From Motions to Missions: Interrogating sport organisation Annual Reports as works of public history

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


As a sport historian I feel a rush of excitement when I come across early triathlon governing body annual reports. They are usually personal, chatty, and forensic in documenting the organisation’s history over the previous year, particularly the minutes of the previous Annual General Meeting. More recent annual reports, not just in the sport of triathlon, are glossy, high-level promotional pieces that massage every ounce of positivity out of the past year’s history and bury any challenges and controversies. The transition of sports governing bodies from organisational entities for grass roots communities to government funded institutions responsible for nationally meaningful international athlete performances, and mass participation objectives may explain this shift in Annual Report content. This paper applies sport memory scholarship relating to statues, museums, and Halls of Fame as selective public histories in its revisioning of Annual Reports as acts of social memory. While contemporary sport governing bodies are ostensibly obliged to observe transparency, the recent public histories they provide in the form of annual reports represent highly selective acts of sport memory. They now appear to shape public sport memory for audiences consisting of international sport federations, national governments, and key sponsors, rather than grass roots sporting communities. The field of sport governance history is very limited, and this shift in sport memory-making threatens to further limit historical understandings of the important decisions and challenges that shape public sport policy.
Period5 Dec 2023
Event titlePublic Sport History and Community Sport Symposium
Event typeConference
LocationSydney, AustraliaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational