Recreation and Sport Studies

Studying, Experiencing and Facilitating Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport through Wellness and Physical Activity


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How the LTAD Model Falls Short of Addressing the Needs of Immigrants

Over the last few weeks, I had  been working on my paper, which asks this question: How does Canada’s Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model, central to Canadian sport policy, fall short in addressing the needs of immigrants?

As some may know, the two figures below describe Canada’s current version of the LTAD model. This, briefly, is the multi-stage framework that provides a pathway through which Sport Canada recommends an athlete should be developed from infancy to adulthood, beginning with initial stages concerned with developing fundamental physical literacy, middle “Excellence” stages concerned with developing sport-specific skills to focus more on high performance, and the final “Active for Life” stage concerning itself with having participants engage in physical activity for life.

Current Version of LTAD Frameworks, Kin 6300 (Fall 2017)

The Challenge with Immigrant Integration & LTAD

LTAD was initially designed as a “cradle-to-grave pathway to serve all Canadians” (Grove et al. 2016, p. 11). However, a “one size fits all” approach just does not work for everyone, especially considering the socio-cultural factors that influence Canadian sport in certain directions (Thibault & Harvey, 2015). In particular,  the unique needs of immigrants present 3 specific challenges to LTAD:

  • First, immigrants find Canadian sport too structured, to a point where it can be “difficult [for them] to access” (ICC, 2014, p. 6). Indeed, the rise of technology and a cultural shift towards risk-aversion has meant unstructured, informal sport- like pick-up games popular in other countries- are on the decline in Canada. An overly structured system also makes sport more expensive and difficult to navigate.
  • Second, many immigrants come to Canada with different sports/ physical literacy skills than their native-born peers, making it difficult for newcomers to enter the LTAD pathway. Current LTAD often neglects the many athletes who may be entering sport or developing physical literacy at an older age, or who develop at an advanced pace, and late-entry pathways must be incorporated in the model.
  • Third, we reflect on the competitive focus of Canadian sport and LTAD model’s history, which can alienate many immigrants for whom sport is valued not for its competitive elements, but for giving the opportunity “to be healthy, fit and have fun” (ICC, 2014, p. 20). Indeed, there is a 9-to-1 resource allocation mismatch in funds given by government to competitive vs. community sport (Donnelly, 2012).

Out Proposal: Developing a New, Immigrant-Specific LTAD Framework

In the paper, I provide eight recommendations for LTAD, but they essentially come down to this: Just as Sport Canada has done in developing new LTAD models and pathways to address the needs of Aboriginal and disabled populations, a new immigrant-specific LTAD model should be developed. One preliminary proposal that I provide is below:

DRAFT Proposal for an Immigrant-Specific LTAD Model, Kin 6300 (Fall 2017)

In the above model, the most notable differences from traditional LTAD is the addition of an “Awareness” stage (similar to one designed for athletes with disability), that focuses on the unique challenge of communicating sport options to newcomers. As well, to address how newcomers come to Canada with different physical activity skills, a supplemental “Skill Equalization” stage is proposed, where immigrants’ skills are evaluated and plans are then developed to ensure they can “catch up” to peers if needed, or advance to higher stages of LTAD. Beyond this, other recommendations are also summarized in the box for “Other Considerations to Ensure Effective Implementation.”

Bottom-Line: The LTAD model relies on implicit socio-cultural assumptions about values in Canadian sport, which do not always align with the needs of immigrants. or other groups. Consequently, a new immigrant-centered LTAD approach is suggested, although our proposal is at best a preliminary model in need of more refinement/ research.

References Cited

Canadian Sport for Life. (2016). Long-Term Athlete Development 2.1. Retrieved from the CS4L website: http://sportforlife.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/LTAD-2.1-EN_web.pdf?x96000. [NOTE: This is the main policy document that is critiqued in this paper.]

Donnelly, P. (2012, July 23). Turning Canada’s Olympic Success into Increased Participation in Sport. The Star. Retrieved from: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/2012/07/23/turning_canadas_olympic_success_into_increased_participation_in_sports.html.

Grove, J. et al. (2016). Durable by Design: Active for Life. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Sport for Life Foundation. Retrieved from: http://sportforlife.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Active-for-Life-Jan-2016-web.pdf?x96000.

Institute of Canadian Citizenship (ICC) (2014). Playing Together: New Citizens, Sports & Belonging . Retrieved from the website if the Institute of Canadian Citizenship: https://www.iccicc.ca/site/pdfs/PlayingTogether_FullR%20Online_Final.pdf 20Full%20Report.pdf.

Thibault, L. & Harvey, J. (2013). Sport Policy in Canada. Ottawa, ON: University of Ottawa Press. [NOTE: This is a fantastic book providing a detailed history and sociological critique of Canadian sport policy and is also accessible in e-book format online at: https://ruor.uottawa.ca/bitstream/10393/30369/1/9780776620954.pdf.]


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Critical analysis of the National Hockey League’s “Career Ending Disability Policy”

The National Hockey League’s Career Ending Disability Policy can be found in Article 23.3 of the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement under “Insurance Coverages”. It outlines the risks of playing professional hockey, as understood by the players and owners alike; as the CBA is an amalgamation of the two parties’ ideals. The nature of the policy is scaled remuneration based on a player’s age (upon adherence to the precursor of a minimum of 41 games played in the NHL). 41 games played denotes half an NHL season, and if that threshold is not reached, the maximum payment is $500,000. The payout system can be seen in Table 1 as followed:

Player’s Age Benefit Amount (USD)
Under Age 31 $1,000,000*
Age 31 $840,000*
Age 32 $680,000*
Age 33 $520,000*
Age 34 $360,000
Age 35 and over $200,000

Table 1: National Hockey League, 2012, p. 149

The players’ union have too negotiated proper compensation for specific disabilities; these are outlined as followed in Table 2:

Type of Disability Benefit Amount (USD)
Loss of Brain Functions $5,000,000
Paralysis $5,000,000
Organ Failure $3,000,000
Diagnosis of Terminal Illness $3,000,000
Loss of a Limb $2,500,000
Loss of Two (2) Limbs $4,000,000
Loss of Sight in Both Eyes $4,000,000
Loss of Sight in One (1) Eye $2,000,000
Loss of Hearing or Speech $750,000
Loss of Hearing and Speech $1,000,000
Loss of one hand or one foot $750,000
Loss of both hands or both feet or one hand and one foot $1,000,000

Table 2: National Hockey League, 2012, p. 150

The policy itself serves as a reminder of the human element of professional sports and their respective athletes. Upon examination of the compensation tables, one can ascertain that athletes risk not just their bodies and livelihood when working, but the quality of their personal lives as well.

Observing these tables in a vacuum and comparing them to similar insurance-based compensation packages, one can ascertain adequate remuneration; this however involves desensitizing oneself to the employer/employee relationship that the layman understands far too well. In essence, the “celebritization” of professional athletes desensitizes the population to concepts like relocation (trades), firings (buy-outs/releases), and forced retirement (career-ending injuries).

In essence, the policy fails to properly compensate players who no longer have a means of income, and whose lives have been severely impaired. The reasons for such inadequacies are qualitative and are driven by societal norms.


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Critical Policy Review: NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy

Ever since Roger Goodell became the commissioner of the National Football League (NFL) in 2006, there has been a major emphasis on the behaviour of both players and personnel off the field. In the years leading up to Goodell’s appointment as the commissioner, there had been a growing issue of players, coaches, executives, and others tarnishing the reputation of the league through negligent, dangerous, and potentially illegal off the field incidents. In response to this seemingly negative culture shift developing within the league, a personal conduct policy was introduced in 2007 to ensure that the league was viewed positively in the public eye and seen as a viable source of entertainment for all ages. Negative off the field conduct leads to certain people tuning out and becoming disinterested in the product because it can be difficult to support and cheer for people who do not share the same positive societal values as others. Throughout Goodell’s regime, the policy has been updated and tweaked numerous times to mesh with the changing scope of the league – the most recent iteration was developed in 2016 and this the one in which I will be analyzing.

The policy deals with a plethora of sensitive topics which must be carefully addressed within the guidelines. I have chosen to discuss this policy because I am an avid fan of the NFL and really enjoy following the intricacies of the league. Many stories involving the league throughout each calendar year discuss the policy and its effect on player conduct so it is interesting for me to delve in further, read and analyze the policy, and also see what other influential people think of it. In this paper, I will briefly summarize the NFL’s most recently updated Personal Conduct Policy, analyze varying opinions on the policy and then add my own thoughts and views on the policy.
When looking at the Personal Conduct Policy which was commissioned in 2016, we must first look at what the policy is intending to do and what its main mandate is. It is clearly stated in the first paragraph that “it is a privilege to be in the National Football League (and) everyone who is part of the league must refrain from “conduct detrimental to the integrity and public confidence in” the NFL” (National Football League, 2016). The word “everyone” is bolded and underlined to emphasize who the policy is being addressed to. Consequently, it is extremely important to note which parties in particular he NFL is addressing in the policy as that will help make more sense of the reasoning and tone of the guidelines. The policy states that it “includes owners, coaches, players, other team employees, game officials, and employees of the league office, NFL Films, NFL Network, or any other NFL business” (National Football League, 2016). This is sensible because everyone associated with the league represents the entire entity and poor behaviour from any individuals associated with the league can negatively impact the public image. The NFL is also covering its bases in including all possible parties to ensure that there are no liability issues if someone conducts themselves poorly.
The body of the policy is divided into two major sections: “Expectations and Standards of Conduct” and “What Happens When a Violation of this Policy is Suspected?” (National Football League, 2016). In the Expectations and Standards of Conduct section, it is specified what type of actions lead to discipline from the league. Furthermore, it is stated that “it is not simply enough to avoid being found guilty of a crime (and that) we are all held to a higher standard and must conduct ourselves in a way that is responsible, promotes the value of the NFL, and is lawful” (National Football League, 2016). In each area of this document, we are mindful of the fact that the NFL is mostly concerned about their public image so anything that is done to foil that must be subject for discipline. It is an important distinction that players and league personnel do not necessarily have to be convicted of a crime to be subject of discipline from the league – this means that the league is very serious about their efforts to minimize poor behaviour off the field but it also leads to a significant amount of grey area in their disciplinary decisions.

The league provides a list of 14 separate actions that may lead to discipline from the league. The NFL is very thorough and leaves all bases covered in order to discipline anyone associated with the league who they feel is breaching appropriate conduct. They state that “even if the conduct does not result in a criminal conviction, players found to have engaged in any of the following conduct will be subject to discipline” (National Football League, 2016). They also make a point that “prohibited conduct includes but is not limited to” (National Football League, 2016) these 14 actions which suggests that several other actions can be perceived as breaking the code of conduct. Some of the 14 actions are broad in nature and can include a variety of negligent activity such as “assault and/or battery, including sexual assault or other sex offenses, disorderly conduct, conduct that poses a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another person, etc.” (National Football League, 2016). Since a player does not have to be convicted of a crime to be disciplined, the league has full discretion in initiating discipline towards a player if they feel they have violated the expectations and standards that are laid out for them in the policy.
The What Happens When a Violation of This Policy is Suspected section is extended and covers several areas in reaction to the expectations and standards of conduct that were stated previously. The gist of this section is to outline what occurs to league personnel when league rules are violated. The league mentions various steps that may occur if violations of rules are signalled by the league. Personally, I find this section slightly convoluted and it does not necessarily outline in order what may occur once a violation happens. They just jumble a number of further actions that the league may take to address the situation and some of them are very vague. The subsets in this section include: “Evaluation Counseling, and Services, Investigations, Leave with Pay, Discipline, Reporting, and Conduct Committee” (National Football League, 2016). As evidenced by this title, the league was all over the place and felt the need to mention all areas of discipline following a breach of conduct. In a nutshell, when a player or league personnel member breaches desired conduct, they are subject to many actions that the league can impose on them. By outlining them in their entirety in this section, individuals who are said to have committed a violation have very little wiggle room in their defense. While this section does not deliberately outline the chronological process following a conviction by the league, it covers several areas and ensures that players and league personnel are aware of what may occur if they violate the desired expectations and standards of conduct.
Before delving into my personal analysis, I feel as though it is beneficial to briefly touch on varying opinions towards the policy from the public and within the league itself. On the whole, public opinion on the policy is fairly mixed although you could probably find a slightly larger group that takes issue with it than those who support it wholeheartedly. One of the major points of contention with the policy is that it is somewhat vague in certain areas and that the extrapolation of discipline can be extremely inconsistent as a result. For instance, Mel Robbins is of the opinion that players and others associated with the league do not know what to expect from the league if they violate one of the points laid out by the league. Moreover, Brooks states that the policy “is ambiguous, optional, case-by-case, complicated and at the discretion of the NFL” (Robbins, 2014). A major sentiment is that since a lot of the discipline is at the discretion of the NFL, it can lead to a lot of grey area when it comes to deciding on proper punishment for individuals. Since each potential case can be different, it is difficult to have an overarching set of rules in place to discipline players and this can lead to a lack of consistency when it comes to punishment.

Another criticism towards the policy is the sentiment that the league put together this document mainly to ease the criticism the league was facing in regards to several players acting out and tarnishing the reputation of the entity and that it fails to take steps to find ways to discipline players in a more consistent manner. Before implementation of the newest iteration of the policy, the league had faced heavy criticism for mishandling certain situations involving domestic violence in particular and applying inconsistent discipline towards players. As a result, some people hold the opinion that “pressure led the NFL to hastily implement a player conduct policy specifically aimed at addressing crimes against women (and that) the NFL admittedly used this new policy as a public relations maneuver” (Meyer, 2015, p. 1). Many people think that the league was simply trying to save face after botching the execution of disciplinary measures in previous cases and this new policy was an act in showing the public that they were attempting to make an effort in resolving the increasingly negative situation.
In my view, while I feel as though it is important in theory to have a set of standards for players and league personnel to abide by, the execution is not precise and it leads to a lot of confusion. When reading and analyzing the policy itself, I was impressed with the conciseness of the introduction and the section regarding the expectations and standards of conduct. I felt as though the league did a fine job encapsulating the purpose for the policy and what must occur to violate the rules and expectations that are put in place by the league. However, once the expectations and standards are drawn out, I find that the policy gets messy and ambiguous. It is difficult to interpret the section regarding what happens following a violation of the policy and can lead to a lot of confusion amongst those trying to interpret the document. While it would be slightly more difficult to implement, I think it would be in the league’s favour to have more cut and dry violations with specific disciplinary actions attached to certain violations. This would lead to a more consistent disciplinary process and those associated with the league would be aware of the potential consequences tied to their actions.
Despite my criticism towards the execution of the policy, I do agree that a policy of this nature must be mandated not only in the NFL, but in every league. In an era where everything is highlighted on social media and other sources, players and league personnel must be more careful than ever when it comes to behaviour off the field. The standards are higher in this day and age and leagues must have rules in place for players and personnel that perform actions which can stain the reputation of the league. For me personally, I grew up idolizing athletes and emulating them in everyday life. From my experience, I know how special it is to have a relationship with an athlete and to follow them as you grow up. Athletes need to be cognizant of the fact that they are role models for the youth and a policy such as this can go a long way towards ensuring that players act in a way that is appropriate and cordial. One of the main subjects we touched on in the course was the idea that globalization has been causing the opportunity for teams and leagues to grow their fan bases in ways that they could have never imagined decades ago. Moreover, “at one time sports managers relied almost exclusively on fans in their local market to generate a lifetime commitment in order to earn team revenues (but) with new technologies…it is increasingly feasible to market to fans world-wide” (Foster & Hyatt, 2008, p. 266). This widen scope puts much more pressure on leagues such as the NFL to ensure that their players and personnel are acting accordingly and ensuring that the league is viewed in a positive light. With increasing international exposure, young children all over the world have the opportunity to look up to NFL players which means that these players must be more careful than ever in maintaining a strong reputation. A personal conduct policy can help in this sense but the execution must be crisper so that players can be aware of specific potential discipline.
As an ardent fan of the NFL, I feel as though the ambiguity of the policy takes away from the on-field product in some respect. Due to various off the field incidents occurring and subsequent suspensions being handed out, there is constant discussion regarding how the NFL should handle themselves in response to the incidents that occur away from the game. In my opinion, the lack of clarity in the policy contributes to a lot of wasted discussion on suspensions and discipline rather than focus on the game itself. Since the policy leaves a lot of wiggle room for the league and does not specifically clarify suspension lengths, it makes it difficult for the league to levy appropriate and consistent suspension lengths when players break the regulations set forth. The lack of ambiguity certainly effects the NFL in several ways and leads to negative press and attention. It is important to recognize the fact that professional sports have become a business in a sense and that a large amount of money is in play when it comes to all elements of a league like the NFL. Moreover, professional sports becoming more business-driven in the past few decades are “a matter of recognizing that the distinctive qualities sport and its participants possessed, notably its popular culture appeal and unrivalled aura of authenticity, were of potential value in the increasingly competitive process of capital accumulation in a fully-fledged consumer society” (Smart, 2007, p. 114).

As professional sports have become more consumer driven, sponsors must be cognizant of the negative attention that is brought upon the league when a large majority of the talk is focused on the off-field behaviour of players. It takes away from the heightened sense of authenticity and cultural appeal that the drove a league like the NFL to be consumer driven in the first place. If issues continue to persist through the lack of ambiguity of the policy, league sponsors may become disinterested in the direction the league is heading and choose to decide to spend their money elsewhere.
Overall, I feel as though the policy is a double-edged sword for the NFL. While I think a policy such as the Personal Conduct Policy is absolutely necessary, the execution is subpar and leaves for too much room for interpretation. While players and personnel are aware of the fact that they must compose themselves properly off the field, it would be helpful for them to know what exactly their consequences are based on their actions. I believe that it is in the best interests of the NFL to restructure the policy to make it more comprehensible and explicit. This would lead to a more defined set of rules and less discussion about the length of suspensions and the substantiality of fines levied. If there was a fixed doctrine in place, players and personnel would be punished accordingly and most of the attention could be shifted towards the on-field product. This policy matters because the league must regulate the actions of those associated with the league and ensure that their public image is not tarnished. A policy must be in place to keep individuals in line and give them incentive to behave in a manner that represents the league positively. On the other hand, critical analysis of the policy is important as well because improvements certainly must be made. If people share their concerns about the weaknesses of the policy, changes can be made and the league can be better for it. I hope that the league can continue to tweak the policy and end up with a set of regulations which are clear and lead to fair and non-ambiguous punishment.

References
Foster, W. M., & Hyatt, C. G. (2008). Inventing team tradition: a conceptual model for strategic development of fan nations. European Sport Management Quarterly, 8(3), 265-287.
Meyer, J. (2015). Unnecessary toughness: Throwing the flag on the NFL’s new personal conduct policy. Illinois Business Law Journal, 1-1.
National Football League: Personal Conduct Policy. (2016). Retrieved from https://nflpaweb.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/PDFs/Active%20Players/PersonalConductPolicyLPP.pdf
Robbins, M. (2014, December 13). NFL’s personal conduct policy fail. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/11/opinion/robbins-nfl-domestic-violence-rules/index.html
Smart, B. (2007). Not playing around: global capitalism, modern sport and consumer culture. Global Networks, 7(2), 113-134.


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Is There Room for Sports to Get Even More Commercialized?

This article by Pinsker (2016) does a great job declaring from the start that sponsorships on jerseys are inevitable. This is understandable because an extra $5 million for the Philadelphia 76ers is hard to turn down for something as simple as a small logo on the left chest/shoulder of the jersey. When thinking specifically about the NHL I see several teams (Winnipeg, Arizona, Florida) that would love to have the extra revenue to help either on the business side or hockey side. However, one area that I think the article discounts quite easily is the impact fans have on professional sports. Looking at the Detroit Red Wings as an example they recently opened their new arena, Little Caesars Arena, in October 2017. Moving from the legendary Joe Louis Arena (named after Detroit boxer Joe Louis) to an arena attached to corporate sponsorship was met with negative backlash (Pevos, 2017) from fans of the Red Wings and NHL fans in general (especially when the Little Caesar’s logo was placed on the roof). The deal was final so there was nothing Detroit could do about it, but this should illustrate that the implementation of corporate sponsorship into aspects of sport that are not accustomed to them will receive a negative reaction from fans. I know the Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens could put virtually anything on their jerseys and still make huge profits, but what if the Florida Panthers upset their fans or the Arizona Coyotes?

The notion that there will be sponsorships on North American professional sports jerseys in the future has been troubling to most fans. One possible reason for this is that even though professional sports franchises are for profit enterprises, the illusion that professional sports is about competition and athleticism still exists among most fans. From the fans perspective the jersey is a part of their identity, both physically and subjectively. Jerseys are part of their identity physically in the sense that fans can buy and wear “their” teams jersey and subjectively because the identifiable aspects of their fandom include the jersey (logo, colours, etc.). As stated by Pinsker the jersey is the last untapped frontier of revenue in US sports. The fact that this is one of the few aspects of sport that is still sacred without commercialized interest’s means that it will be a tough sell to fans, many of whom believe sport is too commercialized as it is.

As Nauright and White (2002) noted nostalgia is a key way that sports media markets to fans because nostalgia removes the pain of the past and focuses on positive memories. Nostalgia implicates a sense on innocence and by adding sponsorships to jerseys the argument could be made that some of that innocence is lost. Personally simply the image of jerseys from the past gives me a sense of nostalgia and I do not know if sponsorships on the jerseys would taint that feeling. The other pressing matter to consider is that in a North American context any additions to jerseys were either to signify leaders on teams or honour those from the past that may no longer be with us. If the NHL implements sponsorships onto jerseys will the ‘C’ be altered in anyway on Sidney Crosby’s jersey? If they place it on the right side of their chest what happens when a figure such as Jean Beliveau passes away? In what way will they honour that person? These questions will need to be answered by professional leagues and will then need to be justified to players, fans, and alumni.

Drawing from Ziegler (2011) as well I have to wonder what this extra money would be used for. If the 76ers are getting $5 million to have the Stubhub logo on their jersey will they then not require as much public funding for new arenas? This extra revenue could supplement a reduction in ticket prices, concessions, or improve the community engagement initiatives from these teams. Using one of these as a primary reason to obtain these sponsorships could ease the transition for some fans, but there will still be some that see this as purely as a cash grab by for profit organizations. Ziegler’s main argument against sport is that professional sport has not been used to serve as a public good as it was intended. I have to believe that adding sponsorships onto jerseys for the sole purpose of increasing revenue will further validate his opinion.

One aspect of this debate that was not brought up in the article was the corporate sponsorship that happens at the grassroots level of sport. There is no backlash from fans when their local team’s jerseys are sponsored by McDonalds or Tim Horton’s so why is it such a travesty at the professional level? The argument can be made that these teams are in need of money and that justifies the massive amounts of sponsorships both on the jersey and part of the team name. As a native of PEI I have grown accustomed to sponsorship throughout local sport, for instance the two Major Midget hockey teams on PEI are: the Charlottetown Bulk Carrier’s Pride and the Kensington Monaghan Farm’s Wild. This article does mention the Philippines Basketball Association having a numerous sponsorships as revenue is hard to come by in non-major leagues. This is similar to an observation I have made about the National Basketball League of Canada. The teams in this league have sponsorships on the jerseys, but when revenue is at this low of a level then increasing their jersey sponsorship similarly to NASCAR or European basketball or hockey could help the league maintain consistent revenue sources.

In conclusion I believe that sponsorships on jerseys are inevitable, but professional franchises should be transparent and explain to their stakeholders why this is important and what the money will be used for. With this strategy I believe fans will be more accepting of change and will endorse the brand similarly to NASCAR supporters.

References:

Nauright, J., & White, P. (2002). Mediated Nostalgia, Community and Nation: The CFL in Crisis and the Demise of the Ottawa Roughriders. Sport History Review, 33, 121-137.

Pevos, E. (2017, July 12). Giant pizza man on Little Caesars Arena roof not going over well withfans. Retrieved from http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2017/07/giant_guy_on_little_caesars_ar.html

Pinsker, J. (2016, June 13). Is There Room for Sports to Get Even More Commercialized? Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/06/future-corporate-sports-sponsorhip/486569/

Zeigler, E. (2011). Sport As a Key Partner in the “Big Four’s Reign” in the Western World? International Journal of Sport Management, Recreation & Tourism.


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Barriers and facilitators when hosting sporting events: Exploring the Canadian and Swiss sport event hosting policies

By N. Romoff

In the Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, Leopkey, Mutter, and Parent (2010) offer a broad comparative analysis between Canada and Switzerland, and their varying approaches to hosting sporting events. While the article does not formulate a conclusion, it does offer valuable insight into the stark differences between the two nations.

The analysis is undertaken both horizontally (within the country), and vertically (transnationally). It outlines event-hosting policies (or lack thereof) at the national level, along with funding issues, and operations at the municipal level.

Canada has quite rigid policies in place, and by doing so, has begun the fostering of accompanying legislation. The policies act as a checks-and-balances system, enforcing the adherence to certain guidelines to maintain the desired level of excellence hosting sporting events. Canada too holds much pride hosting sporting events of all levels, as seen with the wide variety of events hosted throughout the country, culminating in a very successful Vancouver Olympics in 2010. With said policy-based rigidity, comes the freedom of having no discernable budget. This system is flipped entirely by the Swiss.

Conversely, Switzerland does not hold any legislation or national policies when it comes to event hosting as a whole. They then, have the opportunity to operate freely, and host as they see fit (within their set parameters of mega-events of course). The Swiss feel compelled to host said mega-events, as they pride themselves on doing so; this can be seen by way of the self-titled “Olympic City” of Lausanne. Their lack of official policies however, see the seemingly requisite structure and feedback through their rigid budget. An allotment is given towards events, and when said allotment is consumed, one must reapply for more funds. This ultimately replaces policies, limits, and quotas seen in Canada.

Overall, the Canadian and Swiss approaches to sporting-event hosting vary greatly, however they both hold themselves accountable by way of checks and balances. Whether it is in Canada where said feedback is embedded within the process by way of policies, or in Switzerland where it is done through funding, both offer enough accountability to avoid instances of disastrous event-hosting seen elsewhere.

Reference:

B. Leopkey, O. Mutter & M.M. Parent (2010): Barriers and facilitators when hosting sporting events: exploring the Canadian and Swiss sport event hosting policies, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 2:2, 113-134

The following is a short poem outlining an interpretive analysis, with accompanying discussion topics, and subsequent interesting questions raised:

Winter, summer, spring, fall,

There is no break in the year for sports,

Some care to host, some not at all,

Just please ignore the feasibility reports.

 

Is it policy or quotas that drive success,

Canada and Swiss must be compared,

Mindset; whenever possible, create a mess,

Bidding process inherently impaired.

 

Transcending level, all be welcome,

Canada hosts with open arms,

No Budget, but legislation in place,

Fostering excellence, turn minor sports into farms.

 

An event one can’t miss, hosted by the Swiss,

The home of the torch , Olympic Village by name,

Reapply for more funds, on our soil they’ll run,

Can we exist without it, or is it our claim to fame.

 

Feedback must be constant, there is no doubt,

Should it be ongoing, or embedded for clout,

The swiss do the former, the latter the ‘nuck,

Must we remember, some always run it amok.

 

Are there answers? Does anyone know?

The fact remains that dollar figures continue to grow.

Man is golf; drawn to the green at all costs. Hope lies in those not keeping score.

Insert instructions for perfect event-hosting paradigm here


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Mediated Nostalgia, Community and Nation: The CFL in Crisis and the Demise of the Ottawa Roughriders

This article by Nauright and White (2002) examines the position of the Canadian Football League (CFL) in Canada in the 1990’s, the popular media discourses surrounding the CFL and a nostalgic view of an idealized Canada, and the crisis of Canadian Identity as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) saw North America more integrated than ever. The 90’s were a troubling time for Canadian Identity as a number of issues arose throughout the decade. The long-term relationship between Canada and Quebec was unknown and many believed that secession was inevitable. The case could then be made that the rest of Canada would then be broken up, as the Maritime Provinces would then be separated from the rest of Canada. This alone put Canadian Identity into question-if Canada was not a nation from east to west than what was Canada?

Another blow was dealt to Canadian Identity as the continued southern expansion of the National Hockey League (NHL) saw 11 franchises join the NHL: San Jose, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Anaheim, Florida, Dallas, Phoenix, Colorado, Carolina, Nashville, and Atlanta. Only one of which was in a Canadian market and in the case of Phoenix and Colorado two Canadian franchises were sent south (Winnipeg and Quebec respectively). Hockey has been at the core of Canadian Identity for the greater part of the century and seemingly losing Hockey to the United States was very troublesome for Canada.

The CFL followed the lead of the NHL and began expanding south as Baltimore, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Shreveport, Memphis, Birmingham joined the CFL. The CFL commissioner had even gone as far as saying that “the league’s future was not in Canada, but through expansion in the United States”. Several of the Canadian CFL franchises were in financial trouble so it could have been argued that this was a wise move. However the American CFL franchises were even more troubled than the Canadian franchises, many of the teams only playing one season. One team that did have success were the Baltimore Stallions as they reached the Grey Cup in 1994 losing to the BC Lions, then made it back in 1995 defeating the Calgary Stampeders to become the first non-Canadian team to win the Grey Cup. The success of the Stallions caused a lot of insecurity among CFL fans in Canada. The CFL had always been a place where American influence was minimized, but now that the Grey Cup was in American territory that may come to an end. The Stallions were shortly after disbanded because of NFL relocation that sent the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore and renamed them the Ravens.

This then brings up the notion of nostalgia and how it is used within the sports media context. There is such a rich history of sport in Canada which can make it very easy to capitalize on consumer’s feelings and emotions. During the financially troubled 90’s most of the CFL teams leaned on nostalgia to keep the doors open. While the Roughriders were in crisis the media discussed the relation to the “glory days” of the franchise in the late 60’s and 70’s. What was always ignored was the earlier years of the team when they nearly had to shut-down operations. Nostalgia is still used today when sports franchises are in trouble or have not had much success. Particularly the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs have such a deep history that reliving the past becomes almost a weekly occurrence (especially when they are struggling on the ice). Nostalgia is so powerful because it takes away the pain of the present and allows us to remember the good aspects of the past without worrying about the troubles of the time.

Fast-forward 20 years and the CFL may be stronger than ever with a recent re-branding taking place. The NHL has continued to expand south, but Canada was able to regain the Winnipeg Jets and could have another franchise in Quebec or the Greater Toronto Area in the foreseeable future. To close I would like to leave you with the most difficult and thought provoking question that was raised in this paper: “what makes Canada Canadian?”

References:

Nauright, J., & White, P. (2002). Mediated Nostalgia, Community and Nation: The CFL in Crisis and the Demise of the Ottawa Roughriders. Sport History Review, 33, 121-137.

Additional articles:

http://www.cfhof.ca/grey-cup-winners/

https://www.nhl.com/news/nhl-expansion-history/c-281005106


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How can Fifa be held accountable?

By: S. Mayers

Roger Pielke Jr. (2013) examines the current state of FIFA and how they can move forward in spite of the numerous corruption charges thrown their way. The main question posed in the article – which also happens to be the title – is “how can FIFA be held accountable?” As Pielke concludes, the answer to this question is not cut and dry. FIFA has a large responsibility as they are the governing body for international soccer. Soccer is arguably the world’s most popular sport so a large percentage of the global population is keeping tabs on FIFA and their actions.

The primary time period examined in this article is the year of 2011 and subsequent years. In 2011, FIFA was facing numerous corruption charges in regards to the selection process of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar respectively. Looking at it from a personal perspective, the decision to grant the World Cup hosting privileges to Qatar was an eye opener and made me realize that there might be a lot of corruption and dirty money being exchanged behind the scenes when these types of decisions are made.

As a fan of sport growing up, there is a certain amount of naivety and obliviousness that goes with following your favourite teams and leagues. It is easy to watch and read about these institutions with rose coloured glasses as an eight year old and not realize all the problems that might be occurring behind the scenes. As I grew older, I realized that even the most prominent sporting organizations in the world are not prone to corruption/criminal activity.

While becoming privy to this does not tarnish my image of sports as a whole, it makes me see things in a different perspective. Certain elements of sport must be taken with a grain of salt – money is the biggest factor for governing leagues and individual teams. With the globalization and the innovations in technology, sport has more opportunity than ever to grow their game and generate extreme amounts of profit.

Unfortunately, some of these adaptations may affect the product on the field, ice, or court. For instance, FIFA choosing to have the 2022 World Cup in Qatar raises several issues that could negatively influence the product on the field. Firstly, Qatar is not a traditional soccer market and this could detract from the overall experience. There may be a lack of diehard local soccer fans due to the fact that Qatar does not have a top national team. Also, the ease of travel to Qatar is not ideal and it might be difficult for fans interested in seeing the World Cup to feasibly plan a trip there. Secondly, there have been several allegations of extremely poor working conditions in the construction of the necessary stadiums for the event. I will attach a few articles to the end of this blog post which will explain the problems that have been occurring in preparation for this event. Lastly, the date of the World Cup will not be in the traditional summertime time slot. The World Cup is a legacy event which has always been known to be played in the summer months. Due to the severity of Qatar’s summer temperatures, FIFA has been forced to move the event to the winter months to ensure that the safety of the players and the fans is considered. While this is an intelligent move, it may detract from the actual event as it may be slightly more difficult to get fans engaged in January as opposed to June. It will be interesting to see how this disparity plays out. All of these potential flaws in Qatar’s World Cup bid highlight FIFA’s issues. The fact that a World Cup is being hosted by Qatar leaves a sour taste in my mouth and makes me think that something is amiss. I’m hoping that Qatar can prove me wrong and put on a great event – it will certainly be interesting to see!

Throughout the article, there were several questions that started to materialize in my mind and I wanted to propose them in this post. Some of my primary questions were:

  • Does FIFA’s abundance of corruption scandals makes it harder to be a fan of soccer?
  • Will people consider not watching the World Cup or other FIFA events due to their various scandals? Does this detract from the product?
  • At one point Pielke mentions that fans are way more concerned with the actual game and don’t really care about the inner-workings of the organization and its shady business. Do you believe that this is true?
  • Do you think FIFA should have an alternative method in selecting sites for the World Cup? Are there truly any other viable options that can mitigate the corruption and bribery?
  • Do you think that the alternative suggested by Pielke as his final point of FIFA reforming through the attrition of generational change in leadership and perspective is realistic or reasonable?

Hypothetically, how much do you think an entire new leadership group could change the culture of seediness that FIFA has created? Can cleaning house and putting together a whole new group help FIFA restore its image?

While some of these questions are broad in nature, I think they are interesting to consider and discuss. FIFA’s new president, Gianni Infantino, has a lot of work ahead of him to restore FIFA’s reputation and make them accountable. I’m intrigued to see FIFA’s trajectory over the course of the next few years and how the next few World Cups go.

Reference:

Pielke, R., Jr. (2013). How can FIFA be held accountable? Sport Management Review, 16, 255-267.

Additional articles:

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33019838

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/sep/27/thousands-qatar-world-cup-workers-life-threatening-heat

http://www.businessinsider.com/qatar-world-cup-problems-2014-4