This month the 22nd Winter Olympic Games began in Sochi, Russia. The spectacle of the event has captivated persons from around the world to tune into watch their favorite sport or favorite athletes. Russia spent over $50 billion to prepare for the Olympics by building hotels, roads, stadiums, and to bring in artificial snow into the Southern resort town. The Sochi Olympics are the first mega-sporting event to occur this year, but will likely be trumped by the upcoming World Cup in Brazil over the summer. Brazil’s price tag for hosting the World Cup is considerable less at around $9 billion dollars. Nonetheless, the cost of both of these events and the emphasis by the respective countries to show the world the capabilities of their nation reveal the increasing globalization of these world sporting events. The Olympics and the World Cup are two global sports spectacles that have considerable cultural and economic ramifications, and are a product of intense politicking to bring the events to one’s national home.
Football season is upon us, and there are plenty of reasons why this moment in big time football is very intriguing from a sociological perspective. More specifically, most of the major offseason storylines of both professional and collegiate football tell us much about the racial politics in big time football and the negotiations of race and sports in the media.
Update: Johnny Manziel makes the cover of Time Magazine.
Earlier this year, many retired football players and their families filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL. The complaint states that the NFL hid evidence of the dangers of the game, dangers like brain damage from repeat concussions and sub-concussive trauma. New research indicates that the repetitive beatings that football players experience over the course of their career causes irreparable damage to their brains, leading to cognitive, emotional, and functional problems similar to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Several players committed suicide after repeat concussions left them with depression and mood swings, and many others continue to suffer memory loss, cognitive impairment, and balance problems.
By Rachael Liberman
As the controversy surrounding 18-year-old Caster Semenya’s gender (note the incorrect usage of “gender” as opposed to “sex”) verification test continues to raise questions about racism and sexism, issues of humiliation and trauma have surfaced as well. London’s The Guardian quoted Leonard Chuene, head of Athletics South Africa, as saying, “If gender tests have to take place, they should have been done quietly. It is a taboo subject. How can a girl live with this stigma? By going public on these tests, the IAFF (International Association of Athletics Foundation) has let down this young child, and I will fight tooth and nail to protect her.” While organizations like the African National Congress and Athletics South Africa continue to speak out against the test, which takes weeks to process, Samenya’s voice has been noticeably absent from news coverage.
This makes sense when one considers her private, yet public situation. Semenya became under suspicion when she drastically improved her 800 meter time from 2 minutes and 8 seconds at the IAFF world junior championships in Poland last July to 1 minute and 55.45 seconds last week in Berlin – transforming her unknown status to senior world champion. That being said, the speculation regarding her “gender” (not sex) began before she won this latest race in Berlin. (more…)