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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