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.


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