Metropolization and sport policies: Toward a framework for understanding the interdisciplinary generalization of their analysis. Initial reflections using the case of Montpellier (France)

Special report: “Sport and the city”
By Régis Keerle, Laurent Viala

Interpretations of the relationships between metropolization and sport policies are reduced, when it comes to sporting events, to correlations between the size of cities and the success of their professional sports clubs or how many people attend these events. However, employing an interdisciplinary geographical approach allows for a more in-depth interpretation of these relationships, without overlooking any potential generalizations. Metropolization is here conceived all at once as an effect of economic logic, a political project, and a way of living. The case of the French city of Montpellier, studied since 1977, illustrates the potential of comparing the sport policies of French metropolitan areas within a context of territorial contingency. This regional metropolitan area is characterized by its high sporting performance, which for over twenty years has exceeded what would be expected of a city of its size. Four frameworks of analysis of this situation were studied diachronically in order to identify future objects for comparison. This study has both enriched and questioned the initial reference model used for analyzing the governability of territorial sport. As a whole, the analysis fits into a context of the dynamic cumulativity of knowledge, in which social geography puts other theories and disciplines to the test.

  • Montpellier (France)
  • public action
  • sport
  • sport policies
  • territory
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