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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.

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Volume 39 (2022): Issue 4 (Dec 2022)

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“They Do Not Represent Our Gym”: How CrossFit Affiliates Define Community as They Respond to Racial Controversy

Shaun Edmonds, Nancy L. Malcom, Christina M. Gipson, and Hannah Bennett

Following the racist comments of the then CEO and CrossFit co-founder Greg Glassman concerning the murder of George Floyd, CrossFit affiliates took to social media to repudiate his statements. Throughout their social media posts, these affiliates struggled with their relationship to the CrossFit brand, the imagined CrossFit community, and the community formed in their local box. Using qualitative thematic analysis of CrossFit affiliates’ Facebook and Instagram posts made during June 2020, we find that the affiliates had a range of responses that included silence, reconsideration of their affiliate status, and social activism. Furthermore, we find that the affiliates’ focus on (re)defining community served to deflect from deeper discussions of systemic racism within CrossFit and the CrossFit community.

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Once You See It, You Can’t Unsee It? Racial Justice Activism and Articulations of Whiteness Among White Collegiate Athlete Activists

Yannick Kluch, Emma Calow, Eric M. Martin, Travis R. Scheadler, Andrew Mac Intosh, and Shannon Jolly

The goal of this study was to examine how athletes holding privileged racial identities understand their whiteness as they engage in racial justice activism. Drawing from 12 semistructured interviews with white collegiate athletes who have engaged in activism for racial justice, we identified four higher order themes which we situate within a broader discussion of how each theme either reinforces or disrupts racial power: articulations of (a) racial consciousness, (b) white privilege, (c) white empathy, and (d) white accountability. While the white accountability theme has the potential to disrupt racial power due to its relying on rigorous self-critique, the remaining themes pointed to limited understandings of the systemic nature of racism, which can thus inadvertently (re)produce white supremacy even when engaging in activism for racial justice. Limitations, implications, and future directions for research are discussed to empower more white athletes to reflect critically on whiteness and facilitate systemic change.

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Reflections on Working With Black Youth From Underserved Communities in the United States: Decolonizing My Whiteness Through Critical Collaborative Interrogation

Robert T. Book Jr., Donka Darpatova-Hruzewicz, and David Dada

This autoethnographic paper introduces a decolonizing methodological process termed—critical collaborative interrogation (CCI)—one offering a more radically reflexive approach to teasing out inherent power relations within sport-for-development spaces. The process of CCI utilized four autobiographical vignettes written by the first author as means of decolonizing his whiteness, vis-à-vis, an academic peer from his present and a coworker from his past. By ascribing to a decolonizing praxis, we contend that CCI offers not only a novel way to elucidate innate racial biases, complicities, and moral imperatives within sport-for-development work, but also promoting CCI as a transformative process by drawing upon “other” ways of knowing and alternative perspectives.