On Saturday, July 14th, about one billion people watched France win the FIFA World Cup. No other sport draws as big an audience and only the marriage of British royals can draw a similar global audience. July 14th is also Bastille Day, a celebration of the French Revolution when France transformed from a monarchy to a democracy.
Both events demonstrate the benefits of globalization. Football (soccer to Americans) is the most popular sport in the world. Players leave their country of origin to compete in the top leagues in the world which makes them better players when they represent their country at the World Cup.
The winning French squad included individuals who play their club football in Spain, Germany, and England. Croatia, their opponent, has stars that play in Italy, Spain and England. The English Premier League is expected to suffer a loss of top talent after Brexit due to immigration barriers and the loss of passport-free movement around Europe.
The U.S. also benefits from this international trade. Several of our top players are honing their skills in European leagues against the top players in the world. Our domestic league, Major League Soccer, has many stars who are national team players in their countries of origin. (The same is true for our national women’s team and league.)
The other big French event, Bastille Day, symbolizes the globalization of democracy. The French revolutionary ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity flowed across Europe with their armies and eventually around the world. The concepts inspired popular uprisings in 1830 and 1848 as oppressed Europeans fought to overthrow oppressive governments.
The “losers” of these European revolutions fled to the U.S. where they became soldiers in the Civil War, homesteaders, business owners and politicians. They helped build the U.S. into a world economic and political power.
After World War II, the U.S. used its economic and political power to create a global system anchored by democracy. Political stability is maintained through the United Nations and similar international organizations. Economic stability is supported through the World Trade Organization and multilateral trade agreements.
Unfortunately, the benefits of globalization are being undermined by populists. Like the royalist forces in 1789, 1830 and 1848, they believe in an illusory past glory when they were the “winners” and the condition of others was irrelevant. If the populists succeed, I expect to pay more money to see a lousier game of football.
About Norma Shirk
My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy. To read my musings on the wacky world of HR, see my weekly blog HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which publishes every Wednesday morning. To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).
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