Sport: Probing the Boundaries


Sport is a key space for the construction of identity, belonging and community, a place for meaning-making. Every year sports events are hosted and won by communities and nation-states. Every year people do sports or watch sports in diverse spaces: sports grounds, fields, back streets and parks. But what are the political economies of sports and mega-events: are they sources of corruption? Places for reform? Forces for good?

Sport is one of the most divisive arenas in today’s political economies, simultaneously providing both positive opportunities for athletes to succeed, fans to cheer and economies to prosper and negative outcomes such as doping and match-fixing disgraces, corruption in governance and mega-event host city selection processes sometimes rife with scandal.

The integrity of sport, sport-governing bodies, officials, athletes, media, and host cities are called into question on an almost daily basis, while at the same time we champion excellent performances and achievement of athletes and teams. Governing bodies investigate and promise reforms, such as IOC’s Agenda 2020 and recent FIFA candidates’ election rhetoric in the midst of rapidly rising costs of event hosting, especially mega-events. Undergirding these issues at times is their relationship to sporting spaces and sports geographies as well as the transformative potential of sport.

Core Themes for Development

The Sport project will explore, assess, and map a number of key core themes:

● Sport and social identity
● Commercialization and sport
● History of modern sport
● Sport and celebrities
● The politics of sport
● Sports fandom

Related themes will also be identified for development and exploration. Out of our deliberations it is anticipated that a series of related cross context research projects will develop.