Sporting Times (Palgrave Pivot)
Palgrave Macmillan Ltd, Basingstoke
For all of us in the United Kingdom, 2012 may well be remembered as the year of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. For some it may have been due to the spectacular opening ceremony that depicted Britain and its history or for others it may have been due to the inclusion of women's boxing since 1908, thus labeling 2012 as 'women's time' - a sure sign of changing sporting times.
Central to each sport and the aforementioned Olympic games is time. Sporting Times by Woodward explores this under-researched relationship of time and temporality in sport, not just the imperative 'clock' time, but also the perception of time, media time, gender, race and disability discrimination and how time in sport shapes sporting past, present, and future times. Woodward implements a captivating novel methodology termed 'real-time', the writing in real time, which evokes atmospheric feelings of being immersed in events yourself, making Sporting Times a very pleasant read. Real-time as a methodology explores the understanding of how time is perceived and experienced for spectators and athletes and how time can feel timeless, or jouissance (Irigaray 1984; 1991) - a theory explored by Woodward. Although, this artistic methodology is engaging, Sporting Times lacks images and graphical data, which I feel would enhance such a text.
A key theme throughout Sporting Times is that as time passes social and political issues such as race and gender, become less predominant within sport, although they are still present. Women's boxing, has for example become increasingly socially acceptable, conveyed through the inclusion in the 2012 Olympics. However much debate remained over women's clothing, the IOC suggested that women should wear clothes that would define their gender (skirt), so not to confuse spectators watching at home on TV. Woodward addresses many more social and political arguments surrounding sport throughout the text, and with time we hope that prejudice will be erased from sport.
Through such sporting revolutions such as women's inclusion in boxing, social and political memories are created- another chapter within Sporting Times. It is these memories, which shape the future of sporting times. Arguments posed by Woodward in Sporting Times are enhanced and supported by the inclusion and discussion of several feminist social theories. The inclusion of Cornell's (1991, 1992) feminist work expresses the importance of critiquing present social inequalities to promote future change with time.
Impressively, Sporting Times acknowledges science in sport, a major aspect of changing sporting times. Since 'time' is multidisciplinary, sport science combined with the use of technology allows for improvements in athletes time trials, subsequently setting new records, which shape the future times of sport. However, as Woodward rightly states, too much sporting time can be detrimental to an athlete, for example exhaustion can lead to injury. 'Recovery time' is thus an important concept of time in sport, but was not explored in Sporting Times. Exploring the physiological aspect of sport in relation to time may have enhanced the appeal of the book to wider research areas, but it is otherwise well informed.
Sporting Times by Woodward successfully justifies time as an essential component of sport and relates time to controversial issues embedded in sport such as race and gender. This provides a thought provoking and stimulating yet effortless read for all sport sociologists, whether academics or students. In addition, Sporting Times was written during the legacy of the Olympics and thus is an accessible read for the general public, without much prior understanding of sociology needed due to the nature of the contents. The last passage of Sporting Times is a 'real-time' account of the Paralympic games opening ceremony, an amazing illustration of how sporting times have changed for the better.