Welcome to the Sport Heritage Review, a blog dedicated to understanding the role that sport-based heritage plays in our society.
I strongly believe that to know a people, you must know something about the sports that they play. Of course, every sport has inherited or created a legacy – some good, some bad – that can used, abused, promoted, and ignored depending on the circumstances. Therefore, I see sport heritage being about how elements from the sporting past – be it sporting places, events, artefacts, traditions, memories, histories – are used in the present to address contemporary needs and circumstances, be they social, economic, political, or otherwise.
When discussing sport heritage, I will sometimes include my own research and travels. However, I don’t wish this to be simply a blog of self-promotion. Rather, I hope to describe what I see as some of the pressing topics in sport heritage, disseminate some of the academic and popular views about sport heritage, and promote some of the interesting sites and locations that reveal something about this topic.
A couple of caveats, particularly about the notion of what heritage is as opposed to history or other disciplines. Certainly, one cannot discuss sport heritage without incorporating some element of sport history – though, I see these as very different concerns. Many trees have perished discussing the differences between history and heritage (in sport or otherwise), so I will simply point you to the work of David Lowenthal (in particular The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History), A Geography of Heritage by Brian Graham, Gregory Ashworth, and John Tunbridge, among many others. In some respects, it seems that heritage has more in common with geography than history, but I digress.
Secondly, I don’t see heritage as a synonym for old buildings or artefacts or other material things. Certainly, sporting structures and old sporting equipment and jerseys are, for lack of a better term, material expressions of value, but they are not “inherently” heritage. Again, much ink has been spilled about this (I refer you, in particular, to Laurajane Smith’s The Uses of Heritage), but heritage is about values and not “stuff” – the “stuff” (be it buildings or otherwise) are only “heritage” because of our contemporary needs and values. If our needs and values change, so does the heritage.
With that being said, I hope you’ll join me in exploring this fascinating topic!