Sites of Sport: Space, Place, Experience

Sites of Sport: Space, Place, Experience

Sites of Sport: Space, Place, Experience

Sites of Sport: Space, Place, Experience

Synopsis

This collection uses spatial concepts and examples to examine the nature and development of sporting practices. It shows how the study of built environments such as gymnasiums and football stadiums can provide unique information about the body's capabilities, needs and desires.

Excerpt

The significance of space and place as central dimensions of sport is well recognized by scholars who have addressed questions of sport from philosophical, sociological, geographical and historical perspectives. Sport contests are often talked of as 'struggles over space', and the very notion of 'representative sport' invokes the centrality of places, which, through sport events, are represented at local, regional and national levels. Yet there is a tendency in at least philosophical and some geographical writing, to privilege space over place and to present the normative 'landscape' of sport as one of 'placelessness'. Paul Weiss, for example, suggests that an 'ideal' situation for sport to take place is one which seeks to eliminate external factors such as weather, topography and, by inference, spectators. And the idea of an ideal model of the milieu for sport has been presented as a sanitized 'non-place', drawing on ideas from geographer Edward Relph and post modernists Paul Virilio and Jean Baudrillard. Such a site has been likened to an isotropic plane, a sterile space, de-populated to ensure no home advantage is induced by spectator interference. It has been suggested that the long-term trajectory is that sport sites are, indeed, becoming increasingly rational, a quality encouraged by the laws of sport which insist on playing areas being the same-exactly the same-as all others of their type. The broad prediction, therefore, is that places for sport are being-and some would say, should be-replaced by sport spaces. These would amount to what the architect Le Corbusier might have termed 'machines for sport'.

This book seeks to emphasize the continuing significance of place in sport, to emphasize the sight as much as the site. The distinction between place and space has been drawn in various ways. From an architectural perspective, Christian Norberg-Schultz observed that 'spaces where life occurs are places' and that a 'place is a space which has a distinct character'. Hence, the idea of genius loci. The humanist geographer Yi-Fu Tuan likewise notes that 'space is formless'; places, on the other hand, have 'unique

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