Uniting sport and heritage: An evaluation of the Our Sporting Life exhibition programme

Reilly, Justine Nicola, Clayton, Jane and Hughson, John Ewing orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7030-4806 (2014) Uniting sport and heritage: An evaluation of the Our Sporting Life exhibition programme. Cultural Trends, 23 (1). pp. 42-55. ISSN 0954-8963

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09548963.2014.862000


The year 2012 provided an opportunity to celebrate sporting history during the year when London staged that most historical of international sporting events, the Olympic Games. However, the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport, and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) made no reference to sporting history within official documentation, and there was no mention of sport in the Cultural Olympiad programme. This paper aims to understand the role of the Sports Heritage Network in exploring England's sporting heritage, despite being excluded from the official planning of the London 2012 Olympic Games. This affiliation of museums and archives with an interest in England's sporting past recognised the potential of the 2012 Olympic Games and established a community exhibition programme, Our Sporting Life, which aligned with LOCOG's aims and objectives. This paper evaluates the outputs and outcomes of Our Sporting Life and aims to understand why it was not supported financially or integrated into the official Cultural Olympiad programme. The data collection for Our Sporting Life is analysed and critiqued, and the impact of the programme is considered using the Generic Learning Outcomes and the Generic Social Outcomes frameworks. Our Sporting Life delivered over a hundred exhibitions and reached over one million people, with outcomes that included increasing knowledge and understanding, and strengthening public life. It provides an off-the-shelf methodology for future major sporting events and, as such, its omission from the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad can be regarded a lost opportunity.

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