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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.

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Beyond Reconciliation: Calling for Land-Based Analyses in the Sociology of Sport

Ali Durham Greey and Alexandra Arellano

This article examines the possibilities engendered by land-based analyses within the sociology of sport. We examine how “Canada’s” Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action on sport reproduce a logic of social inclusion, one which assimilates Indigenous athletes and Peoples into settler models of sport. To consider epistemological tools for unsettling settler sport systems, we turn to critical Indigenous scholarship on land-based analyses and pedagogies. To illustrate the possibilities of land-based analyses, we examine lacrosse, an Indigenous sporting practice with roots embedded in relational interconnectedness with the land. A land-based approach to sport offers opportunities for revising the assumptions, values, and ethics underpinning settler models of sport through, for example, emphasizing the importance of community, healing, and land stewardship.

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Stereotype Threat and Interscholastic Athletic Leadership

James P. Strode, W. Andrew Czekanski, Anna W. Parkman, and Meredith K. Scarlata

Women have historically been underrepresented in positions of power within athletic administration. Stereotype threat, or the realization that there is a possibility that one is being judged as confirming or being reduced to a stereotype, can negatively impact the recruitment and retention of woman leaders in sport. This study developed and validated a new scale, the Gender Stereotype Threat in Athletic Administration, and elicited responses from high school athletic directors in two U.S. states. Using multiple analysis of variance, correlation analysis, and structure equation modeling, five hypotheses were tested and supported based on the respondents’ feelings of group identification, belonging uncertainty, extra pressure to succeed, and group reputation threat. The present work extends the findings on stereotype threat in the sport leadership domain and provides a useful instrument to study this phenomenon in future research.

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Virtually Masculine: Queer Men’s Experiences With Harassment in Online Video Games

Jeremy Brenner-Levoy

Video games are an understudied sport featuring social interactions both similar and dissimilar to those in offline sports. While anonymity in online video games could create a space where minoritized groups experience more equitable treatment, offline social inequalities are translated into online video game interactions. Drawing on 20 semistructured interviews and 2,694 survey responses from self-identified queer men, I build a framework for understanding gender, sexuality, and racial/ethnic harassment in online video games. I argue that nerd masculinity is a protest masculinity that uses symbolic harassment to reframe masculine hierarchy online and enforce hegemonic nerd masculinity. With this study, I illustrate the prevalence of symbolic harassment and the channels it may follow to become direct harassment.

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Critical Friends, Dialogues of Discomfort, and Researcher Reflexivity in the Sociology of Sport

Adam Ehsan Ali, Tavis Smith, and Michael Dao

In this special issue, which calls for a “more radical sociology of sport and physical culture,” the purpose of this paper is to address how practices of reflexivity might be mobilized among critical sport scholars toward changing the intersectional, fragmented, and complex communities we inhabit inside and outside the academy. We begin by conducting a literature review of researcher reflexivity and positionality in Sociology of Sport Journal from 2000 to 2022. Utilizing Wanda Pillow’s “reflexivities of discomfort,” we interrogate our own research by engaging in a reflexive dialogue as “critical friends.” Through this work, we try to make sense of the potential of these dialogues for shaping our ethical, political, and personal approaches to research, writing, methodology, and knowledge production.

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Struggle in the Bubble: The National Basketball Association’s Response to Player Activism in the 2020 Bubble

Drew D. Brown, Lisa Doris Alexander, and Thabiti Lewis

The National Basketball Association (NBA) restarted its 2020 season by playing in a “bubble.” At the same time, a new wave of the “Black Lives Matter” movement was in full swing. Many players joined the movement with their own forms of activism, which the NBA responded to in various ways. This essay explores the NBA’s responses to player activism by using Critical Race Theory’s concept of “Interest Convergence” to analyze the gestures organized by the NBA and highlight the role race, racism, and capitalism played in the NBA’s responses. Overall, this essay argues that in order to capitalize on the popularity of the Black Lives Matter movement, and in the interest of its bottom line, the NBA engaged in three types of responses: compromise, acquiescence, and co-opt/manipulation.