A sporting class?

July 31, 2006

EMC World of Sport: The Sporting Class by Glenn Aylett

Glenn Aylett’s latest column on Sport, Television and class division in society misses the point.

The assumption Glenn works on is that class divisions are eroding away in society. This premise is an absolute false one. Unless the socialist revolution has passed me by, we are still living in a class based society. It is from that basis that, if Glenn is going to make a class based analysis of sporting media, or the media in general, that we need to start from.

Glenn claims that the class barriers have been broken down in football, and that you see company CEOs alongside their workers in the terraces up and down the land. It’s as if to say that the bourgeoisie were never involved in football! What has happened is that the rich hands have always been involved in football. To set up any kind of football team, especially a major league one, requires a huge amount of start up capital. The rich have always been in football, but with the rise of people like Roman Abramovich and Malcolm Glazier have we seen them come to the fore. But the businessmen with the deep pockets have always been there.

To move onto the class divide between BBC’s Grandstand and ITV’s World of Sport; again, it relates to a question of agency. Both the BBC and ITV are controlled by the ruling class. Both, in that sense, are ruling class. Grandstand is there for the public interest, but the ‘public interest’ in a capitalist society means the interest of those who control the institutions. So, it’s natural that the BBC will follow the sports of toffs.

However, we don’t live in a society of toffs, no matter what they might like to think. ITV might appear to be the working man’s channel – indeed, it has spend the past 50+ years of building an image of being the ‘people’s channel’ but this is just a mirage, a front they put up. ITV only appeals to the common man because of simple capitalist economics; there are more working men than richies, so we must appeal to them. More viewers = more advertising revenue.

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