The Political Economy of Professional Sport

The Political Economy of Professional Sport

New Horizons in the Economics of Sport series

Jean-François Bourg and Jean-Jacques Gouguet

This timely book offers a critical interpretation of the traditional social and economic accounts of sport. It provides an incisive analysis of professional sport and defines alternative foundations to the present model. The authors demonstrate that professional sport is an extremely complex phenomenon encompassing many unique factors depending on its global reach, financing and organization.

Conclusion

Jean-François Bourg and Jean-Jacques Gouguet

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, sports, politics and public policy, political economy

Extract

The organization of professional sport certainly comes at a turning point in its history. We have indeed shown that an ethical approach may put the observer ill at ease, when faced with the development of sport and its many unfortunate consequences (doping, corruption, peddling influence, distorting sporting rules, wasting public money, dualism of the athletes’ conditions of employment, and so on). There have, admittedly, never been so many financial and logistic resources in sport as in the past decades. However, instead of being used to strengthen sport in society, these resources have become the ultimate objective. What is more, the fact that the effectiveness of sport as a business coexists with its social costs (doping, corruption and inequality, and so forth) is not just chance. On the contrary, it reveals a logical relationship, albeit a complex one, between the ever-increasing development of the “marketization” of professional sport with the increase in sporting abuses. The result of this is a natural propensity for this capitalist market economy to lead the sporting society towards an ethical dead end. Such a conclusion can be considered as banal: sport is produced by a productivist system and possesses all of its features. We can therefore conclude that it is impossible to reform the model of sports organization from within, if we do not alter the overall system that produces it. As a matter of fact, we are dealing more with a crisis of capitalism than with a crisis of the sporting movement. However, it is...

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