Dr Mike Weed
Institute of Sport and Leisure Policy, School of Sport and Exercise
Sciences, Loughborough University
Inebriated? The Pub as a Sports Spectator Venue during the 2002
Football World Cup
The pub is now a significant spectator
venue for sports, particularly football. This is attributable
to a number of factors: the screening of live football on satellite
television that many people do not have access to at home (McLeod,
2002; London Metro, 2002); the increasing development of 'themed'
pubs, of which 'sports bars' are a significant sector (Mintel,
2001; Keynote, 2002); and the increasingly sanitised nature of
football grounds discouraging boisterous support (Armstrong &
Young, 2000). Of course, pubs have other advantages - they are
nearby, warm, serve alcohol, and are established 'third places'
(Lloyd & Jones, 2001). The nature, atmosphere and spatial
characteristics of pubs with large screens changes considerably
when live football is being screened (cf Bale, 1998).
to Abstracts list
However, the 2002 World Cup in
Korea and Japan represented a challenge for breweries who expect
to cash in on major football tournaments (Mintel 2000). Most
matches during the tournament took place in the early morning,
when a special licence was required to sell alcohol, the level
of demand for which was unclear. Furthermore, matches were screened
on terrestrial television, so obviating the need to go to the
pub to gain access to them. Consequently, the 2002 World Cup
presented an ideal opportunity to study 'pub sports spectating',
and to establish if it still held the same appeal in these unusual
This paper reports on an ethnographic
study of the pub as a football spectating venue during the 2002
World Cup. The research was structured to provide varied illustrative
data from a range of venues and geographical areas, rather than
systematic data from one particular venue (Sands, 2002). The
data consists of photographs, observations, informal conversations
and field notes, alongside analysis of press coverage of the
use of mediated venues.
Many people did watch the 2002
World Cup in the pub. The pub as a spectator venue has become
an accepted part of popular culture, as has the need for shared
national participation in supporting the England team at major
tournaments. Many people felt that this shared participation
was best experienced at communal venues such as pubs, with many
commenting that the experience of supporting England from the
pub almost matches 'being there' (cf Bale, 1998; Baines, 1996,
Perryman, 1999). In fact, supporting the team in the pub was,
for many, the only way of asserting and displaying their identity
as a committed England supporter (Wann & Branscome, 1995).
That this remained the case in the absence of, or absence of
demand for, alcohol, and given the ready availability of the
matches on terrestrial television, confirms the emergence of
'pub sports spectating' as a significant cultural phenomenon
based on the need for communal shared experience.
Armstrong, G. and Young, M. (2000) 'Fanatical football chants:
Creating and controlling the carnival', in G. P. T. Finn and
R. Giulanotti (eds) Football Culture: Local contests, global
visions. London: Frank Cass Publishers.
Baines, S. (1996) 'Sports Tourism - The Leisure Pursuit of 'Being
There' '. Paper to the 4th World Leisure and Recreation Association
World Congress, Cardiff, July.
Bale, J. (1998) 'Virtual fandoms: Futurescapes of football',
in A. Brown (ed) Fanatics: Power, identity and fandom in football.
Keynote Market Information (2002) Market report: Public houses.
London: Keynote Ltd.
Lloyd, E. and Jones, I. (2001) 'Where everybody knows your name?
The health club as the new 'third place' '. Paper to the 2001
Leisure Studies Association Conference, Journeys in Leisure:
Current and Future Alliances, Luton, July.
London Metro (2002) Monday's man is down the pub. 30th April.
McLeod, P. (2002) 'Routine? What Routine?'. Sunday Express, 26th
Mintel (2000) Pub visiting. London: Mintel.
Mintel (2001) Themed pubs and bars. London: Mintel.
Perryman, M. (ed) (1999) The Ingerland Factor: Home truths from
football. London: Mainstream Sport.
Sands, R. R. (2002) Sport Ethnography. Illinois: Human Kinetics.
Wann, D. L. and Branscombe, N. R. (1995) 'Influence of identification
with a sports team on objective knowledge and subjective beliefs'.
International Journal of Sports Psychology, 26, pp. 551-567.
Dr Mike Weed is at the Institute of Sport and Leisure Policy
in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Loughborough
University. He is interested in sports tourism, sports spectatorship,
sport and leisure policy, and the relationship between PE, health
promotion and sport. His doctoral thesis examined the response
of policy makers to the sport-tourism link in the UK, whilst
his publications in refereed journals have related to sports
tourism, leisure policy and football hooliganism. Together with
Dr Chris Bull at Canterbury Christ Church University College
he is currently engaged in writing a research oriented sports
tourism book, 'Sports Tourism: Participants, Policy and Providers'
with Butterworth Heinemann