Over the last two decades, the Finnish community of dog agility practitioners has worked diligently towards gaining recognition for agility as a sport. The process reached an important milestone in 2016 when the National Sports Council listed the Finnish Agility Association as eligible for financial support from the state. As one of the pioneer countries in this regard, Finland is of great interest, as the agility sport continues to become more popular and professionalised worldwide. Using the findings from a qualitative study of media coverage and expert interviews about attempts to gain recognition for agility as a sport, this article explores the strategies that practitioners and the Finnish Agility Association have utilised in their work. This article shows that recognition comes with the need to find a balance between elite sports, on the one hand, and sport for all on the other. Although agility may risk losing some of its particular character as a human–animal teamwork dynamic, it has the potential to contribute to the culture of sports more widely.
In recent years there has been growing concern about concussion in sport in general and rugby union in particular. The qualitative study reported here draws on interviews (n=20) with adult players in non-elite club rugby union in Ireland in order to explore the frames of reference within which they perceive, give meaning to and manage concussion. Within a sporting subculture which emphasizes lay sporting values – particularly the value of ‘playing hurt’ – and which reflects a functional view of injury, non-elite players tend to display an irreverent attitude towards concussion which encourages risky behaviours and underplays, ignores or denies the significance of concussion. We analogously describe these beliefs and actions as being ‘head strong’. The paper concludes by identifying the contextual contingencies which make the regulation of injuries in rugby union so difficult and by establishing some core principles of public health education campaigns that might be deployed to militate against the high incidence of concussive injury in future.
Scholars have written extensively on the emergence of mass sports in modern industrial societies, and the factors that have facilitated the development of ‘hegemonic sports cultures’. Less has been written on how the structure and content of ‘national sport spaces’ change over time, and the reasons that certain sports cultures have failed to sustain their popular appeal amid processes of political, social and cultural transformation. This article analyses the sharp decline in the popularity of Spanish boxing during the 1970s and 1980s. In explaining this decline, we draw attention to a series of developments that disrupted rituals of spectatorship that were key to sustaining the sport’s fan base. Our findings highlight the importance of ritual to the reproduction of hegemonic sports cultures and identify ‘ritual disruption’ as a mechanism through which broad societal changes may alter the configuration of national sport spaces.
Despite widespread perceptions of elite US sport as meritocratic, there is little empirical research on the social origins of those who play college and professional sports in the US or how these vary by race. We use the case of American football, linking Entertainment and Sports Programming Network’s national recruit rankings data on incoming college football players from 2007–2016 (N=929) with 2000 US Census data. Our study compares hometown socioeconomic and demographic indicators for black and white college athletes and then for those drafted into the National Football League. Findings show that the socioeconomic and demographic profiles of the hometowns producing elite football athletes vary by both athlete race and draft status. Black draftees come from denser, more socioeconomically disadvantaged and blacker hometowns than black non-drafted athletes, while white draftees come from less socioeconomically disadvantaged hometowns than white non-drafted athletes.
Using data collected by means of an online questionnaire of German football-club volunteers, we studied whether match quality helps to predict philanthropy as measured in terms of donations. Match quality is defined as the congruence of a volunteer’s motives for volunteering with his or her utility experiences and can thus be expected to foster the production of volunteer satisfaction and eventually social capital. Social capital has a bonding and a bridging component. The former should predict donations to a volunteer’s own football club, while the latter should predict donations to other charitable and non-profit organizations. Our empirical results lend some support to the hypothesis that a high match quality makes it more likely for a volunteer to donate to his or her own football club. The propensity of donations to other organizations decreases when match quality increases. We use social identity theory and the economics of identity to sketch elements of a theory that links match quality, social identity, social capital, and donations.
This paper studies the gender gap in sport event attendance – characterized by higher male and lower female participation – using a macro-sociological and cross-national comparative approach. We argue that because gender is produced and justified in the realm of sport, gender gaps in sport event attendance may be more pronounced in some societies than others, depending on the position women and men have in the particular context in which someone ‘does’ his/her gender. So, in addition to individual attributes, one has to consider the societal, macro-level gender equality in order to understand the individual-level gender inequalities in sport event attendance. Using multilevel analyses on Eurobarometer data (2007), we evaluate whether the size of the gender gap in sport event attendance varies across European Union (EU) countries and how this variation relates to societal gender equality, as measured by the Gender Equality Index of the European Institute for Gender Equality. We find higher male than female attendance in all EU countries, but also conclude that higher levels of macro-level gender equality are associated with smaller gender gaps in sport event attendance.
Despite the increasing popularity of women’s sports, it has generally been found that female athletes receive less media coverage and are portrayed negatively with myriad gender-specific descriptors. Such biased representations warrant attention as they construct and reinforce traditional gender beliefs. This study compared the representations of female and male tennis players on the official site of the Australian Open 2015 and ESPN. A total of 357 articles were analysed using content analysis. The findings showed that gender representations on the two media outlets were quite similar as they both portrayed female players more negatively than male players by focusing on a few areas directly or indirectly: athletic weaknesses, negative skills, mental weaknesses and non-competitive roles (including appearance, attire, family and personal relationship). However, the use of certain descriptors might indicate the possibility of more gender-neutral representations of athletes in the future. It was concluded that while hegemonic masculinity was challenged at times, stereotypical beliefs about females were largely reinforced in the mediated gender representations on the two websites.
It has been claimed that the one place Englishness exists is on the sports field, and usually it is men’s sport that appears central to creating a sense of English national identity. However, in light of England’s sporting success across multiple women’s sports (namely cricket, netball, association football and rugby union), there warrants a need to begin to question the place of these female athletes in discussions of the nation. Drawing on extensive interview data with women who have represented England at sport, this paper seeks to ‘give a voice’ to these women whose experiences have often been ignored by both the popular press and academics alike. This research discusses the way in which English women represent their nation, both on the field of play and more broadly, and sheds light on the complexity of the intersections of gender and national identity. Attention is also paid to the role of women as warriors in the conventional sense. It is argued that, through playing international, representative sport, the women actively embody the nation, with national identity often overriding gendered identity in these instances. In this sense, they become proxy warriors for the nation.
Although local governments attempt to promote sports among all layers of society, people with a lower socio-economic status are still under-represented in grassroots sports. Previous studies indicate that inter-sectoral networks and joint efforts can contribute to an increase in sport participation among these groups, but a systematic analysis of the structure, coordination and interactions in the networks is still missing. Insight into networks to promote sport for disadvantaged people may help in designing effective networks. Therefore, we conducted a social network analysis to explore the network structure and characteristics of networks that promote sport participation among disadvantaged people in three Flemish cities. Our results show that the networks needed to be coordinated by a sport administrator, in the initial stage. Once the network is up and running, coordination can be shared so that the sport administration can rely on the experiences of other sectors. More sport initiatives and a better network structure were found in the cities with a community sport development program, through which the sport-for-all policy is implemented and coordinated, compared to a city without such a program.
Equestrian sport is one of the largest sports among young girls in Sweden. A majority of these girls get their riding education at riding schools that provide horses and instructors. Previous research has pointed out that the Swedish riding school is characterised by a traditional stable culture that originated in army practices. Presently Swedish children and youth sport at large are undergoing a change driven by increased commercialisation and individualisation. The aim of this article is therefore to explore and analyse how Swedish riding instructors perceive and experience their professional role in regards to these changes. Interviews with 10 riding instructors have been analysed using a constructivist approach of Grounded theory, as well as institutional theory and institutional economic theory. It was discovered that the riding instructors, due to an economic recession, feel that the institutional arrangements of the riding schools have become governed by the economy. The riding instructors thus feel impelled to change and adapt to new teaching styles – from instruction characterised by giving orders to teaching characterised by dialogue. This study illustrates how economic challenges require continuous development of the riding instructors’ pedagogical ability, and have made them more aware of their profession, its historical heritage and norms.
Football fans around the world chant together to generate a carnivalesque atmosphere as well as to proclaim their collective identity. This paper unveils the key social issues that are behind the chants of the most culturally diverse cohort of football fans in Australia, the Western Sydney Wanderers FC supporters. Using a theoretical approach based on the everyday to look at data gathered over two years of ethnographic fieldwork, the paper reveals how the lyrics of the chants and the noisy carnival of the Wanderers fans express their multicultural identity and their hopes for a non-conflictive community. The findings also demonstrate how the chants challenge mainstream fandom culture in the country and in so doing, express fans’ resistance to the constraints of the current social order. Additionally, the results show how the carnivalesque quality brought to Western Sydney by the chants enters the fans’ daily routine. Closing notes suggest that the methodology used in this research should be employed in different Australian sports codes to examine how multiculturalism is currently enacted in these sites. The paper concludes by proposing that, more than singing for the club, this multicultural cohort is chanting for themselves.
Influenced by the industrial working classes in the nineteenth century, the emergence of regulated and professional association football became a symbol of masculinity for millions of boys and men that subsequently became engrained in future generations of male fans. One particular element of this was heightened sexism and homophobia and was illustrated by the dreadful reaction by fans, the media, team mates and opposition players to the decision by Justin Fashanu to come out in 1990 during a period of high cultural homophobia. Since 1990, however, there has been a cultural shift occurring in professional football. This article focuses on reviewing the empirical research that has illustrated a more inclusive change in attitude amongst some players and fans (both those attending games in person and those who actively engage in football-related discussions via the internet) as well as within the print and online media.
The article aims to analyse the evolution of governmental policy in regard to football-related violence in Poland. The investigation is seen through a broader political prism of the country’s modernization efforts that were symbolically framed by two major events: the partially free parliamentary elections in 1989 and the finals of Euro 2012 co-hosted by Poland. The paper offers a discussion on policy dynamics stemmed from politicization and instrumentalization of the complex problem of hooliganism. By doing so, it demonstrates how, under external political pressure and in search for internal popularity, the governments introduced superficial legal and institutional solutions thoughtlessly imitating policies adopted in other countries (mainly England), and how this approach led to masking and sidelining social problems rather than offering actual solutions.
In shifting our gaze to the sociological impact of being in the minority, the purpose of this study was to substantiate a model of gendered social well-being to appraise women coaches’ circumstances, experiences and challenges as embedded within the social structures and relations of their profession. This is drawn on in-depth interviews with a sample of head women coaches within the UK. The findings demonstrate that personal lives, relationships, social and family commitments were sidelined by many of the participants in order to meet the expectations of being a (woman) coach. We locate these experiences in the organisational practices of high performance sport which hinder women coaches from having meaningful control over their lives. The complexities of identity are also revealed through the interplay of gender with (dis)ability, age and whiteness as evidence of hegemonic femininity within the coaching profession. Consequently, for many women, coaching is experienced as a ‘developmental dead-end’.
This article will examine the previously under-researched area of the under-representation and experiences of elite level minority (male) coaches in (men’s) professional football in Western Europe. More specifically, the article will draw on original interview data with 40 elite level minority coaches in England, France and the Netherlands and identify a series of key constraining factors which have limited the potential for and realization of opportunities for career progression across the transition from playing to coaching in the professional game. In doing so, the article will focus on three main themes identified by interviewees as the most prescient in explaining the ongoing under-representation of minority coaches in the sport: their limited access to and negative experiences of the high level coach education environment; the continued existence of racisms and stereotypes in the professional coaching workplace; and the over-reliance of professional clubs on networks rather than qualifications-based frameworks for coach recruitment. Finally, the article will contextualize these findings from within a critical race theory perspective and will draw clear linkages between patterns of minority coach under-representation, the enactment of processes and practices of institutional racism, and the underlying normative power of hegemonic Whiteness in the sport.
Overshadowed by the events of WWII and Germany’s responsibility for the Jewish Holocaust, German–Israel relations are both sensitive and complicated. The memories of the Holocaust and Nazi crimes continue to pervade many areas of life in Israel, as these memories are regularly manipulated by multiple stakeholders. The present study examines the recently growing popularity of the German soccer team among Jewish-Israelis and how past events involving Germany affect fans’ support and sentiments. The findings of this study revealed fans’ dissonance: while fans passionately support the style of soccer of the German team and its players, they are nonetheless challenged by Germany’s role in the Holocaust and consequently adopt various cognitive defenses. A portion of the fans consider their support for the German team as an ingress into European culture; support for the German team is considered antithetical to Israeli culture that supposedly represents a type of sloppiness and imperfect performance. For another portion of the fans, support for Germany represents a Jewish victory over the Nazi motivation to annihilate the Jewish people in the Holocaust.
Amidst recent clarion calls for ‘transformative action’ within the sociology of sport, in this paper we consider the prospects of the field with respect to challenging social injustices and inequities. We reflect on how the sociology of sport has developed in a manner that now privileges the idiographic over the nomothetic, qualitative over quantitative methods and social constructionism over scientism. Although we acknowledge the strengths of these ways of knowing, we argue that the resulting marginalization of quantitative methods and associated scepticism towards the biological sciences may potentially limit the ability of the sociology of sport to make a difference. We subsequently draw on select feminist activists and affect theorists to consider how methodological border crossings might enhance possibilities for challenging social injustices. We proffer that it is timely to reevaluate the field’s epistemological orthodoxies in order to have greater political impact.
Diversity is a key term used in a range of public and private organizations to describe institutional goals, values and practices. Sport is a prominent social institution where the language of diversity is frequently and positively used; yet, this rhetoric does not necessarily translate into actual practice within sport organizations. This paper critically examines diversity work in community sports clubs. Drawing upon qualitative research at 31 amateur sports clubs in Australia, the findings show that diversity work in community sport organizations is often haphazard and accidental, rather than a strategic response or adaptation to policy. This paper concludes that while individual champions are critical to the promotion of diversity, persistent tensions and resistance arise when they seek to translate the language of diversity into institutional practice and culture change.
Although sport can serve as a valuable mechanism for social change, this does not imply it can single-handedly solve large-scale problems; rather, sport should be utilized with passionate leadership, efficient and innovative program design, and ancillary cultural enrichment activities to achieve optimal results. This research was motivated by developments in some marginalized and at-risk communities where several sport-for-development programs have started to incorporate music to enhance the appeal and impact of sport interventions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of hip-hop and sport by one sport-for-development program to educate and improve the lives of inner-city youth in Harlem. Data were collected by interviewing key stakeholders of the program, including participants, workshop leaders, staff, and upper-level executives along with onsite observations. Results of our investigation highlighted the cultural influence of music and sport within a local demographic and a sport-for-development initiative aimed to appeal to both local at-risk youth and key community stakeholders.
Knowing how to coach effectively is one ever-present truth across all sports and yet our previous research based on the work of Michel Foucault has illustrated how the effectiveness of endurance running coaches’ everyday coaching practices is limited by their use of various disciplinary techniques. Missing from these analyses was any consideration of Foucault’s conceptualization of how modern power works through the disciplinary instruments or the confession to progress coaches’ practices. To address this gap in this paper, we present data from interviews and observations with 15 male high-performance endurance running coaches in the United Kingdom and the United States to examine how the exercise of disciplinary instruments along with the confession affects endurance running coaches’ understanding of how to coach. In our analysis we show how discipline’s instruments and the confession operate in ways that significantly restrict and limit endurance running coaches’ efforts to develop their athletes and progress their practices. In order to develop effective coaches it is therefore essential that coaches become aware of how power operates in and around their coaching environment.
Coaches are critical to elite sport achievements because they represent the link between sport policies and athletes. Yet, labor migration of elite sport coaches challenges the competitiveness of the sport system of the sending country and brain drain is a concern for policy-makers. Previous research on labor migration in sport has focused on athletes in professional team sports. Based on the push–pull framework, this study seeks to explore the factors affecting labor migration of elite sport coaches in less commercialized sports. Semi-structured interviews with nine elite sport coaches employed in Germany were conducted. The following migration factors emerged from the analysis: job-related factors (salary, workload, financial planning security, pressure, politics within the sport federation, and recognition of the coaching job in society); social factors (family support, and children’s education); competitive factors (training environment, and sport equipment); and seeking new experiences (new culture/language, and challenging task). Networks were found to be critical to the reception of job offers. A combination of various push and pull factors from several levels (i.e., individual, household, organizational, and national level) is at work when examining potential coach migration. Policy- makers should consider these factors when they strive to create a more attractive working environment for coaches.
The current historical moment abounds with social ideologies suggesting that girls’ and women’s sport has come a long way. Narratives of achievement, success and the gains that have ostensibly been made over the last three decades hold up these ideologies. In this interview-based study, we consider girls’ minor hockey in Southern Alberta, Canada to examine whether and how historically entrenched inequalities are being challenged, eradicated and/or maintained. To do this, we consider how gender systems are simultaneously resisted and reproduced in girls’ minor hockey in this region thus, positioning it outside the ‘triumphant feminist tale’. In so doing, we highlight the importance of critically considering progress narratives of growth and success in girls’ and women’s sport.
While considerable scholarly research has examined online media’s function as a public sphere forum, surprisingly little analysis has extended to examining the public’s actual deliberations of the covered issue(s). Recognizing this gap, this discussion conceives online news comments in response to a CBCNews (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation online news) article reporting the release of Active Healthy Kids Canada’s 2010 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth as such a forum. Children’s physical (in)activity habits have become a central focus of various realms (e.g. medical, government, public health, educational and media), which have increasingly framed them as a pressing societal concern. And while the discursive effects of such representations have been subject to critical cultural analysis, not examined to date is the public’s understanding of this issue. The online comments posted in response to the CBCNews article are thus used as an occasion to examine some of the Canadian public’s sense-making of this "problem" in terms of the discourses they invoked in their deliberations.
The conditions for high performance have changed considerably over the last few years. Athletes must spend more time training and competing, devote a lot of time to mental, physical and nutritional professionals and continue to respond to some constraints such as studying, spending time with their families, friends and quality of life. In this context and based on the work of Rosa, we wonder about the capacity of elite athletes to combine all these constraints, namely to manage the acceleration in their pace of life, in order to be able to achieve always more and better in the same time unit. To address this issue, we interviewed 42 French high-level athletes who train at the National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance (INSEP). Results show that to suit their goals, athletes implement arrangement and adjustment strategies aimed at making the time they have wholly useful and efficient. This time constraint puts athletes in a perpetual state of tension, on the verge of a good or poor life. The paper shows how the question of time, and particularly the acceleration of pace of life, is vital for modern sporting performance.
The maturation of the field of ‘Sport for Development and Peace’ (SDP) is reflected in the growing number of research publications on the topic. This article focuses on a recent review of English-language research publications on SDP from 2000–2014 conducted by Schulenkorf et al. (2016. Sport for development: an integrated literature review. Journal of Sport Management 30: 22–39). We attempt to extend the analysis of current SDP research offered by Schulenkorf et al. through an exploration of the sociological implications of their key findings. In particular, we offer critical sociological commentary on key insights regarding the conceptualization of SDP; the dominant theoretical perspectives used in SDP research; the methodology and dissemination of SDP research and the demographics of researchers and research teams. In so doing, we seek to encourage critical reflection and practical considerations for scholars interested in the critical sociological analysis of SDP.
The purpose of this qualitative study is to add a sociological dimension to sponsorship research, which is otherwise dominated by marketing research. This paper analyses how world-class but often not well-paid athletes from time-consuming endurance sports like rowing and triathlon seek individual sponsorships as a strategy to improve their financial situation. With regard to theory, an institutional logics perspective is adopted in which logics both provide tools for individual actors as well as representing agency constraints. To understand how athletes cope with the encounter between sport and business, insights from micro-sociology are employed. The findings indicate that various roles are performed, that sponsorship commitment is an issue of finding a balance between ‘gameworthiness’ and integrity and that the quest for an individual sponsorship is deselected as an option by some athletes. These insights are used to sketch out the paradox of sponsorship commitment, where time-consuming sponsorship engagement as a solution to athletes’ financial problems may potentially undermine their professional identity, which is characterised by the quality of their craft – the quality that simultaneously makes the athlete a market asset.
Mediated sport has assumed an extraordinary position in contemporary global culture. It is enormously popular, especially when stimulated by both artful and ‘carpet bomb’ marketing and promotion. It is, correspondingly, in high commercial demand in the transition from scheduled, ‘appointment’ broadcast television to a more flexible, mobile system of on-demand viewing on multiple platforms. The ‘nowness’ of sport means that it is highly effective in assembling massive, real-time audiences in an era of increasing fragmentation both in terms of numbers and viewing rhythms. At the same time, sport routinely insinuates itself into the everyday lives of citizens in ways that are no more uniform than the people who encounter it. Even among enthusiastic participants in, and aficionados of, sport, there is considerable experiential diversity in engagement with it in mediated form. Socio-cultural variables such as age, gender, ethnicity and social class, as well as dispositions of sporting taste, are responsible for considerable differences in the practices associated with mediated sport. This article addresses current research on cultural citizenship and sport in Australia, drawing on qualitative data from Greater Western Sydney, Australia’s most demographically diverse region, in analysing the various ways in which citizens engage with sport as participants and spectators. It explores the research participants’ views concerning their rights to access ‘live’ mediated sport within a broad framework of cultural citizenship, analysing the tension between commercial and citizen relationships in the production of public culture. Finally, the article considers problems associated with such access, including with regard to the so-called ‘gamblification’ of sport.
This paper spotlights the sporting lives of young people who live in ‘Redcrest’, a public housing community in the Niagara region of Canada. We report on data culled from neighborhood-centric documents (municipal data, planning council reports, media coverage) and ethnographic fieldwork (interviews, community mapping, go-alongs) collected over eight months with 14 young people. This paper also offers a critique of Robert Sampson’s work on neighborhood effects and draws on the theoretical insights and urban scholarship of Henri Lefebvre, Loic Wacquant, and the work of postcolonial scholar Frantz Fanon, who further understandings of racism as a spatial relation. At the center of this research are narratives that highlight that public housing projects, negative stigma notwithstanding, can be good places to live. The results highlight the various contradictions and tensions experienced by young people living in Redcrest, specifically their experiences with neighborhood stigma, racism and Islamophobia, and how this impacts their sporting lives.
This paper discusses the role and function of alcohol in sporting shooting in the UK. It seeks to understand and critically comment upon alcohol consumption relating to this sport, to widen empirical knowledge of sporting shooting and to use the lens of alcohol to enhance our theoretical understanding of changes taking place in the global countryside. The paper contextualises the activity of sporting shooting by discussing the characteristics of game shooting participants and also the nature of sporting shooting in Britain and Ireland using examples from the pro-shooting press and shooting memoirs. The paper then unpacks the role alcohol fulfils during the sporting day and questions whether it is problematic in this sport on three grounds: the health and safety of participants; for the policing and regulation of legal gun ownership; and for the sustainability and viability of sporting shooting in a changing global countryside. The paper enhances knowledge and understanding in the sociology of sport by broadening the notion of sporting conduct within the sport–alcohol nexus, examining the sport–alcohol nexus in the context of sporting shooting and by demarking changes taking place in the British countryside itself. Two cultures participate in game shooting: for its intrinsic reward (the ‘true countryman’) and those perceiving the countryside and its elite activities in more instrumental terms (the networker). The long-term implications of this trend are unknown, but it may indicate a threat to the sustainability and long-term viability of sporting shooting if it becomes a purely commercial venture.
This article addresses factors that influence voluntary sport club (VSC) members’ loyalty to voluntary engagement. The question asked is an issue of VSC volunteers’ commitment whether they decide to quit or continue their engagement. A multilevel approach was used that considered both individual characteristics of volunteers and corresponding contextual features of VSCs to analyse members’ voluntary commitment. Different multilevel models were estimated in a sample of 477 volunteers in 26 Swiss and German VSCs. Results indicated that members’ stable voluntary activity is not just an outcome of individual characteristics such as having children belonging to the club, strong identification with their club, positively perceived (collective) solidarity and job satisfaction. In addition to these factors, the findings confirm the significance of the contextual level. Stable volunteering appears to be more probable in rural VSCs and clubs that value conviviality. Surprisingly, the results reveal that specific measures to promote volunteering have no significant effect on voluntary commitment in VSCs.
As match-fixing has emerged as a global problem, states and sports organisations have proposed a range of countermeasures. However, despite their neutral, technocratic appearance, these instruments produce their own political effects. Drawing from a case study of the 2011 South Korean ‘K-League’ football match-fixing scandal that resulted in a raft of countermeasures, this article examines how match-fixing countermeasures (re)organise the power relations within the sports betting industry. Using a qualitative, interpretive multi-method approach, three consequences are suggested. First, the education programme redefines sports ethics by delivering new codes of conduct that are aligned to the demands of betting. Second, regulations instituted by the K-League and the government frame the illegal activity as infringing upon the key stakeholders’ economic interests, further privileging the importance of the betting regime. Third, the sports betting monitoring system itself empowers the sole betting company as a trustworthy ‘fixer’ of the match-fixing problem through co-optation into its policy framework. Consequently, this study shows that key stakeholders manage the risk of losing legitimacy by showcasing their efforts to fight against match-fixing, while also taking advantage of the countermeasures to normalise the business of sports betting, thus furthering their own interests.
In recent years, sport mega events have been frequently awarded to autocratic countries whose regimes violate democratic values and human rights. Based on the theory of cognitive dissonance, we assume that this is a potential source of internal conflict for viewers, especially for sports enthusiasts and politically aware recipients. Special attention rests on the consequences of the recipients’ strategies of addressing this predicament for important stakeholders of these events, namely the reporting media, the host country and sponsors. We conducted an online survey among 711 German respondents to examine how recipients cope with this dilemma using the forthcoming FIFA soccer World Cup 2018 in Russia as an example. Our results show that while recipients are strongly interested in soccer and politics, most of them do not necessarily perceive these two spheres as inextricably connected. Their awareness of sociopolitical issues in the context of sport events—and thus the decisive factor to explain cognitive dissonance—is arguably low. Still, when recipients experience cognitive dissonance they rely on certain strategies to reduce or avoid dissonance. They do not elude this dilemma by preferring sports broadcasting without coverage of the event’s negative circumstances, but are actually willing to pass on parts of the tournament. They also do not denigrate the credibility of the media or emphasize positive aspects of the host country Russia. In fact, the recipients would prefer if the World Cup had not been awarded to Russia in the first place. However, respondents experiencing cognitive dissonance are also more likely to engage in political consumerism, by deliberately deciding against or in favor of products and sponsors depending on whether or not those are associated with the event.
The aim of this paper is to gain conceptual understanding of changes in leisure-time sports participation (LTSP) as an issue of institutional change. The study is elaborated in the LTSP research context of Flanders (Belgium) and Denmark. Data originate from the Flemish Household Study on Sports Participation (1969, 1979, 1989, 1999, 2009), Danish National Surveys on Sports Participation (1964, 1975, 1993, 1998, 2007, 2011) and the Flemish Participation Survey on Culture, Youth, Sports and Media (2009). A theoretical framework on institutional change is outlined to frame developments in the organisation of LTSP. Next, empirical evidence on changes in LTSP is presented based on time-trend observations and an in-depth analysis of profiles of participants in different organisational settings. The developments seem to reflect post-modern and post-materialist values that are linked to the theory of institutional change. The final part of the paper links changes in leisure-time sports participation to institutional theory in a conceptual framework of ‘greedy’ and ‘light’ institutions. The dynamic character of the framework suggests that both processes of deinstitutionalisation and reinstitutionalisation occur in the field of LTSP. The interpretation of institutional logics related to processes of change may inspire LTSP research from different perspectives.
Playing hurt is a widespread phenomenon in elite sports that often goes along with using painkillers, disregarding medical guidelines, and hiding pain from coaches, teammates and medical staff. This paper theoretically conceptualizes the phenomenon of playing hurt as a sport-specific sickness presenteeism problem. To empirically analyse the willingness to play hurt, we refer to survey data from 723 elite German athletes, both male and female, in the sports of handball and track and field. Factor analysis, cluster analysis and binary logistic regression analysis are applied to reveal the athletes’ cognitive representation of absence legitimacy and to identify athlete groups with varying levels of willingness to compete hurt. Our results show that subtle distinctions are made between different kinds of health problems. In particular, there is a high willingness to compete despite psychosocial complaints. Cluster analysis reveals two clusters: ‘athletes conditionally willing to rest’ and ‘rest-averse and pain-trivializing athletes’. Athletes who perceive more social pressure to compete hurt, who have a higher performance level and who participate in handball, are more likely to be in the group of rest-averse and pain-trivializing athletes. The findings enhance our understanding of presenteeism and absenteeism in a highly competitive work context, and can contribute to the development of more target-group-specific health prevention programmes for athletes.
The intention of this paper is to analyse the role that networks play in enabling the recruitment of a group of male migrant professional footballers employed by clubs based in Norway’s top professional football league – the Tippeligaen. Based upon a series of semi-structured interviews conducted with migrants and recruiters, and synthesising concepts derived from the sociology of sport and the broader study of migration, the analysis identifies that the recruitment of migrant workers to Tippeligaen clubs reflects a mix of both formal and informal processes. Whilst agents operate as key actors in the mobilisation of foreign labour, the analysis shows how recruitments in this particular athletic context are also dependent on processes of human mediation facilitated by a series of informal interdependent networks of relationships.
Utilising research conducted in Sheffield (UK) with people seeking asylum, this article explores the ways in which soccer might be used to create a sense of belonging in the host country. It explores participant feelings about soccer and its potential to alleviate the pressures that the status of being an ‘asylum seeker’ brings. The ways in which soccer may play a role in the identity formation of those seeking asylum is considered in relation to both self-identity and the perceptions of others. The findings of this exploratory study suggest that the various ways of interacting with soccer can provide participants with a sense of control, identity and belonging.
While much research has examined the composition of sport media and those charged with constructing it, namely sport journalists and editors, far less has explored an essential set of actors in the construction of news: sources. This study aimed to explore the construction of the sport media agenda from arguably the most important sport news sources: sport media relations managers. In particular, this paper asked: how do media staff in sports organisations influence the production of news? To answer this question, this paper is based on a qualitative, observational study of a professional Australian Rules football club in Australia, involving interviews, observations and document analysis. Research within a professional Australian Rules football club found that the club delivered high-quality information subsidies that met sports journalists’ newswork requirements. However, media access was almost solely limited to these information subsidies, which are highly subjective and negotiated, which in turn allowed the professional football club to significantly control the subsequent media agenda.
Availability and access have been central worries that are discussed related to children’s and young people’s sport and other structured leisure activities. In this article, we shift the focus towards children’s and young people’s experiences of violence perpetrated by coaches or leaders within such activities in Finland. We use a large-scale survey on children’s and young people’s experiences of violence in different spheres of life (Finnish Child Victim Survey 2013) as the data, and concentrate on the significance of gender and ethnicity for the experiences of violence within structured leisure. The results show that boys report significantly higher levels of emotional, physical and sexual violence perpetrated by a coach or a leader within leisure activities than girls; and immigrant background seems also to increase the risk of being victimized. With the help of logistic regression analysis, we assess the role of other background factors in experiencing violence within structured activities, but conclude that the significance of gender and ethnicity persists even when factors related to the family background are taken into consideration.
Swimming and aquatic activity are fields in which gendered, embodied identities are brought to the fore, and the co-presence of other bodies can have a significant impact upon lived experiences. To date, however, there has been little research on sport and physical cultures that investigates how meanings associated with space impact upon women’s embodied experiences of participating in swimming, specifically in the presence of their young children. Using semi-structured interviews and non-participant observations, this qualitative study employed a Foucauldian-feminist framework to explore self-perceptions and embodied experiences of aquatic activity amongst 20 women, who were swimming with children aged under four. Results highlight that through ‘felt’ maternal responsibilities, the co-presence of babies’ and children’s bodies shifted women’s intentionality away from the self towards their child. Mothers’ embodied experiences were grounded in perceptions of space-specific ‘maternal instincts’ and focused upon disciplining their children’s bodies in the lived-space of the swimming pool. Key findings cohere around mothers’ felt concerns about hygiene, water temperature and safety, and elements of intercorporeality and ‘somatic empathy’.
This article focuses on the case of Trump International Golf Links, Scotland (TIGLS), a golf course in Aberdeenshire that opened in 2012 after a lengthy and contentious application and development phase. Herein, we draw from a larger study of golf and the environment with the aim of assessing both the TIGLS case in itself and its implications for the study of sport/physical culture in general. The TIGLS case on the one hand provides an empirical example of the concept of ‘environmental managerialism’ – which is to say it exemplifies how governments, even with an ostensible commitment to sustainability in place, can still give approval to environmentally impactful development projects. It also provides an empirical example of a new social movement at work. Once the TIGLS development earned government approval, it was met by opposition during the construction phase by a group called ‘Tripping Up Trump’. On the other hand, we use the TIGLS case as a platform for a broader research commentary, one focused especially on the recently emergent Physical Cultural Studies (PCS) literature. Our contention at this time is that PCS as thus far conceived is anthropocentric in its scope; the important and necessary role that non-humans play in physical cultural contexts has largely been overlooked. We call for further consideration of how ‘new materialist’ perspectives can inform research on sport and other dimensions of physical culture.
Infatuation, love and sexual relationships exist virtually anywhere. Coach–athlete sexual relationships (CASR), however, are overlooked and under-researched. Within sport sociology, CASR have been framed predominantly by a sexual abuse discourse. Informed by Foucault’s discourse analysis, this study explores how discourses regarding performance enhancement in elite-sport and coaching, and romantic love, frame female elite-athletes’ experiences with CASR. Interviews with four female elite-athletes aged 26–30 were conducted. The results indicate that CASR are potentially problematic because they intersect and challenge discourses comprising elite-sports, coach–athlete relationships, female sexual agency, and love. Moreover, discourses of power differ between the professional and private contexts. While the athletes expect their coaches to exert dominance and control in the elite-sport context, love relationships are about equally and mutually giving away power and control. Although CASR can facilitate motivation and performance, framing CASR as inherently unequal and abusive can contribute to stigmatisation, secrecy and athlete disempowerment.
The aim of this study was to consider the retirement experiences of British male professional association footballers by utilising Foucault’s analysis of discipline discussed in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Specifically, we drew upon Foucault to consider how, through the various techniques and instruments of discipline, the professional football context produces ‘docile footballing bodies’ and how this might influence a player’s experiences in retirement. We gathered our empirical material using a Foucauldian-informed interview framework with 25 former professional male football players between the ages of 21 and 34. Our analysis suggested that retirement from football was both a challenge and a relief for our participants, and that their extended period of time within football’s strong disciplinary apparatus significantly influenced how they experienced their retirement.
The lack of attention towards issues of governance in both global sport-for-development (SfD) policy and academic literature is placed in stark relief when compared to the significance accorded to such issues in international development. This article addresses this lacuna in sport-for-development by drawing on international development literature as well as interview data from representatives of international agencies, domestic governments and in-country non-governmental organisations involved with sport-for-development in Ghana and Tanzania. As previously recognised in other development sectors, the commonality of narrow, project-based approaches in sport-for-development contributes to excessive donor influence, fragmentation, competition and limits both impact and sustainability. It was in response to similar problems that, from the mid-1990s, Sector Wide Approaches were instigated within specific sectors in particular countries as a more systematic model of development governance based on leadership by the domestic government and co-ordination among donors and other stakeholders. Although interviewees’ perspectives and some exemplar sport-for-development initiatives aligned with key features of Sector Wide Approaches, significant challenges to their effective instigation in sport-for-development can be identified. Nevertheless, examining the applicability of Sector Wide Approaches to sport-for-development raises important issues that require further consideration and demonstrates the necessity that sport-for-development, more generally, learns from the longer-established field of international development.
While the popularity of English football increases worldwide, there has been a marked rise in the discontent expressed by a small but growing group of domestic fans. This dissent has led to the emergence of a movement broadly defined as being ‘Against Modern Football’ (AMF), a banner under which fans of rival clubs have gathered in an attempt to challenge the poor governance, commercialism and greed that has come to dominate the English game. This article offers a conceptualisation of what it means to be ‘against modern football’ based upon Karl Polanyi’s analysis of the market society. Developing the dialectic of the ‘double-movement’ that appears in Polanyi’s most famous work, The Great Transformation, this article demonstrates how these governing principles might be useful in explaining both the complex cultural political economy of English football and the possibilities that exist for the AMF movement to socially re-embed the modern game.
This article investigates the relationship between four major life events and stopping sport participation in young adulthood. We employ a neo-Weberian theoretical framework related to changes in temporal and social resources to explain how beginning to work, starting to live on one’s own, starting to cohabit or getting married, and the birth of one’s first child affect the risk to stop practising a sport and to end a sport club membership. We used detailed retrospective life-course data from the Dutch SportersMonitor 2010 on 3540 individuals to examine the sport careers and major life events of young adults (aged 18–35). Our event history analyses indicate that the risk to stop practising a sport increases when young adults begin to work, move out to live on their own, and start cohabiting or get married. The risk of ending a sport club membership rises when young adults start to live on their own and when they cohabit or get married. The birth of the first child increases the risks of both stopping a sport and ending club membership for young women, but not for young men.
This article reports findings from a study designed to examine cricket’s role as an international development tool – with a particular focus on how decisions are made at the highest institutional levels to support cricket-related development initiatives. Data for the study are drawn from interviews with executives in the International Cricket Council and the Marylebone Cricket Club who were asked about how and why decision-makers in their organizations chose to engage in development-related work. The study is informed by literature on postcolonialism, sport for development and peace, global politics and the sociology of cricket. The results illustrate that: (a) a select group of executives in the International Cricket Council and the Marylebone Cricket Club make decisions hierarchically, and that decisions reflect organizational mandates; (b) decision-makers tend to be dismissive of critiques of sport for development and peace, with notable exceptions; and (c) the goals and implications of development-related programmes are portrayed differently to different audiences. This article concludes with commentary on the ways that cricket continues to be implicated in postcolonial relationships and on the processes of decision-making in organizations governed by neoliberal policies.
This paper is primarily concerned with the types of data that are of value to sociologists – in this instance, particularly to sociologists of sport. It is argued here that we can and should add works of fiction to the more commonly accepted data sources. Whilst most academic writers may be cautious about the excessive use of invention, even in personal narratives, others are less diffident. The paper examines representations of sport in fiction with specific reference to three novels, their central characters and the insights provided by their fictional beings into the relationship between sport, individuals and society. The novels selected as evidence are Robert Coover’s (1992) The Universal Baseball Association, Inc. J. Henry Waugh, PROP (London: Minerva), Richard Ford’s (1987) The Sportswriter (London: Flamingo) and Chad Harbach’s (2012) The Art of Fielding (London: Fourth Estate). Based on the identification of emerging themes in the novels, and the application of relevant sociological concepts – anomie, alienation and figurations – it is argued that, although the novels’ authors are not sociologists, they could be, and although the stories which they tell are not true, they too could be. It is these ‘facts’ that makes them valuable sources of data.
The aim of this article is to challenge the widespread acceptance of player burnout as an athlete’s personal inability to deal with the situational demands of sporting competition. Adapting Coakley’s earlier assertion that burnout is ‘a social problem rooted in the social organization of high performance sport itself’, the interactions between Gaelic athletes and the social world in which they exist are unpacked within an Irish context. Linking findings to Gramsci’s theory of hegemony, ‘dominant power relations’ within the competitive sport setting are identified and critically analysed. It is argued that Gaelic players are exploited within a competitive culture in which they feel entrapped, because their actions are informed by the cultural norms of the Gaelic Athletic Association, the sport’s National Governing Body, and dependent upon relationships with coaches and others in positions of authority in the federation. As such, Gaelic footballers are not voluntary agents, somehow acting independently of the constraints of the complex structures in which they compete. Instead, and aware of the often very intricate interdependencies that exist within the sport, it is argued that player burnout in Gaelic football is best explained through the deployment of a Coakley’s ‘vocabulary of empowerment’.
The CBC’s and NBC’s primetime broadcasts of the 2014 Winter Olympics were analyzed to determine differences between the media treatment of home nation and foreign athletes. The CBC results showed that Canadian athletes represented 48.5% of total athlete mentions and constituted all of the top 20 most-mentioned athletes. NBC results showed that American athletes represented 43.9% of their total mentions and 65% of the top 20 most-mentioned athletes. The CBC was more likely to attribute Canadian athletic successes to commitment and intelligence, and non-Canadian successes to strength. The CBC was more likely to discuss the emotions and background of non-Canadians and make neutral/other comments about Canadians. NBC was more likely to attribute American failures to experience. Comparisons between the networks revealed 30 significant differences in the manner of depicting home athletes compared to athletes from other nations.
The present study employs critical race theory in a critical discourse analysis of intercollegiate athletic departmental directives for high-profile National Collegiate Athletic Association member programs. Consideration of institutional integrity from critical perspectives can advance a nuanced understanding and gain further insight into the sociocultural issues and move toward eliminating inequities relevant to black student athlete stakeholders in the arena of intercollegiate athletics. The purpose of this research was to investigate the implicit function and perpetuation of contemporary racism in intercollegiate athletic organizations’ as they strategically address institutional integrity. A discussion of the findings are organized by two emergent themes: (a) Little skin in the game; and (b) Run-of-the-mill colorblindness. This paper concludes with implications for college sport and future research of intercollegiate athletics at the intersection of higher education.
This study examined the role of relative age on leadership behaviors among male house league ice hockey players. Athletes completed an online survey that solicited their birthdate along with their responses to the leadership scale for sport. As expected, the results of our analyses revealed no relative age effects. Captains scored significantly higher on the training and instruction, democratic behavior and social support dimensions of the leadership scale for sport. While there were significant multivariate differences between birth quartile and the dimensions of leadership, a relative weight analysis revealed that quartile of birth did not differ significantly on any of these dimensions. Thus, male house league hockey players are not (dis)advantaged in terms of their leadership behaviors as a consequence of relative age.
This paper documents how I fought for a place as a boxer in a regional Tasmanian boxing gym over a 30 month period. This work builds on existing ethnographic accounts that argue that, for women, becoming a boxer is more than just a matter of developing a fit body and physical skill – it is a continual project of negotiating gendered identity. Using an analytic autoethnographic methodology and drawing on contemporary theories of masculinity, I share my individual experiences as a boxer and, in turn, reveal the complexities of bodywork and gendered identity within Tasmanian amateur boxing culture. My closing discussion analyses the way in which performances of masculinity were precarious, fragmented and anxious.
Social scientists have conducted quantitative research investigations since at least the early 1980s. However, to date no valid, reliable and objective survey instrument has been developed for sport sociologists to measure important religious ideals in contemporary sport. Historical and theoretical scholarship identifies muscular Christianity as primary to modern sport ideals. Therefore we developed and validated The Contemporary Muscular Christian Instrument, an easily distributable survey that measures the prevalence of muscular Christian values among contemporary participants and consumers of recreation and sport. Our aim in developing this quantitative instrument is to provide social sport scholars a research tool that informs their understanding of these muscular Christian values as they continue to influence notions of sport, recreation, the body, physical activity, and other social indices. This valid and reliable scale allows scholars to examine larger populations and provides data suited to identify differences in levels of the constructs measured, thus allowing researchers and theorists alike to deepen their understanding of the relationship sport and religion have in the globalized social context.
Sport and sport consumption represent highly gendered spheres. Accordingly, sport spectatorship and fandom have been predominantly male. Recently, however, a trend towards a ‘feminization of sport crowds’ within European soccer has been detected. The piece of research presented here focuses on the concept’s quantitative dimension and aims to provide empirical evidence on long-term trends in female sport consumption and team identification studying trends for the German national soccer team over a 12-year period. The results suggest that the feminization of soccer reflects not only inauthentic consumerism but also increased team identification. Moreover, consistent age effects might be interpreted as indicating that the detected trends relate to changes in gender roles attitudes.
In this article I explore some of the aspects of shared doxic principles between outdoor fields and how these contribute to agents becoming interested in ‘high-consequence’ climbing styles. I argue that people who come to be high-risk climbers do not become involved for the purpose of participating in risky activities, but instead move into climbing through ‘overlapping fields’ that share practices and dispositions of climbing. Becoming a climber is a process that occurs gradually and imperceptibly, with much of the groundwork for an appreciation of climbing laid prior to actually taking part in climbing practice. In this paper, based on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork and 35 interviews with climbers, I demonstrate that participants typically have been members of easier to access and less risky outdoor sports prior to their involvement. These activities share some of the skills required to become a climber, or at least are complementary. Once this initial engagement with the practice has occurred, individuals become involved in less risky forms of climbing practice. These allow climbers-to-be an opportunity to form an appreciation of the basic safety systems of climbing. With this understanding, it then becomes possible to navigate through the trajectories of climbing practice, often bringing with them greater acceptances of risk and danger.
While it is clear from a small body of scholarly literature that sport and physical activity play important roles in the daily lives of many inmates in diverse prison contexts around the world, there remains relatively little research that sociologically explores the significance of these physical practices in correctional environments. This paper helps to address this gap by examining one of the key tensions in prison sport: its deployment by corrections policymakers and administrators as a form of social control and its simultaneous use by prisoners as a vehicle for resistance and subversion. Situating the research in Goffman’s concept of the total institution, the paper explores how prisoners, though stripped of many resources for self presentation and collective subversion, refashion sport activities, materials, and spaces to their own purposes – and, in doing so, how they resist, in a limited fashion, the prison’s social control aims. More broadly, these findings point to the potential social significance of sport and physical activity as vehicles for the limited expression of agency in situations of extreme deprivation or imposing disciplinary regimes.
The use of football programs as a vehicle for social change has increased exponentially in recent decades. This article utilizes Goffman’s sociology as a framework to approach the Homeless World Cup (HWC). Firstly, we examine how the participants interviewed refer to their journeys and how, throughout the HWC’s preparation, they were able to positively reconfigure their self-presentation. Secondly, we consider the frame of repeated defeats for participants whose expectations of success within this tournament were not fulfilled, reinforcing previously held feelings of stigma. Thirdly, the symbolic distance between winning and losing teams is discussed. Finally, we propose some reflections about the tournament’s format in order to remove, or at least reduce, negative experiences.
The present paper aims to outline and explain the social world of the most committed football supporters in Poland. The analysis proceeds from the assumption that such a community is based on a particular culture established by its own discourses, constituting the habitus of individuals who generate strong social bonds and a normative structure, and is a source of social capital. Since this sub-culture can be understood as a multidimensional sphere, the article argues that fans can no longer be adequately described in terms of the ‘hooligan’ discourse. Although hooligan behaviour has not vanished entirely, it has been pushed out of the stadiums and increasingly functions in a niche outside the immediate context of football. The present article is intended as a contribution to the discussion on European football hooliganism/fandom and its transformation.
The aim of this paper is to show how the corporal character of activities commonly provided in sports-based policy interventions has implications for the results of policy implementation. By employing the theoretical concepts of embedded expectations and embodied knowledge, this paper examines how expectations embedded in such activities interact with experiences embodied by the participants and combine in availing or restricting the possibilities for participation – thereby affecting the outcome of policies for increased participation in organised sport. The paper builds on data from a case study of a sports-based intervention that aimed to usher so-called un-associated youth in to participation in regular sport-club activities by offering ‘organised spontaneous sports’ in ‘drop-in’ sessions that focus on the intrinsic characteristics of non-competitive sports and participants’ wishes. Findings from interviews, the intervention’s internal documentation, and observations show how expectations embedded in these activities require a very specific embodied knowledge of the individual participant. Instead of challenging dominant notions of what sport ‘is’ and ‘can be’, the activities reproduce existing preconceptions and, in extension, existing patterns of sport participation instead of supporting the formation of new ones as aimed for by policy makers. The findings are discussed in relation to the wider discussion about policy implementation in sport and highlight the necessity for understanding the content of the activities offered in sports-based interventions relative to the previous experiences of the pronounced recipients.
Since the 1960s, there has been a change in the portrayal of older people. This change has resulted in the promotion of an active way of life that led, at the turn of the twenty-first century, to the development by international bodies of standard guidelines relating to active or healthy ageing. This article examines the place of guidelines on physical activity in the perception of ageing reflected in French public policies developed in accordance with international directives. After explaining how healthy and active ageing are defined in different international and national plans and official guidelines, the growing importance of physical activity is highlighted. From a very general invitation to remain active, precise instructions for physical activities were established addressing the detrimental effects of ageing. Finally, this study points out how the increasing focus on physical activity has contributed to the creation of a frame of reference in public policy that emphasizes the responsibility of each individual for their own health.
Sport’s utility in the development of a conservative orthodox ideal of masculinity based upon homophobia, aggression and emotional restrictiveness is well evidenced in critical masculinities scholarship. However, contemporary research is reflecting a more nuanced understanding of male behaviour in many Western contexts, with men performing softer and more inclusive versions of masculinities. Through exploring the experiences of twelve Australian contact sport athletes, this research establishes findings to support the growing body of inclusive masculinities research. Results show that these men value a softer representation of masculinity based upon pro-gay sentiments and being emotionally open, while often being critical of aspects of orthodox masculinities which male team sport previously promoted.
Australia is known as a ‘sporting nation’ and sport is central to its cultural identity. Children’s participation in leisure activities, including sport, is considered to be of such importance that it is enshrined as an international human right. There is a growing awareness, however, that children’s experience of sport is not always positive and that abuse and harm may occur in organised sport. This paper reports on a study designed to explore children’s experiences of organised sport, as recounted by young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 years. A mixed methods study design was implemented, which resulted in 107 survey responses and 10 follow-up interviews with young adults. Overwhelmingly, young people reported the lasting developmental benefits of participation in organised sport as children. More than 50% also reported negative experiences, including emotional and physical harm and sexual harassment. The reasons for these apparently contradictory findings are explored. The role of coaches, peers, parents and the wider sporting association ethos are investigated and suggestions made for future research.
The purpose of this paper is to use the theoretical standpoint of sociology of childhood to enhance understanding about how children’s rights, as outlined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, are experienced by child athletes and adult coaches in the context of sport clubs in Sweden. Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews with children and coaches in floorball and equestrian sports during the years 2011 and 2012. The results showed that neither child athletes nor adult coaches were aware that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has been incorporated into Swedish sport policy; they also lack knowledge of the convention’s content. After interviews about selected rights were conducted, it was evident that children and adults both considered the themes of those rights to be of utmost importance. However, they did not find the convention meaningful as a policy document, and no systematic, deliberate or preventive work with regard to the rights of the child was experienced in the sport clubs. This paper discusses some challenges in the children’s sport context, including children’s rights, the social ordering of children and adults and the goal of making children’s sport a safe activity for children.
The aim of the paper is to analyse the increasingly prominent role of private sports schools in the development of elite athletes in Norway. The context for the analysis is the apparent paradox between the emergence of a network of sports schools, the most successful of which are private and require that parents pay a fee, and the social democratic values of Norway. Data were collected through a series of interviews with 35 respondents from nine stakeholder groups, including athletes, coaches, parents and sport school managers. The research describes an elite sport system that is successful in producing medal-winning athletes, but which is organisationally fragmented, uncoordinated and under-funded with regard to youth talent identification and development and susceptible to tensions between key actors. The primary analytical framework is Kingdon’s multiple streams framework augmented by path dependency theory. The findings include, a picture of an elite youth sport development system in which multiple and overlapping problems have received, at best, only partial policy solutions some of which, such as the growth of private sports schools, have emerged by default. When focusing attention on the relationship between structure and agency in the policy process it is argued that the government, through its inaction, has allowed sports schools the policy space to expand. The consequence is that the government has, whether deliberately or not, enabled the strengthening of a commercial elite youth sport development system, while still preserving its egalitarian and non-interventionist credentials.
Although women’s exclusion in sport has attracted significant attention in the western context, similar issues in relation to post-colonial societies have remained in the margins of the sociology of sport. By analysing primary, interview-based evidence, in this article we explore the challenges female rugby players face regarding gender and sexuality in Fiji; a male dominated post-colonial society. In particular, we focus on participants’ resistance to dominant cultural practices and ways in which they (re)negotiate gender norms and sexuality in a double-bind struggle against both traditional and sporting male hegemonies. We argue that the case of Fijian women rugby players illustrates an interplay between a multiplicity of power relations in sport in a post-colonial society and the resilience with which the athletes negotiate and respond to them, as well as the dynamic nature and the transformative potential of their everyday practices.
Given the rapid expansion of the German sports-betting market and recent changes in market regulations, it is interesting to reexamine the socioeconomic profile of German sports bettors: Who bets on sports? In order to analyse this question, this study used an online survey to collect data on sports-betting behaviour (N=634). It modelled participation in sports betting by means of a logit model that recovers determinants of a person’s propensity to participate in sports betting. Results show that the typical sports-bettor is 32 years old and male, has a low household income, is highly interested in sports, and is willing to take risks.
This paper examines the relationship among male touring professional golfers from a figurational sociological standpoint. The paper is based on 20 interviews from players with experience playing at various levels on the European Professional Golfers Association professional tours and a level ‘above’ that. The results indicate a workplace culture where many begin to adopt the attitudes and behaviors that encourage the development of networks of temporary ‘we-group’ alliances. The ‘touring’ aspects of professional golf means many players strive to forge these alliances to help reduce feelings of loneliness, isolation, and homesickness while away for long periods of time. Such stresses are intensified given the globalization of sport generally and the associated increases in labor market migration that have become commonplace. The urge to develop friendship networks constrains players to behave in a manner expected of them rather than in a way that reflects their actual emotions, such as maintaining a positive attitude during difficult times like spells of poor performances and time away from their families. The relationships among players on tour is, however, nonpermanent and/or partially changeable. Players are ‘friends’, characterized by togetherness and camaraderie, while, at the same, showing evidence of tensions and conflict as they are ultimately in direct competition with each other for a share of the overall prize money.
In this semi-structured interview research, I use inclusive masculinity theory to frame attitudes toward homosexuality in 17 young Christian footballers from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. I show that, despite the recent decrease of cultural homophobia, almost half of these men maintained conservative attitudes toward homosexuality. Others, however, were more tolerant, particularly when discussing legislation introducing marriage equality in the UK. Participants’ attitudes were positively correlated with where they had grown up. Most strikingly, support was almost unanimous when engaged in the hypothetical discussion of levels of support for a gay teammate, which extended to assuming the role of ‘best man’ at a friend’s same-sex wedding. Thus, this research advances inclusive masculinity theory by applying it to the attitudes of young, religious men who are under-represented in contemporary masculinities literature.
The experiences of female sports fans have largely been neglected in academic research to date with socio-historical accounts focusing almost exclusively on male fans. Through an excavation of the sporting histories of female football fans this article aims to make one contribution towards changing this. Drawing on Glaser and Strauss’s ‘grounded theory’ approach, 21 semi-structured interviews were conducted with female football fans in England, aged between 50 and 80 years old. My findings begin by examining female fans’ memories of the 1958 Munich air disaster. I move on to examine female experiences and interpretations of the 1966 World Cup finals, before finally discussing the rise of football players in England as sexualised national celebrities. To conclude, I call for further socio-historical research to explore female experiences of football in earlier decades.
During his playing days, the Brazilian striker Romário was one of the most famous footballers in the world. He played for three of Brazil’s top clubs in Rio de Janeiro, as well as Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven. He won the World Cup and scored over one-thousand goals throughout his career. After this successful career, Romário entered politics, first as a deputy in the city of Rio and later as a senator in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Romário’s electoral success is not simply down to his footballing ability, nor the popularity of the sport in Brazil. Sports stardom, celebrity and celebrity politicians are also engaging with complex cultural processes. He has traded on his footballing stardom, but he also connects with his electorate through specific policy campaigns that resonate particularly well with his Brazilian voters. More importantly, he uses football and his footballer career as a metaphor for the wider problems facing Brazilian society. Drawing on literature from Sports Stardom, Celebrity and Celebrity Politicians, this paper charts the political career of Romário within the socio-political context of Brazil and argues that celebrity politicians still need to engage with their audiences regardless of their previous careers.
Sport, since the late 19th century, has been and remains one of the most continuous and enduring human activities. It is also known as a cultural practice mainly dominated by men. The objective of this article, based on a quantitative analysis of cultural practices in Luxembourg, is to question interactions between sport, community-building and gender. It is hypothesized that sport in multicultural metropolises is a hobby generated not only by men but also by women who are involved in a cosmopolitan and secular society.
Branded as ‘the sport of fitness’, CrossFit is a burgeoning exercise regime that has surpassed the growth of well-known fitness franchises. In addition to its comprehensive fitness regime, it claims to offer a supportive community, which aims to ensure that people do not exercise ‘together alone’. The tight-knit – almost insular – nature of this community, as well as some of its more extreme practices, have led followers and detractors alike to characterise CrossFit as a cult. This article argues that the ‘cult’ label is too parochial and, instead, applies Susie Scott’s notion of ‘reinventive institutions’ to explain why CrossFit is so polarising. With its emphasis on voluntarism, performative regulation and mutual surveillance, the concept of the ‘reinventive institution’ offers a more useful and expansive theoretical tool that allows us to understand how power, identity construction and self-transformation operate in CrossFit.
Migration has commonly been theorised as a process that ends with settlement in a new country and thus return visits have not been conceptualised as part of the migration experience. As has been noted in the literature, the return visit is a temporary visit to an individual’s place of birth (or the ‘external homeland’) from a current country of residence which may help immigrants to construct and negotiate a transnational identity between the new and old homes. This study focuses on how one government, South Korea, uses sport as a part of a wider strategy to encourage return visits in order to maintain cultural, economic and political connections with overseas citizens. More specifically, this paper examines the experiences of Korean immigrants living in New Zealand who return to Korea to participate in the annual National Sports Festival. Drawing upon document analysis, interviews and participant observation data, three different types of experiences emerged: (1) athletic experiences through the event itself; (2) nostalgic experiences from reconnecting with families and friends or enjoying forms of culture and entertainment difficult to access in the receiving country; and (3) political and economic experiences through interactions with politicians and business people which may contribute to mutual benefits between their old and new homes. Overall, the paper discusses the experience and implications of Koreans who represent New Zealand in an (inter)national sport and cultural festival and its influence on their transnational lives and identities.
This article offers a new approach for examining Muslim women in sport, which combines the domains of sporting participation, consumption and representation. It proposes moving beyond a sports development paradigm and deficit model of sports participation, whereby marginal communities are incorporated into the mainstream by playing sport, to take account of other ways that people engage with sport as consumers and fans. Conceptually, this approach is informed by transnational feminist perspectives, which foreground the role of power hierarchies in the production of knowledge about the sporting female Other. It suggests that sport practitioners, scholars and policy makers pay greater theoretical attention to how Muslim women are constructed within sport discourses. By widening the research focus to consider consumption and representation, possibilities emerge to expand on the narrow research and policy fields of ‘ethnicity’ and ‘well-being’ focused on physical health outcomes through which Muslim women’s engagement with sport is commonly framed.
The English Premier League possesses multiple global dimensions, including its clubs’ economic ownership, player recruitment patterns and television broadcasts of its matches. The owner of Hull City Association Football Club’s economic rights, Dr Assam Allam, announced plans to re-name the club ‘Hull City Tigers’ in an attempt to re-orientate the club towards seemingly lucrative East Asian, and specifically Chinese, markets in 2013. This article, first, draws upon Manuel Castells’ work in The Rise of the Network Society to critically discuss the logic of Hull City’s proposed reorientation to suit ‘new middle class’ consumers in China and the East Asian global region and second, uses the example to theoretically engage with Castells’ idea that ‘networks’ replace ‘hierarchies’ as social structures. This leads to the argument that while these plans might intend to strengthen the club’s financial position, they overlook a concern with local environments that Castells guides us toward. By looking toward the local consumer practices in China and the East Asian global region, Allam would find: (a) the normalisation in production and consumption of counterfeit club-branded sportswear and television broadcasts which makes increasing the club’s revenues difficult; and (b) that the region’s ‘new middle classes’ (marked by disposable income) are unlikely to foster support for Hull City, even if ‘Tigers’ is added to its name.
This study compares sports media coverage of American football ("football") in the United States and association football ("soccer") in Germany, with a specific focus on the portrayal of Christian athletes. Specifically, we contend that media coverage of Christian football players in the United States presupposes that religiosity necessarily equates with good character. Thus, American athletes are encouraged to make public declarations of faith and are accordingly viewed as better leaders on the field and better citizens off it. Meanwhile, media coverage of soccer players in Germany presupposes that religiosity is incidental to good character. Thus, German athletes are encouraged to keep their faith to themselves; for those who do make public declarations of faith, media coverage is skeptical, tending to view athletic success to be in spite of, rather than because of, Christian identification. This cross-cultural examination, then, has implications for public expressions of faith in sport, as well as media coverage of sport and religion.
On 13 May 2012 Israeli sports fans were deprived of one of the season’s most important soccer tournaments, after the scheduling of both legs of the UEFA Champion’s League semi-final matches overlapped with national days of remembrance. A week before, Israel’s sports channels refused to play the first leg of semi-final matches since one of the games coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day. And, again, a week later, Israeli sports fans were confounded with the same issue, with Memorial Day coinciding with the soccer tournament’s second leg of semi-final games. It is well known that sports spectatorship is a transformative experience through which fans escape their humdrum lives, just as religious experiences help the faithful to transcend their everyday existence. In an era where alternative channels (television, Internet, etc.) are easy to find, we used in-depth interviews with sports fans to learn more about the dilemma of both public and private media expressions and watching and enjoying soccer matches while the Israeli nation is in agony. Findings reveal a whole different viewing experience whereas instead of group watching, cheering and eating together rituals, on a regular match day, an unaccompanied, quiet and even embarrassing experience was marked.
The objective of this study is to examine how participation in different types of competitive sports (based on level of contact) during high school is associated with substance use 1 to 4 years after the 12th grade. The analysis uses nationally representative samples of 12th graders from the Monitoring the Future Study, who were followed 1 to 4 years after the 12th grade. The longitudinal sample consisted of 970 12th graders from six recent cohorts (2006–2011). The analyses, which controlled for 12th grade substance use, school difficulties, time with friends, and socio-demographic characteristics, found that respondents who participated in at least one competitive sport during the 12th grade had greater odds of binge drinking during the past two weeks (AOR = 2.04; 95% CI = 1.43, 2.90) 1 to 4 years after the 12th grade, when compared to their peers who did not participate in sports during their 12th grade year. Moreover, respondents who participated in high-contact sports (i.e. football, ice hockey, lacrosse, and wrestling) had greater odds of binge drinking (AOR = 1.80; 95% CI = 1.18, 2.72), and engaging in marijuana use during the past 30 days (AOR = 1.81; 95% CI = 1.12, 2.93) 1 to 4 years after the 12th grade when compared to their peers who did not participate in these types of sports during their 12th grade year. Accordingly, the findings indicate important distinctions in sport participation experiences on long-term substance use risk that can help inform potential interventions among young athletes.
Since the mid-1980s, China has been promoting wushu (also known as kung fu) as an international competitive sport towards Olympic recognition. But despite the efforts of the International Wushu Federation, to date, wushu has not entered the Olympics. Data were collected of countries’ medal winning performances at the World Wushu Championships since 1991. The findings of this study clearly showed China’s unchanged dominant position, thereby making it questionable if wushu has really turned into an international sport. This paper discusses two discourses that have been used to describe wushu’s international position: an enrichment discourse to emphasise the potential of wushu to deliver added value to global sports; and a compromise discourse highlighting the dangers of detraditionalisation in order to internationalise. It further attempts to analyse underlying mechanisms that may account for wushu’s current international status.
This article considers how race and sexuality mutually inform the ways women experience their sense of belonging in sport. An examination of how white and heterosexual privilege structure belonging for 15 women rugby players in the sport finds that the ways in which some players assert their belonging runs the risk of reifying oppressive norms associated with heterosexual femininity and white privilege. This analysis provides a nuanced understanding of how individual women may rely on certain structures of domination to take up space in sport in ways that rely on and reproduce inequality. Although women rugby players may challenge norms of (white) heterosexual femininity, they experience these norms as mediated through their particular social locations. As a result, how women rugby players take up space in sport may be complicated by their specific relationship to social constructions of gender, sexuality, and race.
Engendering interest and support among young people was a key strategy for the organisers of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Part of the approach entailed promoting the event as a context and inspirational catalyst to propel young people’s proclivities toward, and enduring participation in, sport and physical activity. Although a variety of participatory platforms were entertained, the discipline of physical education remained a favoured space in which enduring Olympic imperatives could be amalgamated with government policy objectives. In this paper data are presented taken from the initial three years of a longitudinal study on young people’s engagement with the London 2012 Olympic Games, sport, physical activity and physical education within the UK’s West Midlands region. Memory scholarship is brought together with Olympic critiques, legacy debates, youth work and discussions about physical education to conceptualise participants’ anticipations and recollections of the London 2012 Olympic Games as a triptych of narrative fragments: each provides insights regarding youth experiences and the remnants of Olympic ether in the country’s hinterland. The paper offers a means subsequently to think differently about how we might play with the qualitative sociological/historiographical moments (experiences, voices, accounts, stories, etc.) that we capture in and through our work.
The paper identifies and summarises the debates that surround the place of Israel in international sport and assesses how that place is increasingly being contested. The long-standing conflict between Israel and Palestine has begun to manifest in the world of sport with the paper sketching the debates of those calling for, and those opposed to, sport sanctions/boycott of Israel until the ‘Palestinian Question’ is resolved. Five related tasks are addressed: first, to summarise the call for sanctions/boycott emanating from the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement. Second, to explore how this call is establishing itself in the world of sport. The responses of those opposed to any form of sanction/boycott are then considered. The confusion that surrounds the term antisemitism is addressed and the relationship between (anti-) Zionism and antisemitism unpacked. The discussion concludes with an assessment of the claim made by the Israeli state, and its supporters, that any action against the country’s participation in international sport would be an act of antisemitism. Offering a timely, integrated summary of the heated debates that surround the Israel/Palestine conflict, the paper contributes to a wider discussion on the relationship between sport and politics.
While there is a growing literature in the field of gender, sexuality and sport, there is a dearth of research into the lived experiences of transgender people in sport. The present study addresses this research gap by exploring and analysing the accounts of transgender people in relation to their experiences of sport and physical activity. These are examined within the theoretical rubrics of social exclusion and minority stress theory. The findings from in-depth interviews with 10 transgender persons are detailed. Four interconnected themes emerged from the interviewee accounts: the intimidating nature of the changing/locker room environment; the impact of alienating sports experiences at school; the fear of public space and how this drastically constrained their ability to engage in sport and physical activity; and the overall effects of being denied the social, health and wellbeing aspects of sport. The findings are discussed in relation to the distinctive quality of transgender exclusion, and the related distal and proximal stressors experienced by this particular minority group.
Kim Bain-Moore galvanized public interest as the first female competitor in the 2009 Bassmaster Classic fishing tournament. To examine the extent to which women were depicted by the fishing media during and after this watershed event, as well as how they were portrayed, we analyzed the content of five for-profit, fishing-related magazines from 2009–2012. Female anglers were numerically underrepresented relative to a national estimate of participation in the USA (27%); they were depicted on just 10% of covers and in 9% and 6% of fishing and ‘hero’ images, respectively. Women authored only 1% of feature articles and were often sexualized, noted for physical beauty, or portrayed as obstacles to fishing for men. More positive portrayals included women as experts on fishing or ecology, competent anglers, or valued fishing partners to men. However, the last reinforces fishing as a male-centric activity, particularly when there were virtually no instances of women fishing alone or with other women. Further, the emphasis on the performance ethic in these magazines may dissuade women, who tend to be motivated to fish more by social factors than men. These findings contribute to research on how the media influences the socialization of women in predominantly male sports/leisure.
In this article, we present a poststructuralist reading of Claire’s (a pseudonym) experiences of receiving video-based coaching in elite level field hockey. Data were gathered through a series of in-depth interviews that formed part of a recursive and iterative data collection and analysis process. Interpreting Claire’s stories through a neo-Foucauldian application of Mathiesen’s synopticon revealed how the presence of a video camera mediated Claire’s practice and imposed a critical gaze, one that became collectively and institutionally consumed. We argue that the thoughts presented in this paper have significant implications for coach practice and education and that, as a result, there is a need for further critical inquiry into coaches’ uses of video-based technology.
Sports and physical activities are ideal fields to study gender construction. Much research aims at shedding light on these processes. Women involved in ‘male’ sports have been extensively studied, and mixed-sex activities have sometimes been used to support these studies, but research has rarely focused on populations of disabled athletes. Yet, the phenomenon of gender construction takes on a particular meaning in the context of disability, insofar as the relations between sports, gender and disability raise the issues of production and negotiation of bodily norms in a specific way. We will try to understand this gender construction phenomenon through the study of ten French powerchair football players, with whom we conducted a participant observation over two and a half years, as well as in-depth interviews. We will pay particular attention to the case of three sportswomen who competed in an almost exclusively male champion ship. We will see that these women are confronted with a dilemma: going against the stereotype of the asexual Paralympian female athlete while performing masculinity to gain legitimacy in a men’s world. These sportswomen thus ‘play the game’ of masculinity through a set of discursive, behavioral and clothing strategies in order to find a place in powerchair football, while still preserving some of their ‘femininity.’
Despite widespread condemnation of drug use in sport, recent flurries of riders’ confessions have emphasized the normalization and omnipresence of doping within cycling. This has particularly occurred since the Festina affair in 1998, and Lance Armstrong’s confession about drug use in 2012. Whilst there is an array of reasons for cyclists’ doping, little is known about how this is understood in relation to their performances. This paper addresses this by analyzing 112 doping cyclists’ confessions, adopting an interactionist perspective on deviance and a position of ‘sport as work’. Findings show how doping is legitimated by cyclists on three levels of their performance. These include maintaining their performance to themselves, presenting their performance to their team and supporting the grand spectacle of cycling. It is concluded that doping becomes a form of ‘performance egoism’ that allows cyclists to legitimate their performances.
Studies of the glocalization of sport usually focus on ‘aesthetic glocalization’ (how local actors adopt a global sport and create a new hybrid aesthetic). This has led some critics to dismiss glocalization as a superficial ‘façade’ of diversity hiding global homogeneity. This paper challenges this view by looking at the ‘moral glocalization’ of sport and at the ways local actors give global sports local moral meanings. Drawing on interviews with Afro-descendants from Chota valley, Ecuador, it shows that in this peripheral community football is seen as: (1) a morally safe emotional outlet; (2) a moral education; (3) a source of national ‘communitas’; (4) racial pride; (5) a space for local moral heroes; and (6) a gateway to communal progress. In conclusion, local actors give global football deep moral meaning when they can associate it to local conceptions of the sacred.
Over the past few decades, New Zealand schools have started elite athlete programmes (EAPs) to develop talented sportspeople. The purpose of this study was to evaluate teachers/coaches and elite athletes’ perspectives of their learning experiences in two EAPs. Ball’s concept of performativity and Gore’s techniques of power were integral in examining the relationships between power, knowledge and social practices. The results showed that the EAPs emphasised corporate values of loyalty, self-sacrifice and work ethic and perpetuated the dichotomies of theory/practice, thinking/doing and mind/body discourses that assisted in the marginalised academic status of the EAP. Most of the elite athletes struggled to reconcile their athletic identity with their teenage identity as they sacrificed time with friends, pleasures such as frozen colas and other pursuits to be role models for younger athletes and others in their community.
In Taiwan, female athletes receive little media attention or are objectified when they win international competitions. However, this objectification does not merely demonstrate sexism toward female athletes, but it also indicates current social views toward national identity and nationalism in Taiwan. This study examined the representation of female athletes from the perspectives of historical background, the narrative structure of documentaries, gendered discourse and gendered nationalism. A textual analysis approach was adopted and documentary theory was employed as a theoretical framework. Four sports documentaries regarding female athletes produced from 2002 to 2009 were analysed. The results showed that in addition to the female athletes telling their stories, the voices of male others were also included to portray the female athletes’ experiences. Moreover, the female athletes were depicted as physically masculine but emotionally feminine, and represented as sports heroines and daughters of Taiwan. As presented by the narration strategy, the female body embodies the gendered nationalism and gendered discourse pervading Taiwanese sports culture.
This study focuses upon UK professional coaches’ experiences of equity training and the impact of the conceptualisation of equity as a matter of equal opportunities on this education and subsequent coaching practice. The research employs a critical feminist approach to connect the ideological framing of gender equity by sporting organisations to coaches’ ability to understand, identify and manage issues of gender equity, equality and diversity. The discussions are based on interviews with four coaches, Jack, Peter, Charlotte and Tony, who had all recently undertaken equity training, and all of whom represented sports and different stages of the coaching pathway. The data highlights that seeing gender equity through an "equal opportunities" lens results in a narrow conceptualisation of such issues by coaches, fails to challenge dominant and discriminative ideologies, and does not enable coaches to address equity within their practices. Consequently, coaches struggle to understand the importance of and manage such issues. The participants’ experiences reveal that gender relations, intersected principally with religion and ethnicity, underpinned their everyday coaching practices. The findings illustrate the need for sporting organisations to redefine how they approach equality and equity and for a more sophisticated sociocultural educational programme for coaches.
This paper explores how Arab writers in diaspora present football in their literary works. Through an examination of Rabih Alameddine’s I, the Divine, Laila Lalami’s Secret Son and Leila Aboulela’s Lyrics Alley, the paper highlights the way in which Arab novelists in diaspora draw on the game’s international popularity to supplement and clarify the themes that these novels explore. Specifically, this paper investigates how the three novels portray the relationship between the individual and the nation and it suggests that these novels may be read within a context of a growing Arab involvement in international football over the past few years, including recent investments by state members of the Gulf Cooperation Council in European football, the emergence of international football superstars of Arab descent, the direct and indirect influences of football on recent socioeconomic and political transformations in Arab countries, including the Arab Spring, and FIFA’s controversial decision to stage the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Thanks to their position between cultures, these writers render football as a site on which socioeconomic, political and cultural discourses converge. By depicting the quotidian experiences of culturally and ethnically varied characters, the novels offer divergent perspectives on the game’s entanglement with global and local influences and football emerges as a central issue around which the above writers construct some of the most important episodes in the three novels. In this way the three novels demonstrate that the game’s international popularity makes it intricately linked with the daily experiences of the characters they depict.
The aim of this paper is to explore how young leaders within the Innsbruck Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee experienced the degree of freedom within the institutionalized structure of the International Olympic Committee. Employing a theoretical framework of new institutionalism, a qualitative case study including observations and interviews was conducted. The concept of translation provides a framework for analysing institutional change in organizations, where new ideas are combined with existing institutional practices and translated into new practices to varying degrees. The Innsbruck Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee consisted of young people with experiences from the event industry. This resulted in greater pressure to introduce new institutional solutions to the field. Despite being constrained by coercive pressure from the International Olympic Committee, new innovative elements were translated by the young leaders in the Innsbruck Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee into the International Olympic Committee event. However, the innovations were restricted to areas that the International Olympic Committee defined as less important such as sustainability projects as opposed to important areas like marketing.
Since 2006, when the Montenegrin Parliament declared independence, Montenegro had experienced impressive economic growth averaging an annual rate of 8% (until early 2009 when the effects of the global economic crisis began to have an impact) and an upward trend in human development indicators. Nonetheless, these economic trends have been accompanied by a rise in gender inequality in many institutional sectors. This study is the first to investigate that status of women in Montenegrin sport. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to examine gender differences in sport participation rates as well as women’s experiences with both facilitators and barriers to sport involvement. The facilitators to sport participation were family support and a "love for the game." Participants in the focus groups discussed barriers including: lack of family support; gender division of labor; school–sport balance; and lack of resources. Evidence-based strategies to increase and improve women’s sport participation in Montenegro are discussed.
This article aims to study the process of conversion to bodybuilding in order to understand how some gym enthusiasts progressively organise their lives around this activity. Our observations, drawn from an ethnography of a gym and 30 semi-structured interviews with different profiles of gym-goers in French-speaking Switzerland, suggest that the grip that bodybuilding takes on individuals results from processes akin to conversions. Two paths to conversion – consonant and introspective – are identified. They correspond to distinct uses of bodybuilding, which do not have the same consequences in the practitioners’ life courses. While consonant conversions stabilise life courses by reinforcing an occupational status, introspective conversions inflect them significantly.
As reflected by the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games, global women’s participation in sports seems to currently be at its highest levels ever. However, equality between men and women has not yet been reached when one examines how men and women involved in sports are represented in the media. Sportswomen have appeared to be typically portrayed as feminine individuals and not systematically referred to as ‘just athletes’. France’s women’s national football (soccer) team was followed during the 2011 World Cup and the 2012 Olympic Games through two different French websites: the official website of the French football federation and a website devoted to sports news. Using a feminist Foucauldian discourse analysis, this paper presents how these important websites for the media coverage of football in France portrayed the women’s national team and its players during two major international competitions, oscillating between gendered individuals and ‘real’ or legitimate athletes. It also highlights how cultural context and nationalism contributed to such (re)presentations of Team France.
The aim of this study is to contribute to the ongoing discussion of sports clubs’ propensity to act as policy implementers. Theoretically, we conceptualize this propensity as contingent on an alignment between a sports club’s organizational identity and the cultural material, that is, ends and means of a given policy. Building on data from short, qualitative interviews with representatives of 218 randomly selected sports clubs, we construct 10 organizational identity categories. Between these categories, there is a variety of clubs’ core purposes, practices and logics of action. The implications of this heterogeneity, in terms of sports clubs’ propensity to act as policy implementers, is discussed with reference to what clubs in each category might ‘imagine doing’. Also discussed are three avenues by which institutional conditions might affect the formation and change of sports clubs’ organizational identity, in turn having implications for their role as implementers.
The aim of this paper is to contribute to a better understanding of how men aged 40–90 years with different educational and ethnic backgrounds talk about their own bodies, and how social dimensions, especially masculinity and age, are reflected in their talk. Eighteen men from a small rural town in Norway were interviewed. The findings indicate that the men have a complex relationship to their own bodies. Three main themes were found in the way they talked about their own bodies; functionality in relation to their everyday life and in relation to sport and physical activity; physical and mental health; appearance both in relation to how their bodies were perceived by others and in relation to their own perception of their body. The three themes were not mutually exclusive and were often interwoven in terms of how they were talked about. The results are discussed in relation to theories of masculinity with a focus on Connell’s concept of hegemonic masculinity. One of the conclusions that can be drawn from the project is that the men expressed their relationships with their bodies in conflicting and complex ways, including concerns which can be interpreted as gendered and age-related.
While scholars working in the sociology of the gender, body, health, sport and media have begun to address the paucity of research into media representations of men and masculinities, the literature to date has failed consistently to address the racialised aspects of media dwelling male athletic bodies. The same critique can be applied to recent explorations of popular men’s magazine, Men’s Health. Current research has thus systematically underplayed the significance of "race" as a defining feature of idealised, mediated masculinities. During this paper then, I use Critical Race Theory to guide a semiotic analysis of a year’s worth of Men’s Health magazine. Firstly, I argue that white male athletic bodiesare represented as idealised masculine types, possessing both the virtues of body and mind, while their black male counterparts, to varying degrees, are depicted as spectacular, violent and hyper-masculine. Secondly, I go on to argue further that this idealisation of the white male athletic body is a reaction to broader social and cultural transformations, indicative of late-modern societies. That is, I suggest Men’s Health’s mantra of self-regulation is better understood as a call to white men to exercise greater embodied control in order to reaffirm jurisdiction and supremacy, during an epoch of uncertainty. Thirdly, following this line of argument, the paper contends that future readings of Men’s Health, and men’s magazines more broadly, must seek to understand better how racialised discourses inform dominant media representations of masculinities.
This is the first empirical study to explain the contested uses and meanings of ‘Yid’ in English football fan culture. A pertinent socio-political issue with important policy and legal implications, we explain the different uses of ‘Yid’, making central the cultural context in which it is used, together with the intent underpinning its usage. Focusing upon Kick It Out’s The Y-Word campaign film (which attempted to raise awareness of antisemitism in football by advocating a ‘zero tolerance’ policy approach to ‘Yid’), the complex relationship of Tottenham Hotspur with Judaism is unpacked. The origins of this complexity stem from Tottenham traditionally attracting Jewish fans due to nearby Jewish communities. As a consequence, Tottenham is perceived as a ‘Jewish’ club and their fans have suffered antisemitic abuse from opposing supporters who have disparagingly referred to them as ‘Yids’. In response, Tottenham fans have, since the 1970s, appropriated and embraced the term by identifying as the ‘Yid Army’. Critical analysis of fan forum discourse suggests that many Tottenham fans thought The Y-Word film failed to sufficiently understand or demarcate between the multiple meanings and intentions associated with use of ‘Yid’ as both an ethnic epithet and term of endearment. We call for an appreciation of the nature of language that acknowledges the fluidity and temporality of linguistic reclamation and ‘ownership’ in future policies to combat antisemitism.
This study investigates the multiplicity of South Korean Major League Baseball fans, with a focus on the tensions that they experience under the nationalistic aura surrounding MLB fandom while pursuing their individual hobby. For this purpose, it employs the idea of "post-Westernization" to interpret baseball as a global sport and examine its recent popularity in South Korea. By exploring the activities and voices of an online community among Korean fans, it demonstrates how national desires were complicated when they collided with a global strategy during the first World Baseball Classic in 2006. Analysis of Korean MLB fans during the WBC indicates both the possibilities and the limits of global baseball as a case of post-Westernization. The study shows that becoming an MLB fan in South Korea is at the intersection of national identity (nationalist fervor for MLB), regional rivalry (against Japan, the former colonizer) and global sensibilities (American sport fandom). Korean fans’ responses can be summarized as the national-regional-global nexus in which they perceive the existence of regional and global hierarchies, but they also routinely contest their own and each others’ perceptions. Finally, it suggests that fans’ articulation of the national, regional, and global are far from being fixed or unidirectional: they are constantly under construction.
This paper provides anthropological insights into "small goal football" on the Caribbean island of Trinidad and makes a contribution to the understanding of grassroots football on an international level. The content was collected via long-term, ethnographic research. Two short descriptions are offered: one on language-in-use on the small goal football field (racial/ethnic nicknames and others words) and one on conflict on the small goal football field (what are power relations like amongst these footballing men and why?). These two descriptions and their discussion help to conceive some qualities of small goal football in Trinidad as a phenomenon, "languaculture," and social institution, and explore what small goal can mean to those taking part in it in three distinct ways. 1) We learn about the uniqueness of Trinidad social-reality, and how the scars of colonial history, such as racial hierarchy and white supremacy, are remade through sport under the banner of continuity and change. 2) We learn about sport and masculinities, and how some everyday qualities of masculinities in Trinidad, such as authority, sexism, and conflict, are both reorganized and reinforced on the field of play. 3) We see sport through the eyes of local Caribbean men who engage in small goal football, providing insight into the social institution itself, and the cultural mirror this shines on what small goal means to some local men in a suburb of western Trinidad.
The aim of this research is to study sportswomen’s perceptions and experiences of women’s sport in Francoist Spain (1939–1975). The main objective is to analyse the social, moral and aesthetic elements that are present in the experience of these athletes. This study was carried out with an intentional sample of 24 women from Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, Basque Country, Catalonia and Valencia. They were interviewed by a network of researchers from six universities. Outstanding results show the existence of social limitations to start sports practice (particularly in the post-war period); the importance of sport as a character-building aspect; sport’s remarkable influence on their body self-concept; and the incidence on sports of the mainstream moral discourse, which created a female model that even affected sports clothing. The main conclusion is that sportswomen in that period were pioneers and had to fight against most of society in order to develop their facet as athletes, as they would not follow the established model.
Snow parks constitute an essential part of the drawing power of winter sports resorts. However, epidemiological studies have highlighted the increased risk of snow park accidents when compared with those of traditional piste runs. In the light of such findings, the aim has been to understand why and how freestyle enthusiasts deal with the particular dangers brought about by the various features of a snow park. Eighteen observation days in three French resorts were coupled with 38 semi-directive interviews throughout the 2012–2013 winter season. Results show that risk in freestyling does not constitute, in itself, the explanation of the behaviours adopted. It appears rather as a means that makes it possible to achieve a certain state and sensorial satisfaction, as well as a feeling of expertise and self-fulfillment. Far from the stereotypes conveyed concerning freestylers and their spontaneous and reckless risk-taking, the different elements highlighted in this article attest, on the contrary, to a well thought-out and rational relationship with the danger incurred.
Through a phenomenologically-inspired approach, the purpose of this article is to examine the different ways in which sportspeople experience asthma, a condition that affects 5.4 million people in the UK. To date, sociological phenomenology has been under-utilised both in relation to health and illness experiences and vis-a-vis sporting embodiment. Drawing on in-depth interview data from non-elite sportspeople (n = 14), all of whom had been diagnosed with asthma, ranging in degree of severity, here we explore asthma sporting embodiment via a threefold asthma identity typology. The findings are communicated through vignettes, assembled from participants’ accounts, in order to highlight the multifaceted and multilayered ‘voices’ of sportspeople with asthma. Transforming data in this way can, we argue, resonate with others – both those with asthma and those without – to give a ‘feel’ for asthma experiences and sporting embodiment. This form of typology may be useful as a heuristic framework to assist healthcare and sports professionals in understanding asthma experiences as lived in everyday life, and potentially in developing more appropriate and effective care regimes for sportspeople in order to improve the quality of that everyday life.
This study explored how female track athletes experience and use their bodies within the contexts (social places) that form part of their everyday routines. Using ethnographic methods (focus groups, observations, self-directed photographic elicitation, and reflexive diary entries) the research focused on a training group of five semi-elite female track athletes based in the UK in whichone researcher was a full participant. Arthur Frank’s theory of the body is employed as an analytical lens to explore and illuminate the predominant types of body usage manifest in their embodiments. The findings indicated that the athletes were predominantly mirroring bodies, with focus on appearance central to their experiences. Crucially, these women desired more muscle in the mirroring process. Finally, attention is drawn to Frank’s typology as a useful framework through which to contribute to some of the key issues related to women’s experiences of their bodies in sport.
Previous research on gender and sports has focused on the ways women athletes emphasize their femininity to counter critics who conflate female athleticism with mannishness and lesbianism. My findings from an ethnographic study of three roller derby leagues suggest that many "rollergirls" view their hyper-feminine, sexualized uniforms as a playful and pleasurable expression of their sexual agency, not as a means to prove their femininity or heterosexuality. By combining these uniforms with a full-contact sport, rollergirls attempt to "undo gender" by actively resisting the gender binary that equates athleticism and toughness with masculinity. Yet my findings also illustrate the importance of considering the social context in which these performances take place. While rollergirls assert that wearing sexualized, feminine uniforms is a "choice," others feel pressured to dress "sexy" in order to attract fans. In addition, their uniforms sometimes lead to unwanted attention from some men in the crowd who misinterpret the intended meanings of their self-presentation. This research emphasizes the importance of understanding women’s individual feelings of agency in the context of social inequality.
This study examines mainstream news media framings of North Korea and the inter-Korean relationship in the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games, focusing on the role that the media played in privileging particular understandings of nationalism, conflict and reconciliation. Print news articles from South Korea and English-speaking western nations were collected and analyzed. The results illustrate notable differences between South Korean and western media coverage of North Korea’s involvement and the inter-Korean relationship. Western representations of North Korea featured discussions of controversies pertaining to the North Korean government, and often deemphasized or dismissed athletes’ efforts. South Korean coverage included few reflections on socio-political problems related to North Korea, but highlighted athletic accomplishments. Emphasis on division was also found more often in western coverage of the inter-Korean relationship as compared to South Korean coverage.
This study investigated the development of the legacies of the five World Conferences on Women and Sport that have been convened by the International Working Group on Women and Sport from 1994 to 2010. In particular, it examined the ways in which gender is constructed in these legacies in relation to gender equality in sport leadership. The theoretical framework was drawn from Connell’s four-dimensional gender model, which suggests that gender relations can be characterized in terms of four interwoven dimensions of social life: production, power, emotion and symbolism. The method used was a comparative case study of five legacies. We conducted a content analysis of documents relevant to the five legacies. Findings show that, in all five legacies, gender in relation to sport leadership was mainly constructed on the dimension of production and power relations (more women in leadership positions) and symbolic relations (creating a sporting culture that values women’s participation at all levels). By contrast, the gendered dimension of emotional relations – collaboration between men and women – received limited attention. The implications of these findings for the acceleration of gender equality in sport leadership are discussed.
This study examines to what extent the public attention directed at individual male and female players of various national soccer teams is influenced by (a) their athletic performance and (b) their physical attractiveness. The results prove that public interest in athletes depends significantly on performance and attractiveness. However, those athletes who both perform strongly and are attractive by far draw the greatest public attention. Against expectations, gender differences do not figure in this: the attractiveness of male soccer players is equally as important for popularity as it is of female soccer players.
In this article, I use Featherstone’s concept of calculated hedonism to analyse consumption of alcohol amongst Ultimate Frisbee players. Drawing on a multi-year ethnographic project, I examine Ultimate players’ reasons for drinking and contextualize this drinking within Ultimate’s broader lifestyle. This examination and contextualization contributes to a growing body of literature that goes beyond the dominant perspectives on sport-related drinking through its conceptualization of consumptive pleasures in the formation of player identity and relationships between players.
There has been for some time a significant and growing body of research around the relationship between sport and social capital. Similarly, within sociology there has been a corpus of work that has acknowledged the emergence of the omnivore–univore relationship. Surprisingly, relatively few studies examining sport and social capital have taken the omnivore–univore framework as a basis for understanding the relationship between sport and social capital. This gap in the sociology of sport literature and knowledge is rectified by this study that takes not Putnam, Coleman or Bourdieu, but Lin’s social network approach to social capital. The implications of this article are that researchers investigating sport and social capital need to understand more about how social networks and places for sport work to create social capital and, in particular, influence participating in sporting activities. The results indicate that social networks both facilitate and constrain sports participation; whilst family and friendship networks are central in active lifestyles, those who are less active have limited networks.
The purpose of this study was to examine how Olympians experience the transition to a second career, to identify the strategies they may or may not implement in order to prepare for it, and to determine the main factors that influence this process. Using a phenomenological approach we asked 26 Spanish Olympians (13 men and 13 women) from different summer Olympic sports about their experiences when it came to preparing for and entering a new place of work. The results revealed two main groups. The ‘strategists’ were Olympians with an awareness of their future and a deep understanding of their work environment, who took specific steps (academic training, entering a new job before ending their sporting career, saving money, taking advantage of their sporting capital and voluntary retirement) in order to enter their second career. The family was shown to be a key influence for Olympians in this group. At the other end of the spectrum were the ‘non-strategists’, those who did not combine their career in sport with an academic or vocational career. What set these Olympians apart was a lack of awareness regarding the need to prepare for their future career and that they did not implement strategies that might help them in this regard. In this group the family appeared somewhat indifferent to the question of what would happen when the athlete’s sporting career ended. These findings could serve as a platform from which to develop programs and assist athletes according to the group with which they are identified.
On 21 July 2013 Chris Froome became only the second British cyclist to win the Tour de France. This paper examines how the events surrounding Froome’s victory in the 2013 Tour de France were reported in the British (London-based) print media the day after his victory. Data were collected from nine different daily newspapers on 22 July with a total of 52 pages of coverage devoted to the story. Thematic coding revealed that, despite a comprehensive victory, Froome appeared to be framed as being in the shadow of two other prominent cyclists. Firstly, Froome’s victory appeared to be framed within a moral panic surrounding the use of performance-enhancing drugs in cycling, with his achievements partially overshadowed by the ‘folk devil’ that is Lance Armstrong. Secondly, the data suggested that narratives around British national identity were prevalent within the reporting of Chris Froome, with this reporting particularly focused on the issue of his African heritage. Initial analysis indicated that the British print media actually celebrated Froome’s African roots, suggesting that they may be starting to embrace a new post-imperial form of national identity that reflects the multicultural or hybrid nature of 21st century Britain. However, we would also argue that Froome may only have achieved an ambivalent position as a British hero and that his African heritage – although celebrated to an extent – means that in the eyes of the British print media he still sits below Sir Bradley Wiggins in what might be described as a ‘hierarchy of Britishness’.
Over the last 40 years, Sport for All policies – aiming at encouraging the sports participation of all citizens, regardless of age, sex, social class, ethnic origin, etc. – were implemented in a number of European countries. This study examines the extent to which a democratisation of club-organised youth sports has occurred. The data are drawn from a large repeated cross-sectional survey among high school boys and girls (aged 13–18) in Flanders, Belgium. Data collected in 1989 (N = 2088), 1999 (N = 1820) and 2009 (N = 1420) are analysed, using multilevel logistic regression. Results indicate that social stratification of club-organised sports participation still persists. Age, sex and socio-economic status (SES) continue to determine the likelihood of club involvement by Flemish youth. For boys, the impact of SES has increased. Also parental sporting capital affects club participation. However, in terms of sex, differences in participation have diminished over time.
In this paper we explore whether and how ‘sport’ can be an adequate and valid sociological concept considering the multitude of contested meanings and definitions attached to ‘sport’ by different stakeholders in the sports field. Firstly, we argue that essentialist definitions of ‘sport’ too often one-sidedly focus on physical exertion and neglect the socially distinguishing nature of sportive practices as part of a lifestyle. Secondly, survey questions reflect this physical definition of ‘sport’ and assume that ‘sport’ has an obviously similar meaning to respondents. However, reflecting the struggle to define ‘sport’ in the sports field, people with different socio-demographic backgrounds differ in their understanding of the concept. Because current measurement of ‘sport’ does not adequately deal with the open and contested nature of the concept, suggestions on how to collect survey data on sport participation are presented.
States intervene increasingly in financing and organization of Olympic elite sport in order to maximize national success in the medal table. In Germany and many other countries too that includes practices that have been criticized as unacceptable in democratic societies: funding of medal-promising sports only, early selection and specialization of young athletes, authoritarian tendencies in sport policy, etc. Are those efforts reflected by a strong desire for medals within the population? Is national success regarded as so important that even critical measures are accepted? And would that indicate more general tendencies to nationalistic or authoritarian attitudes? These and other questions were addressed in a survey carried out in Germany in 2012 (N = 899). Results show that medals are indeed perceived as important, especially in lower educational levels, but by far not as important as sticking to sporting values and the rules of fair play. Multivariate analyses reveal that the desire for medal success is highly dependent on the belief in and perception of the Olympic competition. For most of the respondents that does not legitimize unfair practices or exploiting athletes, but partly the struggle for medals is also linked with a limited understanding of fair play and nationalistic or authoritarian attitudes.
Football fans, specifically fan associations (navijačke udruge), are sometimes depicted as stereotypical of Balkan ‘mentality’, drawing on associations with violence, organised crime and examples of ‘primitive’ behaviour and attitudes at football matches. In this paper, I argue that the drawing of such associations may explored in terms of a nesting intra-orientalism, whereby non-European ‘others’ are constructed at different levels typically within a state, rather than projected outside to other geographical regions or states. On the basis of my experience as a member of an ultra-left fan association in Zagreb, I explore several characteristics of ultras’ group participation – focusing on what they referred to as the ‘supporters’ world’ (navijački svijet) and ultras’ culture (ultras kultura). I label three characteristics that also define the wider contemporary ‘everyday geopolitics’ in the Balkans at present. On the basis of these three characteristics, I evaluate the hypothesis of a nesting ‘intra-orientalism’ and the ideological purposes it may serve.
This paper features a critical examination of recent legislation banning cosmetic pesticide applications in the province of Ontario, Canada. It focuses in particular on the exemption of golf courses from the province’s Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act of 2009. Drawing from a wide range of materials, the authors first contextualize Ontario’s recent law through an overview of the historical development of pre- and post-market pesticide regulation in Canada. This includes a review of the fierce debates that have at times arisen between pro- and anti-chemical factions. From there, the authors evaluate the Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act. In one sense, the law – and especially golf’s exemption from the law – is said to exemplify "environmental managerialist" decision-making, whereby governments must satisfy a "dual mandate" of promoting economic growth and environmental sustainability simultaneously. In another, related way, it is seen as demonstrative of an "ecological modernist" approach to environmental problems in which industry-led, technologically-advanced solutions are privileged above others. Taken together, golf’s "special status" in Ontario’s new pesticide legislation is deemed reflective of a wider trend towards neoliberal environmental policy making in Canada. It is also regarded in closing as a reason for future research into sport and environmental policy.
This study examines the politics and policy implications of alcohol sponsorship of sport in New Zealand. Specifically, it draws on the recommendations of the 2010 New Zealand Law Commission report titled Alcohol in our lives: Curbing the harm, which called for the gradual elimination of all alcohol sponsorship from New Zealand sport. Using a multi-method approach, the paper examines the contested terrain of the alcohol–sport relationship, that is, the nature of the relationship and its potential impact on the nation’s binge drinking culture, how it is regulated by both states and sport organisations within the international community and, finally, the perspectives of key stakeholders in the debate. The views of key stakeholders offer insights into the nature of competing interests at play within the alcohol–sport sponsorship relationship. Overall, the findings highlight the challenges of social change and the need for more research and a community-based, multidimensional approach that is reinforced through regulation.
The hip-hop culture has evolved from the ghettos of The Bronx, New York in the 1970s, into a global phenomenon. Despite such prominence there is an absence of academic research on the hip-hop culture element: breakdance. Through eight months of participant observations and 17 qualitative interviews, this study investigates the identity construction process among breakdancers with diverse ethnic backgrounds in Norway. The aim is to provide an insight into the lives of young people and their impression management in constructing a breaker identity. The analysis highlights the complex and contested nature of breakdance as it is experienced and viewed by young people performing breakdance in Norway. Through deliberate impression management the breakdancers construct an alternative identity detached from other social categories. As a result, breakdance seems to counter social oppression and to have an empowering and liberating potential different from the common stigmatization and stereotypical prejudices regarding gender and ethnicity that many have experienced.
This article will address the making and unmaking of elite sporting careers, by focusing on the media reporting of the rise and fall of two elite sport stars, Roger Federer and Lance Armstrong. Sport stars are not simply the raw, unmediated products of innate or mysterious physical ability. Their physical capital is constituted through techniques – physical and discursive – that reflect wider social and cultural values. In this paper I report on the role played by numbers (objective time, chronological age and physiological biomarkers) to construct but also regulate athletic careers. Numbers will be shown to have normative power that reinforces understandings of age and ageing within a narrative of decline. The athletes’ ability to challenge their subjection as old will also be explored.
Critical feminist analysis has produced much important work on women in the gender regime of men’s sport. The protagonists of these studies have been mostly female athletes, fans, managers and journalists. This article focuses on yet another female persona in men’s sport: the lover. Complementing research that identifies wives and girlfriends (WAGs) as helpmates who fulfill traditional auxiliary roles to their athlete partners, this article presents another sexual persona through the Spanish soccer scene: femmes fatales or ‘fatal women’. Through fantasy narratives, these WAGs are constructed as ‘dangerous destabilizers’ that threaten elite male sport performance through their sexuality. The presence of female fans, athletes and professionals in men’s sport has often provoked redressive actions such as techniques of sexualization, the denial of authentic female fandom and expertise, or the prescription of gender-appropriate behaviors and aspirations. Complementing critical feminist research on these mechanisms, and with an attempt to gain a wider perspective of female presence in men’s sport, this article explores the often contradictory reactions to ‘fatal women’: demonization, fetishization, the pathologization of sex and the proliferation of erotic fantasies.
In this article I examine whether justice in New Zealand is better served through the provision of gender-inclusive or gender-segregated men’s netball competitions (where netball began as a late 19th century women’s version of basketball). While the New Zealand Men’s Netball Association (henceforth called the ‘men’s association’) was initially established in 1984 under an inclusive ethos rooted in Māori community-based and fa’afafine 1-based competitions, by the end of that most overtly transgender and fa’afafine players were excluded so as to boost the association’s heterosexist credentials. This process culminated in 2004 when the men’s association was replaced by the New Zealand Men’s and Mixed Netball Association (henceforth called the ‘mixed association’). While in principle medically verified postoperative transgender women may now play in mixed-gender leagues, virtually none do. Furthermore, anyone who foregoes such treatment – including fa’afafine – must dress as men in order to play. If it is the coercion that makes coercive gender segregation problematic then perhaps justice would be best served if men’s netball was a gender-neutral activity. This seems consistent with the gendered history of both netball and men’s netball in New Zealand.
This study investigated the promotion and consumption of alcohol at the 2012 New Zealand Rugby Sevens Tournament. The paper uses a quantitative survey to gain insight into how attendees experienced the event in relation to alcohol promotions and alcohol consumption. One hundred and six participants completed the survey, the results of which highlight respondents’ opinions of: (a) the appearance and role of alcohol promotions at the event; (b) the link between event atmosphere and alcohol consumption; and, (c) messages about moderating alcohol consumption during the event. The discussion draws attention to how live spectators of one particular alcohol-sponsored sports event perceived the role of alcohol as part of the entertainment package and the atmosphere of the event.
The goal of this article is to present the output of a study on women who play rugby union at international level. This article aims to uncover the steps in their sport socialization – in rugby among others – and to understand how these women construct their identities. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 12 players from the French national rugby union women’s team. First, the results show that the players have varied sport and rugby socializations. Sport socialization happened at an early age for most of the players, but two different subgroups seem to emerge vis-à-vis rugby socialization: members of the second underwent socialization through their family for many years, while members of the other were not as exposed to rugby. As far as the identity question is concerned, the players present different constructions vis-à-vis social norms. The results show that a majority of women say they do not feel the need to meet social norms said to be feminine, while others want to in order to free themselves from the masculine identity caused by the fact that they play rugby. Lastly, some of the players set limits on this double identity, which is sometimes identified as a constraint.
The study investigates linguistic sexism in communication in sports within a sociolinguistic context. The starting point of the research is a recent debate in Turkish society about the appropriate word to refer to females in sport. Specifically, the manuscript focuses on the preference between the near-synonymous Turkish words kadn and bayan (the corresponding English words are ‘woman’ and ‘lady’) in the case of describing females in sport. We present a theoretical background for gender in language and linguistic sources that explains the multilayered meanings of the Turkish words. We also present the findings of a supportive text-mining study that covers articles published in national newspapers in four consecutive years. The study aims to reveal the change in the recent usage in favour of both words as well as investigate long-term trends by using the 50-year archive of a mainstream national newspaper.
The intention of this paper is to examine the range of interdependent processes that influence the decisions of Irish footballers to migrate from teams based in the League of Ireland to English Premier League and Football League clubs. Using data derived from a series of qualitative interviews conducted with a group of Irish players that had relocated to English clubs at different points over a 20-year period, the analysis reveals that the players’ decisions to migrate are predicated upon the interdependency of a number of processes that push the migrants from Ireland and pull them to England. The paper shows how these processes are reflected in a series of migrations where the players are not simply passive social agents but, rather, dynamic interlocutors whose decisions must be framed within the local contexts between which their movements are situated.
The majority of ‘Sport in Development’ (SiD) research imparts a heteronormative framework that serves to prevent nuanced understandings of how sexuality and gender matter in programming that aspires to achieve development through/with sport. The authors review existing SiD academic literature and draw on personal work and research experiences within the SiD field to evidence this claim. Three reasons for this heteronormative frame are identified: (1) limited engagement with themes of sexuality within research on international development; (2) few examinations of queer desire and sport in areas of the Global South; and (3) the emphasis on quantitative monitoring and evaluation tools within SiD programming. The authors conclude by offering suggestions on how to challenge the existing heteronormative framework within SiD research.
Football is the most popular sport in Zimbabwe and across the globe. It has been asserted elsewhere that the game is not limited to scoring goals on the pitch but that this also occurs in politics and power struggles. This study explores the interface between football discourse and politics during elections in Zimbabwe in July 2013. The study is based on the premise of a neo-Gramscian perspective which views popular culture (including football) as a terrain of ideological struggle. It utilises an ethnographic approach to make a ‘thick description’ of the relationship between football discourse and contemporary Zimbabwean politics. The study employs critical discourse analysis on purposively selected political campaign speeches, political advertisements, songs by politicians, and comments posted and circulated in social media such as Facebook and Whatsapp during and after the election period by ‘ordinary’ Zimbabweans. The findings suggest that political parties, specifically the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) appropriated football images, symbols, metaphors and discourses in their campaign communications. Zimbabwe symbolically became a football pitch where these two main rivals battled to score political points. ‘Ordinary’ Zimbabweans resembled the fans and/referees in the game whose vote symbolically became the act of scoring goals for ZANU PF; while for MDC-T it was akin to giving a red card to the ZANU PF party.
This paper examines local initiatives for a sports stadium-centered economic development project in Athens, Greece within the framework of urban political theories. This project was not successful for the proponents, which in itself makes a crucial issue as most stadium projects are successful in the US, where most stadium research has been conducted. The local growth coalition (LGC) concept is used as a template for understanding this Athenian project. In this case, the coalition was strong yet ineffective. In any LGC, ineffectiveness may result from various structural factors that are unrelated to the coalition’s internal organizational or institutional composition. In this case, the key structural factor was a judicial decision by the Supreme Administrative Court of Greece that severely impeded the LGC’s ultimate goals. This paper also briefly compares judicial decisions in the US and Greece regarding new private sports stadia as projects for the "public good."
This article examines fan social media responses to media-reported, alcohol-related player behavioral transgressions that occurred in Australia’s two largest professional sporting leagues, the National Rugby League (NRL) and the Australian Football League (AFL), over a 33-month period. Using netnography and content analysis, the study aimed to better understand the ways in which sport fans employed social media to voice their perceptions about alcohol-related player transgressions. The article reports on parochial fans’ commentaries about alcohol-related transgressions and uses these data to inform options for harm-reduction strategies associated with alcohol-related transgressions in sport. Sport fans expressed dissatisfaction when they observed disparity in policy responses from clubs and leagues. At the same time, the data show that fan responses reflect a desire for parity and protection more than punishment, with the former more relevant to game, club, and league reputation than the latter. We suggest that a harm-reduction policy offers one mechanism for managing reputation through a focus on parity and protection. We argue that the introduction of a harm-reduction approach would offer a more effective policy for managing player alcohol-related transgressions than the current ‘ad hoc’ approach.
This study analyses the class-related determinants of sport socialization and sport practices in Poland from the perspective of Bourdieu’s class theory. We investigate how parents equip their children with sports-related cultural capital, including whether or not they take into account the social recognition of sport activities and how this is reflected in sport socialization practices. We performed in-depth interviews with parents whose children practised horseback riding, lawn tennis, soccer and wrestling, and a quantitative nationwide survey of parents of children aged 7–16 who practise sports. Class-based patterns of sport socialization, parents’ past sport experiences and present participation and family leisure and sport consumption were observed in the qualitative part of the research, in which we found sport practices and tastes to be quite distinct according to class. Yet, except for class-dependent sport consumption, this pattern was not confirmed in the survey. Sport practices within highly commercialized sport services in present-day Poland may be used as markers of social position by those who enter this social field – approximately 40% of the Polish population. The rest remain undefined and undistinguishable in terms of a specific sport-related lifestyle.
This article describes a study of a soccer and life skills programme for youth in South Africa: Buffalo City Soccer School (BCSS). The study aimed to provide insight into the programme’s mechanisms, and evaluate participants’ perceptions of the programme’s impact. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 male BCSS participants. Interview data were analysed for thematic content, and the theoretical perspectives of Witt and Crompton ((1997) The protective factors framework: A key to programming for benefits and evaluating for results. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration 15: 1–18), Gambone and Arbreton ((1997) Safe Havens: The Contributions of Youth Organizations to Healthy Adolescent Development. Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures) and Pawson ((2006) Evidence-Based Policy: A Realist Perspective. London: SAGE) were used to interpret these themes. These perspectives highlighted key processes and mechanisms within the BCSS programme that have led to positive personal impacts: a sense of family and a sense of safety and belonging. Bandura’s ((1986) Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall) concepts of perceived self-efficacy and agency in adolescent development (Bandura A (2006) Adolescent development from an agentic perspective. In: Pajares F and Urdan T (eds) Self-Efficacy Beliefs of Adolescents. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing, pp. 1–43) help make sense of these personal impacts. This study contributes to the identification of the mechanisms through which sport can provide a context for the development of youth.
What little we know about alcoholism amongst professional footballers comes largely from the media (often tabloid newspapers) and published autobiographies and biographies of high profile stars. The coverage often focuses on deviant behaviour when drunk, such as driving under the influence, marital infidelity, violence, and breaking team rules. There is little or no published research which seeks to understand better what it is like to suffer from alcoholism from the perspective of the player-addicts themselves. In this paper I present a case study of British footballer who had a brief professional career and is in recovery from alcoholism. His subjective experience of alcoholism provides valuable insights into the underlying triggers and/or causes of the illness; its destructive nature; the link between the individual’s addiction and his social circumstances (including football); and his recovery.
This paper explores Blackman’s concept of ‘hidden ethnography’ with respect to drinking alcohol by and with participants during ethnographic research of a women’s flat track roller derby league. A brief review of the positive and negative consequences of drinking alcohol for the research process pays specific attention to the potential consequences for research participants and the researcher. Following this, the researcher reveals elements of the hidden ethnography of this project, and explores how drinking by and with women’s flat track roller derby skaters contributed to the development of understanding and knowledge about this social world, about women’s flat track roller derby as a contemporary women-only social formation, and about women onlyness.
Equestrian sports are unavoidably interspecies and undeniably dangerous. Whilst there has been qualitative research into the human–horse relationship, and quantitative research into horse riding, injury and risk, there remains a need to understand how risk perception and experience is subjectively implicated in, through and by the human–horse relationship, and vice versa. Doing so requires reconciling animal studies with risk theory. As a high-risk interspecies sport, eventing provides an exemplar case study for critiquing, extending and reconciling posthumanism and risk theorisation. This paper draws from interviews with 21 participants of the high-risk equestrian sport of eventing to explore the mutual benefits of using ‘risk’ as a point d’entrée for analysing human–horse relations. Findings were largely consistent with three popular theories of voluntary risk-taking: edgework, flow and sensation-seeking. However, the involvement of an animal – the horse – stimulates a critical reconsideration of internal/external ‘control’; identifies a role for flow as risk mitigation/safety; and suggests that edge workers in high-risk interspecies sports do not just confront edges – they cross them. This paper thus distinguishes interspecies sports as a distinct and productive field of interdisciplinary research. It proposes further mixed-methods research that is required to more fully evaluate the usefulness of existing risk theory for understanding participant experiences of high-risk interspecies sports.
The involvement of people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds in local sports clubs is little used as a route for examining questions of their wider identity politics and exploring the impact of generational change in local sport. This is often because of difficulties involved in conducting qualitative research at the same site over an extended period. In this paper we report on two bouts of intensive ethnographic and interview study spanning a period of almost 20 years at a single African-Caribbean heritage football club in the city of Leicester, in the English east Midlands. Our findings suggest that considerable tensions have emerged over time inside the Meadbrooke Cavaliers club – tensions which threaten the historic cultural meaning of the club as a site for community solidarity, black masculine ‘resistance’ and identity formation. The commodification of local football in England from the early 1990s, signs of black occupational and social mobility and new ‘race’ dynamics for young black men in the city have all combined to reconfigure the role and meaning of the Cavaliers club in the lives of the local black communities which formed and have constituted the club since its founding in 1970.
This article explores alcohol consumption among women rugby players, particularly during the "third half-time", which traditionally takes place after the matches. The article will focus on alcohol use and the transgression of the norms of femininity. A series of ethnographic observations were carried out and semi-structured interviews were conducted with players (n = 10) from an amateur league-level women’s rugby team in Western France. The results show that within the context of rugby – which is marked by festive excesses and has been socially constructed as a "male" sport – women have a specific relationship with alcohol; although drinking is deemed necessary to demonstrate their inclusion in so-called "rugby culture", it is, nevertheless, far from being completely unrestrained. On the contrary, some of its effects are a construct of the group itself. In this sense, drinking in the third half-time poses a dilemma for women: how to establish themselves as women rugby players whilst remaining women at the same time.
This article aims to develop one of the major themes from an ethnographic study of the culture of distance running – the desire for health and fitness. Research was undertaken over a 2-year period using a variety of flexible qualitative data sources, most notably observation and in-depth interviews. The body, especially the ‘running body’, is seen by participants in this study as a source of health and well-being and affirmation of their identity. The results highlight the various contradictions and tensions that emerged whilst exploring the behaviour of distance runners in their desire to achieve a healthy body and mind.
This paper draws on qualitative interviews with a sample of English football fans to explore their relationship with one enduring site for fandom practice, the pub. In doing so, the work discusses the significance of structuration processes as a means of explaining the transcendent nature of this relationship across time and space. The findings complement existing ethnographic observations to illustrate that a progressive and multifaceted relationship exists between the institution (the pub) and its customers (football fans), based on historical reference to fan culture, emotive connection to the pub as a football space, associated sociability and the perception of cultural stability.
Andrews (1999) has argued that under conditions of market-based liberalization, the sporting past has increasingly been put to use for the purposes of accumulation. This selectively rendered "sporting historicism," he argues, results in "a pseudo-authentic historical sensibility, as opposed to a genuinely historically grounded understanding of the past, or indeed the present by rendering history a vast, yet random, archive of events, styles, and icons" (2006). Under such conditions, power-laden and selective "mythscapes" emerge. In this paper, we carry Andrews’ contention forward by arguing that critical sport scholars should further problematize the uses of the sporting mythscape—particularly by calling into question those re-historicizations that emerge in public discourse and excavating whose interests they serve. Here we interrogate the politics of how sporting pasts are mobilized in contemporary Aotearoa/New Zealand; in particular at the conjuncture of a globalized "free-market" economy and fluctuating (post-)colonial identity politics. We point to various cases that help reveal how specters of sporting pasts circulate within national mythologies in selective and politicized ways.
To date, studies of sports labour migration have afforded little attention to analyses of how individual athletes relate to historical and macro- structural power relations and forces. In this article, we set out to develop a transnational perspective on sports labour migration, focusing particularly on migrants’ achievement and maintenance of mobility as a key constituting factor in migratory movements. We argue that athletic mobility is an on-going process, a commodity that must continuously be achieved. The article provides material from an on-going PhD project concerning migratory routes between African and Scandinavian women’s football, and focuses attention on a case study of Nigerian women footballers’ migration out of their country of origin and into Scandinavian football clubs. The article concludes that, despite the unequal power relations that shape the global trade in athletic talent, sports migrants assert agency and control over important aspects of transnational movement and mobility.
This paper investigates the relationship between adolescent sport participation and alcohol use, focusing on differences in sport contexts. We also include the wider social context, the role of peers and parents as key variables in our analysis. Our sample consists of a nationally representative sample of 10,992 Icelandic adolescents. The findings indicate that adolescents that participate in formally organized sport clubs are less likely to use alcohol than those that do not. The results obtained for participation in informal sport are in the reverse direction, indicating that adolescents that do only informal sport are more likely to use alcohol than those that do not. Moreover, it was found that the well-known relationship between adolescent alcohol use and having alcohol-using friends was contingent on formal sport participation. We also find that the influence of low parental monitoring and time spent with parents and broken family structure on alcohol use becomes significantly weaker with greater involvement in formal sport. In other words, sport participation in formal sport is more relevant for those groups of adolescents that are at most risk for using alcohol, since it buffers the effects of known risk factors on alcohol use. Participation in informal sport does not, however, show such buffering effects. The findings further highlight the need to consider the wider social context as well as differences in sport organization and sport contexts while studying the potential effects of sports on adolescent alcohol use.
This paper draws on two ethnographic research projects in Japanese university sports clubs to examine the role alcohol plays in the social and cultural education of students. Over the course of a four-year membership, the university sports club is a site where members learn to negotiate drinking. This negotiation is demonstrated by the range of strategies members employ when engaging in one of the many official drinking parties that punctuate the university sports club calendar. Knowing how to drink is seen as an important byproduct of being a member and this knowledge is acquired via the pedagogical relationships established between junior and senior members. On graduating university Japanese students are literally expected to become full members of society and it is the habitus related to social interaction (including drinking) rather than that related to sport, which has enduring capital. Alcohol plays a central role in many aspects of Japanese social interaction and the university sports club is a site par excellence for the training in and mastery of such skills.
This article analyses 2500 responses from association football (soccer) fans to an anonymous online survey conducted from November 2011 to February 2012 that examined the extent of racism in British football. Eighty-three per cent of the participants stated that racism remains culturally embedded and when exploring the reasons behind its continuation from the 1970s and 1980s, Bourdieu’s concepts of field and habitus proved useful for understanding why some white fans continue to express racist thoughts and behaviours at football. Central to this were explanations concerning class and education and how historical notions of whiteness remain culturally embedded for some supporters.
To date, sport has played little part as an adjunct or alternative to adult alcohol and drug treatment programmes. However, research into natural recovery (overcoming addiction without formal treatment) identifies that sustained, meaningful activities located within the community, supportive social networks and new identities are a key part of desistance. This article draws on longitudinal data which tracked substance-misusing offenders engaging in a community-based sports programme – Second Chance – as part of their journeys of recovery from alcohol and other drug problems. Employing a life-course theory of informal social controls, the study identified that Second Chance offered participants a space for the opportunity for change, within which an identity transformation was occurring for some respondents. The identity transformation, and subsequent desistance, was facilitated through a confluence of meaningful routine activities, informal social controls and personal agency, both within and outside of Second Chance. This article analyses the life stories told by two Second Chance players, focusing on the meanings they attached to the programme in the context of their recovery and located in their day-to-day lives over 12 months. In doing so the authors highlight the complex nature of recovery from addiction, how structure and agency interrelate in this context and possible implications for sports-based interventions seeking to support disadvantaged adults.
This paper reports findings from a study of the role played by high-profile Kenyan runners in the organization of Run-for-Peace events that took place in response to election-related violence in Kenya in late 2007 and early 2008. Acknowledging concerns expressed by some sociologists of sport about the role of celebrity athletes in the sport for development and peace movement, we suggest that in the particular contexts we studied, high-profile athletes played a crucial role in the organization of reconciliation events. Informed by interviews with former and current elite Kenyan runners and others involved in the organization of these events, we argue that the apparent effectiveness of the athletes in mobilizing resources, pursuing political opportunities and devising a collective action frame was possible because of the extant positioning of the athletes in the impacted communities, the active involvement in and personal investment of the athletes in the outcome of the peace-promoting activities, and the unique pre-Olympic moment in which the events took place. In doing so, we differentiate between celebrity athletes who are a ‘presence’ at sport for development and peace events, and those who might be considered ‘social movement entrepreneurs’. We conclude the paper by describing how strands of social movement theory were helpful in guiding our analysis of high-profile athletes and peace promotion, and with suggestions for future research pertaining to sport-related reconciliation movements.
In this research, interviews were conducted with 10 US newspaper sport journalists to gauge their experiences and attitudes toward issues and coverage of open and closeted gay men in sport, sport media, and within society. Concerning closeted athletes, most of these journalists are reluctant to report on athletes’ non-normative sexual orientation, even if that means a competitor could scoop them on a story about a major athlete being gay. Most of these reporters believe that US sport fans are ready for openly gay athletes in professional men’s team sports, but that locker rooms might be slower to adapt. Despite these progressive attitudes and more than 220 years of collective professional media experience, none of these journalists ever worked with a sports reporter who was openly gay to all of their colleagues. Therefore, it was not surprising that most believed sport journalism would be a challenging career for openly gay men, particularly if those individuals also did not conform to gender-normative notions of masculinity.
This article examines the gender and sexual understandings of high school wrestlers, mainly through the lens of inclusive masculinity theory. It does so by exploring the level of acceptance participants exhibited toward gay wrestlers, as well as by how they made sense of and negotiated the popular claim: ‘wrestling is gay.’ Through 10 months of ethnographic research and 15 qualitative interviews, this research shows that the high school wrestlers in my study were by and large gay friendly, accepting both their presumably gay teammate and other openly gay wrestlers, but not without their own qualifications. While they were inclusive in this regard, they also took offense to the characterization that ‘wrestling is gay.’ How the wrestlers responded to this specific claim expands the literature on heterosexual recuperation, namely by illustrating how groups maintain heterosexual boundaries without referencing homophobia or heterosexuality explicitly.
This paper is an autoethnographic analysis of my experiences working for a year in southern Africa on a sport for development and peace (SDP) project. I reflect on the ways in which some of my day-to-day practices exemplified aspects of whiteness and masculinity. In terms of methodology, I combine literature from autoethnography and arts-based inquiry to argue for the use of drawing as a method of inquiry and a mode of presentation to examine and illustrate my experiences as a young, white, male development worker/"expert". I present three graphic vignettes that I produced through reflections on my experiences and through reading literature from critical race and development scholars. The ultimate aim with this paper is to put forward a critical counter-narrative that upsets the "white savior" story that is common within development and SDP.
An ethnographic description of a typical match day of Ritual del Kaos barra fans provides elements to discuss the consumption of alcohol as a specific practice of aguante. For the young Mexican-organized supporters of professional football clubs the concept of aguante has become the key concept for their daily practices. America Football Club fans of Ritual del Kaos display aguante practices under different denominations. Three of them are descontrol, colorido and carnaval. These concepts are in some sense contradictory one to the other but at the same they are complementary. Descontrol is practiced as if was completely "irrational" and purely emotional. Colorido and carnaval are apparently pure organized and rationalized practices. Nevertheless, the three of them are a combination of emotional and rationalized actions. In that sense, the interpretation of this phenomenon will be given by the melodramatic imagination coordinates.
This paper considers how sport presents a dualism to those on the far left of the political spectrum. A long-standing, passionate debate has existed on the contradictory role played by sport, polarised between those who reject it as a bourgeois capitalist plague and those who argue for its reclamation and reformation. A case study is offered of a political party that has consistently used revolutionary Marxism as the basis for its activity and how this party, the largest in Britain, addresses sport in its publications. The study draws on empirical data to illustrate this debate by reporting findings from three socialist publications. When sport did feature it was often in relation to high profile sporting events with a critical tone adopted and typically focused on issues of commodification, exploitation and alienation of athletes and supporters. However, readers’ letters, printed in the same publications, revealed how this interpretation was not universally accepted, thus illustrating the contradictory nature of sport for those on the far left.
In this semi-structured interview research, we investigate the attitudes of 22 academy-level association football (soccer) players who are potentially on the verge of becoming professional athletes. We find that, as a result of these men belonging to a generation holding inclusive attitudes towards homosexuality, independent of whether they maintain contact with gay men, they are unanimously supportive of gay men coming out on their team. Thus, this research supports a growing body of literature suggesting that teamsport culture is no longer a bastion of homophobia in the UK. Their support includes athletes being unconcerned with sharing rooms with gay players, changing with them in the locker rooms, or relating to them on a social and emotional level. The only apprehension they maintain is that having a gay teammate might somewhat alter homosocial banter, as they would not want to offend that individual.
This paper focuses on spectators’ alcohol use at a regional community football (Australian Rules) club in Victoria, Australia, in the context of a season-long trial to sell only mid-strength (and not full-strength) beer at the ground during home games. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected on spectators’ alcohol choices and preferences together with experiences and attitudes towards the trial. A minority (31%) usually drank alcohol while watching the game and 75% of all supporters agreed with the supply of alcohol at football grounds. Full-strength beer was the drink of choice for 70% of drinkers and faced with a restricted choice of alcohol for purchase (that did not include full-strength beer), 44% reported they would choose full-strength mixed drinks as an alternative. Choosing higher alcohol content drinks if the usual choice was not available was also found in the case of mid-strength beer drinkers, half of whom would choose full-strength beer if mid-strength was unavailable. In bivariate correlations, women, those aged 30–39 years, home supporters and those who did not drink alcohol while spectating were significantly more likely to support the trial. In a regression model the significant predictors were refined to being: female, a non-drinker and aged 50–59 years. Qualitative data supported the idea that the trial had been successful in terms of supporter acceptance of the move to cease the sale of full- strength beer and indicated that the club’s relatively supportive and ‘family friendly’ culture was a key in overcoming earlier opposition to the trial. While the results of this evaluation are mainly positive, the club’s particular culture and leadership suggest that its experience may not be transferred in any automatic sense to other clubs both within and without its league where more ‘traditional’ patterns associated with masculinity and alcohol use may be more persistent and prevalent.
Following a high-profile case of child sexual abuse in sport in 1996, the Netherlands Olympic Committee and the Netherlands Sports Confederation (NOC*NSF) established a telephone ‘helpline’ service on sexual harassment and abuse (SHA). In order to expand their understanding of this problem, NOC*NSF maintained written records of incidents reported to the helpline. These records revealed 323 separate incidents for the period 2001 to 2010. This paper presents a descriptive analysis of this data and discusses the findings. We conclude that whilst there are major limitations to working with information gathered in this way, a sustainable telephone ‘helpline’ can provide a valuable service for the sports community. Whilst official sources of data are known to under represent the scale of sexual abuse, through collaboration with researchers, such services can also generate important information for policymakers.
The objective of this article is to understand how the specific interactions between actors involved in the production of performance influence the socialization process by which cyclists learn their job. In particular, we try to understand how these interactions determine the reported attitudes towards doping products and methods. We focused on the interactions within the work group to understand how young cyclists learn their job. While analysing this organization of work, our goal is to understand how it influences the perception of the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). We compared socialization of young elite and U23 cyclists in Belgium, France and Switzerland. We analysed the economic, legal and organizational conditions in each country, and we conducted 70 semi-structured interviews with cyclists and their staff.
This article applies a qualitative framing analysis to the first three seasons of the television series Friday Night Lights, focusing particularly on its incorporation of heavy drinking into narrative representations of the player whose character is most consistently central to the game of football as fictionally mediated in small-town Texas over the course of those three seasons. The analysis suggests that over the course of that period Friday Night Lights embeds nuanced social meanings in its framing of alcohol use by that player and other characters so as to associate it with multiple potential outcomes. Yet among those outcomes, the most dominant framing works to, in effect, reverse a progression through which media representations historically evolved from a heroic model toward an antihero model, with heavy drinking central to that narrative process of meaning-making in such messages.
The purpose of this research was to examine semi-professional contemporary dancers’ experiences with injuries. Similar to athletes, dancers are often injured. Much of the previous research on dance injuries, however, has focused on ballet where the professional requirements and high technical level create demanding work conditions. Semi-professional contemporary dance differs from this context due to its technique and work environment. In this study, I investigate how contemporary dancers experience injuries. From a Deleuzian perspective, I examine the connections between the body, injury, and the dancing identity within the culture of contemporary dance. The empirical material from semi-structured interviews revealed that while most participants suffered injuries, they generally ignored their injuries and continued to dance as, they argued, their passion for contemporary dance overrode the need for caring for their injuries. Consequently, the cultural environment for amateur dance facilitated injury experiences similar to professional dance.
This study examined Chinese and US newspaper coverage of the controversial performance of female Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen during 2012 London Summer Olympics. While Ye won two gold medals, the ease in which she did so led to doping suspicions in Western media. Analysis of 222 articles from the US and China revealed sharp differences between the two countries’ amount of coverage about Ye, highlighting the valence and usage pattern of information sources as well. US coverage of Ye Shiwen was not as extensive as in China, and gender and nationality-based dialogues were present in newspaper reports. US coverage showed more skepticism on the doping issue; meanwhile, Chinese coverage exhibited a strong desire to protect its national image and national identity through defending Ye as unquestionably innocent. From a theoretical perspective, a framed "us versus them" dichotomy suggests that both countries’ coverages were still strongly influenced by the hostile ideologies beyond mere Olympic performances.
Results from quantitative surveys enable historians, sociologists and demographers to describe and analyse the evolution of sport participation in France from 1967 to 2010. However, most of these social scientists use the results of these surveys to create very different methodologies without having studied the surveys’ empirical data or databases. In this article, we demonstrate how we have attempted to establish a basis for comparability of the surveys by analysing these databases. As a result of our work, certain affirmations on which the history of sport participation in France has long been based may be called into question or even changed. This comparison raises the question of the distinction between the work of statisticians on the one hand, and that of historians, sociologists and demographers on the other.
Research indicates that those participating in sport consume alcohol more frequently and at higher quantities than their non-sporting peers. The highest levels of alcohol consumption have been found in university student sportspeople; however, the reasons for such elevated alcohol use are unclear and there has been little research in this area outside US institutions. Moreover, research seems to be predominantly problem-focused and may therefore be unlikely to afford a wider understanding of the role alcohol plays in the lives of many sportspeople. There is a particular paucity of research examining the positive social and psychological outcomes of alcohol consumption in sport participants. The present study addresses this gap in the literature by exploring the relationship between social cohesion, identity, self-reported happiness and student sportspeople’s drinking. Questionnaires containing validated measures for alcohol consumption, happiness, importance of sporting identity and drinking for team cohesion were used to collect data from 243 university sportspeople (females = 145, 60%). Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that age, happiness and team cohesion were significant predictors of alcohol consumption, whereas sporting identity did not contribute significantly to the regression model. Further mediation analyses found that the relationship between happiness and alcohol consumption was mediated by team cohesion.
The fat body and the sporting body are conventionally understood as mutually exclusive, coming together only in sport-based weight-loss interventions. However, the sport of marathon swimming relies upon body fat as a performance advantage, and weight maintenance and gain are a common element of the training process. The concept of ‘heroic fatness’ offers (some) swimmers a means of negotiating this anomalous sporting embodiment, positioning swimming fat as an undesirable necessity, nobly, but provisionally, borne. The paper argues that this construction is made possible through the construction of swimming fat as fake and as separate from the self. However, the paper unsettles this ideal-type of heroic fatness through the identification of the exclusions upon which it relies, both in terms of gender, and in relation to those who are already fat at the start of training. This opens up the possibility of more ambivalent modes of fatness that run counter to both heroic fatness and its unheroic counterpart – the very ‘real’ fatness that is the target of instrumentalist sport-based weight-loss interventions.
Traditionally, the Relative Age Effect (RAE) is determined with a chi-squared goodness-of-fit test based on a theoretical expected distribution of birthdates. This distribution must be that of the parent population, but many authors choose to replace it by a uniform distribution in order to simplify calculations. The consequences of this simplification are: (a) the actual Type 1 risk is no longer controlled at the conventional threshold of significance; (b) this risk increases with the sample size; and (c) the associated goodness-of-fit test is biased. The importance of these problems is tested on a national population and on a population of registered players.
The notion of sports fandom is generally built on the ways men understand and relate to sport. In this research, we explore how women, who come together in an online place, define and understand sport with the goal of better understanding female fandom. Using Coakley’s ((2004) Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies. New York: McGraw-Hill) framework for conceptualizing sport and Lenskyj’s ((1994) Women, Sport, and Physical Activity: Selected Research Themes. Gloucester, ON, Canada: Sport Information Resource Centre for Sport Canada) feminist approaches to competition, we analyzed the profiles of women bloggers who write about sports in two online communities, BlogHer and Women Talk Sports, to examine their relationship to sport from a feminist perspective. The analysis suggests that women’s interest is predominantly reflected, not through consumption, but through participation. In addition, women in these networks complicated dominant ideologies about the role of sport as many of them considered participation and competition as a site for building connections and empowering other women. Finally, women who wrote about sport fandom engaged in the construction of "woman’s perspective" on men’s sports and in advocacy of women’s sports. We argue that these women bloggers offer an alternative approach and, thus, may challenge the masculine understanding of performance-oriented institutionalized sports.
Sociologists who have examined the issue of lesbians in American sport in the 1980s and 1990s normally found overt and covert mechanisms of social discrimination. However, homophobia has been on a rapid decline over previous decades, and studies show attitudes toward female homosexuality in sport have improved since the research conducted on lesbian athletes in the mid-1990s. This article uses data collected between that epoch and current studies to analyze athletic narratives of openly lesbian team sport athletes in 2002. We find no universal pattern for the treatment of openly lesbian athletes existed in this era of decreasing homohysteria. However, as with gay men in sport at the time, athletic capital influenced who came out, and heterosexism was prominent.
In this paper we build upon recent scholarship on the globalization of youth culture and sport to examine the growing popularity of action sports in the Middle East. We focus on the development of the urban physical practice of parkour (also known as free running)—the act of running, jumping, leaping through an urban environment as fluidly, efficiently and creatively as possible—among Middle Eastern youth. Drawing upon interviews and media analysis of various print, digital and social media, we reveal how youth (particularly young men) in Gaza developed their own unique parkour group, despite various social, cultural, economic, physical and psychological obstacles. We explain the proactive approaches adopted by these young men to find appropriate training spaces, to develop the skills of local children and youth, and to support their peer groups. In particular, we describe how these young men are creatively engaging social media (e.g., YouTube, Facebook, Twitter) to gain inspiration from the transnational parkour community, and also for opening new dialogue and establishing informal cultural exchanges with parkour enthusiasts around the world. We conclude by offering some broader comments for the Sport for Development and Peace Building (SDP) movement, encouraging youth-focused SDP initiatives to move beyond the ‘deficit model’ and toward more collaborative projects that provide space for local voices and acknowledge youth agency.
Jeremy Lin and the resulting "Linsanity" has caused an unprecedented media and marketing frenzy worldwide. This essay examines its implication through reviewing media narratives in Taiwan, Lin’s ancestral homeland. Japanese colonizers first brought modern sports to the Taiwanese as a symbol of "civilization" and "modernity." Although "athleticism" confronts Confucian tradition, sports began to play a subtle but crucial role in the Taiwan nationalism-building process. Although sports are marginally positioned in Taiwanese culture, various regimes have used sports and physical education to integrate national identity and national morale. Taiwanese nationalism lacks self-assurance and must be recognized by its significant others. "The glory of Taiwan" has become a common phrase in contemporary Taiwan media coverage. Regardless of how trivial the issue, the Taiwanese appear desperate for every chance to prove their existence and worth. Recently, Jeremy Lin became the famous "glory of Taiwan." However, "Is Jeremy Lin Taiwanese?" raises a tricky and ambiguous question reflecting the complexity and anxiety of Taiwanese national identity. Through the lens of Linsanity in Taiwan media discourses, we argue that the Linsanity situation significantly differs from that of most Western societies. Taiwanese sportsmen, such as Jeremy Lin, became national heroes without "beating any foreign enemies." Lin’s identity has become the most important issue of Linsanity for Taiwan media discourses. In the process of exploiting Linsanity, a peculiar embodiment of sports nationalism has surfaced in Taiwan.
Taking inspiration from French sociologist and philosopher Henri Lefebvre’s theory of ‘rhythmanalysis’, the author advocates new ways of thinking about the impact of natural disaster on the bodies and everyday mobilities of those who continue to live in disrupted spaces. Drawing upon interviews conducted with residents living in Christchurch, New Zealand, before, during and after the devastating February 2011 earthquake, she explains how this ‘arrhythmic’ experience forced many to rethink the importance of sport and physical activity in their everyday lives, and for their affective connections to space, place, family and community. She describes how some committed action sport participants adopted highly creative practices in order to continue their participation in sports such as surfing, skateboarding, mountain biking and climbing. In so doing, the familiar rhythms of recreational sport helped some cope with the many stresses of daily life during the long process of recovery, and contributed to the rebuilding of personal and collective identities, affective relationships with place, and a sense of belonging in post-disaster geographies.
This paper presents a series of emerging research avenues and agendas for under-represented aspects of sport-related drinking. Extending the findings of a previous paper, which mapped the dominant themes in sociological treatments of drinking and sport to date, this paper argues for the importance of widening the empirical and theoretical base so as to better understand and explain the diversity and complexity of drinkers and drinking in sport. Drinking by female fans and sportswomen, non-drinkers in drinking environments, the role and place of religion, ethnicity, gender and social class in practices of inclusion and exclusion in sport-related drinking practices and the plurality of masculinities, among others, are all presenting new kinds of relationships to sport and alcohol that have not been subject to sustained critical sociological scrutiny from within sport. The research questions and the problematics these raise for studies of social and cultural aspects of sport (and drinking) highlights the need to reassess and reinvigorate the theoretical frameworks and dominant orthodoxies that drive social research into the sport–alcohol nexus.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup was heralded by mainstream media outlets, the local organisers, the South African government and FIFA as an unequivocal success. The month-long spectacle saw South Africa take centre stage and host the world’s largest single sporting event. This occurred against a backdrop of rationales and promises made that the event would leave lasting legacies for all, in particular marginalised South Africans. The reality is quite different. In this article we consider the South African World Cup in the build up to Brazil 2014. We argue that the rationales and rhetoric are similar in both countries and suggest the reality for Brazil 2014 will be the same as South Africa 2010 in that the mega-event will be primarily funded by significant public investment, while the primary beneficiaries will be private capital and FIFA.
This article focuses on the little known phenomenon of heterosexual men’s participation in gay1 sport clubs. It explores the relationship between straight men joining gay teams in a context of changing masculinities. Through 12 interviews with a diverse range of self-identified straight men living in the UK, the research demonstrates how traditional definitions of masculinity are possibly shifting, as are their attitudes towards sexuality, as a result of their involvement with gay sport organisations. Their experiences and stories reveal how their participation in gay sport settings may contribute to diminished cultural homophobia, in line with other recent studies. Initial stereotypes and perceptions of gay athletes were dismantled, resulting in clear attitudinal shifts toward homosexuality. The men interviewed had no one single conceptualisation of masculinity, and instead showed a more pluralised and inclusive version of masculinity. While their participation in gay clubs can largely be seen as a positive and transgressive act, their involvement still has some limitations.
This paper explored the Youth Olympic Games’ (YOG) potential sustainability (survival and success) through an analysis of how actors exert various forms of pressure on the YOG. Given the impact of the Olympic Games and of youth on society, it becomes important to study the newest member of the Olympic Family. Combining stakeholder, network and institutional literatures, a case study of the first Winter YOG in Innsbruck (Austria) was built by means of observations and interviews. The stakeholder network analysis revealed three central stakeholders for the YOG’s sustainability: the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the media (press and broadcast), and the athletes’ parents. The institutional context was challenged by stakeholders’ changing levels of relative saliency, and notably by the parents’ emerging saliency. Practically speaking, YOG managers need to be diplomats in balancing pressures originating from the international (IOC) and local (parents) institutional contexts.
Italian football has been in crisis for a number of years as global transformations and internal politics have manifested themselves in corruption, fan violence and financial insecurity. In addition to these, there has also been an increase in racism on the terraces as increased global migration has altered the demographics of cities across the peninsular. Although racism is widespread across many ethnic groups, African footballers in particular have become the symbolic objects of abuse from rival supporters. One footballer in particular has been constructed as an important symbol of this increased global migration: Mario Balotelli. As the son of Ghanaian immigrants, but raised as an Italian by adoptive parents, Balotelli symbolises the transformations within Italy as it comes to terms with its contemporary multi-culturalism. Through analysis of the comments posted on internet forums by fans, this article demonstrates the how inter-club rivalry is fuelling player abuse and racism.
This article probes how media representations of football in Scotland sustain the hegemonic ideologies associated with ethnicity and religion. The paper probes the football-related comedy output of one radio programme; radio output and football comedy are both neglected cultural material in studies of sport in Scotland. It argues that ambiguity and allusive language in comedy construct multiple interpretative possibilities that can demean the social and cultural identity of particular groups in society. The discussion analyses specific sketches from the Scottish radio comedy show Watson’s Wind Up. It is concluded that although humorous, these sketches reveal how ideas, myths and stereotypes that coalesce round Celtic FC and the Irish-descended and Catholic communities in Scotland reinforce and sustain anti-Irish and anti-Catholic bigotry.
The English Football Association’s (FA’s) Action Plan entitled ‘Opening Doors and Joining In’, published in early 2012, aims to promote the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGB&T) people and tackle homophobic abuse in football. The document is the latest example of the extent to which LGB&T inclusion and homophobia now feature on the FA’s radar. With a focus on men’s football, my purpose in this article is to focus on the prevalence, significance and implications of the many visual images in the FA Action Plan largely comprised of gay visibility in the form of gay football clubs and ‘diversity’ in the form of Black fe/males. I draw on the work of Ahmed ((2012) On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life. Durham, NC: Duke University Press) and argue that the FA’s employment of visibility and its discourse on commitment to LGB&T inclusion and tackling homophobia constitute ‘non-performative institutional speech acts’ and create the perception of ‘doing’. I conclude by offering practical suggestions on how to ameliorate homophobia in football, as well as providing a theoretical framework on how to study the increasing relevance of LGB&T inclusion and homophobia in the wider context of global football.
Faced with the problems of governing high-level sports policy in France caused by the mobilisation of various categories of private actors, and with the downgrading of France in the ranking of leading sports nations, the Sports Ministry instigated a reform of this policy based on the principles of New Public Management. While some studies have shown that neo-managerial reforms provoke opposition among public agents, or even a decline in certain professions, the results of the survey conducted on Technical Sports Advisors (Conseillers Techniques Sportifs – CTS), Sports Ministry agents who ‘report to’ the sports federations, instead reveal that they heighten the uncertainty of these agents’ careers and exacerbate the segmentation of this professional group. These observations can also be explained by the now recurrent tensions between the State and the French sports movement, tensions which confirm that the conduct of public action is above all a matter of power and institutional legitimacy.
Soccer in Spain functions as a powerful ideological apparatus. Historically, the under-performance of the national selection ("Spanish Fury") was attributed to a lack of patriotism on part of players from ethno-regional peripheries. The recent successes (2008, 2012 Euro Cup and 2010 World Cup) of Spanish soccer are hailed as proof of a modern country that has finally overcome its regional divisions. Or has it? This article will explore soccer as a contested ideological terrain between Spanish, Basque and Catalan nationalism. The peripheries have been instrumental in the development of Spanish soccer and the "Spanish Fury," as I will show in this paper, while they remain at odds with the idea of a central "Spain." This paper explores soccer as a schismogenic system of integration and disintegration that affect center–periphery relationships. I will explore the historical-particular mechanisms, achievements and impasses of ethnic, racial and national identity construction in three epochs: the pre-Franco dictatorship, when soccer was established as the hegemonic sports culture; the Franco dictatorship, an era of intensive homogenization; and the current democratic era in a supra-national Europe, where the peripheries emerge with renewed separatist energies.
Much research concerning the Dominican Republic and baseball focuses on globalization. In acknowledging the importance of such research, this study contributes a particular understanding of sport in a rural heterogeneous community, by addressing landscape and place identity. Villa Ascension and Caraballo are adjacent rural communities in the northern Puerto Plata Province. Currently there exists one usable sports space, designated as a football field, where Haitian residents practice football. Although this landscape is representative of Haitian identity, this designation transcends common sporting landscapes in the Dominican Republic, where Haitians typically use baseball fields to recreate. Dominicans also use the football field for baseball, and have forged a baseball landscape in an attempt to maintain the presence of their sporting culture. Conceptual social-geographical perspectives of sense of place and staging/performing identity in the landscape are reinforced through participant observations and interviews/conversations with local Haitian and Dominican participants to support critical understandings in this particular locale.
Using a reading sport methodology, this study examined the Lingerie Football League (LFL) through a critical feminist lens to explore how cultural definitions of femininity, as intersected with race and sexuality, were (re)produced and challenged in texts of the LFL. This analysis was based on the examination of 380 newspaper and magazine articles and web blogs as well as content from the LFL website. The data were collected using LexisNexis and then coded using inductive themes. The five major themes developed included: (1) just another form of soft porn, (2) real women play lingerie football, (3) men take care of business, (4) promoting white-defined beauty, and (5) narratives of empowerment. The findings indicate that a dominant white, heterosexy femininity infused the league and its representations at the point at which the league was established.
This article presents the findings of a discourse analysis carried out on 48 association football (soccer) message boards from across the United Kingdom concerning fans’ views towards the presence of gay footballers. It draws on over 3000 anonymous posts to examine whether hegemonic or more inclusive forms of masculinity existed. The overall findings are that, despite evidence of heteronormativity and some orthodox views towards homosexuality, a majority of supporters demonstrate more inclusivity through the rejection of posts that they feel have pernicious homophobic intent. Rather than avoiding any contestation of these orthodox posts, fans frequently challenge them and suggest that on-the-field performance is what is valued the most.
In this article, we analyze Taiwan’s grassroots reactions to the disqualification of taekwondo icon Yang Shu-chun in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, in order to examine how a technical dispute induced political and popular campaigns that variously blamed the governing party, the People’s Republic of China, and South Korea for inflicting shame on both the athlete and on Taiwan. Our research combines a historiography of Taiwan’s post-WWII experience, analysis of the nature of the Internet, and an assay of Taiwan’s three major newspapers. We find that the Yang incident became a symbolic vehicle for expressing the feeling of the nation’s citizens that Taiwan is trapped in international politics, and for restoring their national pride by transforming Yang into a virtuous heroine. We propose an attention to local, contingent narratives on sports, through which even regional games or failures serve to reinforce national identity.
Social changes have been influencing determinants for sports participation since the introduction of the Sport for All ideology in the early 1970s. Consistent with Crum’s sportisation theory, today’s modes of sports practices, as well as the network of sport services, have diversified and de-traditionalised.
As part of a research tradition, this contribution aims at analysing changes in sports participation styles in kinesiology students in Belgium during the past four decades (1972–2009). The distinct target group was supposed to fulfil a trend-setting role in the area of active sports participation. Data were obtained from a standardised retrospective questionnaire on leisure-time sports participation. Using standardised methods, Principal Component Analysis was used to identify patterns of sports participation. The results show a diversification of sports participation styles until the 1980s, followed by an intensification of basic style components since the 1990s. Sports participation styles between 1999 and 2009 are subdivided into multiple distinct traditional and non-traditional components, with growing emphasis on non-traditional, alternative practices. Newly observed components in 2009 are discussed in relation to previous time intervals and trends in sports participation.
This article examines sport and social cohesion in South Africa through a case study of a project on aid and social development through tourism and football in the provincial town of Stellenbosch, in the Western Cape. The field of study includes the project that was initiated, the group that benefits from it – African footballers – and another group that believes they too were entitled to benefit – Coloured footballers. The observation scale focuses not on the content of the initiative, as the usual sociological approach would do, but on the effects of its allocation. Those effects are observed first from the viewpoint of how they contribute to heighten acceptance of the national governance principles, and then from that of the consequences of that level of acceptance. The results show that the allocation of the project has heightened acceptance of the democratic framework among African footballers, and had the opposite effect among Coloured footballers, who view it as deeply inequitable. In Stellenbosch, the project on aid and social development through tourism and football thus has been harmful to the national project of social cohesion as, far from enhancing the acceptance of the governance framework by all, it has fostered conflict. Next, our results show that allocating the project to one group has strengthened the feeling that there are fundamental differences between the two football groups, by throwing the inequality between them into relief. It has revived among each group the stereotypes inherited from apartheid, in which Coloureds are perceived as ‘racists’ and Africans as ‘primitive’, which harms the South African social cohesion project further, as such stereotypes only contribute to harden the boundaries between the different groups.
In this paper components of Bourdieu’s sociological theory will be utilized to systematically outline key constituents, and the interrelated power struggles, which shape Paralympic sport. The premier Paralympic sport competition is arguably the summer Paralympic Games, a quadrennial multi-sport competition for elite athletes with specific impairments, governed by the International Paralympic Committee. This paper argues that Paralympic sport is significantly influenced, shaped and developed according to the differential resources and contestation for power between individuals and organizations that possess an interest in deriving benefit from the Paralympic Games. Firstly, this article outlines the historical development of Paralympic sport. Relevant aspects of Bourdieu’s sociological theory are then identified and utilized to generate a fresh sociologically infused interpretation of the current key constituents who together form a Paralympic field. The intention is to provide a more systematic overview of Paralympic relations, while also highlighting potential avenues for future social research.
In order to help talented athletes to attain the highest possible level in both their sport and education, Topsport Talent Schools (TTS) were founded in the Netherlands in 1991. This research aims to investigate the effect of attending a TTS on the sport and education performance levels of talented athletes. A retrospective study was conducted amongst 242 (former) talented athletes from six sport federations. Results indicate that attending a TTS did not influence the current and highest attained sport performance levels of talented athletes (at both junior and senior level). Neither were talents who had attended a TTS more satisfied about the combination of school and sport, nor were they more motivated for their sport. Furthermore, results indicated that talents who had attended TTS were less motivated to do well in school; also they attained lower educational levels in both their secondary school and further education.
While the use of inferential statistics is a nearly universal practice in the social sciences, there are instances where its application is unnecessary or, worse, misleading. This is true for most research on the Relative Age Effect (RAE) in sports. Given the limited amount of data needed to examine RAE (birth dates) and the availability of complete team rosters, RAE researchers are in a unique position—inference is not needed when interpreting findings because the data is from a population. We reveal, over the course of five years, the misapplication of inferential statistics using census data in 10 of 13 RAE studies across 12 sports journals. Thus, perhaps by inertia, the majority of RAE researchers use inferential statistics with their census data, misusing analytic techniques and, in some cases, undervaluing meaningful patterns and trends.
The International Review for the Sociology of Sport, the Journal of Sport and Social Issues and Sociology of Sport Journal have individually and collectively been subject to a systematic content analysis. By focusing on substantive research papers published in these three journals over a 25-year time period it is possible to identify the topics that have featured within the sociology of sport. The purpose of the study was to identify the dominant themes, sports, countries, methodological frameworks and theoretical perspectives that have appeared in the research papers published in these three journals. Using the terms, identified by the author(s), that appear in the paper’s title, abstract and/or listed as a key word, subject term or geographical term, a baseline is established to reflect on the development of the sub-discipline as represented by the content of these three journals. It is suggested that the findings illustrate what many of the more experienced practitioners in the field may have felt subjectively. On the basis of this systematic, empirical study it is now possible to identify those areas have received extensive coverage and those which are under-researched within the sociology of sport. The findings are used to inform a discussion of the role of academic journals and the recent contributions made by Michael Silk, David Andrews, Michael Atkinson and Dominic Malcolm on the past, present and future of the ‘sociology of sport’.
Politicians and sports organizations have often relied on economic benefits to justify their decisions in hosting major sports events in their countries. Consequently, there are comparatively few studies on the non-economic benefits of hosting major sports events. The purpose of this research is to determine whether there is any change in the level of national pride in the hosting of the Youth Olympics Games held recently in Singapore in 2010. Two separate surveys were conducted among students from a tertiary education institution in Singapore two months prior to, and after, the event. Results showed a significant increase in the level of national pride. Specifically, the increases in the level of national pride were more pronounced among males and those who were more involved in sports. The results concur with previous studies that have reported an increase in national pride following the hosting of a major sports event. As this is a case study focusing on the Youth Olympic Games, which arguably is on a distinctly smaller scale compared to the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup, future research needs to be conducted on other major sports events to determine the generalizability of the findings.
This study shows the utility of the concept of diaspora for physical cultural studies, and particularly for thinking through sport in a Canadian setting. The capacity of diaspora theory to specify a matrix of real and imagined cross-border cultural, kinship, and social relationships makes it useful for understanding community (re)generation in sport settings. Relatively little about recreational cricket in the Caribbean and its diaspora has been documented, despite the sport’s power as a symbol of Caribbean unity. My findings indicate that a group of first-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrants living in the Greater Toronto Area use a particular form of cultural production, the sport of cricket, to generate and maintain diasporic communities, that is, cross-border interpersonal networks with other Afro-Caribbean people who remain in their nations of origin, and who are dispersed throughout the United States, elsewhere in Canada, and England. Regardless of where they play, cricket matches are "home games" that allow players and spectators to lime (hang out) and (re)generate diasporic consciousness, that is, a sense of themselves as one people through the "authentic" Afro-Caribbean environment they create. The reproduction of Afro-Caribbean culture, community, and consciousness includes conflicts with South Asian and Indo-Caribbean diasporic groups.
This article investigates the embodied experiences of a group of professional sports labour migrants whose experiences have largely been ignored by sociological literature: southern hemisphere rugby players playing professional rugby league in the United Kingdom. The migrant pathway from Australasia to the UK is well established. Moreover, rugby league is a sport in which debate concerning the merits of employing labour migrants from Australasia is prevalent and ongoing. The study used interview and questionnaire data to investigate the embodied experiences facing this group of migrant professionals. Migrant experiences prior to migrating were contoured by access to resources and by the formal and informal relationships developed through professional and personal careers. The embodied and complex nature of contractual negotiations is highlighted. The centrality of embodied migrant identity and habitus is noted in relation to acculturation strategies adopted over time and space, both prior to and during a foreign sojourn, in terms of established and outsider groups. The paper also highlights how subgroups within a more general group of labour migrants can emerge. Furthermore, the complex influence of personal and professional relationships was found to be both enabling and constraining. These differences between subgroups are considered in light of previous work on acculturation strategies and the existential nature of migration. Future research requirements in the sports labour migration field are suggested.
Television broadcasters often exhibit bias in the reporting of sport events. Through framed discourse, networks embed multiple storylines to build and maintain audiences over the duration of an event. Research has typically focused on mega-events occurring every four years. This study, through content analysis of American Broadcast Company’s announcer discourse of a smaller annual event, the 2007 National Basketball Association finals series, found that the framing function of the media continued to be employed. Findings also revealed significant associations existed for play-by-play and colour commentary on the two competing teams that would serve to reinforce viewer beliefs. Commentary on the winning team emphasized skill, speed and creativity, whereas star players became the focus of the losing team. Sport marketers can gain practical utility for use of framing in broadcasts by providing commentators with prepared frames that could support viewer beliefs or expectations.
The intention of this paper is to offer a preliminary analysis of the migrations of professional footballers to Poland’s top division – the Ekstraklasa. Based upon a series of interviews conducted with migrant players located at an Ekstraklasa club, the paper focuses specifically on the factors that influence the players’ decisions to migrate to that particular league. The paper identifies that whilst the Ekstraklasa might sit outside of Europe’s core football economies, it still offers much as a migration destination for certain sorts of players. Specifically, the paper shows how ‘pull’ factors, such as financial gain and the opportunity to play in Europe’s elite club competitions, are juxtaposed with a number of structural factors that ‘push’ migrants from particular locations and that are contoured by the players’ desires to progress in their careers. The paper concludes by showing that the motivations of the migrants cannot be reduced to any single causal factor, but rather, to be more meaningful, a series of interdependent processes should be seen to be at work.
This paper deals with the problematic identity of the Arab male fans of Bnei Sakhnin F.C., which is an Arab soccer club in the city of Sakhnin, Israel. Seemingly, the Bnei Sakhnin F.C. male fan identifies with his club for the same reasons as every other football fan in Israel. However, as an Arab and minority in a state that is in continuous strife with his people – the Palestinians – his fandom and hence his identity as a fan is inevitably affected. The Arab fan of Bnei Sakhnin cannot rest his identity on the club alone. The Arabs’ status in Israel, which is imported to the football stadium, stems from identity being heavily connected to ethnicity/nationality. In essential ways, the Arab male fan cannot separate his identity with the club from his ethnicity/nationality. He is foremost an Arab and then a football fan. Consequently, the football league becomes a constant dilemma of identification by posing the question of "Who are we?"
The aim of this article is to understand how the online sport journalism in Spain manufactures conflict narratives on Real Madrid versus Barcelona football matches. The clásico has been frequently framed as a clash between two national identities that goes beyond its sportive dimension. Following Whannel’s concept of ‘vortextuality’ in relation to ‘celebrity culture’ and Boyle’s concept of ‘quote culture’, and by means of a case study, this paper challenges the presumed national identity approach in journalistic discourse and frames the rivalry as a narrative dispute between their main characters. Contrary to the common belief, the results suggest the self-sufficiency of the sporting competition to create conflict and the comparatively minor role the social context plays in media narratives.
This paper explores the relationship between involvement in sport and non-sport community organisations and social connectedness. Data were collected on types of community involvement, selected demographic variables and social connectedness. The findings support the contention that involvement in sport organisations is associated with increased levels of social connectedness. Sport involvement was found to be a predictor of social connectedness, while involvement in non-sport community organisations was not. The study also found that the tenure and intensity of involvement in organisations were not significantly associated with social connectedness scores.
Sport has become a highly differentiated social phenomenon in recent years. Changes in society, such as individualization, the growing significance of the health and body culture, and changing values, are considered to be generative mechanisms for increasing social importance and the differentiation of modern sport. Although discussions in sport sociology attribute the changes observed in recent decades of sport participation to a socially determined differentiation of sport, this premise has hardly ever been empirically tested. The present study examines to what extent the postulated developments in sport can be observed on the micro level of those engaging in sport, by examining sport behaviour from a contemporary historical perspective. Based on a life-course approach to research, a total of 1739 over 50-year-olds in Germany were asked about their sport participation as part of a retrospective longitudinal study. Results show that the increasing differentiation of sport can be documented by more diversified forms of individual sport careers. During a 30-year observation period the popularity of competitive sport decreased and the variety of ways in which sport was organized increased. A differentiated analysis based on examining three birth cohorts showed that the reported change in sport participation can be attributed to age, cohort and period effects. In addition, the present study examines how specific events in contemporary history are reflected in individual sporting careers. Sport careers in Chemnitz (Eastern Germany) and Braunschweig (Western Germany) differed before German reunification, but these differences have evened out after the political changes and the process of transformation.
On 8 February 2012 Fabio Capello resigned from his position as manager of the England men’s national association football (soccer) team. The date this decision became public coincided with the acquittal in court of Harry Redknapp following the Tottenham Hotspur FC manager being accused of tax evasion. As Redknapp was considered the media favourite to succeed Capello as England manager, press coverage of these two events proved an interesting case through which to explore the current relationship between English national identity, soccer and the English national press. As such, this paper is concerned with how the events of that day were reported by nine different English national newspapers across 82 pages of coverage. Thematic analysis revealed that journalists often adopted a ‘Little Englander’ mentality with regards to their attitudes towards Capello, due to his Italian nationality. Contrary to this, the press frequently depicted Redknapp as a typically ‘English’ working-class hero linking him with nostalgic references to a bygone ‘golden era’ of English soccer. These findings illustrate the main ways in which the English press continue to present English national identity via their soccer-related coverage as insular and rooted in the past.
There has been a veritable efflorescence of interest in sporting embodiment in recent years, including more phenomenologically inspired sociological analyses. A sociology of the senses is, however, a very recent sub-discipline, which provides an interesting new dimension to studies of sporting embodiment, focusing inter alia upon the sensory elements of ‘somatic work’: the ways in which we go about making sense of our senses within a socio-cultural (and sub-cultural) framework. The present article contributes to a developing sociological-phenomenological empirical corpus of literature by addressing the lived experience of asthma in non-élite sports participants. Despite the prevalence of asthma and exercise-induced asthma/bronchoconstriction, there is a distinct lacuna in terms of qualitative research into living with asthma, and specifically in relation to sports participation. Here we focus upon the aural dimension of asthma experiences, examining the role of ‘auditory attunement’ and ‘auditory work’ in sporting embodiment.
There has been a growing debate concerning the increasing salience of sport to government in the UK and the role and value of community-level sport policy. Much of this debate has centred on the role of voluntary sport clubs (VSCs) and the extent to which they can contribute to the creation of social capital. This paper contributes to this debate through a case study of sport policy implementation in England. The case study firstly highlights the strategic importance attached to social capital and its associated policy context and secondly presents key stakeholder interpretations of the likelihood that VSCs will act as agents of delivery. The analysis is served by three considerations. Firstly, what is the political and policy context for a strategic orientation to social capital? Secondly, how does this orientation relate to stakeholder perceptions of what VSCs do? Thirdly, how do stakeholder perceptions of what VSCs do affect their perceptions of how they do it? The analysis is informed by a series of 14 semi-structured interviews with a number of key stakeholders and a range of public documents produced by government, local authorities and regional agencies. The conclusions suggest that, firstly, the democratic form of social capital is most dominant in relation to sport policy and, secondly, that when considered alongside VSC stakeholder perceptions, then anticipated democratic social capital outcomes may become distorted and even corrupted.
To be able to value the relative age effect in the male and female World Championships played between 2005 and 2010 in the U17 categories (athletes 17 years or younger), U19 (athletes 19 or younger) and U21 (athletes 21 years or younger) a sample of 954 players has been selected. The variables registered were their dates of birth, the category of the competition, gender, height and official statistics of each player obtained from the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). A clear relative age effect was found (in both male and female categories) fading with age, being higher in the U17 category, slightly less but also significant in the U19, and no significant effect found in U21. This effect persists when the different specific positions were analysed in the male categories, being clearer in the positions that require more physical strength. In female categories the results do not back the existence of the relative age effect. Also, differences were found in height in the male category with regard to the players’ year-quarter of birth, but its interpretation is not consistent with the relative age effect. In the female category no differences were found in height. Finally, the performance difference of the players in the male and female categories hardly varies with regard to the year-quarter of birth.
This article documents the intended and unintended outcomes of recent organizational change in UK elite sport. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with 14 doctors and 14 physiotherapists who are current members of the British Olympic Association medical and physiotherapy committees, it argues that attempts by managers in sports medicine to create a highly specialized area of practice have created more immediate tensions within and between both professional groups. The first half of the article argues that on the one hand, the introduction of formal qualifications in sports medicine has created opportunities for clinicians to work full-time in sport, created a clearer distinction between specialized and non-specialized practitioners, provided greater access to and involvement in supportive networks and created more formal pathways for those wishing to enter or progress within the field. At the same time, however, an examination of the working relations between current members of the British Olympic Association’s medical and physiotherapy committees highlights, in microcosm, the social organization of sports medicine post organizational change. Thus, this article highlights that attempts by higher managerial sports medicine clinicians to achieve professional status have created a fragmented and internally divided sports medicine speciality made up of a diverse set of practitioners at different stages of sports medicine’s professional project.
Research in sport has tended to focus on ‘spectacular’ or ‘extra-ordinary’ experiences, at the expense of discussing how particular phenomena are embedded in everyday life. Drawing on ethnographic research with a university basketball team in the North of England, this article considers the meanings that amateur players attach to basketball and how such meanings go beyond their participation in competitive games. Analysis reveals the rhythms and rituals which are hugely important in determining the players’ sense of self. It also highlights the carnivalesque celebrations which allow the players to temporarily disrupt the status quo and experiment with alternative identities. In conclusion, it is argued that the meaning of sport should not be seen as rigid, determining and predictable, but rather a creative experience that is largely dependent on the subjective appropriation of time and place.
The awarding of the 2016 Summer Olympics to the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil continues the trend of international sports mega-events being hosted in the global South and constructed and promoted as part of long-term development plans and policies. Rio 2016 also connects with the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) current commitment to international development and global humanitarianism. In this paper, we examine the proliferation of this agenda through official online Olympic communication and compare it against critical perspectives from activist bloggers concerned with development issues specific to Rio 2016. The results support the notions that the internet can be used both to serve and challenge processes of capitalist accumulation and that political debates and contestations, such as those regarding development policy, are increasingly ‘amplified’ online. We argue, therefore, that while the IOC and Olympic stakeholders use the internet in support of neoliberal and modernist notions of development, online communications also offer important avenues for disseminating current critiques of, and resistance to, Olympic hosting.
This paper contributes to existing literature on gender equity within sporting organisations, focusing on the merger between the Women’s Cricket Association (WCA) and the England and Wales Cricket Board in 1998. At the time of the merger those involved in the WCA debated whether the merger would be positive for the future of the women’s game. In this paper we discuss the impact of the merger on the women’s role in the governance of their sport through the views of 10 women who were involved in playing, administrating, managing or coaching cricket during the time of the merger. The interviewees’ experiences are located within wider debates about power, gender and sport. We specifically draw on the concept of exclusionary power to highlight how gender inequities continue to impact upon the management and organisation of women’s cricket in England. Our participants’ testimonies suggest that since the merger, the game has unquestionably benefited from increased financial support. This has significantly boosted the elite development of the game. However, since the merger the role of women has changed. They now have limited power over the organisation and development of both elite and grassroots levels of play. This paper therefore contributes to existing research on gender relations and sporting organisations, such as the work of Stronach and Adair ((2009) ‘Brave new world’ or ‘sticky wicket’? Women, management and organizational power in Cricket Australia. Sport in Society 12(7): 910–932) and Sibson ((2010) "I Was Banging My Head against a Brick Wall": Exclusionary power and the gendering of sport organisations. Journal of Sport Management 24: 379–399), by further applying the concept of exclusionary power to understanding gender relations within a UK sports context.
Rugby is a sport that has given Fiji international recognition. The professionalisation of rugby has led to a growing number of elite players emigrating from Fiji – often temporarily but sometimes permanently – to metropolitan countries, with an estimated 450 athletes currently involved in foreign competitions. Whilst Fijians have a long history of migration to metropolitan societies, the recent global dispersion of rugby players has added new dimensions and complexities. This article intends to shed light upon this migratory phenomenon by exploring what it means for these Fijians to ply their trade in foreign leagues. Based on semi-structured interviews, the article examines the experiences of Fijian players who are currently or have previously been contracted by metropolitan rugby clubs and what these experiences mean to them regarding their sense of collective identity and pride, especially in the context of politico-economic disparities between Fiji and the host countries. In doing so, particular attention is paid to the voices and agency of those athletes who claim rugby migration as a space for counter-hegemonic collective self-expression. The article thus seeks to contribute to our understanding of the dynamics of the relationship between sports labour migration and collective local identification and resistance in an increasingly globalised world.
This article explores the reasons behind the expression of anti-English sentiment by Scots in relation to both sporting and wider social contexts, whilst also considering the impact of migration to England on the attitudes expressed by members of the Scottish diaspora. Drawing upon the conceptual framework of ‘narrative identity’ proposed elsewhere, data was generated through semi-structured interviews which focused upon the ‘ontological’ and ‘public’ narratives of Scottish identity as expressed by Scots living in England. The findings demonstrate the influence of a wide range of personal, social, historical and political factors in highlighting the cleavage between Scotland and England within the context of sport and society, allowing for a more nuanced understanding of the complex relationship between these two nations in the context of sporting rivalry. This relationship is argued to be heavily influenced by the existence of an ‘underdog mentality’-style grand ‘public narrative’ for Scots in relation to their English neighbours, based on perceived differences in economic and sporting resources between the two countries. This ‘underdog mentality’ therefore acts as a legitimating force for the expression of anti-English sentiment in both a sporting and wider social context as part of some individuals’ ‘ontological narrative’, although the extent of such sentiment was found to vary significantly between individuals and contrasting contexts.
This paper argues that a reflexive, late modern volunteer culture coexists with a collectivist, traditional one at major sporting events. Those who regularly volunteer at such events and are affiliated with organized sport tend to be older and male, and have higher incomes. Those who are volunteering for the first time and are unaffiliated with organized sport resemble reflexive volunteers to a greater extent: they tend to be younger and female, and their incomes are lower than those of regular sports volunteers. A factor analysis identified sports interest, social motives and qualification/work-related motives as three motivational dimensions for volunteering at sporting events. The first two intrinsic dimensions were more important to event regulars and those affiliated with organized sports. Building qualifications and work-related experience were more important motives for first-timers and unaffiliated volunteers, indicating that these volunteers view event volunteering as an appropriate way of investing in social and human capital. The data come from an Internet-based survey (n=800, response rate 77) conducted prior to the 2010 test event for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Oslo, Norway.
This paper, drawing on collective action literature and situated within the women’s sport movement, offers a case study of a separate girls’ minor hockey association that formed in Ontario in the mid-1990s. The analysis explores the process of establishing a girls’ hockey association that is separate from the boys’ minor hockey umbrella. Two fundamental collective action themes emerged from the data. First, the data revealed the founders of the separate association acted according to both affective and rational motives. Second, the founders utilized different strategies, namely advocacy and social action, to form the association. These findings support an integrated perspective towards community change as it pertains to female hockey governance, and introduces a novel stream of inquiry into this area of female sport – one that connects collective action, governance, and organizational dynamics.
Voluntary engagement is an important prerequisite for the production of club goods. Although unpaid, the individual decision for or against voluntary engagement can be regarded and formally modeled as a deliberate act of social exchange using elements of behavioral economics. We lay out a simple behavioral model that captures in a stylized way several motives (consumption of the club good, social recognition, human capital, etc.) that may explain why individuals volunteer. We then use results from an interview study to assess the quantitative importance of the different motives, and to shed light on dimensions along which the model can be extended in future research.
Like many other countries, the Dutch government increased investments in elite sports in the last decennium, partly driven by the ambition to organise the Olympic Games in 2028 in the Netherlands. One of the most important legitimations for this ambition is that elite sports events and national achievements should foster national pride, social cohesion and international prestige.
In this article we present and discuss the results of a study on the relationship between Dutch international sport achievements and the development of national pride. The outcome is based on 27 longitudinal measurements among the adult Dutch population in the years 2008–2010 in which European and world Championships men’s soccer and a summer and winter Olympic Games took place.
The results support the common belief that international sporting success of Dutch athletes contributes to the testimony and expression of national pride and belonging. However, the extent to which national pride can be increased by national sporting success seems to be rather limited. The data show that national performances in international sport events may lead to small, short-term eruptions in feelings of national sporting pride and well-being, especially among athletes, men and non-immigrants. However, the results indicate that national pride is a rather stable characteristic of national identification that cannot easily be increased by improving national sporting success and winning more Olympic medals.
Drawing data from the 2010 American Time Use Survey, we examine how time spent in the major life domains, that is, paid work, unpaid work, and personal care, is associated with time spent on sports/fitness participation, and whether the size of this association differs by gender, marital, and parental status. We find that time in the major life domains is adversely associated with sports/fitness participation, although more so for men. Considering this gender difference in the effects of the time in the major life domains also helps us better reveal the oft-noted gender gap in sports/fitness participation. Moreover, we find the negative association of time spent in the major life domains and time on sports/fitness participation is stronger for married than single persons, whereas this association does not vary in size by parental status. Implications of these findings for future research on gender stratification in sports/fitness are discussed.
As the literature is far from being unanimous in regards to the psychosocial benefits of sports practice, we conducted a preliminary qualitative study with nine teenagers who participated in a group sporting challenge to better understand: (1) youths’ perceptions regarding the program’s most important dimensions and (2) its effects in the physical, psychological and social spheres of their life. Following these results, we highlighted six driving principles we consider to be significant to interventions involving sports as a tool for psychosocial development: (1) cooperation amongst youth; (2) facilitators’ discipline, direct involvement and positive attitude; (3) moving the youths beyond their physical, psychological and social comfort zones; (4) the interplay between enjoyment and effort; (5) constant innovation in training content; (6) risk as a driving force for cohesion and social ties.
The Youth Olympic Games (YOG) are the newest addition to the Olympic Movement and, in light of recent discussions of the education of high-performance athletes, represent a change within the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from a philosophy of ‘winning by all means’ to a philosophy much more informed by education. Therefore, this paper analyses the YOG through the experiences of participating athletes and puts their perception of the event in contrast to the policies of the IOC. Through the centring of the agents within the hermeneutic analysis, along with the use of Critical Discourse Analysis, a more relevant image of the YOG is constructed and it shows that that the perceptions of the athletes are in contrast to the policy documents. Whereas the organisation claims that the content of the Culture and Education Programme of the YOG was very successful and enhanced the educational experience of the athletes, the subjects of this study were in a way dissatisfied with the programme. Thus, their perceptions helped to deconstruct the political claims in a very valuable way and future, athlete-centred research is needed in order to enhance the educational and cultural effects of the YOG.
This paper presents a historical sociological analysis of the sociology of sport. It draws on theoretical insights from the sociology of professions to examine ‘state-of-the-field’ reviews written by sociologists of sport. The paper argues that in establishing why the sociology of sport emerged, how people identified its earliest manifestations, and how the subdiscipline’s boundaries were drawn, the political dynamics and consequences of the social construction of the field become apparent. This social construction is conceived of as a ‘professional project’ through which a knowledge domain, and this group’s authoritative status, was established. Sociologists of sport sought to validate their professional project through appeals to the sociological ‘mainstream’ and the correlative distancing from physical education. These reviews consistently obscure this professional project and portray a lineage that is logical, inevitable and consensual.
Recent research has examined the role of negative emotion norms and elite athletes’ decisions to continue to train in sport when they are not physically healthy enough to do so. According to Lee Sinden ((2010) The normalization of emotion and the disregard of health problems in elite amateur sport. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology 4: 241–256; (2012) The elite sport and Christianity debate: Shifting focus from normative values to the conscious disregard for health. The Journal of Religion and Health), athletes are persuaded to accept negative perceptions of emotions through a process called "normalization of emotion". The author draws on Foucault ((1977) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage Books) and Shogan ((1999) The Making of High-Performance Athletes: Discipline, Diversity, and Ethics. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press), to show how normalization works through an athlete’s emotions using methods of normalizing, including hierarchical observation, normalizing judgment, and the examination (Lee Sinden, 2010, 2012). The author discusses how negative perceptions of emotion, described as "technologies of emotion" (Lee Sinden, 2010, 2012), are a collection of historical myths that continue to work in elite sport to homogenize athletes’ outward emotional expressions. The consequence of normalization of emotion is the disassociation of athletes with their thoughts and feelings, and the potential subsequent suppression of concerns, such as training intensities and health. The following paper explores the theories of "normalization of emotion" and "technologies of emotion" in more detail. Through understanding how negative perceptions of emotions are socialized in sport, and the consequences of socializing emotions in this way, researchers and sport advocates may realize the need for a paradigm shift in the way elite sport understands and celebrates athletes’ diverse emotionalities.
Since the 1990s, the image of the naked female body has become an increasingly important and common cultural motif that has engendered much scholarship. Focusing on the Powerade advertisement, which featured a now celebrated image of the naked Rebecca Romero, astride her racing bicycle, this article seeks to explore the cultural significance of this image for contemporary concepts of femininity. The analysis explores how overtly the Romero image seems to suggest the liberation and empowerment of women, in line with other representations of many other sporting females. However, while celebrating female empowerment, the image seems also to qualify and even to deny it through the re-sexualisation of Romero. The article examines how this re-sexualisation is achieved.
The question of whether college athletes are exploited is regularly debated in the popular press and academic literature about college sports. The concept of exploitation, with its philosophical and psychological implications, however, is rarely discussed in detail. This paper problematizes and expands the way in which the concept has been presented within the context of college sports, arguing that exploitation is primarily a moral construct understood as an unfair exchange between two parties. For college athletes, an unfair financial exchange can be measured by comparing the surplus value and marginal revenue product. These calculations may evidence the degree of economic exploitation, but many people still believe college athletes are fairly compensated with a subsistence wage in the form of an athletic scholarship. It is more difficult to quantify the promise or value of an education above and beyond this subsistence wage, most often defined as a college degree. The over-representation of Black college athletes on revenue-producing teams, and the corresponding lower graduation rates of this population when compared to other students, highlight the racial and cultural divisions of opportunity. Institutions face a crisis of conscience when educational opportunities are offered to certain students based primarily on their athletic ability, especially when these opportunities are perceived as disingenuous due to the academic preparation and demanding athletic commitments of these recruited college athletes.
Researchers have observed that during a major sporting event, participating nations are transformed into sites of carnival and patriotic celebration. National flags are important symbols, increasingly used to denote support for the national team and to express group identity. Using findings from a qualitative study of sojourner perceptions of a transformed England during the FIFA World Cup 2010, this paper explores how the display of the England national flag (St George Cross) is decoded by national outsiders to the culture. Two conflicting themes emerged from an inductive thematic analysis of data. The England flag is perceived as both a positive symbol of national pride and a signifier of potential violence.
In light of continuing research that assesses how dominant ideology is communicated via mediated sport, this study examines the attitudes of sports information directors (SIDs), arguably initial "gatekeepers" in the media production process and, thus, critical players in shaping sports media messages. A random sample of Division I SIDs was surveyed on questions clustered around gender and sexuality issues. The results showed that Division I SIDs are likely to help gay athletes stay in the closet, although they express more progressive attitudes toward sexuality than sports journalists, who were similarly surveyed in 2009. The results also showed mixed support for women’s sports and Title IX – with implications for coverage – and strong support for a gendered division of labor that could be problematic for the future prospects of women in the profession. The authors use the survey to question assumptions that female SIDs will advocate on behalf of women’s sports, Title IX and other related issues.
Although there is a tradition of research focused on the socialization experiences of student-athletes, few studies consider how non-sport-related transitions impact and overlap with the sport-related transitions experienced by these athletes – or how transition experiences are influenced by the broader, structural conditions associated with reflexive modernity. With the goal of addressing these gaps, an interview-based study of the experiences of 12 female student-athletes, who moved from Canada to the United States to pursue intercollegiate soccer, is reported. The study is situated in literatures related to youth transitions, mobility, sport-related socialization, and identity formation. The ‘individualization’ and ‘detraditionalization’ concepts are featured and considered for their pertinence to the experiences of the interviewed student-athletes. Key findings from the study include the following: decision-making by student-athletes was a predominantly individualized endeavor that was influenced by various sport and non-sport-related factors; the sport and non-sport-related transitions that accompanied the move to a new sporting and educational context were eased because of the (temporary and conditional) support of teammates; and that the transition out of sport was especially difficult for many of the athletes, as the support structures associated with ‘the team’ quickly diminished – and because of the hyper-individualized identities that the student-athletes were required to renegotiate.
The purpose of the current study was to examine how head coach–player racial dissimilarity was associated with negative treatment from the head coach. Data were collected from 212 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I women’s basketball players (124 Whites, 88 African Americans). Results indicate that racial dissimilarity was associated with greater incivility when the head coach was White, but not when the head coach was African American. In addition, incivility was negatively associated with players’ commitment to the team. The authors discuss theoretical contributions and practical implications.
This article reports on research on the effectiveness of sports-based interventions that sought to address issues of gang membership, racism, at-risk youth and a rather ill-defined notion of ‘conflict’. The article illustrates the varying centrality of sport in such programmes, reports on a series of in-depth interviews with participants in four programmes, exploring the nature of their experiences and perceptions of the programme elements that had the greatest impact on their values, attitudes and behaviour. The analysis draws on a number of programme theories about how such programmes might work and emphasises the centrality of social relationships between leaders and participants and the development of respect, trust and reciprocity as a basis for potential attitude and behaviour change. The interview data and previous research are used to develop an indicative programme theory which illustrates that, where change occurs, it is most likely to occur via systems of social relationships most characteristic of sport-plus programmes.
This article explores how the global revival of roller derby as an alternative sport for women has been mobilised through online social networks, league promotion and fan sites that create imagined communities of ‘roller grrrls’. In the creation of sport culture we argue that the virtual performance of ‘derby’ identities is as significant as the embodiment of play. Like other sports, derby sites mobilise affect (passion, pleasure, pain, desire to play) through a discourse of ‘empowerment’ that urges women to overcome limits and reinvent gendered subjectivity. However, within the virtual space of roller derby, complex affects are produced and circulated within power relations that can include or exclude. Through an analysis of the way affect is mobilised in selected roller derby sites, we identify how virtual sport identities are connected through the movement of ‘affects’ across bodies and leagues. These affects both circumscribe and undermine the notion of a single derby community.
Sports broadcasts showing national teams frequently have been found to engage in biased and patriotic coverage. However, little is known about the announcers’ discourse in club franchise competitions. This study examines discursive framing of nationality within Slovenian broadcasts of international men’s basketball and women’s team handball matches. Results show that announcers devote Slovenian-based teams just under 60% of all team-related comments. Team affiliation significantly influences explanations of success and failure, as well as personality and physicality descriptions, and ‘rival’ teams were devoted significantly more positive attribution. Slovenian sports broadcasters emphasized national identity through differentiating team identification, overt cheering for Slovenian-based teams, and influencing the way results and performances are interpreted. Nation-centric discourse is thus applied even in professional sports involving city franchises, as club teams are perceived as year-round substitutes for national teams. This likely derives from the role attributed to sports franchises in federal Yugoslavia. In Slovenia, televised promotion of nationhood nurtures a sense of national identity in a country that lacks a long-standing tradition of sovereignty. Public service broadcasters inaccurately perceive this approach as universal.
Accredited photographers have been observed taking sexualized, voyeuristic images of athletes that are later distributed on pornography websites and among collectors of pornographic images. As with other emergent forms of digital voyeurism, such as upskirting, these images are taken in public places in such a way that they capture compromising moments without any awareness on the part of the victim, and expand the temporal and geographical scope of the intrusion. Such a prurient use of photographs can be devastating and humiliating for the athletes. An examination of the ambiguity of an image’s meaning, especially in the eyes of the law, is used to demonstrate the inadequacy of legal approaches to policing these kinds of voyeurism. In addition, an exploration of the culture of sports journalism, where the priority of self-promotion and competition often underscores the lack of attention given to the rampant sexism that frequently pervades the profession, is used to illustrate the apparent factors that precipitate and maintain the practice of sports voyeurism. Recommendations for potential interventions and further research are provided.
Boxing gyms in the Netherlands, which were traditionally bastions of ‘white’ men, have become more and more diverse. Since boxers with different ethnic backgrounds and women have joined boxing clubs, trainers need to manage this emerging diversity in their gyms. This empirical study of a gym in the Netherlands, where full participation of women is the norm, attempts to gain insights about practices of and experiences in the regulation of social inclusion and exclusion. We explore points of connection between Foucault’s conceptualization of regulation and disciplinary techniques and the regulatory and embodied practices of boxing. In this case study, observations and interviews were conducted to explore how trainers address diversity of members in training sessions and at matches. The results show how the participation of male and female boxers with different ethnic backgrounds was normalized by trainers. The gym, with a traditional hierarchical and patriarchal culture, enabled trainers to use disciplinary techniques to normalize their construction of what is normal in the gym. These trainers are not all-powerful, however, and had to negotiate their construction of boxers in interaction with others. The use of disciplinary techniques produced both uniformity and differentiation and, through an on-going process of negotiation, they defined who would be included or excluded.