From Kaepernick and Qatar to Cobb County and the Kop: Critical Geographies of Sports Capitalism

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Ethics, Justice, and Human Rights Specialty Group, Economic Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM (MDT)
Room: Proteus, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Organizers: Andy Walter
Chairs: Andy Walter


Quoting literary theorist Terry Eagleton, “No finer way of resolving the problems of capitalism has been dreamed up” than football (soccer). If this reads as an overstatement, geographer Doreen Massey argued that concerning oneself with the ways in which capital has enclosed football offers a means to understand and, on that basis, figure out ways to challenge neoliberalized and financialized society. Recent years have provided spectacular illustrations of both scholars’ claims and their relevance to modern sports generally. From the overt rent-seeking and subversion of local democracy by/for the Atlanta Braves in Cobb County, Georgia, to the deadly exploitation of migrant workers building stadiums for a World Cup serving as a conduit for the circulation of Qatar’s massive surpluses, sport offers a concrete picture of the modes and consequences of wealth extraction and accumulation. At the same time, professional sport provides a view of various ways in which capital’s dominant forms are challenged and grounds are potentially established to create different, less exploitative and unjust ones. For example, by “taking a knee” quarterback Colin Kaepernick inspired a players’ anti-racist movement that exposed the humanity and power of highly-skilled, highly-paid workers and ultimately disrupted the smooth multi-billion dollar flow of value in the NFL (leading NFL owners to collectively withhold work from Kaepernick as an apparent retaliation). Meanwhile, at Liverpool FC’s Anfield Stadium, the loyal supporters of the Kop end, among others elsewhere in the stadium, walked out of a match en masse to contest the narrowing of their role in the club to that of customer and to caution the American owners against treating the club as simply a financial, rather than a community, asset.

This session provides a forum for papers exploring the ways in which space and place figure into the operations and outcomes of sports capitalism as well as challenges and alternatives to it at all scales and in any region of the world. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the connections between the production and consumption of sport as a commodity and:

Rent-seeking through land development, media rights, etc.
Labor regulation, exploitation, and organization within and beyond the stadium
Fandom and neoliberal subject formation
Fandom and solidarity
Gender/sexism/gender politics and injustices
Urban politics and citizenship
Democracy and emancipatory politics
Economic governance
Race/racism/racial injustice
Global value chains/production networks
Urban public space
Urban infrastructures
Financialization of the built environment
Commoning and expropriation
Urban and global wealth inequality
Land development
Labor migration
Media space


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Devra Waldman*, , Men, materials, and money: the development and emergence of a sport-focused gated community in Gurgaon, India 20 5:20 PM
Presenter Bradley Gardener*, Temple University, Madison Ketcham*, Temple University, Dismantling a Convenient Truth in Sports – Politicization and Local Solidarity in Sports Talk Radio 20 5:40 PM
Presenter Andy Walter*, University of West Georgia, “Space is everything” on, as well as off, the pitch: Geographies of the sports business 20 6:00 PM

To access contact information login