What's the forest doing at the soccer-stadium? – New interrelations and disputes between sports and culture


The interplay between modern sports and popular culture is obvious and well documented. Especially at the opening and closing ceremonies of major sporting events, the correlation between is visible worldwide.

During the In the art project examined in the contribution, this positive interaction between sport and culture turned into a dispute. Rather, a battle of interpretations is raging here, both in the local media and in the social networks about the meaning, financing and execution of the art performance. The project 'For Forest - The unbroken attraction of nature' had presented an 'authentic forest' consisting of 200 European deciduous trees in the Wörthersee Stadium in the Austrian city Klagenfurt for the period from the beginning of September to the end of October in 2019. “For Forst' has triggered a controversial debate in Klagenfurt and beyond: about the concrete art project, the role of culture in public sphere (and space), but also about the relationship between sport and culture and the political support of sport.

The contribution first identifies the actors and their positions in the dispute between Sports and culture. In a second step, we will present a content analysis from the discourses in the two Carinthian daily newspapers ('Kronen Zeitung' and 'Kleine Zeitung') as well as in selected Facebook groups. In the third step, suggestions for interpreting the relationship between sport and art will be made in the context of the research on the mediatization of sport.

The investigation period for the analysis of the debate in the two daily newspapers is from September 2018 to September 2019. The method used is the Qualitative Content Analysis”. This method is selected to determine the frames, the speakers, the tendencies of the arguments within the dispute. The analysis will be flanked by interviews with experts from the media, sport and culture. Finally, an observation of three Facebook profiles, on which a particularly intense controversy about 'For Forest' is being conducted, completes the analysis.

The question of public funding of sports (infrastructure) on the one hand and cultural institutions on the other hand is controversially negotiated at the local level. The discussion takes place mainly in the local media in the sections on culture, sport and local politics. In the cultural section of the 'Kronen Zeitung' in particular, a special page with question and answer sessions on the project has been introduced, where readers are explicitly asked to ask questions which are then answered in the Sunday edition. The fundamentally problematized proximity of sports journalism to its actors and the way it deals with it has an even stronger effect on the local area.