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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

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

Andrew C. Billings, Nathan A. Towery, Sean R. Sadri, and Elisabetta Zengaro

A national survey of 314 Americans was utilized to determine the degree in which sport identification functions similarly to political and religious identification as well as the degree to which each of the three forms of group hyper-identification correlate with violent extremism and violent radicalization. Results found that sport identification correlated with extremism but not radicalization, political identification correlated with both, and religious identification correlated with neither. Moreover, each type of identification positively correlated with the other, and subgroups within each form of identification functioned similarly. Ramifications for social identity theory are advanced, arguing that whether one identifies with these groups appears more pertinent than which group identifies within that identity association regarding propensity for violent extremism and radicalization. Avenues for future research are advanced.

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From Football to Soccer: The Early History of the Beautiful Game in the United States

Adam R. Cocco

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The Sport Marriage: Women Who Make It Work

Linda J. Henderson

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A Baltimore Benevolence Thing? American Philanthropy, Neoliberal Fitness, and the Persistence of “Colorblind” Racial Silencing

Ronald L. Mower

Drawing upon 3 years of fieldwork with a nonprofit fitness education development program targeting “at-risk” Baltimore youth, this article examines pedagogical barriers rooted in the perceived, and materially experienced, differences of race, gender, class, and culture. Set within the confines of increasingly privatized spaces of fitness/health in a starkly divided Baltimore, MD, this study demonstrated how interventions were rooted in a self-congratulatory and neocolonial benevolence—steeped in a largely unacknowledged form of neoliberal individualism—which routinely denied and silenced impacts of racism. Observations of instructor–student interaction revealed substantial disconnects concerning definitions of the body, fitness, and significance of race in health disparities, resulting in student refusal and program cessation. Given the power dynamics between white fitness-philanthropists and Black youth, the author, as active participant–observer, occupied a liminal space where considerations of authenticity and immersion became critical.

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Erratum. A Baltimore Benevolence Thing? American Philanthropy, Neoliberal Fitness, and the Persistence of “Colorblind” Racial Silencing

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Factors That Reduce Parental Concern for Concussion Risks in Youth Tackle Football

Joseph McGlynn, Brian K. Richardson, and Rebecca D. Boneau

This study sought to identify factors that reduce parental concern of concussion risks for children who play youth tackle American football. Interviews were conducted with parents who allowed children between the ages of 10 and 15 years to play on tackle football teams. Factors that reduced parental concern included advances in equipment safety and helmet technology, active parental monitoring and relationship building with coaches, and social comparisons to other youth athletes regarding their own child’s athleticism and ability to avoid injury. Although these factors reduced parents’ concern for concussion risks, the findings highlight biases that influence parental risk judgments, suggest that interventions to reduce concussions must account for competing narratives of concussion prevention, and offer recommendations for improving education efforts focused on player safety in contact sports.

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Volume 39 (2022): Issue 3 (Sep 2022)