Sportcult

Sportcult

Sportcult

Sportcult

Excerpt

Randy Martin and Toby Miller

For a long time now, studies of sport have run by the numbers, played by the books. We have come to believe that we know what we need to know about sport’s popularity from its demographics. We have learned to assume that if we master the rules, we are already inside the practice. Yet a good bit of sport’s appeal lies beyond the quantifiably rational and the visibly cognitive. A close encounter with the bodies at play and at work in athletic contests promises to help us rethink not only the parameters of sport itself, but the very conception of the practical and the popular as they have been understood in cultural studies more broadly.

The pervasiveness of sport, its dispersion throughout all manner of sites, may describe its popularity without offering much by way of explanation . More strongly from a conceptual vantage point, what allows sport to be so pervasive also affords a view of society set in motion. The places where sporting activity transpires are the consequence of a whole array of mobilizations that form our collective physique, by drawing bodies together and sorting them out. The very proliferation of sites needs to be explained in its own right, and cannot be taken as simply so many fixed receptacles of a series of events. Here, participation figures much more explicitly in what makes for practice. In the complex coordinations of doing and viewing (so much in evidence among accomplished athletes and fans), far more is getting done than can be represented in clear acts of decision. For every point made, far more has been gathered in training and concentration than could possibly be counted. As such, sport indicates that there is always something excessive in the practical accomplishment of goal-oriented tasks, and suggests what is strange in otherwise quotidian involvements. Enmeshed in all the standard means of accounting, paragon of the idea that the welltempered self means business, sport appears to affirm a rigid distinction between fact and value, talent and reward, even as it belies this distinction in a promise of transcendence and the prospect of other avenues of social development. As a way into these various contributions, Toby Miller’s introductory essay tracks the various guises under which sport appears and, by so doing, provides a guided tour through which we can begin to assemble . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.