Commitment, expertise and mutual recognition: oscillating sports tourism experiences of performing and watching at the World Gymnaestrada

Angela Wichmann, Nigel Jarvis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper is dedicated to exploring the shifting experiences between being actively involved in and viewing sports tourism and the extent to which the perception of both roles relates to their experience of a participant community. While historically both activities were considered as heterogeneous categories in sports tourism, understood and analysed separately, recent research increasingly acknowledges the separation between both activities is often not as clear-cut as it seems. This paper explores the oscillation of the two roles in the context of the 2011 and 2015 World Gymnaestrada in Lausanne, Switzerland, and Helsinki, Finland. Framed by the conceptual notion of community and drawing on an ethnographic research approach, the findings suggest over and above taking part in a gymnastics display oneself, watching and talking about other groups’ performances is central to the event experience. During the event week, the participants adopt two constantly shifting roles of being a performer and being a spectator, with asking for and giving feedback based on one’s own expertise being the mediating device between the two. There appears to be an internalised consensus that being involved in a display, which is taken seriously, provides the ability to assess and judge others. The constant interplay between performing and watching, between asking for feedback and showing appreciation, constitutes a significant device of mutual recognition through which the participants’ community is confirmed and validated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-280
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Sport and Tourism
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Sport & Tourism on 27/12/2015, available online:


  • active sports tourism
  • Gymnaestrada
  • gymnastics
  • leisure community
  • passive sports tourism
  • spectators


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