and wants (bread and circuses Ancient Roman days where if the people got rowdy, they would have circuses to make them happy and not address their issues)
iii. They are powerless/disempowered from the ability to control their lives iv. They are simply not part of the political progress
d. Rollerball is a metaphor for sport and how sport is being used to distract us and manufacture our consent.
IV. Wielding Political Power
a. Manufacturing Spectacle/Consent
i. Masses celebrate team, while celebrating the corporation who makes the team
ii. Rollerball’s corporate society as aan example whereby public
opinion/sentiments are manipulated in order to create popular support for the political order/system of rule.
1. Hegemony sport is able to generate power support of a very
2. Autocracy coercive, repressive, and authoritarian forms of
b. Controlling Lives guaranteeing certain effects
c. Suppressing Individual can’t make own choice but things are chosen for you d. Intensifying the Spectacle more violence, blood, physicality is used as a way to make sure the masses stay happy.
i. Changing the rules of the game to make sure the masses stay entertained and stimulated to provide the cathartic release
ii. In Ancient Rome, they would have bloody gladiator battles to engage the audience but this is a form of manufactured consent.
V. The Coming Corporate Order?
a. Rollerball’s corporate “command” economy: Individual needs and wants supplied by corporates in return for compliance
i. This economy demands some form of complicity.
b. Commercial corporation—profitdrive institutions generating capital for its shareholders. Corporations are legally bound to maximize their profits. c. Corporatization is the process whereby social institutions adopt the institutional structure, managerial hierarchies, and profitdriven focus of corporations. Corporatization of our social lives
i. Corporporizationof things that were not originally forprofit. Now these sectors follow a business model. Have become incorporated into the
workings of commercial corportations
1. Mass mediainforming the public
2. Medicinetreating the public
3. Educationeducating the public
4. Religionspiritually guiding the public
5. Example: online courses easier
d. “Commercialization of culture and a “culturalization of economics” Rowe i. Education is becoming commercial
ii. But also seeing popular cultural as commercialized.
iii. Hegemony is about the establishment and naturalization of social and cultural norms
1. Rise of a cultural economy; seeing the use of cultural activities as a way to reinforce dominant idea of how we should organize our
iv. Ideological battle in place that says the only way to organize something is with a business model. CEOs are being hired to run Universities, not
educators. They don’t teach. They know how to maximize profits
a. Sport plays a double role as a social institution that reinforces cultural hegemony and has also become a site of accumulation
b. Cultural institutional that has become structured and experiences as part of the hegemonic corporate order
c. Sport takes on a corporate life. It is a site of accumulation and making money. d. Corporate sport highly regulated, controlled, and predictable mass entertainment product, designed to generate maximum profit across numerous revenue streams.
i. Match fixing, steroids, etc. could be a result of the pressure necessary to make sport a profitable enterprise
e. In futuristic films, sport plays an important role in making life either wonderful or horrible.
In “Play, Utopia, and Dystopia: Prologue to a Ludic Theory of the State,” why does the author believe the theme of dystopia has emerged in popular sport and nonsport contexts?
What is the author’s solution to the perceived rise of the dystopian condition? According to author, what are the main differences between work and play?
Lecture 12: Dystopic Sporting Futures II: Futuresport Hegemony
I. Theorizing Futurism
a. Founded in 1909 with “Futurist Manifesto”
b. Movement whose advocates emphasized and glorified themes associated with contemporary concepts of the future, including speed, technology, youth, and violence
c. Art, architecture, urban design, etc.
d. Popularized by proponents of early20th century Fascism in Italy
e. Beginning stages of modernity and industrialization
f. Emphasizes a loathing for the past; strong “futurists” and generally strong nationalists
g. Emphasized human beings and progress over nature
h. Futurism in film offer futuristic view of society but the filmmakers wouldn’t consider themselves futurists.
i. Blade Runner represents LA dystopia. Robotss dominate social order. ii. Brazil
a. A condition that extends beyond modernity.
b. Try to predict behavior
c. Postmodern theory—a specific way of thinking about the world that turns a lot of the ideas of how modern society operates on its head
d. Postmodernism challenges the modern status quo
i. Deconstruction tries to emphasis some things and deemphasize others i.e Marilyn Monroe trying to deemphasis the obsessiveness of beauty during the era. Offers commentary on how she is being dehumanized in popular culture.
e. Hypermodernity people argue we are living in a period of exceed. III. Postmodernist film
a. Typically has 3 characteristics that separate it from the modern tradition of cinema (1920s1960s)
i. The pastiche of many genres and styles mix together different types of films and styles. Ex: Quentin Taritino
ii. Taking a particular image and weaving it together with other media/texts. Intertextuality putting elements in films that connect to something else. A selfrelativity of technique that highlights the construction and relation of the image to other images in media and not to any kind of external
iii. Specific way of producing film that can be seen as either crude or artistic. An undoing and collapse of the distinction between high and low art style and techniques and texts.
IV. Filming the Future
a. Science Fiction in/as Film
i. Science fiction genre has continued to expand.
ii. Uses both futuristic themes and postmodern filming and techniques and aesthetics
iii. Blurs what is real in an already unreal medium through new technology and artificial film techniques
iv. Science fiction film—genre that uses speculative sciencebased depictions of phenomena that introduce extraterrestrial or fantastic
technology/occurrences to tell a unique story about what we think the
future is going to be
V. CGI: Filming Unreality (Computer Generated Imagery)
a. Led to filmmakers saving money and the synthesis of human characters and computergenerated characters (Ex: Avatar)
b. Landscapes and architectural scenes
i. Very unreal scenes in very real spaces
c. Computer animation
i. Ability to present something that we know isn’t real through a very real seeming aesthetic
d. Virtual worlds
i. Creating whole worlds that we can live in; “second lives”
VI. Suspension of (Dis)Belief
a. Baudrillard claims that the human experience is more of a simulation than a reality. Our lives are led more by the signifiers than the real things.
i. Social relations aren’t based on reality
ii. 4 Stages of Si
1. Faithful image/copy we believe it reflects the reality
2. Perversion of reality unfaithful copy which masks and denatures
the reality. Ex: a slimmed down portrait of someone who doesn’t
like the original picture.
3. Absence of reality simulation pretends to be real. Ex: Commercial
with Lebron throwing full court shots. Not real but pretends to be.
4. No relationship at all to reality pure simulation. Image replaces
the real. Hyperreal.
b. Suspension of disbelief—know that what we’re watching is not real. But now we don’t even care if its real or not, we just want to see a specticale.
c. Hyperreality—reality has been replaced with symbols and signs and the human experience is more of a simulation than reality
d. In general, our lives revolve more around symbols and what those representations Critically reading The Hunger Games
Film, Dystopia, and Future Sport
Government control and surveillance, class warfare, spectacularization, hegemony, social unrest, civic paternalism
∙ Review of The Hunger Games themes
o Things aren’t going well (dystopian society brought about giant calamity) o Government cannot be trusted and no longer works for the good of all the people o Ubiquitous surveillance
o Young adults dying as entertainment
o How the film represents what the future looks like and the role that technology plays in bringing about that condition
Lecture 13: Film as Critique of the Sporting Condition
Documentaries as a genre that questions some of the aspects of sports
I. Critical Movie Literacies
a. All media messages are constructed
b. Someone is creating the words, images, scenes, and perspectives
c. Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules i. The authors are utilizing certain techniques to try to create evocative,
commercially successful narratives and stories
d. Different people experience the same message differently.
e. Media have embedded value and points of view.
i. Media is going to try and create certain messages that align with their values
f. Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power
II. Critical Literacies
a. What is the author (director of the film) trying to do? Critical literacy encourages readers to actively analyze texts and offers strategies for what proponents describe as uncovering underlying messages
b. There are several theoretical perspectives on critical literacy that have produced different pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning
c. All of these approaches share the basic premise that literacy requires the literate consumers to adopt a critical and questioning approach
d. Culture Jamming
i. Techniques used to subvert or disrupt mainstream media culture Two ways to culture jam
ii. Two ways to culture jam: Expose the methods of domination by:
1. Showing the medium
2. Through the medium (using it to protest/challenge the status
iii. Guerilla communication
1. Antiestablishment subversion through interventions in the
process of communication
III. Sport, Film, and Critique
a. Film being used to change things.
b. Exposés, documentaries, etc
i. “Thin Blue Line”, “Supersize Me”, “Inside Job”
c. A Market for Social Change?
i. Measuring actual social change versus
ii. How much are they creating actual social change?
iii. Or are they just trying to eduate people about topics?
iv. Or are they being made to make money?
IV. Sport Docs
a. Serve several purposes:
i. Offer an “inside look” into an organization or athletes
ii. Offer a new perspective of a sporting phenomenon
iii. Expose of corruptive element of sports
iv. Allow us to reconsider a history event
v. Rarely these documents are encouraging us to act, change, or
What role does sport cinema play in reflecting and reinforcing dominant cultural ideals? What is the function of sport films?
Does the author believe sport film is apolitical and lacking in cultural influence? Is so, why? If not, why not?