85. szám // 2021. Globalizációtörténeti megközelítések
Travel Letters by Hungarian Footballers and the Problem of Global Identity, 1911–1939
Before the First World War, Hungarian football was becoming ever more active in the international sport scene. National teams and clubs were no longer limited to Hungary but were increasingly able to try themselves in away games outside the country. Their tours included progressively more non-European destinations, and the captains and players updated the national newspapers about their journeys by sending regular travel letters describing their journey abroad. Besides providing glimpses into the everyday life of a nascent spectator sport industry, their reports also help understand and define the concept of global identity, which is often referred to but seldom empirically examined by scholars of globalization.
The analysis of the travel letters examines the global or national character
of the identities expressed therein. The findings suggest that the existence of a pure and fixed global identity remains doubtful and that the study of the globalization of identities requires a flexible conceptual framework. This flexibility must go beyond the dichotomy of global and national, and allow for synchronous local and global identities. Furthermore, the study proposes that the primary characteristic of global postmodern identity is its non-fixity. The sportsman turned entertainer is an early (but to this day well known) ideal type of this unfixed, floating identity, since their life is governed by uncertainty, high mobility, and short-term stays. Using this novel conceptual framework, one can detect and recognize the traces of globalization in the identity of itinerant Hungarian footballers, fraught with the constant pressure to adapt and expand their roles in the global arena of football.