As a result of a rapidly changing global political economy, deindustrialization, and neoliberalism, a new form of racialized urban poverty has become concentrated in the inner cities of innumerable North American urban centers. In response to these material conditions, various nonprofit organizations, corporate-sponsored initiatives,and underfunded municipal recreation departments continue to provide a range of sport-for-development programs for the ‘urban outcasts’ of the global economy. While sport scholars have widely critiqued these initiatives, little is known about how people experience these programs against the backdrop of actually existing neoliberalism (Brenner & Theodore, 2002) and the new conditions of urban poverty. As part of a three-year urban ethnography in Edmonton, Alberta, this paper examines how a group of less affluent and often homeless young men experienced and made use of a weekly, publicly funded floor-hockey program. In so doing, we explore how this sport-for-development program existed as a ‘hub’ within a network of social solidarity and as a crucial site for marginalized individuals to negotiate, and, at times, resist conditions of precarious labor in a divided Western Canadian city.
The authors are with the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.