Fields of play and pay

Social Issues in Sport
April 30, 1999

Mike Sleap's book covers many important areas within the field of sport studies, including race, class, drugs and "sporting behaviour". His analysis is unique in centring on the United Kingdom, and as such is useful and apposite. Also interesting is the book's collation of much of the work that has attempted to define sport.

A minor criticism is that Sleap defines the book as a textbook, and yet it purports to appeal to a very wide potential audience: "If you are studying sport at school, college or university then it is a must. It provides essential information for anyone studying A-level, B Tech, GNVQ or first-degree courses". While applauding its inclusiveness and the fact that it is not contained by one theoretical framework, one doubts whether the book can really have the breadth and depth of coverage necessary to satisfy this claim totally.

In some ways the book's range is a disadvantage. Chapters are useful introductions, but they often leave the reader wanting more - or perhaps at least a better idea of the writer's conclusions rather than an overview of many issues. Still, with its useful sources and references, this well-written, well-researched book will be a valuable resource.

Given recent developments, especially with regard to the ownership and control of football clubs, the chapter on "Commercialism and sport" deserves special comment. Sleap notes that: "Capitalism aims to exploit markets to the full, and sport in contemporary society clearly has a substantial market. Thus, in an age of abundant leisure, sport will be utilised for business purposes and, if the commercial world transforms sport in a negative way, the general public will lose interest and the market will be lost." Some of these effects are visible in European sport, which is being colonised by commerce. It remains to be seen if commercialism will swamp the social and cultural underpinnings on which sport depends.

Steve Greenfield and Guy Osborn are at the Centre for the Study of Law, Society and Popular Culture, University of Westminster.

Social Issues in Sport

Author - Mike Sleap
ISBN - 0 333 69150 4
Publisher - Macmillan
Price - £42.50
Pages - 214

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