Sports Commentary and the Performance Event: How Neoliberal Ideology Reframes Spectacles of Participation

Phillips, Pete (2017) Sports Commentary and the Performance Event: How Neoliberal Ideology Reframes Spectacles of Participation. Doctoral thesis, University of Chichester.

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Abstract

The thesis uses performance to elucidate the politics of sports commentary. In contrast to Williams’ assertion that TV sports maintain a strong sense of their independence despite control and commodification by government or commerce (1989) and Kennedy’s suggestion that the significance of sport is not tied to ideology (2001), the thesis argues that sports commentary, however implicitly, asserts neoliberal authority within sporting broadcasts. This written thesis and the Practice as Research articulates and critically contextualises the performance of sports commentary resulting in the production of a postdramatic theatre performance referred to as PhD Practice (2016), DVD documentation of the live event, a script and critical writing.

Focusing on the commentary of the charity fun-runner in the Big City Marathon (BCM) the thesis uses Fischer-Lichte’s notion of performance as event (2008) as a framework to examine how sports commentary changes the way an event is received and subsequently perceived. Through the creation of a performance event that renders the strategies of the sports commentator (Whannel, 1992) as an event of text (Turner, 2009), the research articulates a gap between the event and how that event is framed, reframed and enframed (Žižek, 2014) by the commentary. The thesis subsequently argues that the position taken by the commentator complicates Fischer-Lichte’s autopoietic feedback loop (2008), enacting a degree of sovereignty (Agamben, 1995) over the event, contradicting the way in which the feedback loop purports to neutralise the sovereign position of the performer in postdramatic theatre (Lehmann, 2006). This partially sovereign position maintained by the commentator manipulates the audience into a pattern of consent that mirrors the enactment of neoliberal authority (Harvey, 2005). The commentator is thus able to reframe mass participation in the BCM, so that fun-runners and spectators are made to perform as neoliberal subjects, contextualised by capitalist charity (Livingstone, 2013), complicit with neoliberal ideology.

This approach represents significant developments in two distinct areas. Firstly, considering sports commentary as an event of text (Turner, 2009) represents a distinctive contribution to the study of event based performance and provides a position from which to articulate a practical and political critique of the autopoietic feedback loop (Fischer-Lichte, 2008). Secondly, the use of performance to examine sports commentary, as an example of commentary as a broad cultural phenomenon, contributes to discourse around the performance of ideology.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV557 Sports
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1600 Drama > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The theater
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2041 Performance studies
Divisions: Departments > Performing Arts
Depositing User: Pete Phillips
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2019 15:40
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2019 15:40
URI: http://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/4203

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