Games and Statues

I’m still ankle-deep in compiling my tenure file, completing a couple of grants (which share a due date with my tenure file – joy!), and the general chaos that is the beginning of the academic year, I wanted to share and offer a very brief commentary on two sport-heritage stories that came across the wire this week.

The first story involved a Penn State v. University of Central Florida game played at Croke Park last Saturday.  Of course, a US college football game being played at the home of Gaelic sport does, in a sense, point to a larger form of sport/culture/heritage mobilities (though, college football games being played abroad – and particularly in Ireland – has been happening for decades).  The interesting aspect is that this game, inadvertently, displaced a Gaelic football match.  I suppose this might point to a conflict between different sporting cultures – and that the international displaced the local – though, it would also seem that it is a sport tourism story, in that thousands of American football tourists are perhaps more lucrative a draw than domestic day visitors. 

The other story was about the city of Philadelphia erecting a Joe Frazier statue, in part, to reclaim it’s “authentic” boxing heritage rather than continue to promote the sport/film heritage of the Rocky films (and, in particular, a Rocky statue that was used as a prop in the film series and is now a tourist attraction).  Of course, the idea that sport heritage, popular culture, and simulacrum are often blended and interchangeable is perhaps most noticeable at the Durham Bulls stadium where the “real” and “fake” baseball heritage of the team are intermingled.  Still, I think this case points to an interesting form of dissonant sport heritage.

New Sport Heritage Book

I am very pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of Sport Heritage, an edited text published by Routledge that will be available in January 2015

The book’s description from the Routledge website:

Sport has become an important avenue in how we interpret, remember, and maintain our heritage. Whether it is being applied in tourism marketing and development, employed as a vehicle for social cohesion, or utilized as a way of articulating personal and collective identities, sport heritage is a vital topic in understanding what we value about the sporting past now what we wish to pass on to future generations. This edited collection brings together many new and exciting international approaches to sport heritage. Each of the chapters in this collection provides a thought-provoking sport heritage case study that would be of interest to students and researchers in history, geography, anthropology, and marketing, as well as industry practitioners working at sporting events, at sports-based heritage attractions such as museums and halls of fame, and at sports stadia and sports facilities. In addition, this collection would also be of interest to those readers with a more general interest in sport heritage and the sporting past.

All information, including the table of contents and ordering information (including the all important “Recommend to Librarian” button) are available from the Routledge website here. At the moment, it is a very expensive text (depending on sales, more affordable trade paperback and e-copies of the text may be available in the future) – therefore, I strongly recommend that you request that your library purchase a copy.  I would also really appreciate it if you could forward information about the book to any interested colleagues.  Of course, I would also be happy to answer any questions about the book as well.

Sport heritage research has come a long ways in the past decade or so, and I think this collection reflects not only how far we’ve come as a topic area but also provides some great platforms for exciting and innovative sport heritage research in the future. 

Brief Hiatus

Taking a very brief hiatus from the academy, including The Sport Heritage Review.  I suppose, as the all too accurate “Shit Academics Say” Twitter feed observes, it is a little bit difficult for academics to take a vacation and not constantly check email or work on research or something of the sort.  I am taking my first attempt at being a “beach person” on the somewhat isolated Daufuskie Island.  I have brought along a Kindle full of beach reads – well, at least reads that aren’t published papers and academic texts.  Though, I did also bring along two manuscripts – just having them in my bag has helped to lower the anxiety (to a degree). 

In any event, I hope to be back on these pages in the next week or two.  Or sooner, should the beach and its temptations not prove alluring enough.  We shall see.



Sport Heritage on the Radio

Last Friday, I talked sport heritage on The Jason Strudwick Show on TSN 1260 Radio in Edmonton, Canada. Jason is a former National Hockey League player, having played over 600 games for several teams – including the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks – before retiring in 2012.

Jason and I talked a bit about The Sport Heritage Review website and how I came to be involved in sport heritage.  We discussed the transference of sport heritage from one venue to another, a topic discussed in several research papers including Belanger’s study about the Molson Centre in MontrealGammon and Fear’s study of the tours of Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, and my study (along with Gammon and Huang) of borrowed heritage at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. On more of a nostalgia front, Jason and I briefly reminisced about our shared hockey past, as we were teammates in minor hockey about 25 years ago.  It was a fun chat, and I hope Jason and I get to gabbing again sometime soon.

In any event, the interview is about 15 minutes long and in two parts. The links for each part of the interview are below.  Happy listening!

Part #1(Interview begins at approximately the 43 minute mark)

Part #2 (Interview continues for approximately 10 minutes at the beginning of the hour)


Cricket, Heritage, and the First World War

This week marks one hundred years since the beginning of the First World War.  The war impacted virtually every segment of society, including sports, and few – if any – athletes or sports organizations remained unscathed.

Sport plays an important role in how the War is remembered and commemorated.  In particular, the now infamous Christmas Truce football match has become a focal point for how we understand the War (Ross Wilson’s excellent article about football and the the heritage of the Great War outlines these contemporary uses in greater detail)  While different authors and sports organizations have looked at the sport history and heritage aspects of the First World War from different regional or national points of view, the War’s impact on cricket in England, in particular, seems to have attracted a great deal of attention.

England - cricket - WW1

The third test match between England and India in Southhampton this week was one of the focal points for cricket’s commemoration of the First World War.  Both the England (above) and India (below) test teams paid their respects to the cricketers who fought and died in the War.  The War’s impact on England’s test team, as well as first-class county cricketers, was immense.  Hundreds of cricketers enlisted, and many – including four from England’s test team (basically, a quarter of the “national” cricket team) – never came home.  July 29th’s Test Match Special podcast from the BBC featured a discussion about the players who served and died, as well as the impact the game had on domestic competitions and county cricket clubs.  Many clubs nearly went bankrupt in the War, while competitive cricket was largely abandoned, only resurfacing for occasional charity matches to help fund various wartime causes.  Other recent publications have looked at cricket and the First World War in England and, though I have not read them yet due to North American release dates, I look forward to reading books like Wisden on the Great War and The Last Over.

Cricket - India - WW1

The interesting aspect of India’s part in this week’s commemoration is less about remembering Indian cricketers who died in the First World War, but reminding the wider world the immense role that India played in the war effort.  By 1918, nearly 1.3 million Indian soldiers served in the War with nearly 130,000 casualties, 75,000 of which were deaths. Despite the contribution India played in the war, the country’s role is often overlooked, diminished, or ignored entirely in official commemorations. Part of this, as is suggested, certainly has racial overtones, but also points to another heritage issue, that of whose heritage gets remembered, by whom, and why. If nothing else, India’s test cricket team being (seemingly) an equal part of this recent public commemoration points to sport being used as a vehicle to perhaps address some of these larger heritage issues.

Addendum: Many thanks to Andrew Renshaw, editor of Wisden on the Great Warfor sending this article that was part of the England v. India match programme from the third test at Southampton.  In it you will find more details about both English and Indian cricketers that served, and were lost, in the First World War.

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