Sports and the Presidency

As the New Year approaches, so does the Super Bowl and yet another photo opportunity for the president to congratulate the victorious team.  In nearly every calendar month the White House invites winning sports stars to rub shoulders with the chief executive.  In an Olympic year or World Cup year the president cheers for the national team.  But is that it?  Do sports exist on a superficial plane in political statecraft or does it play another role?

An upcoming conference on Sports and Diplomacy, hosted by SOAS (UL) will investigate.  Here is the call for papers:

Call for Papers

Sport and Diplomacy: Message, Mode and Metaphor?

Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS, University of London

3-4 July 2015

Hosted by Dr J Simon Rofe (SOAS, University of London)

Keynote Presentation by Professor Alan Tomlinson (University of Brighton)author of “FIFA – The Men, The Myths and the Money” (Routledge 2014).

As an enduring and almost ubiquitous part of modern life, sport has a powerful capacity to touch individuals and societies around the world in ways that traditional forms of diplomacy and diplomats rarely can. Sporting competition always carries social and political messages for these audiences; at times these are simple even vulgar,  at times complex, subtle and mixed. Sport’s modes of operation – not only as participation and mass entertainment, but as an increasingly global business generating economic benefits for and linkages between a broad range of actors – have deep consequences for the ambitions, practices and outcomes of diplomacy.  Sport is also a metaphor for competing identities within polities at all levels. Nowhere has the diffusion and redistribution of political and economic power in our globalizing world had more visibility than in international sport.

After many years of relative neglect, the realm of sport diplomacy is attracting renewed scholarly attention. The colloquium is deliberately aimed at welcoming colleagues and students from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds.

The colloquium has the broad aim to explore the relationship between sport and diplomacy at all levels. It does so under the following suggested themes (other suggestions are welcome)


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