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The Sport Star

The Sport Star
Modern Sport and the Cultural Economy of Sporting Celebrity

First Edition

224 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Why are sport stars central to celebrity culture? What are the implications of their fame?

Proceeding from a broadly based discussion of heroism, fame and celebrity, Smart addresses a number of prominent modern sports and sport stars, including Michael Jordan (basketball), David Beckham (football), Tiger Woods (golf), Anna Kournikova and the Williams sisters (tennis).

He analyses the development of modern sport in the UK and USA, demonstrating the key economic and cultural factors that have contributed to the popularity of sport stars, while examining issues such as race and gender, the impact of professionalization, growing media coverage, the role of agents and the increasing presence of commercial corporations providing sponsorship and endorsement contracts.

This book situates the sport star as the embodiment of the various tensions of age, class, race, gender and culture. It argues that sporting figures possess an increasingly rare quality of authenticity that gives them the capacity to lift and inspire people. The book is a major contribution to the sociology and culture of sport and celebrity.

Heroism, Fame and Celebrity in the World of Sport
The Development of Modern Sport in Britain and America
The Professionalization of Modern Sport
Media, Sponsorship and Sport Stardom
Corporate Culture and the Branding of the Sport Star
Nike, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods

Cultures of Sport Stardom
David Beckham and Anna Kournikova

Concluding Remarks
Sport Stars, Authenticity and Charisma


"Global celebrity is created by a ménage a trois: professional sports, television, and multinational corporations. Recognizing how commercialization has transformed sports, Smart discusses how television contracts dictate the number of commercial breaks per game and how athletes are required to use the equipment they endorse."

A. Guttmann
Amherst College

Barry Smart

Barry Smart is Professor of Sociology at the University of Portsmouth and has longstanding research interests in the fields of social theory, political economy, and philosophy. His research interests include critical social research ethics; higher education; and collaborative work on veganism, ethics, lifestyle and environment.  More About Author

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