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“Building Back Better”: Seeking an Equitable Return to Sport for Development in the Wake of COVID-19

Richard Norman, Daniel Sailofsky, Simon Darnell, Marika Warner, and Bryan Heal

The COVID-19 pandemic affected sport programming by restricting in-person activities. Concurrently, global outcry for racial justice for Black and racialized communities promoted calls to action to assess equitable practices in sport, including sport for development (SFD). This study critically examined SFD “return to play” programming to include perspectives from racialized persons’ lived experiences. We present findings based on data collected from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Foundation’s Change the Game campaign, which explored questions of sport inequity to “build back better.” Outcomes further SFD discourses challenging (potentially) harmful structures affecting participants, including underreported effects of racialization. The study used both quantitative and qualitative analyses of survey data on youth experiences, enablers, and barriers in sport and analyzed these results within an antiracist, antioppressive, and decolonial conceptual framework.

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Under the Influence: Marijuana, the Black Male Athlete, and Alternative Understandings of Humanity

Nik Dickerson

This paper analyzes a series of advertisements from the antidrug campaign Above the Influence and interviews of former National Football League and National Basketball Association players by the website Bleacher Report regarding their marijuana use. Guided by Christina Sharpe’s theoretical concept of the “wake,” I argue that the Above the Influence adverts produce a trope I call Chronic Black male sporting hood. A trope that holds the Black body in a state of dehumanization. The second half of this paper utilizes Sharpe’s Black methodological tool of Black annotation/redaction. Through this Black methodological tool, the testimonial of the athletes, and the influences of Black musicians, I argue that these athletes provide insight into alternative ways of living and being human that arise from the anti-Black practices of sport with marijuana serving as their catalyst.

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On Thin Ice: Toward A Modified Male Peer Support Theory of Professional Hockey Players’ Violence Against Women

Walter S. DeKeseredy, Stu Cowan, and Martin D. Schwartz

There was a burst of creative social scientific investigation into hypermasculine male athletes’ violence against women in the 1980s and 1990s, but this interest has seemed to have dried up. Furthermore, the extant literature on this problem is for the most part atheoretical and devoid of sociological ways of knowing. Thus, the main goal of this paper is to highlight the value of applying a modified male peer support theory of male-to-female violence to explain the linkage between playing professional hockey and online and offline variants of woman abuse.

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Self-Presentation and Black Male College Athletes at Historically White Institutions

Jonathan E. Howe

Black male college athletes (BMCAs) are in a unique position within the contexts of historically white institutions and Division I college athletics. Recently, BMCAs have increasingly presented themselves in ways that highlight specific social identities or even in opposition to the college athletic system and higher education environment. However, little has changed as power and privilege remain central forces in white-dominated settings. This constructivist grounded theory study examines how historically white institution and Division I athletic environments influence self-presentation of BMCAs through a Black critical theory lens. The experiences of 16 BMCAs illuminated how self-presentation was influenced by academic and athletic settings, Division I subdivision characteristics, and sport-specific contexts. I conclude with recommendations and directions for future research.

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Fighting Visibility: Sports Media and Female Athletes in the UFC

Kim Toffoletti

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Counter Stories on the Meaning of Sport in the Lives of Black Youth Who Are Incarcerated

Jennifer M. Jacobs, Gabrielle Bennett, and Zach Wahl-Alexander

Although a significant focal point of research has been dedicated to the role of sport in the lives of youth, few articles have explored sporting experiences among incarcerated youth. Often overlooked, this population is highly disenfranchised and overrepresented by youth of color. Nonetheless, emerging research has proposed sport as an important developmental tool in the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. Informed by critical race theory, the current study included semistructured interviews with nine incarcerated Black males, exploring the meaning of sport in their lives. Results included themes around family induction into sport, sport versus street life, sport teaching life skills, and sport as a distraction. Findings offer insight into how youth of color in the juvenile justice system conceptualize the role of sport and consequently, how sport may be harnessed for positive youth outcomes in correctional settings.

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Gender Equality and Economic Entanglements in Male-Dominated Sport Organizations: The Disruptive Value of Australian Rules Football Women

Adele Pavlidis, Simone Fullagar, and Wendy O’Brien

Focusing on the Australian Football League and its development of a national competition for women, this article contributes toward broader debates around the inclusion and incorporation of women in professional sport. It traces the particular logics and desires (such as corporate expansion) that drove the Australian Football League to develop a women’s competition in the name of equality. We map the organizational tensions and affects that produce (the doing of) gender equality through different desires. Drawing on feminist new materialist conceptions of assemblage, we work to identify the material (numbers of women and girls participating, revenue, and expenses) and discursive (attitudes toward girls and women, meanings attached to sport, and gender) entanglements that contribute to the (de)valuing of women in male-dominated sporting organizations and how this might be disrupted both now and in the future.

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The Big Story of a “Small” Football Club: Gümüşlükspor as an Alternative Model Experience for Turkey

Rahşan İnal

This article argues that counter-hegemony, which is at the heart of sports activism, is not just an action but also the construction of alternative institutional structures. For this purpose, it investigates the practices of an amateur football club and discusses the structural problems of the Turkish amateur football league. The data, collected during a 6-month field study, were interpreted from a critical perspective, using a dialectical dialogue method to apply the theory of hegemony in sports by applying Antonio Gramsci’s concept of the “organic intellectual.” Consequently, this sports club has provided socialization and free football training for children while creating an alternative football culture with local characteristics that are opposed to class and gender inequalities and to homophobic attitudes common in sport.

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Manufacturing Dreams and Investing in Future Generations: Women Athletes’ Inspirational Labor in the Marketing and Promotion of Their Sport

Tarlan Chahardovali and Christopher M. McLeod

Women athletes are often asked to participate in unpaid or underpaid community appearances and youth camps to generate fan interest, promote their sport, and inspire the next generation of athletes. The expectation to invest in the future of one’s sport for the benefit of others is a gendered process—requiring athletes to employ different forms of labor in addition to their athletic labor. Drawing from the literature on future-oriented labor and immaterial labor, we show how the sport industry is structured to extract value from what we refer to as women’s “inspirational labor.” Interviews with 29 women athletes and 15 managers in professional softball and soccer in the United States are used to illustrate the ideological and economic structures of inspirational labor.

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Racist State and the State of Race: An Analysis of Instagram Commentary Pertaining to LeBron James

Evan Frederick, Nicholas Swim, Ajhanai C.I. Keaton, and Ann Pegoraro

The purpose of this study was to examine the evolution of social media commentary pertaining to LeBron James’ activism efforts during two pivotal moments of state-enacted anti-Blackness violence. Utilizing the lens of critical race theory and critical whiteness studies, we examined user commentary pertaining to James’ two Instagram posts responding to the state-enacted violence against Michael Brown in 2014 and George Floyd in 2020. While responses to LeBron’s activism certainly evolved between 2014 and 2020, it is wise to be skeptical of that newly found support for James’ message and the outrage toward a fundamentally racist society. Superficial rhetoric and virtue signaling are the norm, while progress toward substantive change remains stoic and still, often like the beliefs deeply etched within us.