Factory Versus Stage

The sport stadium of today is often characterized as a television studio, but the more appropriate metaphor would be that of the assembly line factory, for professional sport is nothing more than the Fordist production of information, in which athletes toil daily in concert with technology to produce a steady supply of raw information that is then used as inputs to produce more highly-refined media products. The only difference between a professional sports stadium and an automobile factory is that people are willing to pay good money to watch the automated production process in the former case.

Sound weird?

Consider a fast-food joint such as McDonald's or Subway: we almost totally see the automated production process at work; in fact, we want to see the product being made, and even what we can't see, we have the illusion of seeing. The production of fast-food, and the cyborgian labour involved in the process, allows for the creation of the image-sign that is the fast-food brand: the standardized burger product, delivered within five minutes, and with a smile, is what allows the golden arches to become such a valuable image-sign for McDonald's. The same principle is at work for professional sport: the cyborgian production of sports information allows for the creation of the image-sign that is the NBA logo, or the Nike Swoosh, or the ESPN acronym.

Is it so difficult, then, to believe that the stadium is nothing more than the factory of the postmodern sportocratic age?

Nope … except for uncertainty. Uncertainty is what we come to see in a sporting contest, despite our preoccupation with sports information. Uncertainty, though underemphasized by the sportocracy, is human. Uncertainty is what makes the factory a stage, though a stage of improvisation rather than one of script.

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  1. sportsBabel » Parsing the Small Print says:

    [...] to lead a lot of credence to the fact that the true purpose of the sports stadium is to act as factory for the I3-manufacturing process. Not coincidentally, it is the first major sin listed in the [...]