To police what its players are wearing when they enter and exit arenas on game nights, at least one league-appointed observer is stationed at every game and supported by an in-house review of televised game coverage and still photography.
Clearly, this works in the enclosed space of the sports stadium, which may be thought of as analogous to the other sites of Foucauldian discipline: the prison, the barracks, the factory, the school. But here's the question I'm interested in: To borrow the language of network society, is the panoptic gaze scalable?
Celtic legend Bill Russell, from his autobiography Second Wind:
Every so often a Celtic game would heat up so that it would became more than a physical or even mental game, and would be magical. That feeling is difficult to describe, and I certainly never talked about it when I was playing. When it happened I could feel my play rise to a new level. It came rarely, and would last anywhere from five minutes to a whole quarter. Three or four plays were not enough to get it going. It would surround not only me and the other Celtics but also the players on the other team, and even the referees. To me, the key was that both teams had to be playing at their peaks. … It never started with a hot streak by a single player, or with a breakdown of one team's defense. It usually began when three or four of the 10 guys on the floor would heat up; they would be the catalysts, and they were almost always the stars in the league. … The feeling would spread to the other guys, and we'd all levitate. Then the game would just take off, and there'd be a natural ebb and flow that reminded you of how rhythmic and musical basketball is supposed to be. I'd find myself thinking, 'This is it. I want this to keep going,' and I'd actually be rooting for the other team. When their players made spectacular moves, I wanted their shots to go into the bucket; that's how pumped up I'd be. I'd be out there talking to the other Celtics, encouraging them and pushing myself harder, but at the same time part of me would be pulling for the other players too.
I hereby declare Mr. Russell to be an Honourary Founding Spirit of Global Village Basketball.
(via Eric Neel/ESPN)
Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power, pp.99-100:
In fact, I have the habit when I'm driving of turning on these radio call-in programs, and it's striking when you hear the ones about sports. They have these groups of sports reporters, or some kind of experts on a panel, and people call in and have discussions with them. First of all, the audience obviously is devoting an enormous amount of time to it all. But the more striking fact is, the callers have a tremendous amount of expertise, they have detailed knowledge of all kinds of things, they carry on these extremely complex discussions…
…And when you look at the structure of them, they seem like a kind of mathematics. It's as though people want to work out mathematical problems, and if they don't have calculus and arithmetic, they work them out with other structures…And what all these things look like is that people just want to use their intelligence somehow…
Well, in our society we have things that you might use your intelligence on, like politics, but people really can't get involved in them in a very serious way — so what they do is put their minds to other things, such as sports. You're trained to be obedient; you don't have an interesting job; there's no work around for you that's creative; in the cultural environment you're a passive observer of usually pretty tawdry stuff…So what's left?
…And I suppose that's also one of the basic functions it serves society in general: it occupies the populations, and it keeps them from trying to get involved with things that really matter. In fact, I presume that's part of the reason why spectator sports are supported to the degree they are by the dominant institutions.
From Darren Rovell's blog (which I won't link to since it is pay-per-view, though I will link to the free snippet made available in today's Daily Dime):
You might recall that a couple of years ago, Rasheed Wallace was reportedly getting offers from companies to tattoo their logo into his skin. At the time, the league didn't have a rule that would have explicitly prevented this, but it was just a matter of time. If a player consummated a tattoo deal this season, he would be fined for it.
At the beginning of the year, NBA teams received a memo that stated that "no player can wear any commercial, promotional or charitable name, mark, logo or other identification during any game, including, but not limited to, on his body, in his hair or otherwise." Based on this rule, Ron Artest was asked to shave his head when he came out last month with his record label "Tru Warier" etched in his head. Cavaliers guard Larry Hughes has an And1 tattoo on his forearm, but he is paid to wear Nikes. No word on whether he was grandfathered in.