The Story of Bonehead Merkle: Appraising the Fictional Component of Sports

Summerley, Rory (2019) The Story of Bonehead Merkle: Appraising the Fictional Component of Sports. Well-Played, 8 (3). pp. 151-172. ISSN 2164-3458

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Abstract / Summary

Many games feature fictional worlds that inspire acts of make-believe or encourage us to willingly suspend our disbelief. Sports however, such as baseball or rugby, have no explicit fictional world whatsoever and yet there may still be things we can learn from them via analysis of their narratives. This paper takes on a provocative discussion of the fictional component of sports and how this might be understood. This essay takes on the case study of ‘Merkle’s Boner’, an infamous baseball play that catalysed a change in the game’s ruleset, to stimulate a discussion on how seemingly non-fictional games still have much to say on how game fictions are understood or supplemented by game audiences. How stories, such as Merkle’s Boner, are reflected by journalistic reports of the event, folksong and through the rules of the game itself give us insight into how fiction is generally understood within games of all types. By defining the structure of fiction in games generally, the paper then examines how the stories that sports generate can be understood using Lisbeth Klastrup’s term ‘player stories’. The precedent of famous sporting moments or stories is significant and a given sport appears to be more than just abstract scorekeeping and professionally sponsored play. Indeed, it is argued that these games are ripe for narrative analysis given the role that fiction plays in the sporting mindset.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1184/R1/9914447
ISSN: 2164-3458
Subjects: Technology > Digital Works > Digital Games
Technology > Digital Works
Philosophy & Psychology
Courses by Department: The Games Academy > Digital Games
Depositing User: Rory Summerley
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2019 14:21
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2019 16:20
URI: http://repository.falmouth.ac.uk/id/eprint/3420

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