RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2015

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164 Geographies of Sport (1): Everyday sport
Affiliation Geography of Health Research Group
Convenor(s) Miranda Ward (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
Simon Cook (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
Chair(s) Miranda Ward (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
Timetable Thursday 03 September 2015, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Room Forum - Seminar Room 3
Session abstract This session bring together a diverse array of scholars whose work deals in some way with the place of sport in people’s everyday lives — work which could be said to fit into an emerging and mutable field of “everyday sports geography”. The papers are interested in what the contemporary concepts, theories, and methods used in social and cultural geography can bring to the study of sport, and in exploring the potential for an expanded field of sports geography which takes into account the geographical and societal relevance of sport on a more mundane, individualised level: the experiences and geographies of, for instance, runners on city streets or lap swimmers in the pool.
Linked Sessions Geographies of Sport (2): Everyday sport
Geographies of Sport (3): Sport Facilities and Participation
Geographies of Sport (5): The Role of Sport
Geographies of Sport (4): Methods and Approaches to Sport, and the Role of Sport
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2015@rgs.org
Towards a geography of everyday sport: blurring boundaries, finding opportunities
Miranda Ward (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
Simon Cook (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
This paper seeks to explore the relationship between geography and sport. Despite the Sports Geography agenda first set out John Bale never fully materialising, a growing number of researchers are employing sport as a lens through which to consider a vast array of other geographic phenomenon in their work. We aim to reframe this work, placing the focus instead on what this deployment of sport might mean for the study of sport itself and its potential to rejuvenate the field of sports geography. Much of this work could be categorised as an everyday geography of sport – a field which emphasises the mundane, quotidian and individualised stories, people, places, experiences and occurrences of sport.

Drawing on an (auto)ethnographic study of regular lap swimmers, this paper particularly explores the blurring of traditional boundaries between sports conceptualised as re-creational and those deemed achievement-oriented, seeking to highlight one way in which an everyday sports geography might allow for more nuanced explorations of bodies in space. We will draw on work written under the related banners of mobility, fitness, physical activity, exercise, and leisure to suggest that an everyday sports geography might be a valuable area around which to unite such work, which has tended to develop somewhat in parallel in recent years. A further opportunity this paper will seek to outline is how an everyday sports geography would relate to better established bodies of work, such as sports sociology, sport studies and physical cultural studies. We argue for increased exchange with such contiguous fields in order to illuminate the contribution of an everyday sports geography to the interdisciplinary study of sport.
Researching Action Sport with a GoPro™ Camera: An Embodied and Emotional Mobile Video Tale of the Sea, Masculinity, and Men-who-Surf
Clifton Evers (University of Nottingham Ningbo, China)
Some men work hard to attain control of emotions and police where, how, and when they can be displayed e.g. during sport. In Australia–where the research for this paper takes place–there continues to be an emphasis on stoicism despite emotions and affects playing a key role in the lives of men-who-surf. To research this felt dimension of surfing and masculinity my research often takes place in the sea and I have come to rely on my body as a multi-sensory research method. What I interrogate in this paper is adding a video camera to this process. I ask: what understandings of emotions, bodies, and sport are produced when working from in the midst of interwoven technical, social, and biological mediation while in the sea and on the waves? Even though digital cameras have become more affordable and easier to operate demanding for a long time ecological conditions (e.g. saltwater and sand) and the vigorous activity of surfing corroded and damaged fragile media technology. However, there are now small light water-proof robust wearable digital video cameras that are a ubiquitous part of “action/lifestyle sports” e.g. the GoPro™. This paper provides an “ethnographic fiction” of using a GoPro™ during co-immersion with research participants. The paper moves through considerations of the rearticulation (or not) of emotions, bodies, perceptions, ecology, technology, and the social e.g. territorialism. I conclude with addressing how useful this method proves to for creatively appreciating and producing a “messiness” to doing and feeling masculinity and sport.
"The Smoother I row, the faster I go". Learning to flow in the practice of rowing
Kate Evans (Swansea University, UK)
Movement techniques and sensation are inherently subjective and may be understood in surprisingly diverse ways by different individuals. In a sport such as rowing, where crew boats require individual athletes to achieve a common technique repeated continuously and in synchrony with each other, and athletes must learn to feel and respond to the motion of the boat and water – all the while whilst moving through a sequence of whole-body motion that combines alternating moments of stillness and release – the ability to communicate sensorial concepts such as ‘flow’ and what it entails is vital.
This paper explores how flow is understood and experienced as a sensation of affinity and connectivity between the body of the rower, the boat and water in motion, and also as a quality of motion itself. Personal diaries and experience of rowing over two decades, interviews with coaches and rowers, and observation of training sessions and video analysis form the basis of this account of how the concept of ‘flow’ is communicated, understood, taught and ‘learnt’ in the practice of rowing, and the ways in which differences in terminology, experience, and proficiency are negotiated in order to reach a shared understanding of the sensations and movements being sought. Included in this is also a consideration of how flow is not felt, and the sensations that accompany ‘not feeling’ flow.
The materials of running and swimming: a discussion of difference, change and practice
Joe Gillett (Lancaster University, UK)
In recent years, running has followed swimming in becoming one of the most popular exercise activities in England (Sport England 2013). Whilst levels of participation peak in the summer and dip in the winter (Sport England 2012), both can be practiced outdoors and within controlled indoor environments. This paper investigates the significance of different materials and material environments in these activities. It does so by looking at how they differ and change with reference to the lives of a selection of runners and swimmers, taking the view that broader (e.g. national) histories and futures of running and swimming might be conceptualised as an aggregate of many such trajectories.

The paper draws on conceptual resources from theories of practice (Shove et al. 2012; Reckwitz 2002), which propose that materials play a constitutive role in what people do in everyday life. Within this field, there are different accounts of what might be thought of as materials and the roles they play (Maller et al. Forthcoming; Jalas 2005). The paper makes use of insights from an in-progress project which empirically researches how a wide range of materials and things – including seasonal weather and light conditions, geographical locations and infrastructures, as well as various equipment and clothing in combination with different conditions of the body - are experienced by variously committed indoor and outdoor runners in Bristol, Lancaster and their surrounding areas, both at the level of a single run or swim and over the life course. This exercise helps provide a more precise understanding of the multiple relations between materialities and practices, and of how such relations change over time.
Where everyday exercise meets the coast: seeking more than sport and fitness?
Sarah Bell (University of Exeter, UK)
This presentation will examine the emotional geographies of everyday coastal exercise. It draws on the findings of a larger in-depth interpretive study conducted from May to November 2013 which explored the relative contribution of different types of green and blue space experiences to individual wellbeing through the life course.
Activity maps produced using accelerometer and Global Positioning System (GPS) data were used to guide in-depth geo-narrative interviews with 33 participants, recruited from two coastal urban areas in Cornwall, UK. This was combined with a subset of case study go-along interviews in therapeutic places deemed important by participants, offering further insights into the lived experiences and relationships playing out within such places.
In focusing on participants’ active coastal geo-narratives, this presentation will illustrate the complex multi-dimensional nature of these coastal encounters. Whilst the pursuit of physical fitness contributed to participants’ sense of achievement during such interactions, many prioritised the opportunity to experience sensations of complete embodied immersion, both in their preferred activity and the coastal setting itself. As such, an important distinction emerged between everyday exercise motivated solely by fitness concerns, and that associated with pleasurable feelings of cathartic release, exhilaration and contentment.