Seminar – Lives of Sports Fans: Meaning in the Face of Inconsequence

Presenter: Elena Balcaite, PhD Candidate, The University of Melbourne

When:       Tuesday 30th October, 2018. 12:00-13:30.

Where:      Research Lounge, Arts West, The University of Melbourne



Sweaty palms, clenched fists, anxious sporadic gasps — the tension is palpable in an anticipation of a goal or a fallen wicket; and then suddenly it all culminates in either the uncontrollable joy of victory or crushing agony in the face of defeat. But why, in the face of historical injustices, social inequalities and the impending climate catastrophe, do some people even care about sports? How and why do some of us become fans and are trapped in this prison of passion imbued with emotional suffering yet seemingly inconsequential to the day-to-day lives? A variety of disciplines and theories have long since situated and theorised motivations, identities and behaviours of sports fans. Yet, amidst the theoretical description and scholarly argument, the experiences of fans have rarely been given the space of dialogue and the subtlety of narrative.


To redress this and to understand the place of fandom in the lives of sports fans, the thesis delves into six life narratives of fans of Australian Rules, cricket and association football. The research meta-narratives constructed in dialogue and prolonged participant-researcher collaboration situate the lives of fans at the intersection of individual biography and grand narratives. The six stories unfold in the city of Melbourne and form an elaborate and complex picture of diverse ways to engage in spectator sports in the place renowned for its facilities and its collective passion for sport. Behind the sportscapes of Melbourne, however, the intimacy of individual narratives reveals sports passions in a variety of roles and dialectics significant in the trajectories of individual lives and relating to the shared human experience.

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