Arts & Humanities Research Council Funds Professor Richard Haynes project on Sport & Heritage:
From The Sporting Past To Future Wellbeing: Intergenerational Sports Heritage in Glasgow’s Southside is an exploratory action research project funded by the Arts and Humanties Research Council under its ‘Care for the Future’ theme. The project was prompted by a need to understand the meaning and values of contemporary sports culture, which is increasingly viewed as being overtly commodified, dislocated from communities and in some cases socially exclusive. For more than a century local amateur sports clubs were sites of important social and cultural bonds in communities. Today, many clubs struggle to recruit new members and face financial hardship. This decline in sports clubs is partly due to the changing nature of sport and fitness practices, which have become more individualized, but also the failure of clubs to accommodate and appeal to young people’s social and cultural needs. The research is therefore an innovative attempt to bring together a care for future recreational needs and wellbeing, with the cultural heritage of sport and its connections with local communities. Intellectually, the research connects with other projects aiming to understand and interpret the cultural transmission of practices of the past with those of the future, as well as those interested in how cultural inheritance, collective memory and intergenerational media research can be interlinked in innovative ways.
Within the humanities, there is now an established acceptance that culture and heritage have a significant part to play in generating wider public value. This is particularly the case in relation to historic buildings, monuments and landscapes of archaeological significance where various local, regional and national authorities have invested significant human and financial resources in to their conservation and sustainability for the purposes of heritage, education and tourism. Sports history has also been popularised. English Heritage, for example, has provided financial support for a series of urban studies, Played in Britain, covering the architecture, sportscape, graphic and fine art, archaeology and artefacts of past sport in selected areas such as Glasgow.
The action research was conducted with the help of pupils from Shawlands Primary School in Glasgow and a range of sports clubs in the area including Shawlands Bowling Club, Polloc Cricket Club, Clydesdale Cricket Club, Govanhill Baths Community Trust, Titwood Tennis Club and Pollok Football Club. The project also included group visits by the children to Hampden’s Scottish Football Museum, Cathkin Park (the home of the former professional club Third Lanark and the 2nd Hampden), Queens Park public bowling green, and curling at East Kilbride ice rink. The essential idea of the project was to draw on my academic expertise in sports history, sports film, cultural identity and digital archives and heritage in order to investigate the children’s awareness and knowledge about sport in the community, its past, and its value to local heritage. By bringing the children and the elder members of the local sports community together the project enabled the local sports organisations to broaden their connections with young people in their immediate locale with a view to sharing memories, knowledge and experience of the history of their sport, organisation and people. The project also used a range of visual materials curated on to iPad minis to help communities in the use and interpretation of sports films (some from Scottish Screen Archive) as well as other sports media and artifacts, in order to understand the historical place of sport in communities and their power to influence the beliefs and value systems in sport. This ultimately provided the school children with a range of experiences and transferable skills, including digital cultural mapping of local sport, an exhibition of creative work including poetry, storytelling, model-making, paintings and collage, which were shared in an exhibition at the school attended by parents, members of the sports community, curators from Hampden museum and sports development officers from Glasgow Life. To view some of the outcomes from the project and learn more about the various sporting sites in the southside of Glasgow please visit my blog at http://sportheritage.wordpress.com