Recreation and Sport Studies

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


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American Football and Politics

This article written by Vann R. Newkirk II explores a hot button topic in today’s sporting climate which I find extremely fascinating. The central theme of the piece is in regards to how football is the most popular sport in the United States and is seen as a platform for common ground between sports and politics in American society. Interestingly enough, the author feels as though the perceived image of the peaceful divide between football and politics is a farce and has been exposed by recent events such as the Colin Kaepernick protest and the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election to office.

As football has become a fully integrated sport with a large percentage of African American athletes, the one compromise was that the sport itself would not extend into politics. Sports can be seen as an escape from the issues on the outside and any type of connection to political issues in particular can affect the product on the field or the enjoyment one gets from it. In a nutshell, sport has become much more commercialized than it once was and this almost makes it a necessity to separate it completely from any form of politics. Moreover, “the popular appeal of sport increased significantly during the course of the twentieth century (and)…its closer links with the corporate world over this period transformed the institution of sport” (Smart, 2007). Furthermore, from some people’s perspective, “sport is seen to be nothing more than just another generic business enterprise subject to the usual government regulations, market pressures and customer demands” (Smith & Stewart, 2010). There is a lot of money at stake when it comes to the NFL and its primary stakeholders will go to great lengths to ensure that controversy is mitigated as much as possible. One of the most interesting points brought up within the article is how football has replaced religion as the most popular social activity in the American South. In a sense, “southern sports teams embrace the notion that attendance and participation by competitors and fans alike have made the activity, especially collegiate football, the new locus of religion passion” (Lewis, 2013). As total attention has shifted to the sport, every small issue within its ecosystem begins to become more and more magnified. Football is so much more than just the product on the field these days – it is something that completely consumes American life. There is a constant news cycle that comes with the NFL as there are major stories and developments every day of the year essentially. The amount of reverence the league has because of its constant action and developing issues is astounding. The divide between football and politics which had lasted for so long was so stark. The seemingly inconspicuous act of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the Star-Spangled Banner sent ripples through not only the NFL, but American society in general because of the established separation between football and politics. The election of Donald Trump further compounded the growing unrest as Trump chose to call out Kaepernick and anyone else who chose to support his cause and join the protest. At the end of the day, the NFL has so much power within American culture and over time, they should be able to sweep the issue of political unrest creeping into the sport under the rug.  However, Kaepernick’s actions helped reveal a side of the NFL that we were not privy to before. Several players chose to use their platform as an opportunity to speak out and drive potential change within society. In my humble opinion, any player who chooses to break the norms and make a stand is extremely brave and deserve respect. It takes courage to stand in the face of criticism and fight for what you believe in.

From a personal perspective, the aftermath of the NFL political drama was very surprising to me and made me critically evaluate why people support the NFL and its member teams. As an ardent fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team located in the deep South, I was able to witness firsthand a large contingent of fans who were extremely upset with the team after anthem protests in Week 3’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. During the national anthem before the game, a substantial portion of Jaguars players took a knee during the anthem while most of the other players stood and locked arms. Additionally, the team’s owner Shad Khan, chose to be on the sideline and lock arms with the players as well in an act of solidarity. I was moved by this action and thought it was really empowering. Khan, originally from Pakistan, was a known supporter of Donald Trump during his campaign and donated a substantial amount of money to his campaign. For him to stand in the face of Trump and admit that his stance on the political debate was not just was a major step for social justice in my view. However, as a result of the team’s protest, a plethora of fans and supporters of the team vocally expressed displeasure of the incidents that occurred before the game. I witnessed several accounts of people posting on the team’s Facebook or Twitter accounts proclaiming that they were surrendering their season tickets and not following the team until they apologize for their actions. Furthermore, even Jacksonville’s mayor Lenny Curry said “I stand and cover my heart for the pledge and anthem…I think it’s stupid to do otherwise” (DiRocco, 2017). I was surprised by this backlash and did not realize the amount of people that were so against these peaceful protests.

While I do understand that political issues within the realm of the NFL are a very controversial topic, I personally feel as though the players have the right to express themselves however way they wish to. Consequently, it was a shock to the system to see so many Jaguars fans making such strong claims following the team’s protest. This entire event made me re-think about the essence of sport and the reasons behind people’s support for players or teams. The motivation behind fan support varies a great deal and some people can be swayed by certain actions. In this case, the political protests disrupted the core values of some fans and forced them to re-evaluate their allegiances. While I cannot relate to these feelings, I do understand their perspective in a sense. Fandom can be fickle – especially when politics enter the framework.

Discussion Questions to Consider:

  • If political protests continue to persist during NFL games, will the league become less popular in the realm of American sports?
  • What can be done by NFL owners and other stakeholders (sponsors, community partners, etc.) to mitigate the outside pressure while keeping players happy at the same time?
  • Is there a particular reason why political protests have not occurred as frequently in NCAA Football as they have in the NFL? Does average age of athlete play a factor?
  • Is Colin Kaepernick not an NFL roster today because of his lack of ability or because of the perceived distractions or issues owners/general managers feel he would bring to a team?
  • What steps can NFL owners take to find common ground with the players and eliminate the need for unrest between the two parties?

References

DiRocco, M. (2017, September 26). Jacksonville mayor: Players’ decision to kneel for anthem ‘stupid’. Retrieved October 31, 2017, from http://www.espn.com/blog/jacksonville-jaguars/post/_/id/22695/jacksonville-mayor-players-decision-to-kneel-for-anthem-stupid

Lewis, T. T. (2013). Religious rhetoric in southern college football: New uses for religious metaphors. Southern Communication Journal, 78(3), 202-214.

Smart, B. (2007). Not playing around: global capitalism, modern sport and consumer culture. The Author(s) Jorunal, 7(2), 113-134.

Smith, A. C., & Stewart, B. (2010). The special features of sport: A critical revisit. Sport Management Review, 13(1), 1-13.

Accompanying content:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXTTnkmgS1A – Example of Jaguars fan(s) speaking out following the protests in London

https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/jacksonville/anthem-protest-divides-jacksonville-jaguars-fans – Further examples of Jaguars fans actions and thoughts following the team’s protest


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“Professional” Sports – Inside Junior Hockey

Part 1: Summary

Sam Berg, while not bound for stardom being a 14th round pick in the OHL, had professional aspirations in the game he loved. His unbridled enthusiasm was evident, as he “jumped off the wall” (Cibola, 2015) when he received the phone call alerting him that he was drafted. There was nothing stopping him from having every opportunity to achieve his dream; that is, until he did not make the OHL and a shoulder injury derailed his career altogether.

Berg however, had academic aspirations as well. He had signed a contract with McMaster University, allotting a full scholarship for Berg to play on the hockey team. To Berg’s dismay, said contract was not upheld by the OHL; they had not even signed it. Outraged, Berg turned to class-action lawyer Ted Charney, who convinced the teenager that there was more at stake. Together, they launched a class-action lawsuit against the Canadian Hockey League.

The class-action lawsuit has since gained traction; the group of former players demand minimum wage, holiday pay, and basic Canadian employee rights. This however, like any social-movement, is accompanied by scorn, criticism, and outrage from the public. As the status-quo begun to be challenged, Berg received the brunt of it all (including from his grandfather). He has undertaken a cause that he believes to be just, and while it may “ruin” the Canadian junior hockey system, it is well within his rights as a Canadian citizen to do so.

Now, years later, Berg has no ties to the game he once loved (other than the impending lawsuit). He has cleared his room of all memories, stopped following the sport at the professional level, and speaks cynically when addressing hockey altogether. The issue is quite prevalent, as many will be affected by the outcome of Berg’s class-action case. Its reach extends far beyond junior hockey players, and into the communities in which they play, and those living in said communities. Changing junior hockey changes Canada.

 

Part 2: Critical Analysis

            Junior hockey is widely seen as “hockey in its purest, most sacred form” (Cibola, 2015). It connects Medicine Hat to Chicoutimi, transcends culture, race, religion, and unifies the country by cheering for teenagers who are attempting to pursue their dreams. Fans buy tickets, jerseys, and merchandise, ultimately sustaining these small-market teams, so much so, that these players are afforded the opportunity to play the game they love. Junior hockey however, has been touted as being the junior league most likened to the NHL in the world; it prides itself on its professional makeup. These professional aspirations transcend all levels of the league; the general managers have professional aspirations, as do the coaches, players, and even the mascots! These aspirations are what drive the negative experience that Berg outlines in his case against the CHL. Junior hockey is caught somewhere between a unifying community organization and a professional hockey league. Despite its shortcomings, much like my position on professional sports in general, has the opportunity to offer great things to a plethora of people. The given negatives in large part fueled by capitalistic aspirations, can be eclipsed by the many positives. The CHL is lesser of all evils in “professional” sports.

Junior hockey, despite offering quite a bit to their surround communities, do not necessarily appease Foster and Hyatt’s “fan nation paradigm” (2008); the fickleness of the leagues truly impedes their ability to do so. Despite seeing pictures of Brad Richards and Sidney Crosby within the halls of the Colisee de Rimouski, it is posited by Mason, Duquette, and Scherer that the actual arena is not seen as a part of the heritage or nostalgia; it is in fact the act of attending the game and watching the stars on the ice that satisfy that criteria (2006). Despite the limitations junior hockey has in relation to fandom, it still does benefit the communities at large; many do so without turning a profit.

As cited in the article, only one third of CHL teams earn a profit, while one third break even, and one third run deficits. Despite professional aspirations within said organizations, there are philanthropic agendas amongst the owners of many of these franchises. Many owners purchase and operate their respective teams in the interest of the city they love. Hundreds are employed, tourism (albeit minor), is brought to the cities, and players are given the opportunity to achieve their dreams, while all being qualified to subsidized (or free) post-secondary education upon completion of their junior careers. Those however, are not the only benefits players receive.

In addition to an education, players receive weekly allowances. Typically, they fare $60/week, but this is simply spending money. Billets offer their homes (and fridges) to these athletes, housing and feeding them throughout the season. On the road, meals are paid for by the team. Equipment is purchased by the team, apparel, and on many occasions, formalwear needed to wear to games. There are virtually no vital expenses for a junior hockey player. Aggregated, this amasses to thousands of dollars every year in informal payments. While Berg argues that “labor in sports is not different than labor in general”, he is right. However, for the parallel to be made in labor, so too must it be made in compensation. Free accommodation is not the standard in other industries, and while expenses covered on the road (business trips) and equipment necessary to perform one’s job is expected, there are still many other expenses to account for. According to Stats Canada, in 2015, a household of one spends roughly $35,816 every year on average; this includes rent, food, education, and other expenses (Stats Canada, 2015). Conversely, minimum wage throughout the country averages at roughly $11.00/hour (Stats Canada, 2017). If the CHL was equated to full time pay (7 days/week, 10 months/year), it would amass to $26,000/year. That would not cover expenses. One must ask, would life truly be better for junior hockey players if they were to be paid? The analysis however, does not halt at comparing revenues and expenses, as it too becomes a social issue.

Berg’s case is fight for rights and freedoms guaranteed by Canadian legislation. He, along with his like-minded peers, are fighting for equality, equity, and justice for junior hockey players as a whole. They are seemingly frustrated with the capitalistic regime that concentrates profits to a select few. The question is, what if there are no profits?

A minimum wage in the CHL would absolutely foster the closure of many CHL teams. At the bare minimum, two thirds of the league would be running immense deficits, as they do not effectively pay billet families, and would now incur the entirety of the added cost of salaries. Teams would fold, regardless of revenue sharing. This would be detrimental to Berg’s cause. Many of his peers (himself included as a former replacement level player), would have been/would be out of “work”. The most socialist of ideas likened to Guilianotti’s Marxist approach, has capitalistic consequences. Only the best couple of hundred players will be employed when all is said and done. That is of course, if the sparsity of the teams throughout the country and the increased travel times from Kelowna to London would not put the surviving clubs in the red, ultimately folding the CHL altogether. If Giulianotti describes sport as an “ideological tool to misleading the masses to sustain bourgeois control”, then the CHL hardly constitutes as sport (Guilianotti, 2005). The vast majority of owners have no financial interest, and the masses are the ones benefitting at large.  There will be nowhere to play hockey, and no subsidized education (while playing junior and afterwards). This all however, does not make light of the rigorous conditions these teenagers are put through.

Early practices, late nights, long road trips, and little free time is the norm in junior hockey. In a study published by the University of Guelph, roughly one third of junior hockey players lose more than 1% of body mass after a tough practice (Palmer & Spriet, 2008). Moreover, in another study conducted within the BCHL (a junior league similar to the CHL), 379 concussions were reported within a two-year span; 90% of said concussions occurred within a game (Goodman et al., 2000). Conditions can often be quite grueling, there is no denial of that fact. It is not an easy life, however, as previously detailed, the informal compensation is substantial. Many posit that these hockey players cannot choose where they play (Cibola, 2015), however, that only holds true within the confines of the CHL. Every year, hundreds of drafted players forego the life offered by the CHL to pursue other junior leagues and NCAA aspirations. The CHL “drafts”, often likened to those for war, do not bind one to play for one specific club, simply one club within the league. The choice is also the players’ to not play at all; they can pursue scholarly pursuits, attend their local university at cost, and live very normal lives. Junior hockey is in fact a choice, and an ongoing one at that.

The fact remains that the CHL is not perfect, nor will it ever be. It is however, the lesser of all evils in “professional” sports. Revenues are passed onto local communities, and the players are afforded opportunities that otherwise would have not been made available to them. There are issues of overworking teenagers, however, it is in pursuit of a dream and large paychecks. Despite the minimal chance of ever reaching the NHL, (nearly) all players are given the opportunity to attend Canadian university upon completion of their time in the league.

Many questions are still to be asked, as much of this area is in fact grey.

  • Can conditions get better for junior hockey players?
  • Is the hockey community as a whole better without junior hockey?
  • Can a “youth team” system, as seen in European soccer, be a better alternative to junior hockey?
  • Are junior hockey players employees?
  • Does any amount of “goodwill” counteract the negative impact junior hockey has on certain players’ lives?
  • Is junior hockey a professional sporting league?

The Following is a pair of comic strips outlining the juxtaposed positions of both sides. While the players maintain that they are at the whim of the their CHL franchises and therefore demand compensation, the CHL argues that one cannot get blood from the proverbial stone. There are simply not enough profits to be shared.

References

Canada, G. O. (2017, January 27). Average household expenditures, by household type (One-person household). Retrieved October 31, 2017.

Conrad, M. (2015, May 20). Hockey/Nashville Predators/Smashville. Retrieved October 31, 2017.

Current And Forthcoming Minimum Hourly Wage Rates For Experienced Adult Workers in Canada. (2016, December 06). Retrieved October 31, 2017.

Foster, W. M., & Hyatt, C. G. (2008). Inventing Team Tradition: a Conceptual Model for the Strategic Development of Fan Nations. European Sport Management Quarterly,8(3), 265-287.

Giulianotti, R. (2005). Sport: a critical sociology. Cambridge: Polity.

Goodman, D., Gaetz, M., & Meichenbaum, D. (2001). Concussions in hockey: there is cause for concern. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise,33(12), 2004-2009.

Hune-Brown, N., Tetlock and Dan Gardner, P. E., Gillmor, D., & Fontana, K. (2015, November 20). Hockey’s Puppy Mill.

Mason, D. S., Duquette, G. H., & Scherer, J. (2005). Heritage, sport tourism and Canadian junior hockey: nostalgia for social experience or sport place? Journal of Sport & Tourism,10(4), 253-271.

Mayes, M. (2015, September 14). Malcolm Mayes cartoons for May 2015. Retrieved October 31, 2017.

Palmer, M., & Spriet, J. (2008, January 16). Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.

 

 

 


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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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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.