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Volume 51 (2020): Issue 1 (May 2020): Special Issue: International Federations and National Governing Bodies

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Dropping the Amateur: The International Association of Athletics Federations and the Turn Toward Professionalism

April Henning and Jörg Krieger

When the International Association of Amateur Athletics (IAAF) changed its name to International Association of Athletics Federations in 2001, it was more than an acknowledgment of the organization’s acceptance of professional athletes. Rather, this change symbolized a shift in thinking about the nature of athletics, what athletics competitions represented, and the commercialization of the sport that had been decades in the making. This article will consider the IAAF’s pursuit to maintain control over global athletics through its transition from an amateur sport federation to a professional sport governing body. Drawing on official documents and personal archives of IAAF officials, the authors trace the internal views and debates, beginning with the IAAF’s fight to maintain amateurism against collective pushback over issues of athlete pay, to the full acceptance of professionalism. The main focus of this article lies in the transition period in the 1980s and 1990s. The authors show how dropping the amateur from the name reflected not only the new embrace of professional athletes, but also the organizational turn away from amateur athletics. The authors will identify the processes that finally forced the breakdown of amateurism and ushered in a new era of professional athletics.

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The International Anti-doping Movement and the Council of Europe: An Unexamined Influence

Emmanuel Macedo

This study explains how the Council of Europe (CE) influenced the international anti-doping movement from the 1960s until the establishment of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in 1999. As a European regional intergovernmental organization, the CE endeavored to cultivate a unified Europe by guiding countries in harmonizing their laws and by facilitating cultural exchanges. This mission led the CE to recruit sport as a tool for cultural exchange and to in turn enact anti-doping legislation. Moreover, given its structure, the CE’s work in anti-doping took the form of harmonized international legislation that helped lay the foundations for an international anti-doping movement. Ultimately, the CE’s work served as a touchstone for many sport organizations, especially the International Olympic Committee and its efforts to manage doping in elite sport. This kind of involvement, including collaboration in the setup of WADA in 1999, makes a plausible case to consider the CE a main, rather than periphery, player in anti-doping history and one of the greater influencers regarding the international anti-doping governance structure and legislation.

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Too Rough for Bare Heads: The Adoption of Helmets and Masks in North American Ice Hockey, 1959–79

Kathleen E. Bachynski

On November 1, 1959, a flying hockey puck broke the nose of goalie Jacques Plante. Thereafter, he insisted on wearing a face mask, a decision that signaled a broader introduction of safety equipment into North American ice hockey. This paper examines how head and facial protection became a standard requirement for playing hockey in North America at amateur and professional levels of the sport. During the mid-twentieth century, national governing bodies confronted growing safety concerns amid rising participation in organized hockey. Yet in the absence of league-wide mandates, players generally did not sustain helmet use. From the 1950s through the 1970s, masks for goalies and helmets and facial protection for skaters were mandated to protect against injuries. In the context of contemporary concussion concerns, the history of debates over hockey head and face protection illustrates the array of social, cultural, and organizational factors behind measures to protect athletes’ health.

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Volleygate: A History of Scandal in the Largest International Sport Federation

Tom Fabian

Neither the history of volleyball nor of its governing body has received much scholarly attention. As such, the objective of this study is to highlight the institutional history of the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) through the organization’s response (or lack of response) to the corrupt practices known as “volleygate” that have embroiled the volleyball world since the mid 1980s. Through this sociohistorical study of the FIVB, many of the challenges facing modern international sport federations can be recognized and critiqued. Yet, despite its moral failings, the show must go on.

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“Under One Banner”: The World Baseball Softball Confederation and the Gendered Politics of Olympic Participation

Callie Batts Maddox

In 2020, baseball and softball will return to the Olympics after a twelve-year absence. Leading the effort to secure reinstatement was the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), the international governing body for the two sports established in 2013 upon the merging of the International Baseball Federation and the International Softball Federation. Faced with continual threats of Olympic exclusion, the WBSC offers a unique model of global governance in that one federation is in charge of two very different sports. The history and work of the WBSC is made more complicated by the gendered bifurcation of baseball and softball, and systemic cultural beliefs that mark baseball as male and softball as female. Utilizing this gendered tension as a guiding framework, this article traces the emergence of the WBSC and suggests that the global governance of two sports under the single banner of the WBSC risks reproducing long-standing gender stereotypes and assumptions.

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Ringing the Changes: How the Relationship between the International Gymnastics Federation and the International Olympic Committee Has Shaped Gymnastics Policy

Georgia Cervin

This paper examines the governing body of international gymnastics, the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) and its relationship with the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It outlines the nature of the relationship between the two bodies and how that relationship has historically impacted the resulting policy of both organizations. In particular, this research focuses on three main areas of policy. The first is economics and the shift from amateur to professional and commercial gymnastics. When the IOC began to develop commercial interests, the FIG feared losing its purity if it was to follow suit. Second, it explores policy surrounding gender. This is particularly relevant in a sport where each discipline is not only categorized by gender, but also contested on the basis of performance-gendered ideals. And finally, this research examines athlete welfare. Gymnastics is known for its young, docile participant base and, more recently, cases of sexual abuse in the United States. While a range of protective policies have since been created, what existed at an international level before then? I argue that the FIG has had to work within the confines of its Olympic remit in order to retain its relevance to the Olympic behemoth and its inclusion in the Games as gymnastics’ pinnacle event. At the same time, the FIG has mediated Olympic policy and exerted the will of the IOC over stakeholders in gymnastics. Moreover, this relationship is symbiotic: gymnastics is one of the top three most popular Olympic sports, attracting viewership and its attendant commercial benefits to the Games. This research is based on FIG bulletins and IOC correspondence, and it builds on a range of secondary works about the role of International Federations, their policies, and their rules in shaping the sports they govern.

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Playing with or without Politics: Studying the Position of East Germany within the FIS and FIFA from a Long-Term Perspective (1924–1962)

Philippe Vonnard and Sébastien Cala

The present paper looks at the different positions two major international sport federations, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS), took with respect to East Germany during the 1950s. Because these positions were greatly influenced by FIFA’s and the FIS’s prior relations with Germany and by the challenges posed by global politics, this study begins by examining these relations during the interwar period. By combining information from the FIFA, FIS, and International Olympic Committee (IOC) archives with documents from the German national archives and articles published in Switzerland’s sporting press, the authors were able to highlight differences between the two federations’ approaches and show the need for studies to go beyond an IOC-centric approach.

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International Federations and National Governing Bodies: The Historical Development of Institutional Policies in Response to Challenging Issues in Sport

Jörg Krieger, Lindsay Parks Pieper, and Ian Ritchie