Is sport an art?

Is sport an art?


norman lebrecht

August 05, 2017

From the Professor of Leisure Studies at Leeds:

Despite the separation of sport and the arts in government and popular thinking, a number of recent initiatives at local level show what can be achieved by bringing them together…

Artists bring something different to sport and sport can present artists with inspirational ideas of physicality and movement. We found that such collaborations disrupt stereotypes of what constitutes art and sport; stereotypes that see (some) sports as being the preserve of working-class males and (some) arts as being for middle-class females. Just as the idea of competition is attracting increasing interest in the arts, so too is creativity in sports. This increases the chance of both arts and sports attracting new participants or audiences…

Read on here.


  • stweart says:

    If Sport becomes an ART,will it loose it’s funding too ?

  • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

    Sport is a business, a very successful one, while classical music is a failed business.

    • Mark Pemberton says:

      Depends on the sport. Many rely on government funding. See my full comment below.

      • Maria says:

        And generally speaking, sport has economies of scale. I don’t know any mainstream sport venues seating 2,000.

      • Since classical music is the flagship among all the varieties of musical forms, when I talked about sport, I was without question referring to the flagship products of sport: football, tennis, formula one etc.

        • Mark Pemberton says:

          Athletics and other Olympic sports? They require government funding.

          • Mark Pemberton says:

            And I do think you are spectacularly missing the point. There are sports that can operate in a commercial market, and sports that can’t and which need government funding. Just as there is commercial music, and classical/art music which needs government funding to plug its infrastructural market failure.

          • Premier League, La Liga, Champions League, ATP Master Series, NBA, MLB etc.

            Olympics is not professional sport. It takes place only every four years. Which orchestra or opera give performances every four years?

  • Ungeheuer says:

    Oh wonderful. Fresh ideas for more Regietheater assaults on art. Soon we’ll see a Ring cycle with a cast donning American football gear. And at Bayreuth no less. Or something like that.

    • V. Lind says:

      I saw something like that in a ballet called Lysistrata by some French company many years ago. I share your dread.

  • Bruce says:

    It’s funny how as a society, our highest compliment is to call someone an “artist” at what they do, whether they’re a surgeon, an athlete, or whatever (Trump didn’t call his book “Sport of the Deal”), but we have a fundamental lack of respect for actual artists.

    • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

      No, not at all. In many cases, especially at work, “artist” is a sarcastic description of someone who is a narcissistic, self-overrating charlatan. She can neither set proper priority nor deliver result in time. In most of the time, this word has a negative and ironic connotation.

      Only the extremely naive people here would relate this word to “the highest compliment”.

      • Bruce says:

        Interesting, I had heard many terms for such people before, but never “artist” (except in the sense of “bullshit artist” or “scam artist,” meaning someone who tells you they will do the thing and then doesn’t do it).

        Maybe I need to read more nonfiction 😉

        • Let’s be honest, outside the inner circle of the Emperor’s Apparel Group, what healthy normal people in the world would think of “artist” in any positive way? In these days, the last thing you want in your life is being called an artist. You don’t want to be one of those composers of “contemporary music”, right? Upon hearing their “works”, at least 99.9999% of the world population would consider such people a complete retard.

          Or would you prefer to be a contemporary painter, who pretends to be a kid in order to draw some garbage? Not any better if you are one of those “concept artists”, who try to sell a pile of newspaper as an artwork, or use toilet paper to build “sculptures”.

          When asked about profession, it’s really a shame to say “I’m an artist.” People can’t take you seriously anymore if you are a so-called “artist” nowadays. In one episode of Germany’s Next Top Model, one candidate introduced her profession as “artist”. Everyone laughed at her loudly.

          The word “artist” has been fully contaminated. It just means Lachnummer, nothing more.

          • Mikey says:

            You are definitely a bitter person.
            I have no compunctions at presenting myself as a composer of classical music (or “concert music”, depending to whom I’m speaking).
            I feel no shame in it, and I’ve yet to come across anyone who has had a reaction other than “wow! that’s cool, I’ve never met a real live composer before!”

            Apparently, the problem is that you see in others your own disdain for artists, painters, and composers. It’s never a good thing to reflect your own personal prejudice on others.

          • @ Mikey

            Maybe you are good, then I am glad for you.

            Or maybe the people you met were just trying to be nice. And the other 99.9999% of people just didn’t care to tell you about their opinions.

            I am not a bitter person, please don’t overrate me. I just say my opinions aloud without being pretentious. To find bitter persons towards musicians, just take a look at all those biographies out there. You will find all kinds of mean and vicious comments towards composers by critics or even their colleague musicians. And those bitter persons were highly knowledgeable.

  • Sue says:

    “Professor of Leisure Studies”? Say no more!!!

  • Mark Pemberton says:

    We have had a series of ‘learning from sport’ sessions at recent ABO Conferences, including hearing from speakers from UK Sport and from football, cricket, basketball and hockey. Cricket showed how a sport that was dying – low attendance at county matches and increasingly cut from school sports – could be re-invigorated by new formats. Hockey was interesting – in spite of British success at the Olympics there is no commercial model and it relies on government funding for its survival at both elite and community levels.