This paper explores the articulations of sport and ‘Big Data’—an important though to date understudied topic. That we have arrived at an ‘Age of Big Data’ is an increasingly accepted premise: the proliferation of tracking technologies, combined with the desire to record/monitor human activity, has radically amplified the volume and variety of data in circulation, as well as the velocity at which data move. Herein, we take initial steps toward addressing the implications of Big Data for sport (and vice versa), first by historicizing the relationship between sport and quantification and second by charting its contemporary manifestations. We then present four overlapping postulates on sport in the Age of Big Data. These go toward both showing and questioning the logic of ‘progress’ said to lie at the core of sport’s nascent statistical turn. We conclude with reflections on how a robust sociology of sport and Big Data might be achieved.
Brad Millington and Rob Millington
Brad Millington and Brian Wilson
In this paper we argue that sport media research would be enhanced by: (a) engagement with the audience research tradition, including “third generation” audience studies that emphasize relationships between viewer interpretations of media and everyday social practices; and (b) the adoption of multimethod research approaches that are sensitive to contradictions and complexities that exist in media consumption. To support this argument, we reflect on the benefits of a multimethod research design used in a recent audience study conducted by the authors on youth interpretations of media and performances of masculinity in physical education (Millington & Wilson, in press). These benefits include: enriching researcher understandings of social/cultural contexts; illuminating social hierarchies; and revealing lived contradictions. We conclude with reflections on epistemological issues and suggestions for future audience projects.
Rob Millington, Simon C. Darnell and Brad Millington
Ecological modernization refers to the idea that capitalist-driven scientific and technological advancements can not only attend to the world’s pending environmental crises, but even lead to ecological improvement, thus allowing sustainability and consumption to continue in concert. In this paper, we examine ecological modernization at the confluence of environmentalism, international development and global sport. Through an analysis of golf and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, we argue that golf’s return to the Olympic program is illustrative of a post-political approach to environmentalism, whereby ecological modernization is posited as a common-sense response to addressing matters of global climate change.
Ellexis Boyle, Brad Millington and Patricia Vertinsky
Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby won five Academy Awards but also came under attack from female boxers and disability activists. Ostensibly a drama about a tenacious woman’s quest to become a professional fighter and the male coach who assists her, Million Dollar Baby appears to insert a radical portrayal of femininity, female athleticism, and power into the male-dominated genre of boxing films and, more generally, a media that has been largely hostile to female boxing. We explore the extent to which the female lead can be viewed as a transgressive figure along with the discourses of containment that reduce her threat to longstanding cultural myths about boxing as a male preserve. Our analyses of the film’s racial, gender, class, and disability politics contend that its focus is not women’s boxing, disability, or the right to die; rather, like boxing, this film is about the male struggle to protect masculinity in a sporting world deeply shaken by the increasing presence of women.