Recreation and Sport Studies

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


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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


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Inventing Team Tradition: A Conceptual Model for the Strategic Development of Fan Nations

By: K. Ready

Foster & Hyatt (2008) focus on the fandom, examining what drives a fan to like a team, and how important fans are for sports teams.

An integral question posed in the article is: “How can a professional sport manager build a fan base of loyal, non-local fans?”. Three ways to analyze this question are:

1) How does one build a “Fan Nation”

2) How Tradition is embedded into a Fan Nation

3) One must understand their fans, and the psychology behind

Within the article, Foster and Hyatt attempt break down exactly what a constitutes a: Fan Nation. They explore the idea of fandom as a sense of belonging. Is someone a fan because they lack inclusion in their lifestyle therefore? Do they become a fan for the  purpose of feeling a sense of belonging to a certain group or crowd? Or does being a fan provide a chance to break free from the problems currently going on in the world? Further, sociologist R. Neelly Bellah stated in the article that he thought fan nations hinder society because they divide society into smaller more segmented groups or “cliques”.

Foster and Hyatt go on to explain that in order to build a Fan Nation, sport managers must understand what a fan base consists of. They argue that there are 5 potential members of a Fan Nation:

1) The Unaware Potential Fan – Completely unaware the team even exists

2) Somewhat Aware Potential Fan – Are aware of the team, but do not care for the team

3) Memorabilia Fan – This fan buys the memorabilia but does not care whether the team succeeds or fails

4) Attracted Fan – These fans follow the team, but do not have enough feelings to consider themselves a strong fan

5) Allegiant Fan – These are the fans that follow a team’s every move, and will defend the team no matter what is going on. These are also known as “Die-Hard Fans”

]Foster and Hyatt further propose that tradition must be embedded within a team for a fan nation to exist. They use the example of the Edmonton Oilers, where their third jersey is not only a representation of the current team, but also the history of the team. They identify this as a key point toward attracting fans from outside the city of the team (in this case, outside of Edmonton).

Further questions raised:

1) If you were to be appointed a GM of a professional sports team, how would you plan to grow your fan base?

2) Fan bases in popular culture can depend on so many things, such as culture, team location, players, jersey colors, etc. What do you think is the most important factor in building a fanbase?


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Not playing around: Global capitalism, modern sport and consumer culture

By: P. Lunga

Smart (2007) raise a number of interesting issues relevant for students in sport and recreation management. In KIN 6300, we have discussed a number of social theories in addressing this complex and dynamic paradigm. There is no universal theory of sport and recreation, highlighted by the reality that it is a societal phenomena with increasingly fluid cultural, political or religious boundaries. As society tries to grapple with its intricacies, it has created a platform for capitalist forces to package and commodify it through various media platforms and sports bodies to serve the interest of the few, at the expense of the masses. This phenomena started to take shape late in the 19th century and since then there has been various schools of thought that sought to address this including theories from Karl Marx, Max Weber and Pierre Bourdieu. Despite variations in theories discussed in class, there has been one common element to date — the issue of capitalism and its impact on society — in this case sport. As scholars in this field, it is intriguing how we can evaluate the various social theories available and make decisions that would help us contribute positively to sport within the parameters of a capitalist system.

Ref:

Smart, B. (2007). Not playing around: Global capitalism, modern sport and consumer culture. Global Networks, 7(2), 113-134.


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Where really is my money going? An investigative look at the cost of cable.

 

greed

In the article, “Made about the cost of TV? Blame Sports” written by Derek Thompson in 2013, delves into to an issue affecting those whom are paying for cable television programming. The Journal article takes a comical spin in an effort to inform the audience that the reason behind paying for the high cost of cable, is largely due to the fact that sports programs and companies are to be blamed. Thompson further elaborates this statement by bringing out the logistics of the matter. Essentially, if the average bill costs 80-90 dollars the payer will pay for the programming and the distribution of television.  Channels then collect affiliate fees, and the most in-demand channels tend to negotiate the highest fees. Oddly enough, ESPN collects a one of the highest monthly cost at $5.13 as seen from a graph from the LA Times. MTV charges $0.39 for contrasting purposes.

Thompson goes on to state that the rational for this high affiliation process for sport is so high because of the values sports have and bring. The biggest draw, or rather sport for this charging process, is the NFL. In 2002, NFL games averaged about 15 million viewers and broadcast prime time shows averaged 10 million. NFL also accounts for 30 percent of advertising and 36 percent of sports rights in 2012. Thompson then goes on to say, that if the average cable bill per month, $76 dollars a year essentially goes straight onto the NFL. So even if a viewer doesn’t watch sports, you are still paying for others who do in an annual subsidy. Thompson also reminds us that 28 percent of Disney’s earnings and 23 percent of News Corps cable earnings come from sport channels (ABC and FX). Thompson ends the piece by informing that sports keeps the cable bundle together, and the bundles are powering the media companies through TV entertainment.

Here is a quick summary video about the power monopolies have over television: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-hBd3SPrtg

The article brings about some interesting undertones that don’t really appear at first glance.  It is evident of the power that media has over distribution of information as seen from this article, but it also informs the reader that this bias formulates perceptions of the viewer. Basically, whomever has the highest dollar gets their name out there the most. This presents a double-edged sword for the Sport, Recreation, and Leisure fields as the sporting world gets recognition to reach millions of people, but on the other hand whose interests are actually benefiting. Given that the NFL and other popular organizations occupy most time, it becomes nearly impossible for other organizations to get an adequate piece of the pie.  Consider the broadcasting of the CFL and the NFL. .Because viewership does not come nowhere next to the NFL’s, the league and players make significantly less (Even in the case of the NLL). This article goes to show that a pseudo sovereignty exists in the cable world, where we may have access to huge volumes of channels but the bulk of our bill is filled up for sports and only a few limited are broadcasted or what is deemed as “high viewership.” One might say that in the era of infinite television channels, realistically we are offered and evidently paying for cable as we lived back in the three-channel era.

The relevance to sport and kinesiology is the effect of media and distributing professional sports to the world. From here, we can speculate the effects of what shows are being broadcasted and how many non-elite play the sport. It also speaks to the effect of capitalistic mentalities in the shaping of perceptions on what sport or activity constitutes. Whose interests are really being looked at if each person is forced to spend so much on sports per year in the cable bill!

Reference:

Thompson, D. (2013). Mad About the Cost of TV? Blame SportsThe Atlantic. Retrieved 3 October 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/mad-about-the-cost-of-tv-blame-sports/274575/


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Concussed: Is it Ethical to Continue to allow our Youth to Play Football?

Concussion, the recently released movie starring Will Smith, was a hit in theatres, however it also served to bring light to the NFL’s “dirty little secret”. Increasingly overwhelming evidence  shows that if you play the game of football long enough, you are increasingly likely to suffer from long-term brain injuries. Recently, disturbing evidence came to light:

“A study that will be presented at next week’s American Academy of Neurology (AAN) meeting offers one of the most conclusive pieces of evidence yet of a definitive link between brain injury and playing football.

It shows that “more than 40 percent of retired National Football League players … had signs of traumatic brain injury based on sensitive MRI scans called diffusion tensor imaging,” according to a press release from the AAN.” (Washington Post 2016)

Junior Seau, Adrian Robinson and Dave Duerson ended their own lives. Javon Belcher killed his girlfriend and then himself. Jim McMahon sometimes forgets his name. All showed signs of CTE (a form of brain damage). These are only a few of the known sufferers in a long line of former NFL players suffering from head trauma, and there is likely unfortunately many more who will come to light. Some, unfortunately, will likely be in the form of tragedy.imrs

These sobering cases raise ethical and moral questions regarding the sport of football. We in North America are obsessed with football: whether it be watching the NFL, playing fantasy football,  or playing/watching high school or college football. It is a point of local pride to play high school football and the dream of many young football players to play at the college level. This dream becomes the obsession of many in the pursuit of playing professionally. However we need to question the morality of encouraging our youth to partake in a sport where there is almost guaranteed chance of injury and significant change of long-term brain damage.

Speaking from playing high school and CIS football, there is nothing quite like it. I’ve played baseball and hockey at fairly high levels and had the opportunity to play in front of large crowds and in some incredible venues and locations (The MetroDome in Minnesota, The stadium used in “A League of their Own” in Indiana, The Rogers Centre in Toronto, played one game for the Canadian Junior National Baseball Team in front of 1000 people in my hometown). However, there just isn’t anything quite like running out under the lights on a Friday night and playing football in front of hundreds or thousands of people. The adrenaline rush is unparralelled. So i can understand why parents and coaches want youth to experience the game of football, it has taught me some incredible life lessons and provided me with countless memories.

However, I also know that i’ve been concussed at least 3 times from helmet to helmet contact playing football, probably more. I’ve separated my shoulder three times, dislocated it twice and  had surgery to repair a torn labrum and it still aches every day. I tore every ligament and the cartilage in my ankle which required major surgery and now clicks when i walk. Some of my fingers are crooked and i have countless scars. I’ve watched my brother, a gifted linebacker who was being heavily recruited to play university football, tear the same ACL and MCL twice in his right knee. I’m not sure of the long-term effects that these injuries will have on me as time progresses, but I view the injuries as a blessing in disguise, forcing me out of the sport before more serious damage was done. Yes football is an incredible sport that can serve to provide structure and an outlet for youth, but at what cost? When do we draw the line as more and more research showing the negative effects of the sport come to light?

I truly believe we need to question whether, given its current state, it is ethical to encourage youth to play football and provide it in our schools. However, as long as the NFL and NCAA football exists and continues to thrive, market forces will continue to push children into playing football. So perhaps the real issue is the commercialization of sport, which provides ever increasing monetary incentives for youth to “chase the carrot” so to speak. Perhaps the issue is more socio-economic, maybe bridging the ever increasing gaps in social classes would reduce the need of impoverished young athletes to relentlessly chase the dream of playing professionally.Maybe we need to consider how we play football, the increasing size and speed of the athletes is making it harder and harder to avoid devastating collisions. Medical research, according to the Washington Post (2016), suggests that the repeated collisions involved in football drastically increase the probability of long-term brain damage. Yet local communities glorify their high school football players and college and professional players are idolized.

None of these solutions are clear cut, nor are they intended to be. This blog is to serve to start the discussion on whether or not allowing our youth to play football is morally right. The recent, very public issue of CTE and its relation to the NFL is an encouraging start, as the beginning of any effective change almost always starts with dialogue, which this has facilitated. This has resulted in an increased focus on player safety, which is encouraging. But until the game itself changes, it doesn’t seem likely that these issues will cease, and as more data becomes available, the severity of these issues will only increase.

References

Andrews, T. (2016, April 12). 40 Percent of NFL Players suffer from Brain Injuries, New Study Shows. Washington Post. Retrieved November 1, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/04/12/40-percent-of-former-nfl-players-suffer-from-brain-damage-new-study-shows/