Selling the Dream: The Darker Side of the “Superman” Athlete

  • Nikos C. ApostolopoulosEmail author
Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


With humans being the architects of meaning, Nietzsche’s superman (übermensch) was representative of a system of values and a way of life of a society in need of a heroic narrative. Although this narrative is not unique to any era or culture, societal psychological and social values, beliefs, and attitudes are forged from its ever-changing needs and motivations. Within this chapter, we expound how this heroic narrative, at one time symbolic of the highest aims of mankind, mirroring the ideal morals of a community, has been abducted, coerced, and exploited by media to serve its own selfish commercial needs, a dark side in guise of the preservation of a heroic tale. With the use of numerous techniques (i.e., public relations, propaganda, strategic communications), media capitalized on the enormous influence celebrated athletes and sports has in both industrial societies and developing nations. Through the use of symbols and signs, the advertisements created and disseminated onto the public carried with them invisible messages with the sole intent or goal of persuading the consumer to purchase product. To achieve this, they manipulated the individual’s perception of reality, engineered to create a symbolon, itself inspiring loyalty by the consumer to an athlete, a team, or a brand.


Symbols Culture Commercialism Sports Athlete Hero 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical EducationUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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