The Meaning of Sport in Our Time - From Athens to London 2012

Ten Dimensions of Global Sports Management

Scientific Study, 2012
94 Pages














1. The NationAs The Historically Dominant Force: The Cultural Ambivalence Inherent In The Olympic Games And In Global Sports

Nationalism Means War.

(Former French President François Mitterrand, statement made in Moscow, not long before his demise)

Around 1780 Bentham coined the term „international“ with the meaning of relations between sovereign nations. But these are vague notions, because the making of nations occurred with differing speeds and meanings.

WhileGreat Britain and France, for example, have realized their nationalunity earlier, nations like Germany took longer to realize this objective.Therefore, in the case of the older nations, the term nation refers to the nation in the political sense, while in the latter the term nation refers, in the absence of political unification, to a more cultural unity defined by common language and cultural heritage. As a consequence in English and French one refers to the international economy, trade or politics by using the adjective international, while in Germany one uses the terms world economy or world politicsinstead for the same purpose. So, on the one hand the term nation has a primarily political connotation, on the other handit has a more cultural one. In the case of Germany, the political unification of the nation may - after reunification- approach its formal completion, while the cultural unification may be said to be still in progress, which may be due to German occupation and cultural conditioning by the Western Allies in the former Federal Republic of Germany and by Eastern Socialist cultural conditioning in the former German Democratic Republic.It is a form of two competing nationalism in a third nation.

Since the emergence of nation states the vagueness of the term nation and therefore the nature of international relations has changed its meaning over time. There is continuity, however, with regard to the axiomatic of intracultural and intercultural conflict that it has caused throughoutits history and still continues to cause.

In Africa, for example, theconstitution of nations highlights a conflict between tribal forces and interests that compete with the colonial legacy and the meaning of nation. Closer to us in Eastern Europe, the diverse cultures of former Yugoslavia havebeen emancipatingthemselves and claim their status of sovereign nations to this very day at high human price they are ready to pay for their prime collective value of national sovereignty and cultural identity.

The power-based logic of the constitution of nations that ignored in particular their cultural dimension as it has happened in the case of colonial imperialism or on ideological/cultural grounds as in former Tito’s Yugoslavia or in the case of the former Soviet Union seems to come to an end in our age, in particular due to the end of the world’s ideological bipolarization and due to the political emancipation of cultures. Significantly the centrifugal tendencies of some 130 peoples held together by the formerSoviet Empire sealed thebreak-up of that empire. Centrifugal-centripetal national tendencies were among the chief causes that ended the historical empires like the Roman Empire, the colonial empires as well as the former Soviet empire. The very logic of the formation of nations seems to contain the seed of their ending. The emergent players define their own understanding of their interpretation of the term nation and sovereign nation. Often this happens on a cultural basis and it is frequently connected to economic motives.

In the US the term nation has a different meaning again, based for example, on the dual logic of Federal States and the Federal Government in Washington. The conflicts between central demands and regional, federal state or cultural forces are a continuous undercurrent that tends to reshape the concrete meaning of the nation in practice.

China’s sensitivity with regard to Taiwan is a significant example of a major global player’s understanding of the meaning of its nation. The One China Policy that encompasses most distant territories and over 5o cultural groups, among which the Tibetans seem to play a more prominent role, is a continuous historical theme in the Kingdom of the Middle that was united in 213 B.C. Without the presence of US forces in the area Taiwan’s independence might be at stake.

UN and NATO missions similarly surveynationbuilding processes in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. The notion of the nation and the relationship between nations, i. relations, are a thread that runs through human history. And this fundamental principle still guides European integration policy in our day in this part of the world, where the transfer of national sovereignty – changing the definition of the nation – to a supranational entity with its supranational institutions plays an important role with regard to the continuity of the biggest economy of the planet, whose members have inculturated the national idea with its consequences in other parts of the world. It is a largely a rationalist,fairly abstract concept, based on a power and an acquired formal legal rationale which is only partly supported and underpinned by natural human cultural affiliation, which explains its historical impermanence, wherever it occurs.

Some hundred years after the coinage of the term „international“ the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin, a former student of philology (among other subjects) of the Sorbonne with its millenary international tradition resumed the international idea and translated it to the world of sports. He followed the footsteps of cultural giants of the Sorbonne like Ignatius of Loyola who founded the world spanning order of the Jesuits (SJ) that can also be said to have had its impact on shaping the world in its own way. National and international culture and civilization and theirintegration and reconciliation require a humus like that of the century old Sorbonne and some outstanding minds. It reminds one of Rudyard Kipling’s Ballad of East and West, where he states that Eastern and Western Civilisations can meet again if strong minds meet. Chapter 8 discusses this issue under the heading of Orient and Occident: East-West Synergy.

Yet, only half a century later the notions of the national and of the interconnected international which is based on the national had led the entire world to the very brink of destruction through two major world wars.The international based on the national had perverted in devastating national and cultural identity struggles that were thought to be solvable by force. The national after all relies on its armies for the definition, protection and enforcement of its national territorial, legal and cultural identity. It involves a logic of conflict which international reconciliation pioneers like Robert Schumann, who promoted the European idea, understood and therefore tried to address at the very root through the promotion and the creation of supranational entities that were meant to integrate rather than further antagonizing nations with its inherent logic of conflict.

The ensuing cold war provided evidence that the nationalhad reached a critical turning point, in spite of the foundation of the United Nations - and related IOs and special agencies – by the Charter of San Francisco in 1948 as well as of the European Iron and Steel Union in 1951and of the EEC in 1957 that may be said to have pursued similar objectives at the economic and political levels to those pursued by the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin at the cultural level of global sports by reviving the ancient Athenian tradition in 1896. Could the return to the cultural roots of Western Civilisation provide a corrective to the national that defines international relations? But the ideologically magnified notion of the nation antagonized not only nations but entire systems of nations, based on the logic of deterrence.

Mankind collectively organized as nations with theirdivisive, conflict generating rationale had reached a critical phase in its evolution, where it would either control its collective selves with theirunlimited competitive and self-affirmative logic at any price in the shape of nation states or it would be controlled by that creation of itsown making based on multiple mutual destructioncapabilities.The nation had finally ushered in a formof terror, the so-called equilibrium of terror.

The hope that progressive globalization and continental and regional forms of integration like the EFTA, EU, SEATO, theAfrican Union and later on NAFTA, among other regional forms of integration, would enable mankind to transcend the nationalrationalethatantagonized man was not fulfilled. Sectorial integration frequently tends to only promote national interests at a wider scale. The world peace through world trade assumption by IBM Senior Management only works if economic and monetary integration that complement regional market integration, are consolidated by fiscal and political integration, which transfers divisive national sovereignty to integrative supranational entities and thereby either defuses the antagonizing logic of the nation or simply translates the national syndrome to supranational entities that may then confront other supranational entities at vaster scales and thereby exacerbate the logic of the nation at a wider scale.

Under the impact of globalization an emerging cultural consciousness has progressivelyreplaced and complemented national consciousness and has therebyincreased and intensified international conflicts by intercultural and intracultural ones. And thetrend ofconcomitantglobalization and Balkanization is still in progress. Finlandization, exclusion andisolation of political and cultural players and their control and tutelage have become increasingly unrealistic in a technologically- based interdependent world. Therefore hitherto overruled cultural groups with distinct identities try to leverage their cultural identity in order to promote additional national entities based on their cultural (linguistic, territorial and ethnic) identities.The number of sovereign member nation states of the UN General Assembléetherefore tends toincrease and thereby the logic and the rationale of the nation which provides historical evidence of needing a corrective in order to be sustainable.

Now the differentiative and exclusive component of the national with its antagonizing intranational and international impact requires a complementary integrative corrective. Transnational and supranational movements and entities emerged in orderto balance the centrifugal effects of the national by a centripetal momentum in that was assumed to enable mankind to tame the national whose hubris did not and does not seem to want to accept any limits. The logic of mutualdestruction of national entities proved to be impossible. The instauration of a PaxRomana by a super power nation also proved illusory. Mankind is still under the spell of the magnified replication of the rationale of the national by regional and global superpowers that are continuing or constituting themselves and which conflicts with cultural and national forms of emancipation and allied struggles. From the local to the global scale national and cultural identity strugglesthat follow one social psychological principle and rationale (see further below) continue forming that world’s stage of which all are, willy-nilly, actors.

The French Baron Pierre de Coubertin may be said to have attempted to translate the hot battlefields to the global sports arena and to thereby civilize the natural human need and impulse of competition based identification and identity. Not only intrapersonal, spiritual-mental-physical but also intercultural and international integration were a tenor of the baron's enlightened international agenda. Collective learning entailed in the process would make the hot battlefields obsolete. This might have been Pierre de Cubertin’s pedagogical assumption. However, on the contrary, less than half a century later the efforts in view of the pacification of the world by the control of mankind’s diverse collective selves in the form of nations ended in the summum of national presumptuousness of Verdun and Stalingrad. Wherever man turns his eyes in time and space he encounters evidence of the impact of uncontrollednationalism that is based on the logic of the nation state.

It appears as if the national motive had also taken control of that which was aimed at civilising and humanizing the national, i. e. of global sports in the Olympic and other global sports contexts. The collective psyche seemed to want to sacrifice everything to the nation and to be ready to enforce its interests without self-limitation. This led to a century of national conflicts at a global scale. The Olympic motto “citius, altius, forties” seems to provide wings to the national motive rather than civilizing it pedagogically. The ideologically-based national sports policy of the Third Reich and of the former German Democratic Republic among other national policies provide ample evidence for national instrumentalization of sports.And the politicization and mercantilization of sports continue within the context of globalization.

Therefore it seems to be imperative to recognize and to promote the complementary integrative function of global sports - of which the Olympics are a unique highlight – to its disintegrative momentum based on the national cultural theme. The integration of the two complementary dimensions of global sports constitutes the rationale of this investigation.

Neither the national nor the competitivehuman reality can be ignored in man at that time. If they cannot be controlled by themselves they may be integrated and transcended by a wider human awareness, knowledge, relatedskills and continuous practical learning. The integrity of man and creation are new benchmarks in the process.

From the standpoint of human evolution the national phase of social organization and identification with the related impact referred to above can be looked at as the fifth out of six stages of human phylogenetic evolution that condition his international/intercultural values, attitudes and behaviours:

12 D Transcultural Profiler Level D 4

Evolution: Phylogenetic development stages 1-6/Intercultural Development stages 7-12

1 sensory level: human developmental stage of perception
2 active level: human developmental stage of action
3 affective level: human developmental stage of affection
4 analytic intellectual level: human developmental stage of the intellect
5 synthetic intellectual level: human developmental stage of the Ego and the social group.Here the National emerges.
6 universal level: human developmental stage that goes beyond Ego and synthesis
7 stage 1 denial: unable to identify cultural differences
8 stage 2 defence: recognition of cultural differences but tendency to evaluate other cultures negatively to one’s own
9 stage 3 minimization: recognition of superficial differences (objective culture) such as customs and habits, while holding the view that all cultures are essentially the same
10 stage 4 acceptance: Recognition and appreciation of cultural differences in behavior and values; considering them as logical and coherent solutions in different contexts.
11 stage 5 adaptation: development of communicationskills that facilitate intercultural communication; cybernetic thinking
12 stage 6 integration: internalization of abicultural or multicultural perspective; intercultural facilitator. (section based on Milton Bennett and Dr. ThérèseBrosse).

Thus today’s epochal challenge is very much about the completion of the fifth national stage of phylogenetic evolution

5 synthetic intellectual level: human developmental stage of the Ego and the social group.Here the National emerges.

and the transition towards the sixth universal phase in the above systematization.

6 universal level: human developmental stage that goes beyond Ego and synthesis

Therein the complementary integrative values, attitudes and behaviourswould reside that need to be unlockedand leveraged in orderto integrate the lopsided national affiliation and identification of the social group with its patternsof conflict across time and space within a more evolved space of nation and culture transcending human awareness and consciousness - the integrity of man and creation -in the interest of the future of mankind. See the following parts of the exposé for a more detailed discussion of this possibility. The 12 dimensions of phylogenetic and interconnected human intercultural evolution listed above represent Level D4 of the culture integrative 12 D master model, the Transcultural Profiler represented in the Chapter 10.

2. The Sociohistorical Aspect

The Ancient Roman adage “panem et circenses” (bread and games) still seems to set the rules of the global game in our days at a universal scale, while bread still seems to be at stake. While one part of the world is dying of hunger, in civil wars and other violence the other revels in global gaming. Nothing has changed fundamentally since Ancient Rome as far as basic human tendencies are concerned. And who does not play that game has been sidelined then as much as he is now. The arenas of the gladiators have become the arenas of global business, politics and sports. Neither the language nor the fundamental themes seem to have changed on the world’s stage, with its super predator global competitors, those who emulate them and the masses of the spectators. Global media allow the whole world to take part in the game, not just the few ones on site. Global competition for victory over a competitor and the global competition for the bread of survival and its enhancement, i. e. total competition is the one theme that unites and divides all men, rich and poor, races, cultures, religions, ethnic groups, nations, organisations and sport organisations, federations, and clubs are simply another facet of the theme of competition, which necessarily entails losers, in sports, in politics, in business and above all with regard to bread, i.e. survival. Who refuses the game and proclaims deviating values from the mainstream ideology of panemetcircenses will be prosecuted, as the Christians were prosecuted in Roman times as they are now in various places of the world. Diversity again emerges as a major issue at a global scale, internally and externally. In Roman days diversity could be controlled by Roman law and its military might across the Roman Empire that covered parts of three continents. The aspiration to global rule by major present day players is another parallel that transcends two millennia. Due to the emancipation of nations with their claim to sovereignty, however, it is has become difficult to enforce one global standard by global organisations and nations. Therefore the global diversity issue has arisen in our time, after the enforcement of global standards in the shape of various ideologies has also failed over the centuries.

It is useful to look at sports in a cultural perspective in order to contextualize it in human society and in the “global arena”. Due to man’s panemetcircenses impulse he has transformed the whole world in countless arenas with their diverse forms of competition and strife with winners and losers across the word. Unless the impact of the destructively competitive arenas can be contained and mitigated by more cooperative gaming, there may not be enough bread for human survival for everybody. Unless the world learns, in addition to competition, complementary sharing cooperation, competition may satisfy human basic instinct but also destroy humanity if it remains uncontrolled.

Sports may be a human learning experience in view of controlling and containing the competitive instinct and thereby positively affect the diverse globally competitive arenas, individually, locally, regionally and globally.

With the ongoing UEFA (UNION OF EUROPEAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATIONS) highlight, the European Soccer Championship 2012 in Eastern Europe, in Poland and Ukraine and the upcoming Olympic Games 2012 in London, organized by the IOC (INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE) it seems appropriate to look at the cultural role of sports in general and of soccer in particular in a global world.

This study looks at global sports and more specifically at global soccer from historical, cultural, economic, social, strategic/tactical and civilization perspectives. Sports as a global management phenomenon and practice are contextualized in a global transcultural management framework. Its aim is the optimum use of cultural diversity and to create awareness of divisive dimensions in global sports, while it offers aconsistent approach to the integration of divisive tendencies in the global world of sports. This will in turn affect other domains of the globalizing world.

3. The Cultural Imperative of Global Sports

Due to the globalization, multiculturalization and mercantilization of sports its protagonists increasingly need intercultural skills at the level of their strategic management in an ever more competitive global market environment as well as at the level of sports practice. This applies in particular to professional sports like professional soccer. Soccer clubs have to negotiate international transfers and acquisitions like international organizations in global business. They are in global business. Like transnational and metanational enterprises they have to prospect the most valuable human resources worldwide and valorize them in their market as fast as possible so as to amortize the tens or hundreds of millions of investment in the most promising human resources or talents that ultimately are hoped to condition the status of the club in the globally competitive soccer environment. Right and wrong investment decisions in this respect mean success or failure of top clubs. Therefore they need intercultural management and negotiation skills, for the culture variable, the professional culture as much as societal and individual cultures of acquisitions play a role in the process. And there must be an overall cultural fit and compatibility with the culture of the acquiring club, as in the case of global mergers and acquisitions in the global corporate world.

UEFA, FIFA and IOC have to coordinate and implement global sports events taking in account internal and external security issues that are accentuated in an increasingly diverse global environment. Worldwide coordination and realization involve a steadily growing number of cultures, nations, races, ethnic groups, languages, values and belief systems together with the diversity of their behavioural manifestations. And the Paralympics represent a culture by itself. Indeed, it means that a high level of diversity management skills, in particular international diversity management skills is required at many levels.

As sports, including soccer - like business - have assumed continental, intercontinental and global dimensions, multiculturalism its he rule and no longer the exception and therefore requires intercultural skills at the levels of supranational strategic management, at the level of international strategic management of actors and clubs participating in the events as well as within clubs. Last but not least clubs have to successfully manage their increasingly multicultural active human resources in a given culture general and professional cultural context. Due to imperatives of global competition the clubs tend to be in competitive environments that are comparable to other internationally operating organizations, with the nuance that their gold may be less in the heads of the human resources as it is said with regard to today’s knowledge economy, but rather in their sports-specific professional endowment. But due to globalization, mercantilization and multiculturalization of sports culturally diverse mindsets and skill sets also require management that is one-pointedly target-oriented. And this requirement raises the cultural question at the more operative level of soccer which also needs a systematic culturally aware approach with regard to cultural strategies, tactics and styles within teams and between teams.

If a team wants to be internationally successful its management as well as the players should have cultural self-awareness as well as other-awareness, along with associated cultural knowledge and skills. Intra-team as well as inter-team cultural profiling involving relevant parameters for culture analysis in general and professional culture analysis in particular, should inform strategic, tactical, technical and stylistic planning by trainers, managers and players alike

Synergistic professional and general culture integration of a teams' natural and desirable diversity is an essential precondition for a team’s ability to access its highest potentiality that ensures best sports practice with regard to its performance as well as the clubs' overall economic, financial and socio-cultural success.

4. Soccer From An Economic And A Political Standpoint

Soccer has changed in the process of professionalization and globalization from its original rationale of a personally and socially healthy leisure time activity to assume the form of globally operating transnational organisations, coordinated at a supranational level by supranational institutions like FIFA and UEFA, in order to promote their economic, social as well as cultural aims.

Clubs and their human resources (players, coaches and manager…) are sought after at a global scale in order to increase competitiveness. It is accompanied by multimillion transfers and investments by oligarchs and billionaires. In this respect top clubs can be likened to transnational and metanationalorganisations and even to small states who seek to pursue parochially-ethnocentric and nationalist economic interests. Strategic advantage consists in successful prospection of innovative resources (talents) worldwide and the speed with which they can be monetized.

The Ancient Roman adage panemetcircenses for the pacification and the control of the masses has been magnified by the competitive logic of cultural and economic competitiveness supported and sustained by global organisations and top clubs to assume quasi political features that allow completing the classical dictum

Politics is the continuation of war by other means

by its present day translation as

Soccer is the continuation of politics by other means

This is what one may conclude form various national cultural responses by participants of the European Championships 2012. National economic policy within the context of the EU is translated and equated to the European Soccer Championship. The financial EURO and the soccer EURO are amalgamated. They are seen as two aspects of the same national competition in the absence of supranational financial, fiscal and political integration. In the meantime the national rationale prevails at the expense of the supranational. It manifests for example as the following media echo from Southern Europe before the quarter final match of Greece vs. Germany: „We want Merkel! “ – not in the sense of admiration of the German chancellor but rather in the sense of the desire to defeat Germany in the sports arena as a response to the perceived Greek defeat and humiliation by Germany in the economic and financial arena in view of the stabilization of the EURO. It may be interpreted as a clash of economic cultural values about standards of economic and financial stability, of a prioritization of more short-term oriented quality of life versus longer-term stability and predictability in the sense of healthy budgets and spending.

At the origin of the financial and economic conflict there is a clash of cultural value preferences manifesting in the economic domain. And this only secondarily economic/financial conflict translates as a political issue. And this political issue is dealt with in turn culturally within the European sports context: The same cultural issues are being translated backward and forward to changing battlefields awaiting a supranational cultural identity that works on integrative rather differentiative and disintegrative premises. It is about cultural values harmonization; culture change in the EU that conditions political/economic/financial solutions. The call for Chancellor Merkel by the media. “Bringtuns Merkel (Bring us Merkel) reminds of St. John the Baptist in the sense that the daughter of Herodias, who the latter liked very much, wished to be given the head of St. John as suggested by her mother. Herodias’s promise to grant his daughter any desire let to the sacrifice of St. John as reported by the Scripture.

That historical, biblical episode seems to be reenacted metaphorically 2000 years later. In both cases the apple of discord is of cultural nature in the sense of contradictory cultural worldviews that cannot be integrated and call for the annihilation, physically or symbolically, of what is considered a contrary position to one’s own cultural interests; it is a time enduring syndrome based on a culture clash that cannot be reconciled due to the seeming incompatibility of attitudes, values and beliefs systems that is shifted here and there as in a psychological labyrinth without finding an exit. Culture management would be about showing the exit of the values clash prison of man. Sports could be one of those activities that in addition to heating up the prison and escalating its conflict processes can help opening the door of that prison in order to gain freedom at last.

So far one might already conclude that soccer culture is as a fractal replication of culture. Its socio-political and economic aspects confirm in particular the business culture rationale that underlies the various choices by soccer management. And the diversity rationale in the various socio-cultural environments can only by harmonized if integrative culture change can be brought about at fundamental values level. This would entail a more specifically culture-transcendent culture-integrative transcultural approach that is complementary to the more differentiative intercultural approach. Yet, in games terms, that would be the meaning of playing the whole game of culture sustainably, rather than only competitively.

Strategic players‘ attitudes - those displayed by top clubs - indicate that those have polycentric and geocentric attitudes while the national cultures in which they operate still display ethnocentric attitudes. This culture clash of strategic attitudes also promotes the emergence of the substitution of battlefields. Sports professionals have moved beyond ethnocentric attitudes due to the imperatives prevailing in globally competitive sports environments, while they still serve or rather are instrumentalized by ethnocentric attitudes. Here a culture change towards an alignment of strategic attitudes can lift the conflict laden ethnocentric siege of sports that maintains and prolongs the ersatz battlefields and it can help sports to return to its roots of an integrative and integrating human activity.

In that sense sports can be reengineered form a cultural weapon to a cultural integrator in our global era; from a national cultural sword into a global cultural plough that conditions the planetary humus for a human family instead of the sword that only cuts natural human ties of transcultural affinity and understanding and that ultimately cuts a hole in the common ship of humanity on the sea of time that may think that ship in the turbulent waves of untamed cultural identifications. Imperative culture change in the interest of mankind consists of that of the cultural sword into the cultural plough, here and now. And the European Soccer Championships or the Upcoming Olympic Games are belated starting points for the management of the imperative culture change process. UEFA, FIFA and IOC should be aware of the global cultural stakes inherent in their transnational sports culture management institutions that are vehicle that carry mankind either backward into the past or forward into the future. It greatly depends on how culture is managed.

If one endows sports in general and soccer in particular with political empowerment, in particular by the presence of national leaders and statesmen among the spectators, one has to be aware of the globally mediated message of an implicit amalgamation of the political and the sports environments and functions. The perception of sports as the continuation of politics by other means may be reinforced. Its compensatory function for the ventilation of engrained intercultural wounds may be underlined. It is that perception which promotes, beyond a natural need of cultivating and expressing human cultural identities, the shift, the substitution and the maintenance of obsolete battle fields in the third millennium. A purposeful disconnect of sports and culture policy could therefore allow transcending the John the Baptist syndrome of destructively reinforcing national cultural animosities. Thus the sports EURO may be instrumental as a catalyzer rather than as a relay and reinforcement of culturally diverse preferences within the context of the economic EURO.


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The Meaning of Sport in Our Time - From Athens to London 2012
Ten Dimensions of Global Sports Management
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Olympic Games;, From Athens to London, From Pierre de Coubertin to the global sports economy, multidimensional sports review, culture/sports/management/politics, international soccer business/, culture-comparative human integrity studies, intercultural sports strategy/style/tactics analysis, national/cultural function of sports, global sports and cultural identity studies, sports/psychology/physiology/, human personal and societal integraton, sports/war and peace
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D.E.A./UNIV. PARIS I Gebhard Deissler (Author), 2012, The Meaning of Sport in Our Time - From Athens to London 2012, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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