Global television and the transformation of the olympics: The 1984 Los Angeles games

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Abstract

The 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles witnessed a transformation in the economic, political and cultural dynamics of the modern Olympic movement. By the 1980s many observers worried that the Olympics tottered on the verge of extinction. Plagued by boycotts, terrorism and intractable national rivalries and beset by financial shortfalls, cost overruns and the expenditure of vast sums for 'white elephant' facilities, the list of potential suitors for hosting the games dwindled until only Los Angeles remained. The world had seemingly abandoned the Olympics as too costly and too controversial. Indeed, some forecasters predicted that Los Angeles would signal the death-knell of the modern games. Instead, the organisers of the Los Angeles Olympics transformed the economic, political and cultural dynamics of the games. Fuelled by television broadcasting funds and the billions of viewers that the medium brought to the spectacle, the Olympics in 1984 became a fundamental element in the emergence in the second half of the twentieth century of 'global television' - a vast new consumer culture that incorporated the world's nations into an amalgamated audience that shared experiences through their viewing habits. Global television transformed the modern Olympic movement - a process that came into clear view in 1984 in Los Angeles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-184
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Volume32
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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