PtG Article 05.02.2024

Doping, corruption and athletes' rights: Play the Game anniversary book revisits key sports political debates

Over 336 pages, Play the Game recalls and updates many of the most important sports political debates since its inception. The book can be downloaded for free in pdf format from Play the Game's website.

When 109 journalists, academics, sports officials and other stakeholders from 34 countries turned up for a conference in the Danish countryside in 1997, they did not know they would be the very first participants in what was later named Play the Game - an initiative and a series of international conferences that provide an independent forum for open, unrestricted, and fact-based debate on the most important challenges facing modern sport.

In 2022, the initiative celebrated its 25th anniversary with the 12th Play the Game conference, and now Play the Game also marks the many years of sports debate with the book 'When the silence of sport was broken: Sports politics in the times of Play the Game.'

Quite deliberately, the book does not focus on re-telling all the fortunes of Play the Game as an organisation and conference organiser. 

Instead, the book follows the lead from the title and makes a journalistic account of key debates and developments in international sports politics from the 1990's onwards about the role of sports journalism to the fight against doping, corruption in sports, gambling, abuse of athletes, the use of sport in exercising soft power, governance problems, whistleblowing, the rights of athletes, and the role of authoritarian states in sport.

"The book documents what hard-working investigative journalists, courageous whistleblowers, sharp academic analysts, athletes, survivors, antidoping officials, NGOs, and many other stakeholders – even a few sports leaders – have set in motion over a quarter of a century," says Jens Sejer Andersen, international director of Play the Game.

He hopes that this tour-de-force through sports politics over a quarter of a century can serve as inspiration for diverse audiences:

"Those who have been around sports politics for as many years as Play the Game may be reminded of events they had forgotten or be motivated to share the stories we have left out. Newcomers will hopefully find a richness of information that helps explain why sports politics has become what it is today."

The book is written in a collaborative effort between Danish journalist Lars Jørgensen and Jens Sejer Andersen. Lars Jørgensen is the author of several books in the field of sports and politics, and he has carried out in-depth research on the topics to provide accessible introductions to the topics. Jens Sejer Andersen has supplemented the book with facts, quotes, pictures, text, and anecdotes from Play the Game's conferences and other activities.

The 336-page book was officially launched at a reception on the opening day of Play the Game's 13th conference in Trondheim, Norway, where it was presented as a gift to the more than 400 participants in the conference. 

At the same time, the book has been made available in pdf format and can now be downloaded for free from Play the Game's website.

Download the book

PtG Publication January 2024
When the silence of sport was broken - Sports politics in the times of Play the Game

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