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Abstract

In March 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama, an avid sports fan, sat down to talk with sports writer Bill Simmons.1 He explained why competition on the field connects radically different people to each other, "People - for all our differencespolitically,regionally,economically-mostfolksunderstandsports.Probablybecauseit'soneofthe few places where it's a true meritocracy. There's not a lot of BS. Ultimately, who's winning, who's losing, who's performing, who's not - it's all laid out there."

In many ways, sports is a perfect unifier. A fan need not be literate, educated, well-traveled, or wealthy to be personally engaged in the fate of a team or the outcome of a competition. Sports watching is not gender-specific and is generally a safe, widely accepted way to pass significant amounts of time, something that the industry and advertisers rely on heavily. It is, in essence, an ideal vehicle for public relations and public diplomacy.

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