Globetrotters and Local Heroes? Labor Migration, Basketball, and Local Identities

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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This article addresses the global migration of sports labor. The contested presence of North American players in English basketball, first documented by Maguire (1988), is considered in the context of questions regarding the reception of migrants in local cultures. A 2-year ethnographic project incorporating participant observations, interviews, and focus groups investigated fans’ consumption of local basketball. Complex and nuanced interpretations of migrant players were evident. These were informed by local identities and civic pride, cultural stereotypes, and local experiences of spectating. Thus, the presence of migrant athletes is viewed specifically through the local lens—responses were shaped by the varying roles and interpretations of consuming basketball in the lives of local residents. Such observations reinforce the need for empirically grounded case studies to explore local consumption in light of the wider political–economic patterning of global sport.

Falcous is with the School of Physical Education, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Maguire is with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, England.

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