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
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.
Rob Millington, Lyndsay M.C. Hayhurst, Audrey R. Giles, and Steven Rynne
Over the past two decades, significant policy shifts within Canada have urged corporations from all sectors, including the extractives industry, to fund and support sport for development (SFD) programming in Indigenous communities, often through corporate social responsibility strategies. The idea that sport is an appropriate tool of development for Indigenous communities in Canada and that the extractives industry is a suitable partner to implement development programs highlight profound tensions regarding ongoing histories of resource extraction and settler colonialism. To explore these tensions, in this paper, the authors drew on interviews conducted with extractives industry representatives of four companies that fund and implement such SFD programs. From these interviews, three overarching discourses emerged in relation to the extractives industry’s role in promoting development through sport: SFD is a catalyst to positive relationships between industry and community, SFD is a contributor to “social good” in Indigenous communities, and extractives industry funding of SFD is “socially responsible.”
Samantha King, R. Scott Carey, Naila Jinnah, Rob Millington, Andrea Phillipson, Carolyn Prouse, and Matt Ventresca
This paper uses a genealogical approach to explore the conjuncture at which the longstanding but partial and uneasy silence surrounding painkiller use in the National Football League seems increasingly under threat. We historicize and problematize apparently self-evident narratives about painkiller use in contemporary football by interrogating the gendered, racialized and labor-related discourses surrounding Brett Favre’s 1996 admission of a dependency on Vicodin, as well as the latest rash of confessions of misuse by now retired athletes. We argue that these coconstructed and coconstructing moments of noise and silence are part of the same discursive system. This system serves to structure the emerging preoccupation with painkillers in the NFL, with Favre’s admission still working to placate anxieties surrounding the broader drug problems endemic to the league, and failing to disrupt our implicit knowingness about painkiller use, thus reinforcing ongoing cultures of silence and toughness in professional football.