Similar game with different goals?

January 8, 2009

Jon F. Baldwin offers a wonderful polemic repelling those who strive for a critical pedagogy ("A culture of excellence", Opinion, 1 January). Rather than focus on the banal, trite regurgitation of excellence, I believe Baldwin's football metaphor allows for a far more nuanced understanding of his interpretation of the "Warwick Way".

Over the decades, Manchester United has sustained a northern, if not Mancunian, core culture that has managed to incorporate the talents of very different leadership styles, or so the narrative is spun.

Yet Baldwin fails to mention the broader movements that have impacted on Manchester United, such as the commodification of sport and the wealth generated from television rights, merchandising and gate receipts.

These factors are more significant and have perpetuated a disparity between football clubs within the English pyramid system.

Indeed, Baldwin is correct that the parallels with the modern university are striking: the lack of connectivity geographically and the superficiality of the mediated nature of the relationships resonated with my experiences.

Baldwin's reified notions of the University of Warwick's history strike me. Perhaps he should read E. P. Thompson's Warwick University Limited?

Anthony Friend, Manchester.

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