Front office executives have become high-profile commentators, movie and video game protagonists, and role models for a generation raised in the data-driven, financialized world of contemporary sports. Branden Buehler examines the media transformation of these once obscure management figures into esteemed experts and sporting idols.
Moving from Moneyball and Football Manager to coverage of analytics gurus like Daryl Morey, Buehler shows how a fixation on managerial moves has taken hold across the entire sports media landscape. Buehler’s chapter-by-chapter look at specific media forms illustrates different facets of the managerial craze while analyzing the related effects on what fans see, hear, and play. Throughout, Buehler explores the unsettling implications of exalting the management class and its logics, in the process arguing that sports media’s managerial lionization serves as one of the clearest reflections of major material and ideological changes taking place across culture and society.
Insightful and timely, Front Office Fantasies reveals how sports media moved the action from the field to the executive suite.
Preface: Sporting Fantasies
Introduction: “The Age of the General Manager”
The Managerial American Dream: The Administrative Fantasies of Managerial Sports Films
“He’s looking like a depressed asset”: The Financial Logics of Managerial Sports Talk
Datavisuality: The Quantified Aesthetic of Managerial Sports Television
White-Collar Play: Managerial Sports Games and the Modeling of Neoliberal Capitalism
Conclusion: The Banality of Managerial Sports Media
Branden Buehler is assistant professor of visual and sound media at Seton Hall University.
“In this sharply written and impressive book, Branden Buehler provides compelling new insights into the social, cultural, and visual consequences of sports media’s preoccupation with managerialism, financialization, and quantification. A vital and necessary work, this sophisticated account of managerial sports media is a must-read for all sports, film, and media scholars.”--Samantha N. Sheppard, author of Sporting Blackness: Race, Embodiment, and Critical Muscle Memory on Screen