Sport or Spectacle? The Harlem Globetrotters’ 1955 Visit to Israel

Udi Carmi, Moshe Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Harlem Globetrotters basketball team visited Israel as part of its 1955 world tour. As representatives of American culture, the US team challenged the leaders of Israeli sports culture who sought to maintain a tight alignment between local sports, Zionist values, and political interests. This paper uses Debord's society of the spectacle theory to analyse the public criticism of the Globetrotters’ visit to Israel. The analysis finds that the critique, which extended beyond strictly sports criticism, reveals the zeitgeist of Israel’s first decade of independence and its prevalent attitudes toward body culture norms, and illuminates the role assigned to sport in Israeli ethos.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-157
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Issue number2-3
Early online date31 Aug 2022
StateE-pub ahead of print - 31 Aug 2022


  • Americanization
  • basketball
  • Harlem Globetrotters
  • Israel
  • spectacle


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