Barbaric Sport: A Global Plague

Globalized sport as savage spectacle and ‘opium of the people’

Marc Perelman pulls no punches in this succinct and searing broadside, assailing the ‘recent form of barbarism’ that is the global sporting event. Forget the Olympics and consider, under Perelman’s guidance, the ledger of inequities maintained by such supposedly harmless games.

They have provided a smokescreen for the forcible removal of ‘undesirables’; aided governments in the pursuit of racist agendas; affirmed the hypocrisy of drug-testing in an industry where doping is more an imperative than an aberration; and developed the pornographic hybrid that Perelman dubs ‘sporn’, a further twist in our corrupt obsession with the body.

Drawing examples from the modern history of the international sporting event, Perelman argues that today’s colosseums, upheld as examples of ‘health’, have become the steamroller for a decadent age fixated on competition, fame and elitism.


  • “Marc Perelman has written a magnificent manifesto for all of us dedicated anti-Olympiads, revealing in compelling detail how sport, which has long been the opium of the people, is now the political and financial dirty business of the rulers as well.”
  • “Excited about the Olympics? If not, this bolus of weaponised French spleen will be the perfect literary antidote.”
  • “Bracingly bilious counterblast against the new "planetary religion".”
  • “The work of stirring polemic that all of us who were picked last for teams at school have been waiting for.”
  • “A provocatively timed polemic that situates today’s mass sporting spectacle at the very heart of globalised capitalism.”
  • “Perelman’s claim that sport “becomes the sole project of a society without projects” rings uncomfortably true as austerity-hit Britain prepares to host a lavish Olympics.”
  • “French journalist Marc Perelaman argues … ruthless[ly] … agaist an emerging kind of barbarism.”


  • The London 2012 “Schmoozathon”: Jules Boykoff on the London Olympics

    What effect does the great sporting-corporate juggernaunt that is the contemporary Olympics have on host cities? And what are the diverse range of tactics that grassroots activists use to protest its damaging results? In this exclusive extract from his recently published Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics, leading Olympic expert Jules Boykoff takes the 2012 Olympics in London as a case study of corporate greed and popular resistance against Celebration Capitalism.

    Continue Reading

  • Jules Boykoff - The Anti-Olympics

    With news breaking today that the offices of the building contractor responsible for construction of one of the main competition venues for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games have been raided by police, amidst charges that it has skimmed-off millions of dollars of public funds, we revisit Jules Boykoff's essay from NLR 67 on anti-Olympic resistance.

    Jules Boykoff's new book, Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics, a timely, no-holds barred, critical political history of the modern Olympic Games, is out now.

    With the Rio Games mired in a series of corruption scandals, and with the looming threat of the Zika Virus, the question of who the Olympic spectacle actually benefits has been raised once again. In Rio the favelas, typically sites for state repression, have been subject to eviction and displacement and protests against the Games have been subject to militarised policing and massive human rights abuses in order to clear the city for the arrival of athletes and tourists with their entourage of corporate sponsors and media executives. What power do ordinary people have to stop the great sporting spectacles from destroying communities and wasting billions in public funds? And, could the Olympics ever be democratised?

    Continue Reading

  • Five Book Plan: The Political Olympics

    Jules Boykoff is an author, academic and former US National Team Footballer. Regularly cited as one of the world's leading experts on the history of the Olympics, Jules is the author of books on the criminalisation of dissent in the United States, activism and the Olympic Games, and the era of mass spectacle and sporting events, plus several collections of poetry. His new book, Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics, is out now. In this new Five Book Plan, he presents his top five books on the political Olympics.


    Continue Reading