by David Goldblatt
A royal anniversary is, in any normal year, one of the biggest events in the British cultural calendar. But in 2012 it will face stiff competition. England are going to Poland and Ukraine for the European football championships – no doubt accompanied by the usual patriotic euphoria. But even this will look like small change once the Olympic machine begins to roll. The numbers are giddy: a real budget of more than £12bn (some 3bn over the official maximum); 302 gold medals; 10,000 athletes, and twice as many journalists; plus innumerable coaches and officials, sponsors and factotums. Almost every UK department of state, security agency and London local authority will be engaged for months with the process, and the power of the world’s hyperactive and hyperconnected media systems will be concentrated in the British capital.
“How did we get to this?” is the question posed by Mihir Bose in The Spirit of the Game. How did sport become such an ethically and symbolically charged dimension of our global culture? How and why did the forces of money and power come to take it so seriously? I’m not sure that it was his intention, or if he knew quite what he was letting himself in for, but Bose has ended up trying to answer these questions by writing a global history of modern sport….Read the full article