December 7, 2010 Leave a comment
The following summary is from an event the Woodrow Wilson Center’s United States Studies Program sponsored with the Program on America and the Global Economy (PAGE). The event featured author Andrei Markovits, Karl W Deutsch Collegiate Professor of Comparative Politics and German Studies at the University of Michigan and Franklin Foer, editor of The New Republic, held on October 18, 2010.
The video archive of this event can be viewed here.
“The world has always known disparate games of all kinds,” Andrei Markovits asserted, beginning his remarks. Prior to the 1840s, games were most often spontaneous, local, and violent contests whose legacy remains in the language of modern sports. For example, the soccer term “derby,” meaning a rivalry game between teams from the same city, is derived from a medieval form of football still played once a year in Ashbourne, Derbyshire that pits two teams against each other, with thousands of players to a side.
The modern era, however, has witnessed what Markovits called the “sportization” of games, a process that involved the standardization of rules and team identities that made specific games intelligible to a wider audience. This also transformed sports into “languages”–systematic communicative forms whose meanings were known to those who followed them. Although soccer, American football, rugby, and a host of other sports share a common history, each has its own unique language and code which accounts for the passionate followings of each game but prevents casual fans from appreciating the finer points of the other forms.
The establishment of leagues and associations prior to World War I, according to Markovits, raised the issue of “professionalism vs. amateurism.”. This was also the moment when several significant sports emerged, none more important or popular than soccer (or association football), which now dominates other sports globally. Read more of this post