The Political Economy of Professional Sport
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The Political Economy of Professional Sport

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.
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Chapter 3: Economic Development and Sporting Performance on a Worldwide Scale

Jean-François Bourg and Jean-Jacques Gouguet


The purpose here is to propose an analysis of the relationships between economic and sporting development, in order to characterize the great imbalance in world sport from the point of view of amateur or professional participation, performances and spectacles. This study also shows the diversity of Third World countries on the international sporting scene (Andreff, 1988; Bourg, 1993; Fates, 1994). With such disparities between developing countries, the framework of Third World identity breaks down. Therefore, is there a problem common to this heterogeneous group?1 What role do multinational firms play? Is the even more exaggerated price paid by certain countries in the global competitive sphere reasonable? Is sport not a costly way of having access to “modernity”? Is it necessary to suggest disengagement from this highly productivist sporting order, for the least developed countries? In other words, is not sport as a spectacle an obstacle, rather than a lever, to economic development in most of these countries? Lastly, is it necessary to escape from this particular sporting underdevelopment? An assessment of the vicious circle of sporting underdevelopment should be drawn up and its persistence analysed.2 Studying the spatial distribution of those participating in sport, performances and competitions reveals a limited, although unequal, international spread in areas where economic development makes facilities and supervision possible. This encourages extending leisure time and floods the middle classes with money and behaviour patterns. 1 THE FIELD OF ANALYSIS Such an approach is in line with development economics, a branch of economics that appeared...

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