March Madness

dewq/terp at Sport…mediated has written an interesting post about the dialectic of the discursive being. He discusses how someonething on one side of the dialectic pulshes against someonething on the other side in a counter-balancing fashion, reminiscent of Newton's Third Law of Motion. He suggests that I have labeled it versus. He characterizes it as oppositional, adversarial: ?the anti?.

I would like to suggest that it goes a little deeper than that. I think we need to reconceptualize versus as not just a strictly competitive, antagonistic relationship. Versus is also a cooperative, dynamic relationship that is productive. Without both a thesis and antitheses, there is no synthesis. Rather, we are left with stasis. The versus-dialectic is simultaneously competitive and cooperative.

If two teams meet on the court, pitch, or rink, they are competing to determine a 'winner' but cooperating to produce a work of art. The tournament bracket may then be viewed as an architecture that creates competitive/cooperative works of Truth/art.

I like dewq/terp's use of hybrid words, which, in their creation, force both author and reader to contemplate the synthesis, creating a distribution of dialectic potential.

Economics of the Cyborg Athlete?

One of the fundamental decisions facing managers in classical economics is whether to allocate scarce production resources to acquire capital (K) or labour (L) in order to achieve a desired end result. Given the cyborgian nature of professional athletes, however, the question for professional sports franchises becomes not either/or, but the ratio in which to simultaneously acquire both.

Briefly, I would argue that baseball has the highest K/L ratio of the four major North American professional team sports. This is due to the extremely bounded spatial rationalization of the baseball diamond, as well as the overwhelming preponderance of statistics and statistical analysis found in the sport.

At the other end of this informal spectrum, I would suggest, lies basketball. While it is also spatially rationalized to a degree, one is less constrained on the basketball court than on the baseball diamond, which leads to a more free-flowing game with increased creative requirements. I would further argue that basketball as a fundamental form of black cultural expression introduces more artistic creativity than other sports, which provides a counter to the automating effects of modernization.

Revisioning Versus

Folk football and other medieval games involved everyone in the town in a sporting event with no constraints in terms of space.

Concurrent with the rise of industrialization, a discourse of sportification developed.

The discourse of sportification sought to standardize rules, playing spaces, etc., so that clubs/groups from various towns could play against each other in a standardized fashion.

This discourse created two separate classes: participants and spectators.

Technologies of space and time and modality of movement created disciplined athletes and consumers.

This discipline allowed sport to be commodified.

It did so by privileging the participant role over the spectator role.

With the historical demands of middle to late capitalism, there was an "urgent need" for a discourse to sell more products: this eventually became the star system.

The scientific statements of this discourse are score and statistics, which allow us to make philosophical statements of Truth based on winning and "putting up numbers".

Arnold Palmer?s TV charisma cemented the relationship between sport marketing and television.

However, Michael Jordan was the first star athlete of post-industrial society, and ushered in a more highly integrated sportocracy — one that is more dependent on the image and information as a means of economic exchange.

The panoptic architecture of stadium-as-television-studio allowed for the production of image/information that sustained the star system discourse.

With the fragmentation of television and the introduction of new media technologies, the sportocracy had at its disposal new dual channels of promotion and distribution.

Now, professional sport products consist of: 1. uncertainty of outcome, and 2. images and information.

These new media channels return some degree of autonomy to the consumer, since they are interactive.

These images and information are used to create more refined sport media products, such as fantasy sports games and sport videogames.

These sport media products allow the spectator to assume the participant role.

There has been a trend towards a progressively higher degree of realism in sport videogames.

As the technology improves, we are moving towards a state of virtual sport environments.

As a result, the division between participant and spectator is blurring, as both contribute to the creation of meaning in a mediated sport product.

With the dual production model of images/information and uncertainty, athletes are now assuming a hybrid identity of competing discourses.

The paradigm that best describes this hybridity is that of the cyborg.

The athlete is part machine: it produces images and information in a fashion reminiscent of a factory.

The athlete is part human: it produces uncertainty of outcome in a fashion reminiscent of an artist.

The cyborg paradigm has been readily apparent in art for over 150 years, and is now beginning to creep into the sciences as well.

The syntheses of this dialectical tension are many, but if it sways too much in the direction of machine, then we may be looking at wholesale simulation.

It is important, then, to stress the aesthetic aspects of sport to prevent this from happening.

The Panoptic Gaze

On TV tonight I was able to flip back and forth between March Madness, Lakers-Kings, and The Truman Show. What are the odds? The panoptic gaze is everywhere.

Hoops Holiday?

The Royal St. John's Regatta is North America's oldest continuous sporting event with documented proof of 1826 boat races, and regattas held likely as early as the 1700's. Held in St. John's, Newfoundland, the Regatta is scheduled for the first Wednesday of August, and is an eagerly anticipated annual event, since Regatta Day is both a municipal and provincial holiday.

That is so cool.

Though I have been around sports all of my life, I had never heard of a municipal or provincial holiday revolving solely around a sporting event until now. Is it possible to create a national or global holiday revolving around sport?


Governments and sporting agencies search for absolute truth in sport, as they approve first global anti-doping code.

Clay Shirky effuses about Quake as an exemplar of 3-D virtual spaces, and in a bizarre performance art fusion of television and online videogame, Quake III Arena aficionados will be able to pump hot lead into into the cast of Friends.

Jim Deupree, an inmate at Washington Correctional Institute in Florida, will run the 9.3-mile Gate River Race "by proxy" — at the same time, but from within the prison walls. Is he actually participating in the same event? Since his story has been covered by the media, and thus many actual participants will be aware of the story, does that strengthen the argument that he is participating in the same event? Are participants in Global Village Basketball participating in the same event?

Lost Labor: Images of Vanished American Workers 1900-1980. Will we see athletes' photos added to the 1980-2060 version of this gallery?

Electronic Arts announces plans to release The Sims Superstar, a new expansion pack to The Sims. According to the press release: "Players can now realize their fantasies of fame and fortune as they pursue the dream of being a Rock Star, Movie Star or a Supermodel and live the lifestyle of a celebrity. All new gameplay, new social interactions and a whole new in-game destination offer players an all access pass to the world of superstardom. In The Sims Superstar, The Sims are ready for their close up." Wow. How long before the pro athlete expansion pack?