Consuming Sport: Fans, Sport, and Culture

Consuming Sport: Fans, Sport, and Culture

Consuming Sport: Fans, Sport, and Culture

Consuming Sport: Fans, Sport, and Culture

Synopsis

Consuming Sport offers a detailed consideration of how sport is experienced and engaged with in the everyday lives, social networks and consumer patterns of its followers. It examines the processes of becoming a sport fan, and the social and moral career that supporters follow as their involvement develops over a life-course. The booknbsp;argues that while for many people sport matters, for many more, it does not. Though for some sport is significant in shaping their social and cultural identity, it is often consumed and experienced by others in quite mundane and everyday ways, through the media images that surround us, conversations overheard and in the clothing of people we pass by. As well as developing a new theory of sport fandom the book links this discussion to wider debates on audiences, fan cultures and consumer practices. The text argues that for far too long consideration of sport fans has focused on exceptional forms of support ignoring the myriad of ways in which sport can be experienced and consumed in everyday life.

Excerpt

This book has arisen out of the ideas and thoughts developed in my doctoral thesis. However, this is not the book of the PhD. My doctoral thesis consisted specifically of an ethnographic analysis of the followers of one particular sport team: the British ice hockey team Manchester Storm (Crawford 2000). British ice hockey in the late 1990s presented a significant case for understanding the contemporary nature of sport fans. Ice hockey is a sport with little (recent) history or tradition in Britain, which in the early 1990s was reinvented and marketed towards a more affluent 'family-based' audience (see O'Brien 1998). It was sold to this audience as 'another show…with [a] Disney, concert mentality', where the spectators were given an 'entertainment package'-to quote the (then) Marketing Director of the Manchester Storm (Crawford 2003). This presented a significant example of the changing nature of contemporary sport, and how a sport, stripped of heritage, tradition and the importance of locality , could be sold alongside other forms of 'family entertainment' such as cinemas and theme parks.

British ice hockey constitutes an advanced example of the globalization, commercialization and changing nature of sport, and it would have been easy to damn the new followers of this sport as 'cultural dopes' (Garfinkel 1967) and 'inauthentic' in their patterns of support-as had already been done by many longstanding ice hockey fans (Sluyter 1996). However, three years of research on this particular supporter base revealed a far more complex picture of the relationship between these fans and the sport than many macro-process theories, such as those of globalization, commonly allow for. In particular, this sport was consumed, utilized and experienced in the supporters' everyday lives in many different and complex ways. This support formed the basis of social interactions, networks and performances, and was the foundation of both social distinctions and community as well as a constituent part of many fans' social identities.

Though the nature of British ice hockey has witnessed rapid change and redevelopment over the past decade or so, it has continued to occupy an important role in the everyday lives of its followers. However, far too often research and discussions of the contemporary nature of sport have focused upon its changing nature and macro-processes, with little interest or concern for patterns of continuity and how sport is received and constructed in the everyday lives of

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