George Wright: International Sport and Globalization

George Wright: International Sport and Globalization


Okay I’d like to make a few comments. First of all I’d like to talk about the origins of the course. I think there are two life trajectories that kind of bring this course together. The first is my passion for track and field which goes back to my teenage life And I always like to look back and think that I was really a great miler and half miler, and I fell in love with track and field not only as an athlete but also as a spectator and a historian. And probably the most dramatic experience I had as a teenager was attending the 1962 USA – Soviet Union dual meet at Stanford University. Anybody in the room attended that meet? That’s strange; half of my friends were there. That’s really kind of weird. But it was at that meet that the seventeen-year-old youth who loved sport realized that track and field was not just a sport: it was also about politics, and it was also about international politics as well. And so that was a reference point that I’ve used throughout my whole life and following the sport I’ve been very fortunate to attend five Olympic games — all track and field by the way — and 12 of the 15 World Track and Field Championships which I plan to attend the I think the 16th edition this summer in London but over the years I’ve looked at whenever I attend these activities I look at it not just as what’s happening on the track or in the field but what’s happening related to politics and economics around the particular activity. The other side of the coin is my academic background. I was a classroom teacher at Cal State University Chico for about 34 years and I taught a lot of courses in international politics, third world politics, politics of developing nations, and by the nineteen nineties the politics of developing nations course morphed into the politics of globalization. So I think you can see where I’m going is that my passion for the sport and the way I looked at the sport and my academic background and training kind of more or less came together and a number of articles and books and one book that I’ve written over the years more or less synthesize the two. I think the other reality related to the origins of the class is that Marx once said that religion was the opiate of the masses. Well from my vantage point today religion has kind of taken a side trip and sports seems to be the opiate of the masses. OK let me move up a little quicker what the course intends to do is to look at globalization and international sport for those who don’t necessarily like sports I want you to understand the course is about globalization and how globalization has impacted international sports, so i’m using sport as a case study. In that context of the course I plan to define globalization and I think what’s kind of interesting is that capitalism has always been global what is unique about globalization or the globalization stage so we’d like to hone in on that particular point. Secondly we’d like to look at the relationship of international sport to globalization, and then finally we’d like to have a case study, a component where we’d like to look at the origins of privatization and globalization within the Olympic movement particularly starting around 1980 and then we’d like to look at the politics and economics around the Rio Olympic games. And we’d like to finish up with the discussion about something I think is very controversial today and will definitely become a major headline pretty soon and that is that Russia is slated to host the World Cup next year and there’s no question in my mind that the US is going to begin trying to drum a campaign to withdraw the World Cup from Russia so that’s going to be very interesting to watch, and I’ll give you a preview of the politics around that phenomenon I hope you guys decide to take the course and i’m looking forward to teaching it.

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