Watching sport during Covid-19

Ryall, Emily S ORCID: 0000-0002-6050-4353 and Edgar, Andrew (2022) Watching sport during Covid-19. In: Philosophy, Sport, And the Pandemic. Ethics and Sport . Routledge, London, pp. 139-151. ISBN 9781032102139

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Prior to covid-19, the live sports experience was one of spectators being in close physical and emotional contact with one another, celebrating and commiserating, enthralled and entranced, or disappointed and disillusioned depending on the event they were part of. The tactile nature of a sports fan who, in the stadium, pub or sports bar, hugs and kisses those around them in celebration or puts an arm around a shoulder in commiseration, may not return for some time. The phenomenological experience even for the television spectator has drastically changed, as demonstrated by the sensation of watching empty stadiums devoid of sound apart from echoey calls from the players and management on the side-lines. As such, lockdown and social distancing removes some of the fundamental preconditions of human existence in terms of human contact and intersubjectivity of which attendance at live sport events are a prime example. The question then is what can the covid-19 pandemic show us about the experience of the sports spectator now and in the future? As demonstrated by the huge rise of esports over the past decade, it may be the case that covid-19 has hastened, through its employment of new technology, the direction of travel to a more virtual medium of sports spectating.1 The examples of virtual sports provided at the outset are illustrative of the fundamental differences between watching live sport played by real humans, albeit on a television screen, and a virtual simulation of sporting contests. The question of ‘reality’ and its associated phenomenological experience is pertinent here if lockdown exacerbates a change in the very nature of spectatorship, where the ‘reality’ of the play being watched becomes marginal. This then highlights two aspects for consideration; the intersubjective experience of being a member of a sports crowd and the more attenuated intersubjectivity of watching a real, embodied player in contrast to a simulated or virtual version of a sports event such as those illustrated above. In particular, a consideration of the gap that exists between ‘real’ sport and its imitation in virtual simulations serves to highlight the diverse values and needs that sport satisfies for spectators. Furthermore, it raises the question as to the degree to which virtual representations can satisfy these needs; do we need ‘real’ sport at all?

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV557 Sports
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Health, Life Sciences, Sport and Wellbeing
Depositing User: Emily Ryall
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2022 11:01
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2024 13:51

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