Fetishism and the idealization of the athlete

Fetichismo e a idealização do atleta

Fetichismo e idealización del deportista


*Undergraduate Course of Physical Activity Sciences, EACH - USP

** Professor, EACH - USP

Adriano Vicente Froncillo*

Procopio Felipe da Silva*

Ana Carolina Gomes*

Cleiton Rock*

Laura Tosini*

Marco Antônio de Almeida Bettine**







          The high performance sport is a phenomenon that move crowds and markets worldwide, as well as passions and idealizations. The present study sought through literature review and theoretical context to interpret this phenomenon based on the concepts of fetishism and idealization of the athlete.

          Keywords: Sport. Fetishism. Idealization.



          O esporte de alto rendimento é um fenômeno move multidões e os mercados em todo o mundo, assim como as paixões e idealizações. O presente estudo buscou através de revisão da literatura e contexto teórico para interpretar esse fenômeno com base nos conceitos de fetichismo e idealização do atleta.

          Unitermos: Esporte. Fetichismo. Idealização.


EFDeportes.com, Revista Digital. Buenos Aires - Año 18 - Nº 181 - Junio de 2013. http://www.efdeportes.com/

1 / 1


    In the current context, the high performance sport is a social phenomenon that moves people and markets worldwide, arousing passions and extreme feelings, with visibility and major social upheaval, and enable us to transcend emotionally in many ways. The main cause of these feelings are your idols that stand out for their performance outside the medium and its identity with a particular institution, always present in the minds of viewers and of themselves practicing sports. Moreover, the process of commodification of these idols have become increasingly common, with strong influence of the media and directly to the public / fans who are consumers final and most important in this process.

    The theme aims to understand how the fans / followers behave before an idol and as fetishism acts taking these athletes to success and eternalize them, a consistent interpretation of the humanities concepts already established and of great academic importance.

    For Luna (1997), the review of literature in a research paper can be performed when a research problem is inserted within a theoretical framework and those researchers trying to explain it.

    On account of the characteristic of this research, it consisted of a literature review of the subject, analyzing their contents obvious and latent, in which it will serve as a basis for the referent study, and subsequent complexity contextualizing the research problem in the theoretical framework.

    This study aims to analyze the vicinity and the distances of the concepts of idealization of the athlete and the fetishism of Karl Marx in sports to understand this contemporary phenomenon and important to be present directly influencing the society.

Training of athletes in the world capitalist

    To pursue a physical activity, the goal is the fun, make new friendships, occupation and improves appearance. Its permanence and dedication to the sport can determine the search for results, thus becoming an athlete. According Carmo (2009) an individual with younger age, for better physical condition, starts a sport more often than older athletes. In a first transition the individual passes a physical activity to intense training. Such a process is defined as an event that results in a change in assumptions between himself and the world and thus requires a corresponding change in relationships and behaviors.

    The specialization of sports triggers a series of effects for the athlete's life, in which to achieve goals athletes must dedicate themselves fully in their practice, leaving aside many other activities that have an ordinary individual, he learns to make little the frequent nights out with friends, having a healthy diet and live with the pain. To Marques (2001) the demand for the expertise of an athlete culminated with beginning increasingly early careers of sports.

    The qualification process is critical in the athlete's training period. Marques (2001) states that training technique is the principle of the athlete's career. The appreciation stems precisely from the fact that it can only be when the practitioner specialization enhances the repertoire for efficient resolution of motor tasks required. The characteristic of efficient conditioning degree refers establishing a running movement pattern. The importance of the technique is not identical for all modalities in relation to the overall context of high performance. The virtues of an athlete post-specialization phase are acquired through training and support of a specialized technical committee, and this commitment is charged continually in your life.

    According to Diniz and Liming (2012) the sport, previously seen as an activity that aims to promote health, wellness, education and culture, has lost its meaning over time, since its image before considered synonymous with happiness and ascension social ruptured, and becomes a commodity and today gives way to the sport based on the media, so it can be said that the media today no longer transmits the sport, she transforms.

    Capitalism makes it required constant renewal of idols by the media, that their fans feel the need of identification with their idol and consume products bearing the mark or the approval of the champion, according Kenski (1995) is why for the sponsors, the sport is a great and successful financial investment.

    The context of sports practices today became a scene extremely attractive to companies that want to expose their brands, making it almost a permanent vehicle; these engines boast an athlete has become a commodity, increasing the fetish therein.

    Nothing stirs a fan more than the demo delivery unrestricted by the athletes, where at times when winning or losing is evident that athletes abdicated themselves to donate to the team, are considered unforgettable moments for both fans and athletes.

    Considering the history of the sport, it is important to highlight the importance of an idol, which is defined by Giglio (2007) as an image established by the importance of the acts of someone. Thus the importance of these made or relationship is established by the categories of time (in relation to the duration that the image remains in evidence) and space (for whom she is the model and what the limits reached by his deeds). Therefore, to Toledo (2002) the media plays a role in this process extremely manipulative construction of the idol.

    Reference athletes are capable of interfering with an individual and even in a society; there are mechanisms that enhance this effect.

    Thus, Marx understands this commodification of characters such as fetishism, which is when a process of transformation, in the case of an athlete, merchandise and society assigns values characteristics of the products, thus losing its natural value, in which production Merchandise fetishism and become inseparable. Marx (2008) further defines the commodity as an external object that satisfies human needs of any kind, all goods have double value, the quality and the quantity being measured by personal value to the product and the amount of work that is in same, respectively.

Interpretation of idealization athlete

    An athlete can draw attention to your fan or viewer in many ways is with charisma, skill, claw or race. When these features outweigh margin common in a given time and space to determine how his followers idol.

    To Pilotto (1999) the idol cause major impacts on society, from the way you dress, to how to cut hair and encouraging children to sports practice. They quickly become linked to particular brand, losing its worth and as an athlete, becoming a commodity.

    The media certainly have great influence on construction and promotion of the image of athletes, guiding readers and speakers towards the idol. When an athlete has a different presentation in a race or sporting event, the media takes sides and exposes the athlete as the ace of the match, the game's hero.

    This idealization created by the media, often transcends the real, such as the exaltation of the former goalkeeper of Palmeiras, which is linked to a saint, being called “Mark”'.

    When an athlete has great prominence in his career, the period in which it acts is terming "was" (an allusion to geographical eras), according Pilotto (1999) the efficiency of dissemination and consolidation of an era is the predominant means of communication. In the Brazilian scenario perhaps the most famous period of time is the "Pele era." An era has a short duration, however have constitutive effects on the identities of the individuals of a society.

Marx and Fetishism

    Marx (2008) when discussing merchandise understands that:

    "A commodity seems trivial and something that understands itself. It is a very complex thing, full of metaphysical subtleties and theological sophistry. While value-of-use, there is nothing mysterious about it, whether by its properties satisfies human needs, whether its properties are the product of human labor. It is evident that man's activity transforms the raw nature provides in order to make them useful."

    Even when dealing with the mystical character of the commodity Marx argued that comes when:

    "Work the way humans acquire (objectively equal) value of the product of labor and the measure of the expenditure of human labor power, its duration, takes the form of magnitude value of the products of labor, and finally the relationship between producers, in which they claim the social causes of their work, take the form of a social relation of the products of labor."

    "The mysterious character of the commodity-form consists therefore simply in that it presents to men the social characteristics of their own work as if they were objective characteristics of the products of labor themselves, as if they were social properties inherent in these things, and therefore also reflects the social relation of the producers to the overall work like a social relation of things existing beyond them."

    Fetishism as the author discusses:

    "The impression of a luminous object on the optic nerve is not presented with a subjective arousal nerve itself, but as a sensitive way of something that exists outside of the eye. But the act of vision, light is actually designed by a foreign object on another object, the eye, it is a physical relation between physical things. Instead, the commodity form and the relative value of the products of labor (in which he is represented) have absolutely nothing to do with its physical nature (or with the material relations arising from it). It's only a definite social relation between men themselves who gets in their eyes, the fantastic form of a relation between things.”

    "Is what you might call the fetishism which clings to the products of labor as soon present themselves as commodities, and is therefore inseparable from mode-of-production. (This character fetish world of commodities takes place, as shown by the above analysis, own social character of labor that produces goods)."

    Regarding the relationship of the goods and their social significance, the author discusses:

    "The objectives useful only become general merchandise products work because they are proven, executed independently of each other. All these operations constitute private social work (global). Given that producers only contact by social exchange their products, just under this exchange that also claims the character (specifically) of its social work private "

    As for the value of the goods the author describes:

    "Only the exchange is that the products of labor acquire, as values ​​social existence identical and uniform, distinct from its material existence and multiform as useful objects."

    "In fact, the character value of the product of labor is fixed only when they determine how quantities of value. The latter change constantly, regardless of the wishes and predictions and actions) of those who exchange goods, to the eyes of its own social movement thus takes the form of a movement of things, directs the movement rather than them drive it.”

Final thoughts

    It is concluded through this study, that in a social context, the merchandise is responsible for covering job characteristics, hiding the social relationship between individual work, producers and total work, ie, the final products have become commodity and therefore inherent fetishism according to Marxist theory.

    When inserted into a scenario of competition athletes gain more visibility, and are increasingly affected by process of transforming the simple figure of an athlete for media product. The media vehicles eventually transform the values ​​of sports and are responsible for potentiating fetishism.

    Some athletes have the opportunity to become idols, through sports and a good presentation of the impact that this good performance can result in society, so companies have used this factor to expose your brand, because the way the sport is almost always a good investment to profit.

    In a capitalist world, the professional is affected at any time with the process of media exposure, without a gap in relation to Marx's theory, in which all merchandise is fetishized.


  • CARMO, J; MATOS, F; RIBAS, P; MIRANDA, R; BARA, M. Reasons for early discontinuation of the practice and Brazilian athletes in sports. HU Magazine, Juiz de Fora, v. 35, n. 4, p. 257-264. 2009.

  • CIAMPA, A. C.; HELM, C. G.; SOUZA, R. F. Considerations on the formation and transformation of professional identity of the soccer player in Brazil. Diversitas [online]. Vol 6. 2010.

  • COSTA, A. The health of high-performance athletes and mega-sporting events. EFDeportes.com, Revista Digital. Buenos Aires, Nº 157, 2011. http://www.efdeportes.com/efd157/a-saude-dos-atletas-de-alto-rendimento.htm

  • DINIZ, I. LIMING, M. Sport and the Media: A Consumer Interdependence. Viçosa-MG. Interdisciplinary Communication of the XVII Congress of Communication Sciences in the Southeast. In 2012.

  • GARCIA, A. Physical educators consumption? São Paulo. Revista de Desporto e Saúde da Fundação Técnica e Científica do Desporto. 4(2): 89-93.

  • GASTALDO, E. The country's football media: the media and the World Cup in Brazil. Porto Alegre. 2009.

  • KENSKI, V. The impact of media and new communication technologies in physical education. Driving. Volume 1, Number 2, 129-133. 1995

  • LUNA, S. Planning research: an introduction. Educ. São Paulo. 1997.

  • MARQUES, A. OLIVEIRA, A. The training of young sportsmen: update some themes that make the agenda of the debate on the preparation of young people. Portuguese Journal of Sport Sciences, 2001, vol. 1, No. 1, 130-137.

  • MARX, K. Capital: Critique of Political Economy. First Book. 26 edition. Brazilian Civilization. Rio de Janeiro, p. 94-100. In 2008. [Originally written in 1867]

  • MORATO, M; GIGLIO, S; GOMES, M. The construction of the idol in the football phenomenon. Motriz: rev. educ. fis. 2011.

  • SILVA, A. Sport spectacle: the commodification of human body movement. Florianópolis. 1991.

Another articles in English

Búsqueda personalizada

EFDeportes.com, Revista Digital · Año 18 · N° 181 | Buenos Aires, Junio de 2013  
© 1997-2013 Derechos reservados