Panels or Round Table Sessions (8) Description

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Session Abstract:

While a high value is attributed to playing globally, particularly for its role in children's development, health and well-being, there is a recent awareness, however, that the way children play has changed considerably over the last few decades with a decline in 'free-play' documented. In response, there has been a call to resurrect free-play in western industrialized economies. Concomitantly, public health alarms over a childhood-obesity 'epidemic' have emerged. A utilitarian conception of play has thus begun to be advanced as a means to 'fight' the childhood obesity epidemic and physical inactivity. This session reflects on the fact that views of play as useful are beginning to seep into public health discourse, which may constitute a danger for the health and well-being of populations. Papers in this session explore some of the popular discourses regarding play and analyze them with respect to govern mentality, power, pleasure, risk, and meaning-making in spaces of play.
P1: Stephanie Alexander, Université de Montréal, Caroline Fusco, University of Toronto, and Katherine Frohlich, Université de Montréal

"You have to do 60 minutes of physical activity per day: I saw it on TV." Children's Play, Public Health and Biopedagogies.
Public health institutions in many industrialized countries have been launching calls to address childhood obesity. As part of these efforts, Canadian physical activity campaigns have recently introduced children's play as a critical component of obesity prevention strategies. We consider this approach problematic as it may reshape the meanings and affective experiences of play for children. Drawing on the analytical concept of bio pedagogies, we place Canadian public health discourse on play in dialogue with children's constructions of play to examine first, how play is promoted within obesity prevention strategies and second, whether children take up this public health discourse. Our findings suggest that: 1) the public health discourse around 'active play' is taken up and reproduced by some children. However, other children highlight sedentary play as important for social and emotional well-being; 2) while 'active play' is deemed a solution to the risk of obesity, it also embodies contradictions regarding risk in play, which children have to negotiate. We argue that the 'active play' discourse, which enables some representations of play (i.e., active) while obscuring others (i.e., sedentary), is reshaping meanings of play for children, and that this may have unintended consequences for children's well-being.
P2: Caroline Fusco, University of Toronto; Katherine Frohlich, Université de Montréal; Danielle Di Carlo, University of Toronto; Paloma Holmes, University of Toronto; and Stephanie Alexander, Université de Montréal

Navigating the Cultural Space(s) of the Body at Play: Power, Discourse, Negotiation and Pleasure
We all play. But what would happen if play was no longer defined as such, but rather, viewed as goal-oriented only, a means to a specific end, or necessary to make us active and healthy or high performance athletes? Or, what if play was viewed as risky, irresponsible, frivolous or even dangerous? These ideas about play seem to be embedding themselves in social and institutional discourses in North America. Play discourses appear to be infused with prescriptions for "how to be healthy", "how to get ahead in schooling" and "how to be a future Canadian athlete", which align nicely with the political rationalities of late modernity, competitiveness and the "capitalization of life" (Gordon, 1991, p. 44). By advancing "play" as a utilitarian and productive method for a desired citizenry, social institutions may be complicit in bio-political agendas that unwittingly strip play of precisely those elements- pleasure, freedom, spontaneity- which have been viewed as critical for children's well-being. Yet, within these contexts, children are playing! Drawing from interviews with parents and children, we examine how they construct themselves and negotiate play practices within dominant discourses, and what, if any, experiences of pleasure remain in contemporary children's socio-cultural landscapes of play.
P3: Elizabeth S. Cavalier, Georgia Gwinnett College

Challenging the Obesity Model: Examining the Appeal and Efficacy of a Community Fitness Program for Adolescents
The complex public discourse on childhood obesity and health has spawned numerous community efforts improve the health of contemporary youth. In this paper, we examine the efficacy of one such program, the non-profit organization FunSport*. This paper analyzes assessment data of past and current FunSport programs in order to evaluate the efficacy of the FunSport mission: to empower young people to live healthy, successful lives. We seek to explain patterns of successful program completion, and suggest explanations for the attrition rate. Throughout the history of FunSport, approximately 95% of the participants have been female, 88% have been African-American or Hispanic, and 87% receive free or reduced lunch. While some of these characteristics characterize the environments of the urban schools, others represent a self-selection into the program. These populations are also most "at-risk" for negative health outcomes related to obesity and lack of physical activity (CDC, 2012). We suggest that the demographic makeup of participants in the FunSport programs speaks to a more complex understanding of adolescent health. Moving beyond simplistic models of victim-blaming or lack of agency, the program participants struggle to both to overcome stereotypes and to maintain a new perspective on fitness in a frequently unsupportive environment.
P4: Patrick Jachyra, University of Toronto

Boys will be Boys:” Sport, Physical Education and Masculinity
Increasing global bio-medical discussion about childhood physical inactivity and an apparent childhood obesity 'pandemic', continue to garner significant attention across a variety of health disciplines. Meanwhile school based Health and Physical Education curricula (HPE), through the implementation of classroom sport in schools, has been identified as the space and place to tackle these 'diseases of modernity'. While burgeoning quantitative and qualitative research on what motivates youth to either persist with, or drop out of, physical activity cultures (Kehler & Atkinson, 2010) dominates our understanding of physical (in) activity among children and youth, I elucidate the need to explore meaning making processes through an interpretivist lens from elementary school students, to bridge the gap between school practices and the social construction of the HPE experience. The research is driven conceptually with a Bourdieusian approach examining the recursive relationship of habitus and body capital in the HPE classroom, providing cultural meaning between sport, physical culture, masculinity and participation. Here, ethnographic data from an independent elementary school in Ontario (Canada), challenges traditional reproduced HPE structures, bio-pedagogical criteria/activities and normalized expected masculinity from boys.

  1. Session Title: Putting Dance into Physical Cultural Studies

Session Type: Paper presentation session

Organizers: Pirkko Markula, University of Alberta

Presider: Jim Denison, University of Alberta

Note: FULL/3
Session Abstract:

Recently, there have been calls to expand sport sociological research to include more diverse practices and representations of active embodiment. For example, Andrews and Silk (2011) and Giardina and Newman (2011) advocate physical cultural studies (PCS) to examine corporeal practices in such diverse empirical sites as dance, exercise, sport, and other movement related practices. At the core of PCS is the triad relationship between physical culture, power, and the (moving) body. The majority of PCS research continues to focus on sport with some interest in exercise, fitness, and health while dance remains marginalized. In this session, we aim to give visibility to the conjectural analysis of dance as a central dimension of PCS.

P1: Marianne Clark, University of Alberta

Foucault at the Barre and Other Surprises: Reading the Ballet Studio
Ballet is often cited as a favored physical activity among adolescent (Clark, Spence, & Holt, 2011; Dowda, 2006; Kuo, 2009). However, much of the dance research literature focuses on elite dancers in academy settings (Fortin et al., 2009; Green, 1991, 2001; Pickard, 2012). The purpose of this paper is to provide a detailed, contextualized analysis of the bodily practices in a commercial dance studio. I use Foucault's (1975) techniques of discipline to analyze the organization of time, space, and bodies in this unique setting. Drawing upon six months of participant observation with one ballet class, I discuss how the commercial dance studio is at once a disciplinary space and a place of respite for the adolescent girls who inhabit it. The organization of studio space and the design of progressive dance classes enable the efficient training and surveillance of dancers' high-performing bodies. Yet within this disciplinary space dancers form meaningful and important relationships with each other, the instructor, and with their bodies. The studio space also offers a sense of belonging and safety. The discourses through which dancing bodies are produced will be discussed and the complexity of the dance studio as a space that is both/and will be explored.
P2: J. Kate Davies University of Alberta

Reading the Dancing Body in Children's Sport Fiction
While adult sport fiction has received some interest by sport sociologists (Markula, 2000), children's sport fiction remains unexamined. Given that both sport and literature are sites where meanings about the body are produced (Hunt, 1985; Kirk & Tinning, 1994; Markula & Silk, 2011; Prout, 2005; Rogers, 1999; Rogers, 2008; Saric, 2005; Stallcup, 2004), children's sport literature is an appropriate site to map the power relations that operate to produce meanings about the active body. This talk is part of a larger story about how the active body is produced in 30 sport picture books. Six of these books focused exclusively on ballet. I demonstrate how these ballet books function as a truth game (Foucault, 1977) to produce certain knowledge of the dancing body. Inspired by Foucault's archaeological and genealogical methods I linked concepts to generalizable statements within, and then across books and analyzed the visuals according to Foucault's disciplinary concepts of space, movement, and time in addition to bodily appearance. I identified six discursive regularities, but in this paper I will discuss: (1) Ballet is practiced in the dance studio, a space primarily reserved for girls; and (2) Ballet dancers are happiest when dancing outside the studio.
P3: Pirkko Markula University of Alberta

Dance as a Territorializing Machine: The Case of 'So You Think You Can Dance' Canada
Recently, dance has gained considerable visibility through several popular reality TV shows. Following its higher popular profile, it is timely to investigate dance as a popular cultural, mediated practice. In this paper, I examine the popular dance program, So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD), as a physical cultural practice within specific historical and cultural condition. Theoretically, my project draws on Lawrence Grossberg's (1996, 2000) Deleuzian inspired cultural studies model of analyzing social formations through a 'differentiating machine' and a 'territorializing machine.' The differentiating machine produces systems of social difference and identities and has been the most common target of analysis for cultural studies scholars. Territorializing machines "operate distributively to spatialize time and temporalize space" (Grossberg, 1996, p. 104) to produce systems of circulation. The differentiation can be further understood by focusing on the mechanism of the power apparatus of the territorializing machine. In this paper, my focus is on the animation of the territorializing machine that produces dance as cultural practice through a televised reality show of SYTYCD.

  1. Session Title: Risky Business? Discourses of Health and the Body in Sport

Session Type: Paper Presentation session

Organizers: Mary G. McDonald, Georgia Institute of Technology and Geneviéve Rail, Concordia University

Presider: Mary G. McDonald, Georgia Institute of Technology

Note: FULL/3
Session Abstract:

In this session, presenters report the results of their qualitative inquiries and use a critical perspective to discuss various issues surrounding health, bodies and risk in sport. The first presentation explores the connections between the dominant obesity discourse and the ways in which health is discursively constructed by health professionals in Canada. The discursive effects of dominant bodily discourses on the sport and physical activity environment are explored along with their consequences for fat individuals in terms of available subject positions. The second presentation offers a critical analysis of ACL injury reduction strategies and more specifically of screening programs to identify at-risk populations -- the latter bringing back memories of earlier medical pronouncements that prevented women from participating in sport. The last presentation focuses on the screening of athletes for sickle cell trait and more generally on biomedicine as a site for the production of racial and gender difference as well as on the bio politics of screening practices within and beyond the NCAA. Together, the papers help to trouble mainstream notions of (dis)ability, health and risk as well as they constitute an interesting contribution to the sociocultural study of bodies, bio subjects and bio politics.
P1: Geneviéve Rail, Concordia University; Fiona Moola, University of Manitoba; Shannon Jette, University of Maryland; Moss E. Norman, University of Manitoba; Haïfa Tlili, Université Paris Descartes

The Weight of Words: Health Professionals, Obesity Discourse and the Sport Environment
In this presentation, we discuss the medicalization of fatness and the recuperation of the rhetorical strategy of the "obesity epidemic" in our sport and physical activity environment. From a feminist poststructuralist perspective, we explore the connections between the obesity discourse and the ways in which health is discursively constructed by 45 health professionals in Canada. Based on the results of a qualitative analysis of conversations with doctors, nurses, dieticians and kinesiologists, we comment on the bio pedagogical mechanics at play in their interventions and the ways in which obesity discourse interpellates them as subjects and intersects with dominant discourses of gender, sexuality, race, ability, productivity, individual responsibility for health, and neoliberalism. We offer a few reflections on the unexpected finding that those further away from the medical field (i.e., kinesiologists) circulate the most medical discourses while those who are the closest (physicians) recite the most "socio-cultural" of discourses around obesity. I comment on the sport and physical activity environment, the discursive effects of dominant discourses within it, and the consequences for fat individuals in terms of available subject positions.
P2: Nancy Theberge, University of Waterloo

Gender, Injury Reduction and Screening for Risk Factors: The Case of ACL Injuries
In recent years there has been increasing attention in sport medicine to the negative health outcomes of sport participation and within this, to the prevention of sport related injuries. This presentation offers a critical analysis of injury reduction strategies in the context of a specific injury that has become the focus of considerable research interest: ruptures or "tears" to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), which stabilizes the knee. A notable feature of this injury is higher rates among women, a pattern that has been termed the "gender bias". Research has been directed to identifying risk factors at an individual level: which features of anatomy and movement patterns predispose an athlete to ACL tears? There are two rationales for this effort: to enable the design of intervention programs to address these factors and to enable identification of populations at risk through screening procedures. Intervention programs have been designed that have been successful in controlled circumstances but there has been little decline in incidence, a result generally understood to indicate the challenges of implementing injury prevention programs. This failure may pave the way for greater attention to screening. In view of the gendered rates of ACL tears, screening to identify populations at risk suggests an alarming parallel to an earlier era when medical pronouncements that women were unfit for vigorous physical activity provided the basis for their near total exclusion from sport. The presentation concludes with observations on the clinical and social implications of screening as an approach to reduce the incidence of negative health outcomes associated with sport participation, with particular attention to conditions that exhibit a gender bias in the form of higher rates among women.
P3: Mary G. McDonald, Georgia Institute of Technology

The Ultimate Test? Bio politics and Screening Athletes for Sickle Cell Trait
Recently, the NCAA began testing all athletes for sickle cell trait. Once commonly characterized as a "black disease" this paper engages with the history of biomedicine as a site for the production of racial and gender difference to help illuminate what is at stake in this process. Specifically, I briefly explore three issues: 1) the ways in which the screening procedures rely upon and affirm commonsense classification systems related to race. 2) the broader commodified contexts of NCAA sport and genetic testing through which the screenings take place and communicate meanings 3) The subsequent bio politics of screening practices, particularly the ways in which the NCAA athletes might be thought of "bio subjects" (Gerlach, 2011) as well as the broader implications of this new subject position both within and beyond the NCAA. In doing so this analysis also interrogates the precarious use of genetic screening within sport spaces while helping to trouble commonsense notions of (dis)ability, health and risk.

  1. Session Title: Sport and Religion

Session Type: Paper presentation session

Organizer and Presider: Lars Dzikus, University of Tennessee

Note: FULL/4
Session Abstract:

In the United States, "Tebow-mania" and "Lin-sanity" have recently captured the imagination in regards to the relationship between sport and religion (Moore, Keller, & Zemanek, 2011). This link, of course, is neither new (Hoffman, 2010), nor is it limited to Christianity (Coakley, 2009; Light & Kinnaird, 2002). This session examines the confluence of religion and sport in a global society through the critical analysis of religious and spiritual positionality, social and religious movements, and media representations.
P1: Lars Dzikus, PhD, University of Tennessee, Steven Waller, PhD, University of Tennessee

Reflections on Studying Collegiate Sport Chaplaincy: A Professional and Personal Dialogue
In July 2013, journalist Lauren Green questioned the motivation and qualification of religious study scholar Reza Aslan to write a book about Jesus of Nazareth. The key question that was posed was why a Muslim would write a book about the founder of Christianity. The brief interview created considerable public discourse and the opportunity to critically examine the notion of objectivity in research (Rosenberg, 2013). In this paper, we offer a reflection on our collaborative research on sport chaplains (see for example, Dzikus, Waller, & Hardin, 2012, 2011) as individual and collective practice. This includes the working relationship of the authors, the role each author plays in the research activity, and the personal and professional growth through this process. Related to the issues raised in the Green/Aslan interview, we examine issues of positionality and religious privilege in the generation of knowledge regarding the relationship between sport and religion. We probed these issues with the help of interactive interviewing (Ellis, Kiesinger, & Tillman-Healy, 1997), journaling, and reflective writing. According to Ghaye (2000) such "reflective practices might be seen as quite threatening because they invite us to address and resolve some potentially difficult personal, professional and organizational issues" (p. 6).
P2: LeQuez Spearman, Gordon College

Saviors of Their Race: A Comparative Analysis of Hank Greenberg and Jackie Robinson
The purpose of this paper is to render a comparative analysis of Hank Greenberg and Jackie Robinson, two iconic figures in baseball, based on primary and secondary sources. Greenberg is perhaps the most revered Jew in baseball and Robinson is credited with the integration of the game in 1947. The stories of both players offer a unique entry point into not only their historic plights but also their respective religions. Following his deep religious convictions, Robinson was non-resistant during integration. Although he was assaulted on the baseball diamond because of the color of his skin, Robinson followed the call of Jesus by turning the other cheek. Greenberg, on the other hand, chose not to play baseball during a pennant race because the game conflicted with Yom Kippur, a Jewish holy day. Greenberg, too, was subjugated to anti-Semitic vitriol as fans and opposing fans of the Detroit Tigers often called him Christ-Killer. This paper will not only discuss the various incidents where religion interfaced with sport in the lives of these two players, but also how the religiosity of both players was similar and dissimilar.
P3: Charles H. Wilson, Jr., University of Tennessee and Cheryl R. Rode, University of Tennessee

A Cinematic Cross to Bear: Depictions of Coaches and Christian Prayer in American Sports Films
This paper examines the depiction of sports coaches and Christian prayer in American sports films. Significant insight into American culture is provided by the overlap of three influential aspects of modern society: cinema, religion, and sports. The genre of sports movies has been popular since the medium's genesis due to sports' physicality and dramatic storylines (Edginton, Erksine, Welsh, 2011). One way sports movies dramatize the power and influence of coaches is through scenes featuring Christian prayer. The rise of modern competitive sports at the end of the 19th century created a need for specialized coaches. This coincided with the advent of "Muscular Christianity," the idea that sports could help shape Christian values and character (Watson, Weir, & Friend, 2005). Coaches were perceived as natural leaders of this movement, which led to their depictions as such on film. For this qualitative content analysis, our sample was the top-grossing sports films from three decades (1982-2012). We coded the depictions of coaches and Christian prayer by genre and tone, finding that the depictions were used for both drama and comedy. In addition, the tone of these depictions was both positive, by highlighting the humanity of the coaches, and negative, by accentuating hypocrisy.

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