Response to Bourdieu’s “How can one be a sports fan?”

One of the first questions raised in Bourdieu’s article is in the editor introduction, which asks how demand for sport created and produced.  Perhaps the simplest answer is that people have free time or temporarily want to escape from reality.  While not explicitly stated by Bourdieu this is the most likely answer.

As demonstrated by the “Minesweeper” video and article by Judd Ruggill, often times things are successful simply because they are available.  The example given in the article is the game Minesweeper where people try to locate all the mines on a given grid.   Microsoft installed the game so that it was a standard part of every office computer.  The result was that almost everybody who uses a Microsoft computer in an office plays Minesweeper.  The availability of a game is just as much of a part of its success as how good it is.

The idea that availability of a game and time to play a game is furthered by Bourdieu as he breaks down how certain classes play certain games.  The lower class tends to participate in cheaper events that focus on the body as a tool with symbols of sacrifice, such as boxing and wrestling.  Sports such as gymnastics and golf emphasize the body or “ideal physique” as the end goal, and with the relative costs of the sports result in most participants being members of the upper class.

Bourdieu makes an interesting point that most of the popular games and sports in modern culture are ones where people are forced, in a way, to stop playing, most often due to marriage.  Football ends for most people when they graduate high school and afternoon basketball games are replaced with working or picking kids up from school.  Some events, such as rugby, are now broadcast to such diverse groups that many people were never suited for the sport itself, but still find the sport entertaining.

One of the questions, specifically as to how it pertains to this class, is where do video games fit in to this equation?  Video games don’t apply in the sense that they result in some use of the body, nor are people physically unable to perform them on a mass scale.  Video games in most marriages are acceptable, maybe frowned upon, but are still able to persist.  There is a cost of entry of a couple hundred dollars for console games but video games are still prevalent for people of all classes.

It is easy to group together sports with video games because they both fill voids in people’s lives and leisure time.  However, it seems that many of the circumstances and situations that impact participation in certain sports do not apply to video games.  Furthermore, this brings up questions on why certain genres may be more popular to certain groups of people.

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2 Responses to Response to Bourdieu’s “How can one be a sports fan?”

  1. yojeffg says:

    I submitted this Friday but for some reason it was never published.

    • cstabile says:

      No problem. Got it.

      Bourdieu would say that both free time and escape are still structured by social determinants. You might, for example, have free time, but if you don’t have a Microsoft operating system, you can’t play Minesweeper. And when women romance readers “escape” into romance novels, that’s because that’s leisure time escapism is one toward which they are socially impelled. You’re on to the essence of what Bourdieu is getting at, which is how is the field of available sports produced at a particular moment in time? What are the circumstances that condition both supply and demand?

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