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Volume 39 (2022): Issue 1 (Mar 2022)

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The Kaepernick Effect: Taking a Knee, Changing the World

Judith McDonnell

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Mobile Mega-Event Expertise in an “East Asian Era”

John Horne and Yoshio Takahashi

An “East Asian Era” is unfolding in the hosting of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and other sports, and nonsports, mega-events. In addition to three editions of the Olympics and Paralympics, several other not as large mega-events have been or are set to be staged in East Asia over the next 5 years. How long the interest in hosting sports mega-events will continue and, if it does, who will be involved in the production of these events are the questions explored in this article. The article consists of five sections. First, we outline the context in which the growth of sports mega-events in the past four decades has occurred. Second, we sketch the theoretical and methodological approaches we use drawing on mobilities research and actor–network theory. Third, studies of knowledge management and policy transfer and mobilities associated with sports mega-events are discussed as a way of understanding the development of mobile mega-event expertise. Fourth, we examine career mobilities, networks, and the extent to which an East Asian “Mega-Event Caravan” could be said to exist or be in formation. Finally, we draw preliminary conclusions and indicate where further research is required.

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Indigenous Feminist Gikendaasowin (Knowledge): Decolonization Through Physical Activity

Sean Seiler

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Overcoming Gender Barriers in Sports—An Opportunity of Adventure/High Risk Sports?

Anika Frühauf, Christiane Pahlke, and Martin Kopp

Adventure/high risk sports (AHRS) were developed in a different social context and are usually not separated by sex which might lead to differences in gender-related experiences. This study qualitatively compared 10 female traditional sport participants (soccer players) with 10 female AHRS participants (trad climbers [TC]) regarding their experience of possible gender-related advantages and disadvantages in their sports. The TC climbed with more male partners. The TC reported to not consider gender as a determining factor in the choice of climbing partner or their trad climbing experience. The TC mentioned more female advantages in their sport participation and reported fewer gender-related barriers than soccer players. Differences might be explained through mixed gender sports participation and the differing demands in TC. Unlike traditional sports, AHRS does not imply defeating an opponent. The challenge in AHRS is set by the participant and the environmental conditions, which seem to be less related to sex and gender.

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Gender in Coed Team Sports: A Social Psychological Perspective

Adam Vanzella-Yang and Tobias Finger

Coed team sports typically offer different experiences for women and men. Though scholars have documented gender imbalances in participation within such teams, the social psychological processes at play and the broader consequences of unequal participation have rarely been explored. In this paper, the authors revisit coed team sports through the lens of status construction theory and expectation states theory to suggest that coed teams reinforce gendered notions of worth, prestige, and competence in the field of sport. The authors draw on research showing that mixed-sex settings where people must cooperate to achieve a common goal are especially prone to the reproduction of gender stereotypes. This paper builds bridges between two subfields of sociology and illuminates gender dynamics in a coed sport that has not been previously studied (futsal).

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Athletes as “Sites of Normative Intersectionality”: Critically Exploring the Ontology of Influence in Sport Coaching

Adam J. Nichol, Philip R. Hayes, Will Vickery, Emma Boocock, Paul Potrac, and Edward T. Hall

Social structure remains an equivocal term in (sport) sociology. Our understandings of its constitution and role in causally influencing behavior are arguably underdeveloped. Using a critical realist approach, this paper examined how structural entities and reflexive agency combined to influence behavior in an elite youth cricket context (e.g., athletes, coaches). A methodological bricolage was used to generate data and Elder-Vass’s theorizing provided the principal heuristic device. The analysis illustrated how coaches acted on behalf of norm circles in their attempts to shape dispositions of athletes. In turn, athletes engaged in a process of dialectical iteration between reflexive deliberation and (intersectional) dispositions, which influenced their social action in this organizational context. This study holds significance for researchers and practitioners concerned with social influence.

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#ForTheGame: Social Change and the Struggle to Professionalize Women’s Ice Hockey

Courtney Szto, Ann Pegoraro, Erin Morris, Melanie Desrochers, Karell Emard, Katrina Galas, Anissa Gamble, Liz Knox, and Kristen Richards

Women’s professional hockey was hindered when the Canadian Women’s Hockey League announced its abrupt closure in March 2019. The action disrupted the opportunity for hundreds of elite women’s hockey players to continue pursuing competitive hockey after university. This study outlines the time period surrounding the Canadian Women’s Hockey League’s closure and the formation of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association. The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association announced that its members would not play in any professional Canadian or American league until its players receive a living wage, proper training resources, and employee benefits, such as health care. Through semi-structured interviews and discourse analysis of media narratives, the authors situate the #ForTheGame movement within second-wave feminist tactics to create social change through collective action.

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Jiu-Jitsu and Society: Male Mental Health on the Mats

Jack Thomas Sugden

The growth in mixed martial arts (MMA) gyms worldwide, along with adjunct media discourse has been matched by the number of participants, characterized by the dedication and sacrifice imbued. These factors catalyzed this research which sought initially to understand the motivations of MMA gym members and the role that the training plays in their lives. Through an immersive participant ethnography lasting 3 years, the author trained, socialized, fought, and competed with members of an urban MMA gym in the United Kingdom. The findings focus on the subculture of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu existing within and alongside MMA and where men of diverse ages and creeds follow a path to improved mental health. Drawing from the salutogenic health model and the sociology of health literature, this paper shows that through membership of an MMA gym and dedication to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, participants embody a version of health that is closely aligned with Antonovsky’s theory of salutogenesis. This theory of health helps explain not only the dedication of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners and the growth of MMA more broadly but also posits a fresh perspective on the role of alternative physical activities in male mental health redress.

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Becoming Fans: Socialization and Motivations of Fans of the England and U.S. Women’s National Football Teams

Rachel Allison and Stacey Pope

The professionalization, commercialization, and mediatization of women’s football have opened new opportunities for fan attachments, engagements, and identities. Yet limited empirical research has addressed how or why fandom develops for women’s football, particularly in comparative perspective. We rely on in-depth interview data collected with adults in England (n = 49) and the United States (n = 53) who attended live matches of the 2019 Women’s World Cup to address pathways into and motivations for fandom. We find that awareness of and attachment to women’s football developed through exposure to women’s football mega events or online women’s football communities, through having played football, or after being recruited by existing fans. For English fans only, fandom included when men’s teams added women’s sides or through attending local women’s matches. Motivations for fandom included connections to players, family, and friends, appreciation of athletic talent, a commitment to gender equality, entertainment, and the inclusivity of fan cultures.