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               35 years of sport                                                                                                   THE JOURNAL OF SPORT,  LEISURE & RISK  WITH AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE         November 2021

              The feeling that this was a time of              to the massive transformations in sport
              dynasties ending and tyros taking their          that have since occurred. Where sport
              chance can be seen across the world of           used to be contained to our screens or to
              sport. Jack Nicklaus won his 18th and final      the playing field, now sport is everywhere.
              major. Greg LeMond became the first
              American to win the Tour de France. A            Looking back at these titans, it is
              red-faced Scottish manager took over at          impossible to make a pitch that players
              a fading footballing giant in the north of       today are better. But they are richer, and
              England and became the most successful           they are more in the public eye. While the
              manager of all time. Jimmy Connors               spectacle of sport, the raw physicality
              argued a line call against Ivan Lendl and        of it, remains largely the same, it is the
              conceded the match, along with his               process which has changed. Naturally, the
              reputation. Yes, Chris Evert won her 18th        biggest change in sport since 1986 is how
              Grand Slam against her arch rival Martina        technology and money have created a
              Navratilova, but would suffer defeat later in  very different landscape for both players
              the year at Wimbledon and the US Open.           and fans.
              Navratilova would then have her own
              rivalry with West Germany’s Steffi Graf.         Our readers are well aware of the impact
                                                               that technology has had on sport: if they
              In this year of rising and falling stars, there   don’t, they have the technology to find
              is one player who reached his apogee.            out instantly. We went from public access
              In Mexico, Diego Maradona dragged his            channels showing the matches they
              Argentinian team through to the final with       deemed worthy, to HBO and pay-per-
              breath-taking impact. His two goals against      view, to cable channels and their multi-
              England in the quarter finals came to            million dollar deals with federations, clubs
              define the two faces of this 5’5 giant of the    and players. As technology improved,
              game; the ‘Hand of God’ and the ‘Goal of         so did the money. Right across the
              the Century’. It broke English hearts, which     sporting world, inflation in terms of player
              wasn’t helped by the fact that the Falkland      payments far out-stripped the national                              hypnotising draw of Teletext, which,              over the past 35 years. Nutrition has
              War had only been over for four years!           trends, as sportsmen and women became                               surprisingly enough, was text that could          come a long way since the 80’s, where
                                                               product and recipient all at once.                                  be accessed through your telly. It threw          in some sports, being a superstar and

              Back in 1986,                                    The sports industry is giving everyone                              up instant reports for matches being              being overweight was an actual option.
                                                                                                                                   played live. Fast forward a decade and a
                                                                                                                                                                                     Today, it would be hard to find an athlete
                                                               what they want. The players are wealthy
              sport was kind                                   beyond what their predecessors in the                               fan could literally read about their team all     outside of sumo and darts that wouldn’t
                                                                                                                                   day and not come close to consuming all
                                                                                                                                                                                     be magazine-cover-shoot-ready at the
              of a big deal.                                   80’s could have dreamed of, and they can                            the available content. And this is global.        drop of a hat. Meanwhile, new fabrics and
                                                               gain their feeling of validation without
                                                                                                                                   There are approximately 15 billion mobile
                                                                                                                                                                                     plastics mean that you would be hard
                                                               even having to boot up. One tweet or post                           devices in the world. How many are                pushed to find a record that wasn’t set
                                                               from even the most middling footballer in                           reading about sport right now? Perhaps            before the turn of the century.
                                                               the most middling of leagues can result                             the biggest change is not in the lives of the
              How Did We Get Here?                             in instant feelings of love and acceptance                          rich and famous, but it lies in the fact that     The past 35 years have seen the world
              Those sporting legacies are still felt today.    from fans. It is rumoured that Christiano                           sport has become more international than          grow up, in a way. Everything is slightly
              Maradona has passed away, but stars like         Ronaldo makes over a hundred thousand                               the founders of the Olympics could have           more complicated, but that is sort of what
              Michael Jordan and Mike Tyson live on as         euros each time he posts.                                           possibly imagined.                                we wanted. Nostalgia for the past is warm
              larger-than-life icons, albeit some more                                                                                                                               and cosy, like a cardigan, but doesn’t
              tainted than others. But it is back in the       The fans get what they want too. Back                               Of course, there are other aspects to             convey the dynamism and energy of
              mid-80s that the fuse was lit that has led       in the 90’s, some will recall the strangely                         technology that have changed sport                today. Sport just keeps getting better!

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