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Theorizing the Moving Body in Competitive Sport

Roslyn Kerr and Seònaid Mary-Kate Espiner

This article examines an area that has received surprisingly little attention within the sociology of sport literature: the role of human movement and the ways in which it can be understood and valued. Drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Judith Butler, in this article, the authors have raised the possibility of sporting “movement capital.” The authors argued that rules and regulations produce and legitimize particular types of movements, which are then reinforced through institutionalized athlete development practices and able to be converted to symbolic capital. However, movements might also be valued as demonstrating particular traits and/or invoking emotional reactions, and be recognized as familiar. The authors concluded that, through identifying the connections between Bourdieu’s habitus and Butler’s performativity, they can understand how the value of movement is constantly in-flux, constantly regenerating as athletes imperfectly produce and reproduce recognizable movements as part of their sporting habitus.

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The Changing Nature of Gay Rugby Clubs in the United Kingdom

Ken Muir, Eric Anderson, Keith D. Parry, and David Letts

Rugby has traditionally existed as a leading definer of masculinity in British culture, which has included overt homophobia. However, cultural attitudes toward homosexuality have improved rapidly in the 21st century. To assess the impact of wider societal change on gay rugby teams, we employed a multiple methods investigation across five gay rugby teams in England. Results show that, whereas athletes once played for these teams to escape homophobia in broader rugby culture, this is no longer true. Affiliation with gay clubs is now primarily for social purposes, and gay rugby clubs now protect the physical safety of gay men from being less prepared to play the game, whereas before it was safety from homophobia. This research shows that gay rugby clubs have undergone an organizational shift in response to the increased social acceptance of sexual minorities.

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“I Don’t Know How You Get Past That”: Racism and Stereotyping in College Football Recruiting Media

Adam Love, Sam Winemiller, Guy Harrison, and Jason Stamm

College football programs invest millions of dollars into recruiting top high school prospects. This recruiting process is covered extensively by reporters from sports media outlets. While the players being recruited are predominately Black, the sports media is disproportionately dominated by White men. In this context, the current study reports on data from interviews with 15 participants who work in the college football recruiting media industry. While some participants adopted a color-blind perspective dominated by a belief that racism no longer exists, most reporters expressed an awareness of racial stereotypes in the sports media and felt a need to address racial inequity. Such awareness presents an opportunity for anti-racist training that may help media members avoid racial stereotyping and address racism in the field.

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“Just Existing Is Activism”: Transgender Experiences in Martial Arts

Anna Kavoura, Alex Channon, and Marja Kokkonen

This study focuses on transgender experiences in martial arts. Interviews with three Finnish and two British transgender martial artists were thematically analyzed, and findings were interpreted through the lens of queer theory. Two themes were identified related to the ways that transgender martial artists experience their sporting contexts, namely martial arts as an empowering and inclusive context and the challenges related to being transgender in martial arts. Two themes were also identified when it comes to participants’ strategies for coping with cis-/heteronormativity in martial arts. Whenever possible, participants employed social change strategies, whereas other times, they drew on self-care strategies. Following this, we suggest a need for context-specific, protective policies; nonbinary means of organizing sport; and gender diversity education for instructors to better cater for the specific needs of transgender people in sport.

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Sport for Development and Transformative Social Change: The Potential of Margaret Archer’s Morphogenetic Approach to Reconceptualize a Long-Standing Problem

Iain Lindsey and Gareth Wiltshire

Frequent calls for sport for development (SFD) to be reoriented toward transformative social change reflect the extent that policies and programs have instead focused on individualized forms of personal development. However, SFD research has yet to substantially address fundamental ontological assumptions and underlying conceptualizations of transformative social change. To addresses this gap, this article considers how Margaret Archer’s Morphogenetic Approach can help explain how transformative social change might occur through SFD activities. Three conceptual contributions are brought into focus: (a) assuming a realist social ontology; (b) making distinctions between structure, culture, and agency; and (c) identifying social change as happening across three temporal phases. The authors conclude by identifying potential benefits and implications of applying the Morphogenetic Approach to consider the potential for SFD to contribute to social change.

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Sport, Nationalism, and the Narration of Cultural Scripts: The Death of Colin Meads and the New Zealand Imagination

Mark Falcous and Lauren Turner

This paper explores the narrativization of sports icons within the context of nationalist discourse. The authors explore New Zealand media coverage surrounding the death of Colin Meads in August 2017. Meads, a former all Black rugby captain, coach and administrator, media pundit, and corporate spokesman, was a high-profile public icon. His death was met with saturation national media coverage. The authors’ cultural studies informed analysis of Meads’ narrativization is twofold. First, the authors contextualize the cultural scripts surrounding him prior to his death. Second, they critically read media narrativization following his death within the context of narratives of nation. They explore this mediation in the context of intersecting themes of rurality, Whiteness, masculinity, and rugby. Print media coverage widely articulated Meads to the nation as the archetypical “kiwi,” liturgized his contribution to rugby during and after his playing career, and his “no-nonsense” character. In doing so, it reinforced a selective national narrative, premised on a combination of both remembering and forgetting. This narrative reaffirms White-settler, male heroism, and rugby as central to New Zealand nationhood and assuages contemporary national anxieties and the cultural hierarchies they entangle.

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Women’s Bodies, Femininity, and Spacetimemattering: A Baradian Analysis of the Activewear Phenomenon

Julie E. Brice

Over the past decade, activewear has become a booming international business and cultural phenomenon. It has simultaneously been critiqued for its pervasive neoliberal, postfeminist, and healthism rhetoric and the ways it continues to (re)produce hegemonic femininity. In this paper, the author drew upon new materialist theory, specifically Karen Barad’s concept of spacetimemattering, to contribute to this body of literature, providing an alternative perspective on the production of femininity and feminist politics within activewear. Using a Baradian-inspired approach, this paper brought various material-discourses and events from multiple time periods into dialogue with the activewear phenomenon to (re)think the production of femininity. Specifically, the analysis explored how activewear entanglements across various spatiotemporalities challenge appearance-based femininity and increase the visibility (and acceptance) of the moving female body. Through this exploration, the author provided a way to (re)imagine feminist politics that are embedded in women’s everyday fitness practices.

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Women Yoga Practitioners’ Experiences in the Pandemic: From Collective Exhaustion to Affirmative Ethics

Allison Jeffrey, Holly Thorpe, and Nida Ahmad

This article engages Rosi Braidotti’s writing on COVID-19 and affirmative ethics to expand understandings of the purpose of leisure and physical activity in women’s lives during the pandemic. Utilizing a feminist methodology informed by an ethics of affirmation, care, and creativity, the authors share insights from in-depth interviews with five dedicated Yoga practitioners living in Aotearoa New Zealand. Herein, they reveal how Yoga’s physical, mental, and ethical practices supported women as they navigated numerous challenges during the pandemic. The authors discuss the women’s complex experiences of affect, including shared exhaustion and compassion. Finally, they illustrate how experiences of discomfort encouraged some women to rethink collective responsibility and experiment with communal solutions to better support others in the face of uncertain futures.

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The Age of Fitness: How the Body Came to Symbolize Success and Achievement

Nicholas A. Rich

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“A Lot of What We Ride Is Their Land”: White Settler Canadian Understandings of Mountain Biking, Indigeneity, and Recreational Colonialism

John Reid-Hresko and Jeff R. Warren

This article explores how White settler mountain bikers in British Columbia understand their relationship to recreational landscapes on unceded Indigenous territory. Using original qualitative research, the authors detail three rhetorical strategies settler Canadians employ to negotiate their place within geographies of belonging informed by Indigeneity and recreational colonialism: ignorance, ambivalence, and acknowledgement. In Canada’s post-Truth and Reconciliation Commission climate, the discourses settlers use to situate themselves vis-à-vis landscapes and Indigenous people contribute to the conditions of possibility for meaningful movement toward a more equitable existence for all. This work points to a growing need to problematize the seemingly apolitical landscapes of recreation as a prerequisite toward meaningful reconciliation.