chapter  13
27 Pages

Australian Sport in a Postmodern Age

The impact of postmodernism on the arts, architecture, literary criticism and organizational life has been comprehensively examined, but little research has been undertaken into sport to determine the extent to which it, too, may have been affected. This essay examines the impact of postmodernism on Australian sport. We aim to show that sport has been transformed by the process of postmodernism, which commenced in the middle of the 1960s when it threw away many of its moralistic pretensions and repressive formality, and locked itself into the corporate world. By the 1990s a number of professional sport leagues had emerged as amateurism lost its snobbish appeal and sport went about building its commercial value. Corporate signage saturated the major venues, and players were marketed as celebrities. Excitement, speed, the 'quick grab' and sensory bombardment became the defining features of the spectator experience. Spectacular and dramatic contests became just as important as skill and aesthetic display. Fans increasingly narrowed their attention span, but were no longer bound by a parochial tribalism. They took on multiple identities that could shift from an Hite European soccer team one week, to a suburban Brisbane rugby team the next. At the same time, branding and image making were used to attract fans and corporate supporters. Moreover, the television programmer became the final arbiter on how the game should be scheduled and played.