Convention, Audience, and Narrative: Which Play is the Thing?

Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 38 (2):135-148 (2011)
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This paper argues against the conception of sport as theatre. Theatre and sport share the characteristic that play is set in a conventionally-defined hypothetical reality, but they differ fundamentally in the relative importance of audience and the narrative point of view. Both present potential for participants for development of selfhood through play and its personal possibilities. But sport is not essentially tied to audience as is theatre. Moreover, conceptualising sport as a form of theatre valorises the spectator’s narrative as normative for sport experience over that of the participant athlete or player, eliding player experience. Imposition of external narratives over experience risks fossilising interpretation and inhibits the beneficial effects of play for self-realisation, especially as a form of self-examination and creation through internal self-narrative.
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