Since COVID-19 has shut down sporting events in North America and many parts of the world, sports fans are desperately trying to find anything to watch. In North America, the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League had to suspend their seasons indefinitely, NCAA March Madness was cancelled, and Major League Baseball, which was set to start the season at the end of March, has not yet decided on a potential date to open the 2020 season despite creative contingent plans being floated around by league officials. With no baseball games on the schedule in North America, baseball enthusiasts can turn to Taiwan, where its professional baseball league started the season on April 11. To abide by social distancing policies of Taiwan, no fans are allowed in stadiums, but robot spectators fill the bleachers in lieu of actual people.
The COVID-19 pandemic has systemically disrupted sport organizations and spectator sporting events around the world. Major and minor sporting events have been cancelled, youth sports have been put on hold, and professional leagues have followed the National Basketball Association (NBA) in suspending their current seasons. “Social distancing” largely underpins these unprecedented adjustments, as sport organizations heed the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus. The disruptions will undoubtedly result in a financial hit for leagues, teams and players, and exacerbate the precarious economic situations of low-wage stadium and arena workers. For women’s sports, the pandemic has meant the sudden interruption of recent progress made in the push for greater financial equity and media coverage. Amidst fears of a pending economic recession, American consumers now must adapt to living without much of their common sporting entertainment for at least the near future.
While St. Patrick’s Day gives people of Irish descent around the world an opportunity to celebrate their heritage, soccer serves a key role with regard to Irish ethnicity in Scotland—and on a much more frequent basis than once a year. To help understand this we need to go back to May 25, 1967, when Celtic Football Club of Scotland defeated Inter Milan, 2-1, to become the first club from outside of Spain, Portugal, or Italy to win the European Cup (now the UEFA Champions League). Recognised as the most prestigious soccer trophy in Europe, only 22 clubs have managed to win it since its initiation in 1956.
The X League is an arena women’s tackle football league where women pay to play full contact, scantily clad, televised, football. Arena football has slightly different rules than traditional football with no field goals or extra-point kicks. Several arena football leagues exist, but the X League has one unique quality. In the X League, players wear bikini-like “performance apparel” and modified equipment, such as hockey helmets, less leg padding, and modified shoulder pads that do not cover their chests
After emphasizing that “America loves India” during the “Namaste Trump” event, President Donald Trump opened his address with several references to India’s most popular sport, cricket. A crowd of more than 100,000 responded with cheers.
“Five months ago, the United States welcomed your great prime minister at a giant football stadium in Texas,” Trump noted on Feb. 24. “And today India welcomes us at the world’s largest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad.” Next, Trump mentioned Indian cricket stars Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli, although he mispronounced the names and was called out by social media users, including the sport’s governing body, the International Cricket Council.
Electronic sports, also known as eSports or competitive video gaming, may be a subject of laughter or mockery for some traditional sports enthusiasts, but for a growing number of fans they are a serious and lucrative matter. The eSports game “League of Legends,” for example, garnered a peak viewership of 200 million during the November 2018 broadcast of the World Championships. Despite this growth, anecdotal accounts and emerging research regarding the experiences of women in eSports point to troubling issues, as women report being harassed, threatened, and isolated within the realm of eSports. In light of such issues, we conducted a two-part study (read the full study here) to understand the nature of feedback women receive in the eSports community. The results of our first study suggest that women and men eSports participants do not perceive gender differences with respect to the criticism they receive. A follow up study, however, suggests that women who play eSports receive a substantial number of sexualized comments.
People often associate concussions with traditionally hard-hitting sports like football, ice hockey, boxing, and rugby. In fact, most concussion research, to date, has focused on these types of sports. Those who study concussions have given little attention to non-contact, individual, and alternative sport settings such as surfing, despite studies indicating high rates of head injuries in many of these types of activities. As an avid surfer who does research on action sport subcultures, I recently conducted a study that explored concussion among surfers on the Canadian West Coast.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a combat sport that involves a combination of different fighting styles. As it has gained prominence in mainstream cultures, MMA has introduced the world to a variety of martial disciplines, such as wrestling (grappling), Muay Thai (striking), and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (submission grappling). Given that the goal of an MMA competitor is to defeat an opponent, which can occur by way of a knockout or submission (e.g., “tapping out” due to pain or injury), the sport involves a substantial level of physical risk. When a fighter inflicts visible damage on an opponent, it is categorized under what the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), one of the world’s biggest MMA organizations, calls “significant strikes.”
In November 2018, Canadian outdoor recreation giant Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) sent ripples through the community of “outdoorsy” folks in Canada with a statement framed around the following provocative question: “Do White People Dominate the Outdoors?” The statement was a response to an Instagram callout from Judith Kasiama (see Figure 1), in which Kasiama pointed out “a narrative that [Black and Indigenous peoples and people of colour] don’t enjoy the outdoor[s] compare[d] to their white friends.” In its statement, MEC took responsibility for its role “in underrepresenting people of colour in the outdoors,” and promised “that moving forward, [MEC] will make sure [they’re] inspiring and representing the diverse community that already exists in the outdoors” (see Figures 2 & 3 below).
Recently, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the leader of Canada’s Liberal Party, made a memorable campaign stop in Sudbury, Ontario. After paddling a canoe around a local lake, Trudeau emerged to make an announcement related to land and ocean conservation during the federal election campaign. Specifically, he outlined a Liberal Party promise to teach young Canadians to camp by Grade 8 and provide support for 75,000 lower-income families to spend time in provincial and national parks. This announcement points to the iconic place the “wilderness” and Canada’s park system play in the Canadian imaginary. In the following narratives, I draw on some of my own experiences with Canada’s park system to situate outdoor recreation in a broader and more troubling history rarely considered in Canadian mainstream media, classrooms, or politics.