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“Futures—Past,” A Reflection of 40 Years of the Sociology of Sport Journal: An Introduction

Letisha Engracia Cardoso Brown, Chen Chen, Tomika Ferguson, Courtney Szto, Anthony Jean Weems, and Natalie Welch

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Volume 40 (2023): Issue 4 (Dec 2023): SPECIAL ISSUE “Futures—Past,”: Liberation, Futurity, Intersectionality, and Interdisciplinarity: Reading Sport, Physical Culture, and the (Physically Active) Body

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Sports Reforms and Coaches’ Spoiled Identities: An Analysis of Structural Stigma

Yoon Jin Kim and Marcelle C. Dawson

This article explores how sports coaches’ identity and social relations are shaped within the context of new policy initiatives in sport. It focuses particularly on South Korea’s ongoing sports reforms wherein sports coaches feel stigmatized and disgraced. Informed by classic and contemporary sociological understandings of stigma and relying both on documents and narratives from 29 individuals, our qualitative analysis reveals that Korean coaches’ stigma is discrediting, prior-known, and power-laden. By viewing stigmatization as a social process constructed both “symbolically” and “structurally,” this article extends Goffman’s analysis to argue that coaches’ stigmatization is rooted in the social, institutional, and political power around sports reforms that forge stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs across society by offering ready-made scripts for both the stigmatized and the “normals.”

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Sports Attitudes in Childhood and Income in Adulthood

Adam Vanzella-Yang, Pascale Domond, Frank Vitaro, Richard E. Tremblay, Vincent Bégin, and Sylvana Côté

Research shows that sports participation in youth is associated with earnings in adulthood. However, studies have often relied on self-reported earnings and on single indicators of sports participation. Using large-scale data linked to administrative records, we investigate: (a) whether sports attitudes at age 13 are uniquely related to income at ages 30–36 and (b) whether educational attainment and mental health in early adulthood mediate this association. We find that a one SD increase in sports attitudes is related to a 10% increase in income. This association is not entirely confounded by preexisting and co-occurring risk factors. Educational attainment mediates 22% of the association between sports attitudes and income. Sports attitudes are potentially a form of capital deployed in the pursuit of socioeconomic advantages.

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Brittney Griner, Intersectionality, and “Woke Politics”: A Critical Examination of Brittney Griner’s Return to the United States

Ajhanai C.I. Keaton, Evan Frederick, Keisha Branch, and Ann Pegoraro

In February of 2022, professional women’s basketball player Brittney Griner was detained in Russia on drug possession charges. Her detainment was a trending Twitter topic demonstrating the cultural, political, and social state of the United States, specifically pertaining to race, gender, nationality, and LGBTQ matters. The purpose of this study was to analyze what Brittney Griner’s release from Russia tells us about social power relations and contemporary social political matters on the axis of race, gender, and sexual orientation. We organized the data to determine three distinct, yet interconnected themes: (a) Woke Politics at the Intersection of Race, Gender, and Queerness; (b) Preferential Treatment at the Expense of Whiteness Informed Patriotism; and (c) Intersectionality as Political Pandering.

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Indigenizing Sport Research: Analyzing Protective Factors of Exercising Sovereignty in North America

Alisse Ali-Joseph, Kelsey Leonard, and Natalie Welch

Indigenous Peoples have an inherent responsibility and right to “exercising” sovereignty—the practice of sport and physical activity in performance of our cultural, political, and spiritual citizenship. By exercising this inherent right and responsibility, sport has the power for communities to reenvision their futures. Sport and physical activity are highly regarded and practiced in multiple contexts within Indigenous communities. Utilizing Indigenous ways of knowing, practices of resurgence, Indigenous activism, and Indigenous responses to political and cultural injustices, we apply the five protective factors of “exercising” sovereignty, including community, relationality, strength, abundance, and resilience to analyze Indigenous sport research in North America.

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Letter From the Editor

Cheryl Cooky

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The Penalty That’s Never Called: Sexism in Men’s Hockey Culture

Teresa Anne Fowler, Shannon D.M. Moore, and Tim Skuce

During the summer of 2022, Hockey Canada faced a reckoning regarding its outright denial of the ways in which gender-based violence is a part of hockey culture. This paper shares data from a study that involved qualitative interviews with semi/professional men’s ice hockey players regarding their resistance to the expectations of hypermasculinity in hockey culture. Hypermasculinity is the elevated status of traits that promote violence, stoicism, and aggression and that privileges the locker-room code of silence. Participants spoke about the dangers of playing through pain as well as the precarity of their roles on their teams due to policing strategies that put the team before anything else. The participants were less direct about the ways sexism and misogyny are used as a means to improve team bonding and performance, yet stories of sexism and misogyny were riddled throughout the data. Our analysis brings together Bourdieu’s concept of misrecognition to gain understanding as to why sexism remains/ed silent and Freire’s conscientization to promote more dialogic encounters to clear the air of sexism in men’s ice hockey.

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The Case for Marxist–Leninist Sport: Going Beyond the Limitations of Western Liberalism

Munene Mwaniki

The sociology of sport has developed within and been intricately involved in the critique of neoliberalism. While important, there are certain limitations to this scholarship that are related to the nature of Western liberalism and academia. This paper attempts to argue a role for Marxist–Leninist thought in the sociology of sport. Historically excluded from academia after World War II, this bias is part of what Gabriel Rockhill has described as the “Global Theory Industry,” that decries socialism while remaining favorable to Western liberal capitalism. The anti-communism of the theory industry means that much of the work on neoliberalism and Marxism in the sociology of sport has ignored the experiences and efforts of socialist countries, as well as theorists from the Global South. This article broadly critiques existing neoliberal and Marxist studies of sport while arguing that a Marxist–Leninist approach may give those in the field a better account of sport and its relationship to domestic and global politics.

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Through the Decades: Critical Race Theory and Pathways Forward in Sport Sociology Research

Jonathan E. Howe, Ajhanai C.I. Keaton, Sayvon J.L. Foster, and A. Lamont Williams

Critical race theory (CRT) is a powerful framework and methodological tool for sport scholars and practitioners to incorporate into their work. While CRT tenets vary depending on discipline, individuals utilizing the framework understand the permanence of racism and how it is institutionalized within various social structures. In honor of the 40th year of the Sociology of Sport Journal, we conducted a review of the journal to assess how CRT has been used among sport sociologists. After reflecting on the 40-year history of Sociology of Sport Journal, we argue for the continued use of CRT and CRT extensions to fulfill the maximum potential of this foundational framework to achieve its goals of emancipation, social justice, and racial equity. We conclude by discussing the future of CRT in sport sociology research and practice in a post “racial reckoning” society, specifically within the U.S. context.