Mary Jo Kane


I. Introduction Sport is one of the most important institutions in American culture. This certainly is demonstrated by the vast resources spent on sport-related enter- prises. With respect to discretionary spending alone, billions of dollars are spent annually on the sale of licensed sport products (e.g., baseball caps). In 1992, retail sales of all licensed sport merchandise totaled $ 12.2 billion. 1 In the early 1990s, the top four men's professional sport leagues (football, bas- ketball, baseball, and ice hockey) generated almost $ 4 billion in revenues. 2 Most recently, Anheuser-Busch announced that they had signed a $ 40 million contract to be the official beer sponsor of the 1996 Olympic Games to be held in Atlanta, Georgia. 3 Sport has become such a bedrock of our national psyche that sport figures often come to symbolize larger pressing social concerns such as date rape (Mike Tyson), never-ending and seemingly ran- dom acts of violence (Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan, Monica Seles), and spousal abuse (O.J. Simpson). In spite of the all-pervasive influence of sport, academic scholars have ignored its significance. But if sport is "just a game," why are so much time, money, and cultural support invested in this particular institution? As media scholar Nick Trujillo cautions, the academic study of sport should not be taken lightly as an area of scholarly pursuit. 4 Feminist scholars in particular have given scant attention to sport, per- haps because they consider it an activity that belongs to men and therefore has little ...

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