Gaming the World: How Sports Are Reshaping Global Politics and Culture

From pages 215-216 of this new book:

..There is perhaps no greater difference between American and European hegemonic sports cultures today than in the expression of counter-cosmopolitanism in these. While in America, overtly racist taunts accompanied by violent acts against players and viewers have all but disappeared and lack any kind of legitimacy in contemporary sports, this, alas is not the case in Europe. As the bulk of our chapter will highlight, soccer grounds have become perhaps the last bastion in Europe in which the worst kind of racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic — in short, counter-cosmopolitan — language and behavior have not only been tolerated but actually extolled. We offer our own extensive bi-continental experiences as cases in point. Between the two of us, we have attended many hundred baseball, basketball, football and hockey games on virtually all levels in the United States since 1960. While we have encountered the occasional incident of ugly taunting, often of the sexist and homophobic variety, at the high school and college, though rarely at the top professional level, we have never experienced over racism and anti-Semitism at any of these events. Nor have we witnessed major acts of violence among the spectators beyond the occasional beer-fueled fistfight between two fans that invariably was stopped very quickly either by people in the immediate surrounding or by the stadium authorities, most often both.

Alas, this is not the case with our European experiences where — especially beginning in the mid-1970s — our numerous visits to soccer grounds from Germany to England, from Austria to Spain, from Italy to Holland were regularly marred by overt racist and anti-Semitic language as well as behavior. Worse still, whenever either one of us, or others, tried to quell these ugly outbursts, we (and others) were met either with total indifference or indignation, sometimes with outright hostility, that we dared to challenge the norm and rock the boat.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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