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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.

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Toward a Theory of Sportswashing: Mega-Events, Soft Power, and Political Conflict

Jules Boykoff

Sportswashing has emerged full force in the 21st century, highlighting the gap between word and deed in the sports world. Yet, the term suffers from definitional imprecision and is often applied solely to autocratic hosts. This article offers a robust definition of sportswashing and—building from the soft-power approach to analyzing mega-events like the Olympics and World Cup—creates a sportswashing typology. This paper offers four advances in conceptualizing sportswashing: (a) the practice is not just the domain of autocrats, but can emerge in democracies as well; (b) domestic audiences are crucial to understanding the political complexities of sportswashing; (c) sportswashing often sets the stage for military intervention; and (d) new forms of sportswashing are emerging, with authoritarian regimes funding teams and events in democratic states.

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“Saturdays Are For The Boys”: Barstool Sports and the Cultural Politics of White Fratriarchy in Contemporary America

Kyle Kusz and Matthew R. Hodler

Existing across multiple media platforms, Barstool Sports (“Barstool”) is one of the most important sport brands in the United States. While Barstool’s critics frequently assert that the company is “racist,” few, if any, detail how their racial politics work. Through a brief genealogy of Barstool’s cultural history and a close critical reading of “The Barstool Documentary Series,” we show how Barstool’s racial politics operate through gender—specifically the affective appeal of Big Man sovereignty and the homosocial bonds of White fratriarchy —to create and normalize racially exclusive and White male-dominant social worlds that dovetail remarkably with racial and gender ideas that organize what Maskovsky calls Trump’s “White nationalist postracialism” and the Proud Boys’ “Western chauvinism.”

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Erratum: How Sports Identification Compares to Political and Religious Identification: Relationships to Violent Extremism and Radicalization