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New Research: Towards a critical sport heritage

I am pleased to announce the publication of “Towards a critical sport heritage: implications for sport tourism” in the Journal of Sport & TourismThis paper was authored by myself, Gregory Ramshaw of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management at Clemson University, and Sean Gammon of the School of Sport, Tourism and the Outdoors at the University of Central Lancashire, and looks at the growing relationship between sport, heritage, and tourism. In particular, it reexamines Ramshaw and Gammon’s (2005) sport heritage typology, particularly given the immense changes in critical heritage studies research over the past decade. From the abstract:

This paper reflects upon the development and increased acceptance for heritage becoming a key component of sport tourism research. The original sport heritage typology, as posited by Ramshaw and Gammon (2005), is re-examined through a more critical lens, revealing additional dimensions that help augment its key components. More specifically, it is argued that future studies should consider the more intangible features of sport heritage, as well as acknowledging the expanding global nature of sport and its impact upon fandom. Also, the case is made for research to explore the dissonance inherent in much of sports heritage, as well as determining where the power lies in allocating and championing current sport heritages. Lastly, the more general implications to the field of sport tourism are offered with particular regard to motivation, place and consumption.

We hope that this paper helps to reframe our original sport heritage framework, noting both how this topic area has evolved as well as suggesting areas where sport heritage research ought to go.

There are a limited number of free downloads of this paper available here. We hope that it helps take sport heritage research in some new and exciting directions.




Five Recent Sport Heritage Publications You Have to Read

Sport heritage research has grown from a relatively obscure sub-sub-sub field of sport tourism to a growing field of inquiry in heritage studies, sport studies, and tourism studies. Until a decade ago, the research about sport heritage and sport nostalgia was fairly scatter-shot.  The Sociology of Sport Journal had a sport nostalgia issue in the early 90s, for example, while Heather Gibson included nostalgia in her sport tourism typology in 1998 though, by and large, the ways in which the sporting past were created, commemorated, and commodified in the present went largely unexplored.

However, sport heritage now has a growing body of research.  Initially, sport heritage was largely considered a tourism resource, though most of the recent work has branched out from these beginnings to understand sport heritage from a variety of angles.  With that in mind, I give you some of my favourite recent sport heritage research. I have purposefully not included any of my own research (I feel it is up to others to determine whether my research has value), though some of the publications I list I was involved with as an editor.


Representing the Sporting Past in Museums and Halls of Fame edited by Murray Phillips (Routledge, 2012): I have written about this edited text both on this forum and in a review in the Annals of Leisure Research, and I can safely say my high opinion of it has not changed since I read and reviewed it a couple of years ago. Phillips understands the relationship between sport history and sport heritage better than most – he realizes that the aims and outcomes of each are different and that sports museums cannot, or should not, be history books on walls. Many of the contributions also push the boundaries of what constitutes a sports museum, what they might look like, and the power relationships determine their narratives.  This book is essential for anyone wishing to study sport heritage.

Heroes as Heritage: the commoditization of sporting achievement” by Sean Gammon (Journal of Heritage Tourism, Vol. 9, Issue 3, 2014): Dr. Gammon is a frequent co-collaborator of mine, so I was well familiar with his work when he wrote this paper.  However, this piece blew me away. Gammon took an idea that had been floating about for a few years – the idea that people (and, in this case, athletes) could be considered a kind of artefact – and took it in some provocative new directions. As I wrote in response to this article at the time:

The heroes and the sporting moments they create then, as Gammon argues, become artefacts, and though we can relive and replay the achievement (and, in a sense, preserve the moment(s) in time, perhaps through both personal memory and vicariously through media) we cannot preserve “the object” in the same way that we might other forms of tangible heritage. The relationship between the achievement and the athlete, in fact, demonstrates a paradox in sport heritage. Athletes age, change, and are no longer what they were – indeed, athletes are some of the few heritage “objects” that are not aided by the patina of age. However, their achievements may become more glorious – or heroic – as time goes on. 

Sport heritage has a unique relationship with time – both in terms of how quickly sport becomes heritage, but also how it is different than many other manifestations of heritage.  Gammon captures some of these issues, and more, in this wonderful paper.

It still goes on: football and the heritage of the Great War in Britain” by Ross Wilson (Journal of Heritage Tourism, Vol. 9, Issue 3, 2014). Dr. Wilson’s wonderful paper takes many different approaches to sport heritage – including tourism, memorialization, and commemoration – and views them through the lens of the Great War. As I wrote in response to this article at the time:

Football, Wilson argues, provides an emotive bridge as well as a marker for many British tourists. However, the emphasis on football also reveals much about contemporary British culture, as well as how the War is understood and remembered in Britain today. As such, this paper confronts many of the issues at play in contemporary heritage literature, albeit through a sports lens, including contestation over memory and memorialization, commodification and authenticity in heritage tourism, and the relationship between history and heritage.

The Great War has inspired many different types of heritages, including those in sport, and Dr. Wilson provides a thought-provoking look at how football, in particular, is mobilized in how we confront and remember the conflict.


Sport, History, and Heritage: Studies in Public Representation – edited by Jeffrey Hill, Kevin Moore, and Jason Wood (Boydell & Brewer, 2012): One of the aspects of sport heritage research that is sometimes overlooked is that there are real, practical implications to how the sporting past is created in consumed.  This edited text combines both academic and applied perspectives and, though I found it sometimes conflates history, heritage, nostalgia, and memory, it does provide some very interesting case studies about collecting, managing, interpreting, and representing the sporting past.

Non-events and their legacies: Parisian heritage and the Olympics that never were” by Ulf Strohmayer (International Journal of Heritage Studies, Vol. 19, Issue 2, 2013): With Paris again bidding for the Olympics, Dr. Strohmayer’s paper is essential reading for anyone wondering about the many heritage implications of an Olympic bid.  Firstly, this paper presents a kind-of counterfactual sport heritage – that is to say, it presents a sport heritage that was never actually realized, at least in space and time. Secondly, it considers that archival documents – such as Olympic bids – are a kind of sport heritage.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it considers how an Olympic games might interact – or potentially damage – existing built heritage. As we know, heritage icons often form the backdrop to Olympic venues (consider Westminster Palace/Big Ben as the pan-away backdrop to beach volleyball at the 2012 London Olympics), however what if there simply isn’t the room to accommodate Olympic venues in heritage districts? Is a Paris Olympics really “Parisian” if it is held in the suburbs rather than on the Champ de Mars?

New Edited Book – Sport Heritage

Sport Heritage UK-page-001

This week – February 5, to be precise – sees the release of Sport Heritage, a new edited book published by Routledge. From the description on 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, and 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 facilities. In addition, this collection would be of interest to those readers with a more general interest in sport heritage and the sporting past.

Here is the Table of Contents for the book:

1. Sport, heritage, and tourism – Gregory Ramshaw

2. It still goes on: football and the heritage of the Great War in Britain – Ross J. Wilson

3. Indigenous sport and heritage: Cherbourg’s Ration Shed Museum – Murray G. Phillips, Gary Osmond and Sandra Morgan

4. Identity in the “Road Racing Capital of the World”: heritage, geography and contested spaces – Ray Moore, Matthew Richardson and Claire Corkill

5. Heroes as heritage: the commoditization of sporting achievement – Sean J. Gammon

6. A Canterbury tale: imaginative genealogies and existential heritage tourism at the St. Lawrence Ground – Gregory Ramshaw

My strong recommendation, given the cost of the book, is to recommend that your university library purchase it.  There is a “recommend to the librarian” link on the Routledge webpage. Please also spread the word to anyone who may be interested in this collection.

Sport heritage research has come a long way in the past decade or so, and I strongly believe the work of the researchers in this book helps to take our understanding of this topic in new and fascinating directions.

Journal of Heritage Tourism: Sport Heritage Issue

The full issue of the special “Sport Heritage and Tourism” edition of the Journal of Heritage Tourism is now available on-line and in print. I am thrilled with the breadth and depth of the contributions, and I truly believe that this collection moves the sport heritage debate in some new and exciting directions.

To recap, here is the full rundown of the papers and contributors:


  1. Editorial: Sport, Heritage, and Tourism – Gregory Ramshaw, Clemson University
  2. It Still Goes On: Football and the Heritage of the Great War in Britain – Ross Wilson, University of Chichester
  3. Indigenous Sport and Heritage: Cherbourg’s Ration Shed Museum – Murray Phillips, University of QueenslandGary Osmond, University of Queensland & Sandra Morgan, Cherbourg Historical Precinct Group 
  4. Identity in the “Road Racing Capital of the World”: Heritage, Geography and Contested Spaces – Ray Moore, University of YorkMatthew Richardson, Manx National Heritage & Claire Corkill, University of York
  5. Heroes as Heritage: The Commoditization of Sporting Achievement – Sean Gammon, University of Central Lancashire
  6. A Canterbury Tale: Imaginative Genealogies and Existential Heritage Tourism at the St. Lawrence Ground – Gregory Ramshaw, Clemson University


A heartfelt thanks to all who played a role in the issue’s production: contributors, reviewers, grad assistants, and production staff, to name but a few.  Also a huge thanks to the journal’s editor, Dr. Dallen Timothy, for his support throughout.

Happy Reading/Sharing/Critiquing/Citing!

Coming Soon: Sport, Heritage, and Tourism

It’s with great pleasure that I’m able to announce the table of contents for the special “sport, heritage, and tourism” issue of The Journal of Heritage Tourism. The issue is currently in production and will be Volume 9, Number 3, 2014, meaning it should be available in its entirety in the autumn, though some papers may be released on-line early than this via the journal’s website.

In any event, here’s the table of contents:

  1. Introduction/Editorial – Sport, Heritage, and Tourism – Gregory Ramshaw, Clemson University
  2. It Still Goes On: Football and the Heritage of the Great War in Britain – Ross Wilson, University of Chichester
  3. Indigenous Sport and Heritage: Cherbourg’s Ration Shed Museum – Murray Phillips, University of QueenslandGary Osmond, University of Queensland & Sandra Morgan, Cherbourg Historical Precinct Group 
  4. Identity in the “Road Racing Capital of the World”: Heritage, Geography and Contested Spaces – Ray Moore, University of York, Matthew Richardson, Manx National Heritage & Claire Corkill, University of York
  5. Heroes as Heritage: The Commoditization of Sporting Achievement – Sean Gammon, University of Central Lancashire
  6. A Canterbury Tale: Imaginative Genealogies and Existential Heritage Tourism at the St. Lawrence Ground – Gregory Ramshaw, Clemson University

As the papers are released, I will announce them via the Twitter page and offer a few additional comments about them on this site.

I am very pleased with how this issue has turned out and I can wait for this fantastic sport heritage research to be read.

Sport Heritage in 2014

2014 is setting up to be a banner year for sport heritage – both in terms of events and published research.  Perhaps, as we begin the new year, we should take a look at what is happening in sport heritage, and also consider what needs to be done.

There are a number of events with a sport heritage angle in 2014.  This is hardly an exhaustive list – so, please feel free to add others you see as important sport heritage markers for the upcoming year:

  • One of the more important anniversaries is the centenary of the beginning of the First World War.  As I wrote about in my previous post, there are some clear sport heritage aspects to this conflict – not the least of which was the Christmas Truce in 1914, but also the many athletes and sports administrators that were casualties in the War.  I imagine there will be many books, research projects and events that will recognize and commemorate the sport heritage connections to the First War.
  • September 30 is National Sport Heritage Day in the UK.  There is both a Facebook page and Twitter feed with more information.
  • Several infamous sports venues are celebrating anniversaries this year – most notably Lord’s Cricket Ground in London celebrates 200 years, while Wrigley Field in Chicago is one hundred years-old.
  • Of course, 2014 is also an Olympic and World Cup year – each of which generates many sport heritages.

There are also a couple of upcoming sport heritage publications coming out in 2014 (again, please let me know of others):

Some of the sport heritage-related projects I am working on in 2014 include:

  • Examining the creation and dissemination of subaltern sport heritages as a form of resistance;
  • Sport heritage and rural tourism development in Belgium;
  • Understanding existential approaches to sport heritage.

One of the aspects that makes sport heritage research so exciting is that there are so many interesting topics and perspectives that haven’t been explored, or have been hinted at but not yet examined and disseminated.  Here are a few of from my sport heritage “wish list” that I hope I or others explore in the coming years:

  • Consumer behaviour/motivation and sport heritage;
  • The connections between sport heritage and public health, a-la the fascinating work done by the Sporting Memories Network;
  • The connections between active sport tourism and heritage sport tourism;
  • Sport heritage and globalization, particularly the mobilities of sport heritage;
  • Dissonant sport heritages (e.g.: rival claimants for the same sport heritage);
  • Sport fantasy camps;
  • “Performing” sport heritage.

Happy 2014 to all – and, please, keep sending ideas, suggestions, comments or critiques.  I feel that 2014 will be a top-notch year for sport heritage, and I hope that we can make our knowledge and understanding about this fascinating topic grow.