I have had the opportunity to visit a number of new sport training facilities on my month-long visit to England and Wales.
All of my visits have taken me back to Thomas Gieryn’s (2000) paper, A Space for Place in Sociology. In the paper he proposes that place has three “necessary and sufficient features”:
- Location: A place is a unique spot in the universe … the distinction between here and there.
- Material Form: Place has physicality … place is stuff. It is a compilation of things or objects at some particular spot in the universe.
- Meaningfulness: Without naming, identification, or representation by ordinary people, a place is not a place. Places are doubly constructed: most are built or in some way physically carved out. They are also interpreted, narrated, perceived, felt understood, and imagined.
Places are endlessly made, not just when the powerful pursue their ambition through brick and mortar, not just when design professional give form to function, but also when ordinary people extract from continuous and abstract space a bounded, identified, meaningful, named and significant place.
I think England Rugby’s Pennyhill Park has this potential for ‘ordinary people’ as does Welsh Football’s Dragon Park in Newport. These are on a different scale to the Football Association’s St George’s Park.
Cardiff Met has made enormous strides in connecting location, material form and meaningfulness in its Cyncoed places. I am very impressed by the induction of students as performance analysts in these places.
As more of these places are developed we will need to discuss their meaningfulness as learning environments.
We will need to find a space for critical discourse about place.
St George’s Park Reception (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)
Pennyhill Park (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)
Cardiff Met (Darrell Cobner)