Sport Amputees

Americans, more than any other culture, are stats-hungry when it comes to sport, which is one of the reasons that football (soccer) has never firmly taken hold in its national sporting consciousness. The "Big Four" major professional sports — baseball, basketball, football (gridiron), and hockey — all have the common denominator of producing reams of information, despite few other similarities between them. This abundance of information, coupled with American dominance in the media and entertainment industries, places into serious jeopardy the future of these sports.

We turn to Marshall McLuhan (1964) in Understanding Media:

"By putting our physical bodies inside our extended nervous systems, by means of electric media, we set up a dynamic by which all previous technologies that are mere extensions of hands and feet and teeth and bodily heat-controls — all such extensions of our bodies, including cities — will be translated into information systems" (p. 64).

McLuhan also referred to "extensions" as "amputations" of a particular function; for example, the automobile serving to "amputate" the function of man's legs. In the context of sport, this amputative effect is readily apparent when considering sport videogames. The game console amputates the user's entire musculoskeletal system, allowing him to crack a 475-foot home run, rush for an 80-yard touchdown, or dunk on the opposing centre, within the information system's environment.

Given the symbiotic relationship between sport and media, it is imperative that we explore the effects electric technology will have on sport sooner rather than later. In the same passage, McLuhan continues to say:

"Man must serve his electric technology with the same servo-mechanistic fidelity with which he served … all other extensions of his physical organs. But there is this difference, that previous technologies were partial and fragmentary, and the electric is total and inclusive" (p. 64).


McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding media. New York: New American Library.


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