‘Culture’ in team sport: Corporate speak or vital for success?
Wickham, G. (2013) ‘Culture’ in team sport: Corporate speak or vital for success? The Conversation, 28 April .
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The inventive English journalist Dave Hill (who is as comfortable writing about politics and culture as he is about sport) published a book, Out of His Skin, in 1989 dealing with - among other things - the culture of English soccer.
A highlight of this book for me is Hill’s description of how the former manager of English soccer clubs Arsenal and Watford, Bertie Mee, set out to prepare his players in the 1960s and 1970s.
Thinking it vital to teach them “a rigorous outlook … towards all aspects of their lives”, Mee insisted on training them:
in everything from which knife to pick up first in expensive restaurants to how to contend with the carnal temptations of trips overseas.
A glance at the more recent, often outrageous (and outrageously funny) book by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, Soccernomics, will show you that Mee’s determination to help players as people, not just as performers, is still not as widespread as it should be. The authors’ concerns are made plain in the book’s subtitle: “Why England Lose”.
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