This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book focuses on sport, leisure and culture because local politicians and policy communities in recent years have identified these areas as crucial sites for public policy and local agency. In the UK, the local state has been hollowed out by the centralising policies of Thatcherite and Blairite regimes. So in the face of globalisation and centralisation, cities look towards postmodern cultural forms, branding and lifestyles to differentiate themselves from other cities. Maurice Roche has argued that the benefits of such sports and leisure strategies have been problematic and his case study of the Sheffield Student Games in the early 1990's convincingly argued that both conventional and situational rationality in local political processes have been the first casualties when preparing, deliberating and costing civic bids.