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From the USA's Big 4 to Pele's Beautiful Game, sport is a major player in global cultural relations and commerce. Sport fuels the media, stimulates commerce, bolsters national identity, is informed by and in turn shapes global diplomacy and international relations, and celebrates the competitive (and often commodified) body. It provides drama and excitement for billions of the world's people. The atlas traces the emergence of sport in its modern forms, and features all established Olympic sports and sports recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) but t included in the Olympic programme, as well as sports with their own cultural and organizational base and commercial momentum. The profile and popularity of the selected sports are mapped, showing patterns of player recruitment and migration; financial flows; political uses and abuses of sport; media audiences and fan bases; and including colourful case-studies of the sportsmen and women who have emerged in the modern period as global celebrities and superstars.
Alan Tomlinson is Professor of Leisure Studies and Director of Research in the Chelsea School, University of Brighton UK. He is the author of numerous books on sport, leisure and consumption, including Sport and Leisure Cultures and (forthcoming) The Dictionary of Sport Studies, and writes on sport cultures and politics for the Financial Times, New Statesman, When Saturday Comes, and Der Taggesspiegel.