The Theater of Sport
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Why is it more fun to watch a baseball game at Fenway than at Three Rivers? Why is football more exciting at Notre Dame or Alabama than in Ames, Iowa? Arguing that there is such a thing as the "perfect" place to watch or participate in a sporting event, Karl Raitz and his co-authors explain that it's not whether you win or lose, but where you play the game that counts.
As sport evolved from "pure play" to "performance" to "entertainment," they explain, the places where sport took place evolved as well -- becoming more complex, adding more elements with which a spectator or participant could interact. But at the same time, such innovations as the multipurpose stadium ("Hey, is that Cincinnati or Pittsburgh?") tended to separate the place from the event, rendering the event "placeless" and devoid of enriching character.
The authors show precisely why the new baseball stadiums in Baltimore, Cleveland, and Arlington "work" better than the concrete doughnuts of the 1960s and 70s. They explain why cricket is best enjoyed in an English village green, against the backdrop of a church tower (preferably with clock), half-timbered pub, haystacks, and elm trees. They analyze the ways in which the infield and grandstand form an essential part of the ambience at Churchill Downs -- and how tailgate parties do the same at the Talladega stock car races.
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