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Generating resistance on the sporting battleground

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Issue 2365

Every day millions of people watch, play, debate and reflect on sport. They revel in its excitement, its energy, its drama and the prowess of players and athletes. 

Yet for many of the left, sport is treated with a fair degree of disdain.

For some it’s not so much the individual sports people that are the problem, but the structure and nature of the sporting industry. 

It is the competition within modern sport that is the problem, its domination by big business and, very often, its nationalism and militarism.

Partly this book is about looking at the ways in which the sports industry debases and alienates sports workers and fans. 

It also looks at the profits it generates for the few and the ways in which sporting spectacles can reinforce dominant social relations. 

But if we only focus on these aspects of sport we end up with a one-sided reductionist account. 

One that cannot explain the contradictions, conflicts and resistance that emerge within sport.

Sport and the factors that lend it a universal appeal are, like other areas of culture, capable of becoming a political battleground. 

To write off the importance of that battleground and reduce our understanding of sport under capitalism to the catch-all denunciation of “capitalist sport” is undialectical and self defeating.

The essays in this collection aim to explore the tensions that exist within sport, the various worlds of sport and the resistance it can generate.

The essays present a series of different takes from people who see themselves as political activists who enjoy sport in modern society.

This is an edited extract from the book’s introduction written by Michael Lavalette. Capitalism and sport: politics, protest, people and play is edited by Michael Lavalette and available from Bookmarks, the socialist bookshop, for £9.99. Go to or phone 020 7637 1848



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