Using a combined Huizingian-Bourdieu framework, this paper analyses the significance of sport’s transformation into a business and how the prevailing business structure that defines professional sport has influenced the ‘lived experience’ of those playing at sport’s elite level. Furthermore, this paper highlights how the actions of players, coaches and other participants serve to reinforce, legitimise and normalise the business characteristics of sport’s dominant business structure.
Importantly, this paper illuminates how the professionalization of sport corrupts the act of playing and indeed gives rise to play tactics, such as ‘sledging’, which both reflects the increased seriousness of sport and, in its very execution, further reinforces the dominant business structures of professional sport, all the while corrupting the essence of sport – play.
In doing so we are challenged to consider how society’s fields could be different in structure, and in the ‘lived experience’ within the field.
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