Despite the increasing number of popular and celebrated sports documentaries in contemporary culture, such as ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, there has been little scholarly engagement with this genre. Sports documentaries, like all films, do not merely showcase objective reality but rather construct specific versions of sporting culture that serve distinct economic, industrial, institutional, historical, and sociopolitical ends ripe for criticism, contextualization, and exploration.
Sporting Realities brings together a diverse group of scholars to probe the sports documentary’s cultural meanings, aesthetic practices, industrial and commercial dimensions, and political contours across historical, social, medium-specific, and geographic contexts. It considers and critiques the sports documentary’s visible and powerful position in contemporary culture and forges novel connections between the study of nonfiction media and sport.
About the Author
Samantha N. Sheppard is Mary Armstrong Meduski ’80 Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at Cornell University. She is the author of Sporting Blackness: Race, Embodiment, and Critical Muscle Memory on Screen and coeditor of From Madea to Media Mogul: Theorizing Tyler Perry. Travis Vogan is an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Department of American Studies at the University of Iowa. He is the author of ABC Sports: The Rise and Fall of Network Sports Television and ESPN: The Making of the Sports Media Empire.
“The contributions to this anthology offer a critical and methodologically varied take on sport documentaries’ industrial, aesthetic, and ideological potentials. They combine detailed textual analysis with pertinent theoretical and historical reflection. Thus, they give a convincing account of both the specific formal procedures of sports documentaries and their strong entanglement with much broader dynamics, be it memorial culture, intersectionality, or branding strategies.”—Markus Stauff, coeditor of Filmgenres: Sportfilm
“This collection fills a void in sports studies and film studies. It represents a bridge between these two important fields at a moment when sports documentaries are taking up more and more cultural space. It represents an important scholarly intervention that will propel conversations about these specific films, about the broader genre, and about the narratives that circulate in and around these representations. At the same time, this book will be useful for classes, providing critical tools for discussing a diversity of sports documentary films.”—David J. Leonard, author of Playing While White: Privilege and Power on and off the Field