My new co-edited book, Heritage and the Olympics, has been “officially” out for about a month now, but I didn’t receive my copy until today. I’m very pleased with the look and feel of the hardcover version and, of course, having a tangible copy makes the book “real.”
Again, if you are interested in requesting a copy for your library, please follow this link at the Routledge page. I don’t set the price, I’m afraid, and though I am hoping that there will be a more affordable trade paperback or e-copy version of the book down the road, for now you may want to just want to request that your institution purchase it. However, my previous co-edited text - Heritage, Sport and Tourism - is slightly more affordable and available in several different formats, if you are interested in this research topic and haven’t come across this text already.
Thank you for your patience as I try and get the word out about this book. I have a few new sport heritage topics, sites, and publications in the queue to discuss, and I look forward to writing more about other people’s work and not just my own.
Watching Canada’s 3-0 victory over Sweden in the men’s gold medal hockey final yesterday, someone on social media commented (and, forgive, I’m not sure who it was) something to the effect that “how did we watch sports before Twitter?” Indeed, part of the fun of watching the men’s final on Sunday was the connecting with other Canadians on social media, particularly as many regions in the country amended their liquor laws in order to allow bars to open for the early-morning game. One Edmonton-based commenter even made the comment that Twitter was like one, big Canadian pub during the game:
Having lived away from Canada for nearly five years now, moments like Sunday – and, to an extent, Thursday’s women’s gold medal hockey game (unfortunately, I was teaching during Canada’s comeback versus the US and couldn’t watch the game) – help me to maintain a connection to my home country. I certainly don’t hide my national identity down here in South Carolina, but normally my accent gives me away and I often end up talking about the Homeland with grocery clerks, waiters, and gas station attendants. Certainly, I’m proud of my citizenship, though as the years go on I do feel myself becoming less attached to Canada. Moments like Thursday and Sunday were a nice reminder of my heritage.
Perhaps most surprising to me was that I actually cared as much as I did about the result of both games. I grew up playing hockey, have long been an avid hockey watcher, could quote stats and hockey history, etc, though – for a variety of reasons – I have drifted away from the sport in recent years. In the sport tourism class I teach, we talk often about globalization and mobility, and how these things can create – in a sense – a crisis of identity. If I were pressed, I probably care more about baseball and cricket right now than I do about hockey, and maybe that’s both a part of my current address as well as my personal/professional tastes and interests. Certainly, I quasi-follow college football and the NFL now because of where I live. However, the space-time collapse of things like social media meant that I could engage with my Canadian hockey heritage, even if only for a few days, and share something of the experience of being back home. In many ways, these interactions with my fellow Canadian hockey fans re-enforced my sense of identity. At the same time, neither hockey game – nor the Winter Olympics, for that matter – was really on the radar of most people in Clemson (beyond ex-pats and Olymphiles, I suppose) so my sense of nationalism was somewhat limited to the virtual space and time created on Twitter. I suppose this would have been the case with or without Twitter and global broadcasts of sporting events in real time, and maybe the fact that watching the Olympics isn’t as all-encompassing as it was in previous generations re-enforces the globalization and mobility argument. After all, we can disengage or ignore something like the Olympics ways that we never could before. Still, the real-time feel of Twitter helped me feel a little more connected and a little more Canadian, but anecdotally it would seem that it was just we Canadians (where ever we might be) talking to ourselves.
Recent reports from Sochi, now just a few days away from the start of the Winter Olympics, are not promising. The students in my sport tourism class asked why international sport organizations like the IOC grant bids to countries that seem ill-prepared to host a Games. While I’m waiting to hold my fire for Sochi until the Games actually begin (after all, it seems like the days leading up to almost every Olympiad are fraught with challenges), and I’ll leave the “why” of the IOC’s decision to more qualified sport management scholars, it did make me think of the bidding process and a chapter in the Heritage and the Olympics book (also available in the International Journal of Heritage Studies) where Ulf Strohmayer describes Olympics that “never were” and the impact hosting an Olympics on the non-Olympic heritage infrastructure of cities (in his case, Paris). From the abstract:
This paper examines three failed bids by the French Olympic Committee and the City of Paris to host the summer Olympic Games of 1992, 2008 and 2012 in an attempt better to understand the role of heritage designations in the context of urban change. Introducing the various sites earmarked for the Games, the paper explores the relationship between planning as a political tool and its impact on the built environment within the context of a complex web of local, national and international demands, needs and aspirations. Based on archival research, the paper explores the dialectical relationship between the demonstrated ability of city councils to declare designated ‘Olympic’ spaces as functionally ‘ready’ to absorb massive new infrastructures and questions posed by whatever physical infrastructure remains after a bid has failed. Since the timeframe chosen for the paper (1986–2006) coincides with a move by the International Olympic Committee to prioritise ‘sustainable urbanism’ as a key legacy of ‘successful’ Olympic Games, this relationship between presences and absences is mediated not just with the help of possible futures in the form of Olympic sites but has had to validate and justify the choice of terrain as well. The paper concludes with a brief meditation on the relationship between present urban heritage and possible futures in the context of mega-events like the Olympic Games.
Although the Paris bids and the Sochi Games are quite different, it did make me think about the risks involved in hosting an Olympic Games. I wonder if Paris dodged a bullet by not hosting a modern Olympics – not that they wouldn’t be prepared, but for how such an event might alter the city (though, post-London, this may be less of an issue). In the case of Sochi, it doesn’t seem – at present – like it is setting up to be a successful Games. Even for locations like Vancouver, which were largely successful in terms of operations and image, didn’t have much lasting economic impact (if any) and, really, was a two week period for Canadians to feel good about themselves (which isn’t a bad thing, mind you). Seemingly, then, the main reason for hosting a mega sporting event these days is to create post-event legacies through infrastructure, create a sense of domestic cohesion through nationalism, and…well…not much else. One has to wonder if hosting an Olympics is something best avoided – I guess we’ll see at Sochi.
I am very pleased to announce the publication of “Heritage Sport Tourism in Canada” in Tourism Geographies. The manuscript was authored by Tom Hinch of the University of Alberta and myself, Gregory Ramshaw of Clemson University.
From the abstract:
The objective of this paper is to illustrate the opportunities and challenges of heritage sport tourism by examining (1) the Arctic Winter Games and (2) the Canadian Football League as heritage sport tourism attractions in Canada. A review of the heritage sport tourism literature provides the context for this assessment. Key opportunities were found in (1) the manifestation of sport as a meaningful form of culture; (2) sport’s impact on collective identity and by extension – destination image and (3) unique connections of sport heritage to place that can be positioned for competitive advantage. The central challenges include those associated with (1) processes of globalization and (2) the fragmented nature of the heritage sport tourism industry.
A limited number of copies are available for download from this link:
An additional note – this manuscript was, in part, a tribute to my dear friend and colleague Rod Murray. Rod was an brilliant scholar and amazing person, and there isn’t a day that goes when I don’t think about him. He is well and truly missed. Peace and much love, my friend. No Pain.
I am very pleased to announce the publication of Heritage and the Olympics: People, Place and Performance. This text, co-edited by Sean Gammon of the University of Central Lancashire, me – Gregory Ramshaw of Clemson University, and Emma Waterton of the University of Western Sydney, is published by Routledge and available here.
The description from the Routledge website:
The Olympic Games have evolved into the most prestigious sport event on the planet. As a consequence, each Games generates more and more interest from the academic community. Sociology, politics, geography and history have all played a part in helping to understand the meanings and implications of the Games. Heritage, too, offers invaluable insights into what we value about the Games, and what we would like to pass on to future generations. Each Olympic Games unquestionably represents key life-markers to a broad audience across the world, and the great events that take place within them become worthy of remembrance, celebration and protection. The more tangible heritage features are also evident; from the myriad artefacts and ephemera found in museums to the celebratory symbolism of past Olympic venues and sites that have become visitor attractions in their own right. This edited collection offers detailed and thought-provoking examples of these heritage components, and illustrates powerfully the breadth, passion and cultural significance that the Olympics engender.
Given the cost of the text, I would strongly recommend that that you request it be purchased by your university library. I imagine that there may be a trade paperback or e-book version of the text down the road but, for now, it is only available in hardback form.
Further information, including table of contents, ISBN number, and ordering details are available via the Routledge website here:
My co-editors and I are pleased with this collection and hope it reaches as wide an audience as possible. Thank you in advance for requesting a copy and for getting the word out!