Publication Details

This book chapter was originally published as Wright, J, Analysing sportsmedia texts: developing resistant reading positions, in Wright, J, Macdonald, D and Burrows, L (eds), Critical Inquiry and Problem-solving in Physical Education, Routledge, London, 2004. Original book available here.


[Extract] The American educator Darryl Siedentop includes in his definition of a physically educated person the capacity to be 'involved critically in the sport, fitness and leisure cultures of their nations' (in Tinning 2002: 338). David Kirk uses the term physical culture to refer to the meanings, values and social practices concerned with the maintenance, representation and regulation of the body through institutionalised forms of physical activity such as sport, physical recreation, and exercise (Kirk 1997). He argues that in the process of their engagements with physical culture, young people do not merely 'participate' in physical activities, they are also consumers of the commercialised and commodified products of physical culture, ranging from foodstuffs, music, and sportswear to membership of exercise and sports clubs. These also include the cultural meanings and values associated with sport and physical activity as they are produced in a range of institutional sites, including schools, fitness clubs, sporting clubs, and most notably the mass media. It is through media coverage of sport and related activities and products that particular meanings and values associated with physical culture are produced and most widely disseminated both nationally and globally in contemporary societies. One important way, then of being involved critically in sport, fitness and leisure cultures is to be able to recognise the ways particular meanings and values (ideologies) associated with sport and physical activity are produced and with what effects for the people who are participants in, and consumers of, these cultures.

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