Sports affects global culture, author explains



by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs


6/3/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The Air Command and Staff College and the Air Force Culture and Language Center Professional Development Program recently co-hosted a program featuring Dr. Andy Markovits, author and professor of comparative politics and German studies at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Markovits lectured about his new book, "Gaming the World: How Sports are Reshaping Global Politics and Culture." The book looks at the common language of sports and how it affects both global and local culture.

"My books are very autobiographical. They aren't about me, but they reflect concerns that I've had for most of my life. This book came about by my decades-long interest in sports and how sports in North America are very similar and yet very different from sports in Europe," Dr. Markovits said. "It stems out of my larger interest in comparing the U.S. and Europe."

Dr. Markovits also spoke at a roundtable discussion about his book, "Uncouth Nation: Why Europe Dislikes America." The book offers an in-depth analysis of rising anti-Americanism in Europe, while looking at the sentiment from a historic perspective.

"The point is, the United States is somehow inauthentic to Europeans, and because of that, they view the U.S. as inferior, but they also view them as immensely powerful, not only powerful but attractive," he said. "It's not only an issue of seeing the U.S. as a culturally inferior country, because it is a country that really matters; one that is, not only powerful, but powerful in its very being."

Being brought up bi-continental gives Dr. Markovits a unique viewpoint on the U.S.-Europe relationship. These experiences influenced the subject matter of his writing. "As a young boy in Vienna, I saw how the European elites have consistently seen the United States as garish and uncultured," he said.

Dr. Mary Hampton, associate dean for academics for the Air Command and Staff College resident program, is a personal friend of Dr. Markovits and coordinated his visit to Maxwell.

"It was a very successful visit, and I think he was able to reach a wide audience and address a number of pertinent issues for us at ACSC, the [Air Force Culture and Language Center] and around the schools," Dr. Hampton said. "All in all, this visit accomplished the mission of bringing in a very well-known expert on topics relevant to culture and globalization, both of which are pertinent to out curriculum."

Attendees were delighted with the program.

Lt. Col. Paul Hoffman, a professor at ACSC in the leadership and strategy department, was excited that the school was able to bring in such a distinguished speaker.

"It was great of Dr. Hampton to get Dr. Markovits here. With him coming from the University of Michigan, renowned in the field of political science, it was [beneficial] we could get that level of speaker here," Colonel Hoffman said. "I was also excited to hear his thoughts on sports and how it bonds Europe and the United States. He had written on it previously in 'Uncouth Nation,' so it was pretty [interesting] seeing how we can advance that idea and tie the two together."