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Reviewed by:
  • Global Sports Policy by Catherine Palmer
  • Jeffrey O. Segrave
Palmer, Catherine. Global Sports Policy. London: Sage Publications, 2013. Pp. 230. Bibliography and index. $125 hb, $47 pb.

From the broadest perspective, Global Sports Policy locates the study of sports policy within the broader consideration of global processes, practices, and consequences. Acknowledging the dramatic impact that a wide variety of recent events have had on global culture—from 9/11 to environmental issues to the emergence of the “risk society”—the author, Catherine Palmer, considers the ways in which these precipitous incidents have impacted the development, implementation, and analysis of sports policy. Consequently, the book takes the concepts and debates about the impact of globalization on social life and applies them to analyses of public policy as they relate to the production and organization of global sport. Adopting a production of consumption approach, Palmer’s critical interpretist perspective is grounded in the social sciences, especially social anthropology, and the book is informed by the debates about the political economy of sport and the socially constitutive and constructed nature of both sport and sports policy. In short, the book uses social theory to interpret the impact of the ever encroaching process of globalization on the development and implementation of global sports policy.

What the author does not, and cannot do, of course, is compare and contrast particular domestic policy issues across countries; nor does she, or could she, cover all policy and policy issues that are implicated in the conditions of globalization. Rather, the author focuses on the effects of globalization on the development, implementation, and efficacy of policy and the way in which the social study of sports policy offers new avenues into broader conversations about the process of globalization, the production of sport, and the creation of sports policy.

The book is divided into two sections. The first section is entitled “Key Debates in Globalization and Sports Policy” and explores the theoretical and conceptual issues that speak to the nature, structure, and government of global sports policy, taking into special consideration the tensions between the local and the global. The second section is entitled “Globalization and Sporting Mega-Events: Policy Implications” and examines the policy implications of hosting sporting mega-events. Recognizing the dearth of research evidence to inform both policy and practice, Palmer draws on empirical case studies of major sports events, including the World Cup, the Olympic and Paralympic games, and the Tour de France, to investigate the sport mega-event as a site for the expression and creation of concerns about a wide variety of salient contemporary issues, such as human rights, the environment, terrorism, surveillance, and security.

Each chapter provides three or four bullet point purposes, introduction and conclusion sections, questions for discussion, and suggestions for further readings; all of which makes it abundantly clear what the purpose of each chapter is and what each chapter has covered and concluded, and how each chapter fits into the overall logic and organization of the book. Of particular value are the extended case studies of particular sport policy issues that constitute the content of each chapter—from doping to multiculturalism, from children at risk to the ever-escalating concerns about security. [End Page 143]

Global Sports Policy is extraordinarily well written, organized, and presented. It is pertinent and timely in its discussion of issues and analysis of case studies, and it includes an impressive and very useful bibliography. It is theoretically sophisticated, yet eminently readable. It is probably less suitable as a text for courses in sport history, even for general or introductory courses in sport studies. But, it is suitable for a wide variety of courses in the sociology of sport, applied sport sociology, the social anthropology of sport, and sport management. The book also has salience for courses, or, sections of courses, on the globalization of sport and international sport, and it is more than suitable for courses on the broader issues of globalization and global social policy.

Global Sports Policy fills an important lacuna in the sport literature. As Michael Atkinson from the University of Toronto writes on the front cover of this publication, “Every once in a while a book...


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