International Sports Studies (ISS)

ISSN: 1443-0770

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International Sports Studies


John Saunders

International Sports Studies 40 No. 2 (2018)     pp: 1-3     2018-12-20


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Saunders, J. (2018). Editorial. International Sports Studies, 40 (2), 1-3. doi:10.30819/iss.40-2.01
doi = {10.30819/iss.40-2.01},
url = {},
year = 2018,
publisher = {Logos Verlag Berlin},
volume = {40},
number = {2},
pages = {1-3},
author = {John Saunders},
title = {Editorial},
journal = {International Sports Studies}

In my last editorial I drew attention to the significance of 2018 as being not just the anniversary of the end of World War 1 but also the fortieth birthday of ISCPES. In many ways 2018 is indeed proving to be a watershed year. As the year draws to an end there have been many events held that have drawn in one way or another on the theme of looking back and looking forwards. “Lest we forget” has been the larger theme that has re-emerged consistently particularly in November. Indeed, it would be hard to overestimate the effects of the Great War on Europe and on countries like Australia who contributed their noblest and best to what they believed was a fight for freedom. The four-year period that cost an estimated 16.5 million lives and impacted ordinary families for generations afterwards, was thought at the time to be the “war to end all wars”. Yet, who could have believed that the countries of Europe would be marching towards a second world war just over thirty years later? Surely this is a classic case of once again proving how short human memory can be, or alternatively how reluctant we can be to take on board and learn the lessons of history. My point is that whereas hope once more springs eternal in the human breast, following emergence from a period of disaster such as war, we do not in practice seem to be very good at, first imagining and then developing futures that learn from our past mistakes. Indeed, history continues to suggest a cyclic nature to the affairs of humans. Today many of our democratic societies appear to be riven with doubt and dissent, which has been provided with a megaphone by the ubiquitous presence of the electronic media. Gender wars, racial disharmony, new economic and social divisions based around educated elites and dispossessed workers are divisions that have been stoked at a global level. They have produced outcomes that include unstable minority governments, distrust in institutions and aggressive hateful communications between individuals within our societies. It seems that so soon after such uplifting and positive moments such as those occasioned by: the falling of the Berlin Wall and the end of the cold war; the peaceful end of apartheid in South Africa and; the re-entry of China into the global community, the cycle has started to turn bad once more.

But, to return to ISCPES! The first editorial for 2018 was mainly about looking backwards over the journey from 1978 to today. The lesson was for us to celebrate and remember our history following the principle that if we don’t remember where we came from how on earth are we going to chart a successful journey forwards to the future? ISCPES’ 22nd International conference to be held in Portugal’s beautiful and historic city of Porto in May next year has set a theme that is forward looking while recognising the challenging times in which we find ourselves today - Re-inventing international sports studies in an age of disruption. Those great futurists Alvin Toffler and George Orwell identified over a half century ago many of the features of disruption that are already making us feel so uncomfortable. So, when we talk about the effects of digital technology or the issues around global social change, we cannot complain that we were not well warned. Toffler’s 1970 Future Shock told us of the coming exponential nature of change and the biological limits of our ability to cope with such a level of constant and increasing change. Whereas Orwell has been much cited of late for his prescience concerning the processes around the manipulation of information through the re-writing of history and the use of what we have come to call ‘political correctness’ to enforce desired views.

Do you realize that the past, starting from yesterday, has been actually abolished? If it survives anywhere, it’s in a few solid objects with no words attached to them, like that lump of glass there. Already we know almost literally nothing about the Revolution and the years before the Revolution. Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, and every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day-by-day and minute-by-minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right. I know, of course, that the past is falsified, but it would never be possible for me to prove it, even when I did the falsification myself. After the thing is done, no evidence ever remains. The only evidence is inside my own mind, and I don’t know with any certainty that any other human being shares my memories
2.5.14, Winston Smith, in Orwell (1949)

Further ascribed to Orwell is the quote “In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” This raises the notion that perhaps international sports studies - as other areas of sport and scholarly study - has a special role to play in that revolutionary act. In the presidency of Donald Trump, we have already seen the emergence of truth as an essential instrument in the battle of ideas and the use of the digital media alongside print and broadcast as a primary agent in its delivery and contestation. Already we are becoming aware of the preliminary skirmishes between some of the so-called Western democracies and Russian, Korean and Chinese agencies whom they accuse of conducting aggressive actions in their cyber space. At the front of the world media of course has been the controversial US special counsel investigation into Russian involvement in its electoral processes. The prospect of colleagues coming together in Porta to address how we, in our corner, can address and contribute to issues as important as this to the future of collective global well-being, is an enticing one. I hope it is a prospect to which many of our readership and membership will be attracted. In the meantime, we have volume 40:2 with which to entice the engagement of our readers. Once again, we have a truly international spread of contributors, this time from Australia, France, Romania, Brazil, Germany and the USA. An historically based contribution from Andy Harper leads the way. Harper examines some of the reasons behind why it is that two anglophone sports conscious countries - Australia and the US - have enjoyed a fractious relationship with the world’s most popular version of football. His explanation highlights the importance of considering local context in any process of international comparison. As for his particular glance into the future – he believes it to be very rosy in both these national environments, linking the basis for his forecasts into a globalised perspective.

Wadih Ishac, Claude Sobry, Patrick Bouchet and Sorina Cernaianu are the authors of the second paper which is a case study based on the hosting of the 2015 World Handball Championship in Qatar. The authors tie their study of the non-economic effects of hosting this international event into the development goals and national mission of the Qatar government. The outcome of the WHC proved encouraging to this small peninsular state’s ambitious plans which will find their ultimate expression in the controversial FIFA World cup tournament in 2022. William Douglas Almeida and Katia Rubio place us back in an historical framework with their paper on the early Games of the modern Olympiad. Their thesis is that in the early days of the Olympic movement and in the absence of an established world internationalist order, growth was only achieved through a diplomatic process akin to the diplomacy between nations. They pointed out such was the significance of the Olympic Movement as an agency of internationalism, that it effectively generated a functional geography of its own to rival the more familiar political atlas of the times.

Our two final contributions in this edition, represent a transcript of the Herbert Haag address delivered by Richard Bailey at the last ISCPES international conference held in Borovets in 2017 and a book review by Scott Crawford based on the trilogy of Stieg Larson the Swedish journalist around the character of Lisbeth Salander. Both of these contributions focus on the developing and changing relationship of women with sport and physical activity. Bailey’s contribution embraces a tribute to Margaret Talbot the well-known academic and ICSSPE president who died recently while in office. Talbot was a passionate advocate for physical education and in particular its potential contribution to the long-term wellbeing of women and girls. Bailey’s presentation draws on the theoretical underpinning of French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and other social theorists to suggest how sport and physical education might be reformed to reduce the current domination by patriarchal influences. Crawford takes up the argument that Lisbeth Salander represents a vibrant if post modern image of the hero(ine) as athlete. He traces Larson’s portrayal of his central character carefully and sympathetically within the context of contemporary society and its values.

With such variety and insights to consider, I trust you will find something to interest you and perhaps inspire you to participate in next April’s search for innovative and adaptive strategies to manage the challenges of our contemporary age of disruption.

John Saunders
Brisbane, Australia
November 2018

Orwell, G. (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four: a novel. London: Secker and Warburg.
Toffler, A. (1970). Future Shock. New York: Random House.

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