A Nobel Sport: The Racial Football Rhetoric of Mandela, Obama, and Martin Luther King Jr.

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This article advances a twofold argument regarding the intersection of globalization, sport, and race. Such is world football's popularity, first, that the sport itself is now a rhetoric in its own right. So freighted is football with internationalist associations that this rhetoric has been enlisted in support of various political invocations of the global from the middle decades of the 20th century forward, as the following abbreviated case studies of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barack Obama will demonstrate. Second, football's unique transnational reach has simultaneously yielded a self-negating rhetoric of race. The global paradigm by which the sport is typically referenced has eroded race as a category of cultural analysis-this, despite football's obvious dependence on racially heterogeneous modes of production and reception. Football has overcome the color line in neither society nor sport as a result. The color line instead has been reified through transnational abstraction, obscured on the strength of football's insistent internationalism. © 2012 SAGE Publications.

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Journal of Sport and Social Issues