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Where the Simulacrum Ends

UD has a category on this blog called Where the Simulacrum Ends, and it chronicles the many ways in which high-tech postmodern American culture is making the nuisance of conducting an actual life – a life outside of one’s bedroom, kitchen, and tinted-window car – a thing of the past.

This category has things in common with another UD category – Online Makeover – because among the education-related de-actualizing she chronicles (here, “actual” means going to public buildings and being with other physical humans) is the transformation of the country’s universities to – well, the strongest current model is Southern New Hampshire University, but pretty much everyone else is bringing up the rear. Public life in general in the United States is disappearing, and universities are no exception.


And of course that most salient feature of our higher education institutions – their football games – is also undergoing obsolescence. It’s happening in the professional leagues; it’s happening in the university leagues.

Before long, players may be performing in front of empty stands, with those most interested in the game sitting or standing miles away.

Why should anyone care, though? Ticket sales are no longer the main source of revenue for sports leagues. That may be a fair economical point to be made, but is there nothing to say about the toll this may take on integrity of the games played? Does the game gain a feel of becoming more of a simulation that we score through fantasy points as opposed to real-live action taking place right in front of our eyes?

Integrity… integrity… That strange word seems the core of this statement, yet what does it mean? What does it mean to say that a university or a football game has integrity?

Margaret Soltan, January 3, 2014 11:48AM
Posted in: Online Makeover, where the simulacrum ends

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2 Responses to “Where the Simulacrum Ends”

  1. MattF Says:

    ‘Integrity’, ‘game’, ‘sports’, ‘university’, ‘revenue’, and so on. Is there a term for a situation where every word used to describe it ought to have scare quotes?

  2. Contingent Cassandra Says:

    When I offer a choice between in-person and virtual (skype) conferences in online classes, >50% of the students choose in-person (and a good proportion more say they wish they could, but practicalities of timing or location make it impossible). That doesn’t mean, I think, that online learning doesn’t work, but it does suggest that students still crave real, in-person experiences (and realize their value, and their efficiency). I strongly suspect the future of education is not online/virtual, but hybrid, over the course of a class, a program, or both.

    I’m not sure quite how that connects to sports (since I have no real experience of sports spectatorship, actual or virtual, and zero interest in cultivating any), but I’d guess that the degree to which elements of the virtual experience have invaded the stadium — jumbotrons and the like — plays a role, as do high prices and crowd-control measures that limit behavior people associate with sports spectatorship (e.g. drinking and eating).

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