University of Leicester eBulletin

Sport and the Celebrity Culture

January 2003
No 3

In an age given over so manifestly to celebrity culture the place of sports stars as global social phenomena can reveal broader social trends and cultural changes.

In acknowledgement of this the University of Leicester Centre for Research into Sport and Society is hosting the British Sociological Association Sociology of Sport Study Group one-day seminar on 7 February 2003, entitled Sporting Icons: Media, Celebrity and Popular Culture.

Prominent in proceedings is David Beckham and Manchester United, taking him as a role model for sessions on Celebrity and Vortextuality in Media Sport, Celebrity, Masculinity and the Soccerati, and Father, Lover, Icon, Hero.

Researchers whose work is represented at the conference are leading figures in their own fields. They include Chris Rojek, Professor of Sociology and Culture and Deputy Director of the Theory, Culture and Society Centre at Nottingham Trent University; Garry Whannel, Professor of Media Cultures in the Department of Media Arts at the University of Luton and Director of the Centre for International Media Analysis; Ellis Cashmore, Professor of Culture, Media and Sport at Staffordshire University; Andrew Parker, Director of the Warwick Centre for the Study of Sport in Society; and Eileen Kennedy, senior lecturer and researcher at the Centre for Cultural Research in Sport at Roehampton University of Surrey.

Rojek, Whannel and Cashmore have all recently written books on the role of celebrities in modern life – Cashmore’s being on Beckham himself.

Conference organiser Dominic Malcolm, a researcher in the Centre for Research into Sport and Society commented: “I believe the conference will facilitate discussion to help us understand how celebrities are ‘manufactured’ in modern Britain and what the media images portrayed can tell us about broader social trends.

“Why are we so obsessed with the lives of the rich and famous and why, increasingly, are we obsessed with rich and famous sporting icons?  Are Posh and Becks the new Charles and Diana?  What does the popularity of Footballers’ Wives, starting its second series this week, tell us about our ‘real life’ fascination with sports celebrities?”

The seminar entitled Sporting Icons: Media, Celebrity and Popular Culture takes place at the University of Leicester on Friday 7 February 2003, beginning at 9.45 am. The morning session will be on Understanding Celebrity and the afternoon session will look at Celebrity in Focus.

Conference details are available from Mary Needham, Centre for Research into Sport and Society, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 7QR, telephone 0116 252 5939, facsimile 0116 252 5720, email

NOTE TO EDITORS:   For more information on the seminar please contact Dominic Malcolm, Centre for Research into Sport and Society, University of Leicester, telephone 0116 252 5933, facsimile 0116 252 5720, email

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