This paper explores issues relevant to youth, masculinity, Internet, and sport studies through a case study of the “anti-jock” (cyber)movement. The anti-jock movement is group of self-described “marginalized youth” who, through the production and consumption of anti-jock Websites, express dissatisfaction with and anger toward institutions that uncritically adulate hyper-masculine/high-contact sport culture and the athletes who are part of this culture (i.e., the “jocks"). Through these Websites, strategies of resistance against the “pro-jock” establishment are offered. An analysis of these sites acts as a departure point for considering how existing approaches to understanding youth cultural activity might be integrated with strands of new social movement theory to better account for more advanced forms of youth opposition/activism that have emerged following (and as a partial result of) the mass adoption of Internet-based communication. Also included is a discussion of the potential for anti-jock Websites specifically, and youth produced alternative-media generally, to empower youth and/or alter the oppressive forces that impact various “outsider” youth groups. The paper concludes with suggestions for future work that would extend and evaluate the ideas proposed here.
By considering three main questions, this article develops an argument for rethinking existing approaches to understanding both sport-related social movements and “local” responses to globalizing forces in light of the emergence of Internet communication. They are: (a) How can extant conceptions of sport-related social movements be expanded to account for more advanced forms of cultural and political opposition that result from and are potentially enhanced by the Internet? (b) How does the link between the development of the Internet and the enhanced formation and functioning of (new) social movements offer a foundation from which to expand understandings of relationships between global sport-related influences and the responses of local cultures? (c) What methodological approaches are best suited for studying Internet-related forms of sport-related activist resistance? The article concludes that recent developments in communication technology have contributed to a situation in which there is immense revolutionary potential in sport-related contexts, and for sociologists (of sport) interested in contributing to activist projects.
Brian Wilson and Philip White
This paper examines the development of a grassroots movement to revive the defunct Ottawa Rough Riders CFL franchise. Particular attention is paid to the theoretical implications of this movement for understanding social processes of collective action in sport-related contexts, the political economic forces that guide/structure these processes, and relationships between sport-related interest groups, the state and mass media. This historical inquiry and theoretical discussion is based on interviews that were conducted with key members of the revival movement (in 1999 and 2000) and on a content and textual analysis of mass media coverage of the group (from February 1998 until July 2000). The paper concludes with some comments about the potential relevance of this study for broader work on community, identity, and sport and with recommendations for future research on sport-related grassroots movements.
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.
Shawn Forde and Brian Wilson
In this paper we report findings from a study of what we are calling ‘sports media activism’ (or ‘SMA’). We were interested in how, why, and for what purposes a range of sport media activists are engaging with sport-related social issues through different media. This research contributes to a limited body of literature on sport-related activism, and especially to thinking about the role of media in sport-related activism. By ‘taking sport seriously’ in this paper, we consider what might be learned by focusing on the experiences of those creating and contributing to sport-related activism and alternative media. Also, by assessing a range of projects that we include under the sport media activism umbrella—each with their own goals and intentions for change—we think there is room to inform thinking about ‘alternative’ media more broadly.
Brian Wilson and Robert Sparks
This paper examines the impacts of athletic-apparel commercial messages on youth and youth cultures. Sneaker companies routinely use celebrity Black athletes, like Michael Jordan, to help position and market their premium brands. While concerns have been raised over the potential negative impacts of this practice, the processes through which athletic-apparel commercials become interpreted and assimilated into youth cultures have not been well-researched, A study is reported that used focus-group methodology and Radway’s (1991) concept of “interpretive communities” to examine how Black and non-Black male adolescents view sneaker commercials and celebrity Black athletes. This paper explores the ways that “cultural power” and “symbolic power” (Lull, 1995) are exercised by both the sneaker companies that feature celebrity Black athlete spokespersons and by the youth “communities” that consume these images. Overall, the youth in the study comprised two distinct interpretive communities defined by cultural differences related to their distinct social locations and racial identities.
Brian Wilson and Lyndsay Hayhurst
This article reports findings from an interview-based study focused around the role of the Internet in the development and operations of four nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that use sport as part of their youth engagement efforts. Findings showed, on the one hand, how the emergence of certain NGOs would not have been possible if not for the Internet. On the other hand, it was clear that the Internet contributes to a form of “ironic activism,” meaning that the practices that underlie certain forms of Internet-enabled NGO activity also reproduce neoliberal, market-driven approaches to dealing with social problems. The article includes discussion about ways in which the use of communication technologies by “sport for development” NGOs is reflective of broader developments in and around the NGO community.
Brian Wilson and Nicolien VanLuijk
This paper reports findings from a study of Canadian mainstream media coverage of anti-Olympic protests around the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The study included an experiment with a hybrid analytic approach, as we drew together Galtung’s “peace journalism” (PJ) framework with a more critically and contextually-oriented strategy. We found that articles written about the anti-Olympic protests commonly fell into the ‘war/violence’ sub-categories proposed by Galtung, which are: propaganda oriented, elite oriented, and ‘us vs them’ oriented. We also identified segments of articles that were ‘peace-oriented’ in that they offered nuanced contextual information and included perspectives of traditionally marginalized groups. We conclude by comparing our findings with other work on coverage of sport-related protests and reflect on the value of a PJ approach for the study of conflict in sport media.
Brian Goff, Dennis P. Wilson, W. Currie Martin and Brandon Spurlock
Our study examines the impact of the transition from NCAA Football Championship Series (FCS) participation to Football Bowl Series (FBS) participation on demand for university football. The primary empirical analysis uses 23 schools that transitioned to the FBS between 1987 and 2013 to examine attendance effects. We first examine the change as a type of event study and estimate the impact in a short run “transition window” of the 5 years leading up to and after the transition. We then estimate the long run impact of membership on annual attendance over a period extending from 5 years before transition through 2013 for all transition schools. Finally, we estimate impact on an alternative sample that includes a control group of top performing FCS schools that have not transitioned to FBS. The results derived from these panel regressions indicate a substantial positive impact on per game attendance over the transition period and for many years beyond the transition. (JEL codes: L83, L29.)
Madison Ardizzi, Brian Wilson, Lyndsay Hayhurst and Janet Otte
Bicycles have been hailed by the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations for use in social and economic development. However, there is a lacuna of research exploring the value of bicycles for development (BFD) outside of Europe and America. Specifically, there is a lack of research on the structure and perspectives of BFD organizations. This study draws on 19 semistructured interviews with BFD organizations in various regions of Uganda. We found that (a) BFD organizations exist along a spectrum from community-based to international, (b) the meanings ascribed to the bicycle are unstable and context dependent, and (c) that there were a range of ways that bicycles were seen to lead to positive outcomes—although barriers to attaining these outcomes were identified too. The authors conclude by suggesting that while bicycles are considered useful for a range of development purposes, perspectives on their usefulness vary—as inequalities commonly associated with sport for development are evident in the BFD movement too.