Recreation and Sport Studies

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


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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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Constructing masculinized sportscapes: Skiing, gender and nature in BC

By. K. McIntosh

Picture a skier at the top of a mountain, all alone, surrounded by nothing but a sublime view. The skier, surrounded by trees and snow, contemplates the ideal line of descent down the tumultuous terrain. What gender did you associate with the skier?

The main takeaway from Stoddart’s (2013) article is that a combination of factors influence the gender bias however one that may not be evident is in the inscribed physical environment where these sports are performed. Of course, the more identifiable examples of gendered sportscapes are created by the media and exemplified within ski magazines, websites, and more. The demonstrated youthful, carefree, and riskiness in this media is associated (and marketed) towards a masculine audience.

It was also discussed in the article that skiers interviewed (both male and female) identified backcountry skiing as a male dominated activity. The women did not feel comfortable adventuring into the unknown without the guidance of an experienced male. However, it was noted that things are beginning to change and that women feel more empowered to get a group of women together and explore all that nature has to offer.

The feminist movement has aided in the appeal of pushing one’s boundaries and we are to recognize that this is not only limited to politics and workplace, but that it is also present in the recreational environment.

Reference:

Stoddart, M. J. C. (2013). Constructing masculinized sportscapes: Skiing, gender and nature in British Columbia, Canada. International Review for the Sociology of Sport. 46(1), 108-124.


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Ruihley & Billings (2012) address men’s and women’s motivation and consumption behaviors in fantasy sport

B. K. Sun

What is Fantasy Sport? It is an networked activity differ from traditional off-line sport activity(eg, watching sport in TV), allowing participants to choose players from a given league and form their own team. It is highly interacted and user-friendly. “A fantasy team’s future successes are then based on how individual players perform in real games across many teams in a given league…” Ruihley & Billings (2012).

As society’s trends develop, fantasy sport follows, displaying its patterns to not only male players, but also female participants. Without further considering family bonding, maintain relationship, and building ties with A, B, and C, women can simply choose to play or not play on the basis of personal preference.

Indeed, for what I value the most is the principle of “Individual”. When comes to women’ sport involvement, layers of factors influence their choice. They value too many things over their truly desire as long as activities took place in a natural and real life setting. That’s what have been accepted as “common”. When Fantasy sport comes to play, however, things changed. As of choosing to play the game or not, women made their decision out of the seeking of real pleasure — like shopping consumption.

No matter how good their techniques are, they choose to play it, learn from it, and enjoy it. That’s to say, regardless of forms, fantasy sport provide women an access or outlet to pursue a pleasure.  According to the Fantasy Sports Trad Association, the number of women playing fantasy football in the United States and Canada more than doubled since 2007, reaching 8.3 million in 2014, while women now account for more than 20% of all fantasy football participants

Socialization and communication are things we born to pursuit, all the same for either male or female. With no doubt, it encourage people to participate fantasy sport, guiding them into the digital world of sport. But it is their “own” choice keep them going. As one female player said,“Fantasy is really the best tool to teach the sport because you learn the players, you learn the scoring, you’re invested every week, and by week three you’re a die-hard football fan.”

It is time for women to make a difference, and they are going to get it.

But there’s long way to go, as Melissa Jacobs, founder of The Football Girl.com, responds to the challenges she has faced being a woman in a male-dominated industry, she said, “…still having to prove yourself and your knowledge. I still have to, after all this time. You still have to prove yourself from an X’s and O’s standpoint (Giana, 2016).”

Questions raised:

  • What would the sports world looks like if it’s no longer a male-dominated field?
  • What else do we need to promote a gender-friendly sport environment?
  • will we see a trending upward in the digital world of sport?

Reference:

Ruihley, B. J. & Billings, A.C. (2012). Infiltrating the boys’ club: Motivations for women’s fantasy sport participation. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 48(4), 435-452.

 

 

 

 


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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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The role of municipal park and recreation agencies in enacting coach and parent training in a loosely coupled youth sport system

By: C. Dykstra

Barcelona & Young (2010) speak to the identified need for municipal parks and recreation departments to accept their role in offering, managing and enforcing sport parent and coaching education and training. Though municipalities offer or support sport programming to 38M children nation wide (resources, leadership, program support or facility infrastructure) there are no standards set or enforcement for facilitators of youth sports programs with regards to coach training or parent education. Voluntary youth sport organizations (VSOs) cater to fewer participants, though they are still reliant on municipal recreation agencies for support (facilities and programmatic support) with approximately 70% of VSO programming being delivered through various affiliations with municipal recreation agencies.

Both municipalities and VSOs have identified the need for coach and parent training/education, though it has been identified that they are unable to offer this support for various reasons (lack of resources to administer, track and enforce sport training, lack of qualified personnel to serve as trainers, lack of budget to finance training).

I felt that the article accurately portrayed gaps within service delivery from a municipal perspective, though the findings to me indicated that further research should be conducted to get at the qualitative perspective of these gaps. Through qualitative research, researchers may be able to better bridge the gap between delivery systems and allow for opportunity to build organizational capacity, volunteerism and more succinct hiring practices of both paid and volunteer staff.

Furthermore, future research could be conducted around process and policies regarding hiring practices or partnership development to mitigate the strain on resources both human and capital between both sport and recreation delivery systems.

Thus, this leads to question of who should be taking education and training responsibilities for coaches and parents, municipalities or VSOs.

Questions raised:

1) Who should be responsible for the training and education in question? Why?

2) It was noted within the article that poor sportsmanship among parents was a significant problem within sport programming among municipal agencies.

  • What would be your first step in rectifying this issue?
  • Who are the key players in these steps?
  • What are the budget allocations?
  • How are decisions made?

3) Good leadership of youth sport involves adults – adults who for the most part are well intentioned, but often untrained in making administrative decisions about community based sport programs and as such, appropriate training is needed. What approach would you take to ensure that coaches were qualified to do their job (either VSO or municipal perspective)?

  • Background checks, prior experience, coach education, expert volunteers
  • Train the trainer model
  • Share resources such as facilities for training (bartering)

Like the Sharpe (2006) article discussed by Ries, there is a dependency on volunteers (generally parents), but these VSOs have the human capital; just not the expertise à Expert volunteerism is needed

4) As researchers, athletes, coaches and participants, what impact do you feel that qualified coaching has/had on your personal sporting experiences? Based on the information presented today, do you still feel that your first choice is still appropriate?

Aside from my municipality and my current research project; here is a great example of other communities beginning to bridge this gap through partnership, sharing the role of training and education. Though this community is in Ireland, the process and implementation are very similar to a Canadian or American context. Enjoy!

Refs:

Barcelona, R.J. & Young, S.J. (2010). The role of municipal park and recreation agencies in enacting coach and parent training in a loosely coupled youth sport system. Managing Leisure, 15, 181-197.