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Title:Who makes the game? Examining private ownership in professional sports
Author(s):Lewis, Jonothan
Director of Research:Cole, Cheryl L.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Cole, Cheryl L.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Denzin, Norman K.; McChesney, Robert W.; Stole, Inger L.; Christians, Clifford
Department / Program:Inst of Communications Rsch
Discipline:Communications and Media
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):labor, class, ownership, capitalism, neoliberalism, cultural studies, political economy, sport, nba, nfl, nhl, baseball, soccer, rugby, media, sport history
Abstract:Using a framework of cultural studies-informed political economy, this dissertation is a critical examination of private team ownership in the major North American professional sports leagues. Despite drawbacks that are apparent to players, fans, media, and scholars, private ownership has been taken for granted as the natural way of organizing professional sport. This analysis argues that private ownership became the norm as the result of social class conflict in the mid-nineteenth century, and the efforts of upper-class sport participants to exclude the working class from the playing field. A decades-long effort to first prevent, and later control, working class sport participation eventually led to the formation of the first major professional sports leagues, with the men in charge guided by the same ethos of exclusion and control. In the era of neoliberal capitalism, private ownership has served to enrich owners at the expense of players, fans, and the public, who are on the losing ends of collective bargaining negotiations and stadium subsidy deals. To make these arguments, this dissertation provides an in-depth analysis of how the professional sport industry developed; an overview of how the professional leagues currently operate; and a proposal for a hybrid ownership model that gives the players control of league operations and communities ownership of the franchises.
Issue Date:2019-04-19
Rights Information:Copyright 2019, Jon Lewis
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05

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