Patriotic Images and Capitalist Profit: Contradictions of Professional Team Sports Licensed Merchandise

in Sociology of Sport Journal

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George H. SageUniversity of Northern Colorado

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The professional team sports industry has consistently worked at constructing a symbiotic relationship in the collective American mind linking professional team sports with United States patriotism. Professional team sports organizations use a variety of advertising images, rituals, and ceremonies to reinforce this association. One means by which the organizations perpetuate this association is through league logos, all of which use only the colors red, white, and blue—the precise color combination found on the flag of the United States. League logos are prominently displayed on all their licensed merchandise, merchandise that generates about $10 billion in annual revenue for professional team sports. This paper focuses on the contradiction or paradox that exists between the imagery of All-American patriotism professional team sports construct and the fact that much of their licensed merchandise is manufactured in foreign countries by exploited labor. The analysis centers on meaning-production by deconstructing and critiquing the managed image of professional team sport organizations.

George H. Sage is with the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO 80639.

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