My first sample from Paul Virilio's Open Sky, which I believe has a great deal of relevance to my work so far on sports videogames:
Loss of sight or, rather, 'loss of ground' is a new kind of fall that is also a form of pollution of expanse, of that 'art of the journey' practised by the nomad, a peculiar form of vertigo brought on by the depth of field of the apparent horizon of the spectacle of the world.
With the contemporary sedentary type of the great metropolis, this on-the-spot contraction not only affects the transit zone and the sphere of productive activity as before. First and foremost, it attacks the body of the able-bodied person, equipped to the eyeballs with interactive prostheses, who is now modelled on the disabled person equipped to control his environment without physically shifting.
So dromospheric pollution is pollution that attacks the liveliness of the subject and the mobility of the object by atrophying the journey to the point where it becomes needless. A major handicap, resulting both from the loss of the locomotive body of the passenger, the televiewer, and from the loss of that solid ground, of that vast floor, identity's adventure playground of being in the world (p.33, emphasis in original).
Ralph Wiley wonders where all the boxers have gone (emphasis added):
Why do you think the NFL is so popular? For one thing, it replaces our Circus, the violent hand-to-hand combat that boxing once personified. Sooner or later, football players, hockey players, basketball players, they all get down to squaring off and doing their simpler version of boxing. We're so disenchanted by it … except I've never seen anybody run from watching a fight. Run away from being in one, sure. But watching? Never.
. . .
It's boxing. Prizefighting. The ultimately noble wrapped inside the ultimately profane. How we destroy ourselves to save ourselves. It is so … human. It's definitely us.
From the Word Origins web site:
Soccer is an abbreviation for Association Football. The Football Association was formed in London in October 1863 when representatives of eleven clubs and schools met in an attempt to standardize the rules of the game. One of the rules prohibited the carrying of the ball, a rule that would lead to the Rugby-oriented clubs leaving the Association several months later. The name Association Football was coined to distinguish it from Rugby.
By 1889, the abbreviation socca' was in use, and the spelling soccer had made its appearance by 1895.
Walter Benjamin notes that the film actor lacks the opportunity of the stage actor to adjust to the audience during a performance. In turn, the audience member takes the role of detached critic, identifying with the camera rather than directly with actor. Though the professional athlete is capable of adjusting to audience members during a performance, this only assumes significance for the athlete's uncertainty-of-outcome identity or orientation.
As a direct result of Marvin Miller and free agency in professional sport, however, abstractions of past performance — in the form of statistics — have assumed central significance in any athlete's quest for labour mobility. Thus, an identity charged with "putting up numbers" has become a necessity for those looking to improve their financial standing (particularly in sports with a high cyborg ratio).
So in much the same way that the audience member identifies with the camera to criticize a film actor's performance, the sports videogamer identifies with the statistics kept by the league — the tools that allows for the manufacture of the videogame — to criticize an athlete's performance. Indeed, to paraphrase Benjamin, sports simulations need not respect the performance of the athlete as a whole. And the resulting disembodiment caused by the simulation's creation suggests that the athlete's body is not respected as a whole, either.
Jake Garnatz, a student at Northern Illinois University, referenced sportsBabel for his end-of-term hypertext project: "Fantasy Football: A Postmodern Trend in Sports Participation."
I think that Jake's project could have benefited from an analysis of the violence done to the athlete during the objectification process that produces the statistics required for fantasy sports to operate. Overall, though, an interesting introductory work.
A case of permeable membrane and turntablism from CBS's coverage of last week's MCI Heritage Classic (via SportsFilter, emphasis mine):
The television coverage ended as controversy swirled regarding a possible Rules infraction by Cink. For the next half hour, PGA Tour officials received numerous phone calls from television viewers who were stunned when Cink brushed aside lose pebbles behind his ball. Because the hazard was a waste area and not a sand bunker, Cink was allowed to move loose impediments. However, some thought he had improved his lie. Tour official Slugger White disagreed. After reviewing the videotape, White ruled that it wasn't a penalty, thus giving Cink the championship title after an anxious 30-minute wait.