Selling Pelé

The episode “Selling Pelé” is based on a talk I gave at the “Soccer as the Beautiful Game: Football’s Artistry, Identity and Politics” conference held at Hofstra University in April 2014.

It was a wonderful event with lots of great presentations by scholars, journalists and fans of the sport. Most of the research for the talk and the podcast was conducted in the Mark H. McCormack collection held at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Library’s Special Collections and Archives. McCormack was the founder of the sports marketing firm IMG and he represented a host of popular athletes including golfers Arnold Palmer and Gary Player; tennis player Rod Laver; skier Jean-Claude Killy and race car driver Jackie Stewart. Donated to the school in 2010 the materials are a virtual treasure trove of information on the history of international sport and sports marketing during the second half of the twentieth century.

Pelé in action, 1960. Image from

Although the material is limited in its coverage of soccer (perhaps the company didn’t wish to repeat its failures with Pelé) it is an indispensable reference for anyone interested in golf, auto racing, tennis and many other sports. It also serves as a crucial archive for the historical study of sports marketing. Since it contains over 2,500 boxes, much of the material awaits discovery and it will undoubtedly provide a wealth of information for sports historians in the years and decades to come. Check out the Collection’s blog for posts of interesting materials from the collection and follow them on twitter @McCormackPapers

Listen to the Selling Pelé podcast here.

Originally posted May 2014.

Sources and Further Reading

Peter Bodo and David Hirshey with Pelé, Pelé’s New World. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1977.

David Goldblatt, The Ball is Round. A Global History of Soccer. New York: Riverhead Books, 2006.

Janet Lever, Soccer Madness. Brazil’s Passion for the World’s most Popular Sport. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1995 [reprint: 1983].

Gavin Newsham, Once in a Lifetime. The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos. London: Atlantic Books, 2006.

Pelé with Robert Fish, My Life and the Beautiful Game: The Autobiography of Pelé. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1977.

Clive Toye, A Kick in the Grass. Haworth, NY: St. Johann Books, 2006.

David Wangerin, Soccer in a Football World. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008.

Sound Clips in this episode from

Pouring a Drink by ahjteam
shave.aif by nextmaking
Ueno Shamisen by RTB45
Dodgy_C_FunkSoul_BuildABeat_Pt1_95bpm.wav by Dodgy C
Metal Band Jam 5 Thrash.wav by RutgerMuller
football score.wav by winsx87

Carl Spackler, “It’s in the Hole” from