9
THE SALIENCE OF SPORT
The dual nature of sport, as both big business and core social element, gives
it unique salience in modern life. The “core” product of sport – the sports
event – is much more than entertainment; its fundamental appeal rests on the
nature and quality of the competition, which generates drama and engage-
ment. Even if one side in a contest is heavily favoured to win, an element of
uncertainly remains. Upsets are inevitable. Outcomes are neither scripted nor
predetermined.The keen anticipation of the unexpected or unusual or bril-
liant, that something remarkable is bound to happen, fixes the attention.
4
This field of extraordinary drama, involvement, and skill also elicits extremely
strong emotional responses.
5
For the duration of an event, fans and players
are locked in the moment, care more about the play than anything else, el-
evated to euphoria or reduced to despair. In many places, sport constitutes
a veritable civic religion. Indeed, sport and religion, in addressing profound
spiritual and psychological needs, stand apart from the labouring world, and
from that vantage, offer a hat-trick of psychological benefits to world-weary
populations: “a welcome diversion from the routines of daily life; a model of
coherence and clarity; and heroic examples to admire and emulate.”
6
That sport can touch these emotions, and engagement makes it a source of
social and economic value. When either the honesty of competition or heroic
exertion falls short, sport, and those invested in it, suffer emotionally and fi-
nancially. Preserving the integrity of sport and defending it from threats are
thus the highest responsibilities of its stewards.
Breaches of the integrity of sport are hardly recent phenomena; the first re-
corded instance of bribery occurred in the Olympics in 388 B.C.E. Today the
lure of fame and fortune remain powerful inducements to cheat or misbehave,
but the sheer amount of money at stake and the new technologies to enhance
performance and facilitate cheating provides a powerful incentive multiplier.
Globalisation makes contemporary integrity threats more costly and poten-
tially more damaging to both the business and the social import of sports as
well as more difficult to prevent and contain.
In the past decade, nearly every sport, from the relatively small-scale handball
and snooker to the giants of football and basketball, has endured at least one
© MONITOR QUEST LTD. 2011
GUARDING THE GAME Preserving the Integrity of Sport
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