Stories in sports commentary: How narrative strategies of sports commentary reframe fun-runners in the Big City Marathon

Phillips, P. (2017) Stories in sports commentary: How narrative strategies of sports commentary reframe fun-runners in the Big City Marathon. In: Narrative and Alternative Stories Conference, 11-12 Sept 2017, University of Chester, UK. (Unpublished)

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The paper explores sports commentary as an alternative narrative form that provides insight to the contemporary world. The stories of sports commentary articulate how neoliberal ideology is embedded in popular culture. In contrast to Williams’ assertion that TV sports maintain a strong sense of 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 paper argues that sports commentary, however implicitly, asserts neoliberal authority through the use of specific narrative strategies within sporting broadcasts.

Focusing on commentary of the fun-runner in the Big City Marathon (BCM) the paper uses Fischer-Lichte’s notion of performance as event (2008) to examine how sports commentary changes the way an event is received and subsequently perceived. The paper considers the narrative strategies of the sports commentator (Whannel, 1992) as an event of text (Turner, 2009), to articulate a gap between the event and how that event is framed, reframed and enframed (Žižek, 2014) by the commentary. The position of the commentator complicates Fischer-Lichte’s autopoietic feedback loop (2008), enacting a degree of sovereignty (Agamben, 1998) over the event. This partial sovereignty allows the commentator to reframe mass participation in the BCM, so that fun-runners are made to perform as neoliberal subjects, contextualised by capitalist charity (Livingstone, 2013), complicit with neoliberal ideology.

Using the BBC’s broadcast of the 2017 London Marathon the paper articulates how
Booker’s overcoming the monster narrative (2004) is used to guarantee the meaning of fun-runners. The commentary narratives reframe the fun-runner as part of a charity event, reinforcing neoliberal ideals of the individual, self-improvement and charity as a replacement for the state. As fun-runners in the BCM our ‘active’ participation is repositioned by the stories of the commentary as an act of interpassivity in that our collective action only serves to maintain the status quo.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
Subjects: 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: Academic Areas > Institute of Arts and Humanities > Theatre
Event Title: Narrative and Alternative Stories Conference
Event Location: University of Chester, UK
Event Dates: 11-12 Sept 2017
Depositing User: Pete Phillips
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2019 13:51
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2019 13:51

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