International Sports Studies (ISS)

ISSN: 1443-0770

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International Sports Studies


John Saunders

International Sports Studies 42 No. 2 (2020)     pp: 1-4     2020-12-21

Stichworte/keywords: Editorial, SARS-CoV-2, Covid 19

Cite: APA    BibTeX

Saunders, J. (2020). Editorial. International Sports Studies, 42 (2), 1-4. doi:10.30819/iss.42-2.01
doi = {10.30819/iss.42-2.01},
url = {},
year = 2020,
publisher = {Logos Verlag Berlin},
volume = {42},
number = {2},
pages = {1-4},
author = {John Saunders},
title = {Editorial},
journal = {International Sports Studies}

In my last editorial I was contemplating living the new and unexpected experience of life with Covid 19. Six months ago, was a time for contemplation. We were all entering into an event of major historical significance. The world has experienced epidemics before, and we had only to turn to the works of writers such as Camus to realise how recurrent human behaviour is. We tend so often to be caught by surprise despite the lessons that are so readily available to us through reference to history. The Spanish ‘flu epidemic of 1919 was the obvious benchmark to which we could turn. Following hot on the heels of the Great War of 1914-1918 it was responsible for more casualties than occurred in the war to end all wars (50 million). It infected 500 million people worldwide. After just over ten months we are a long, long way from those sorts of figures. As of 12th November, 51,975,458 case of infection have been reported. Deaths attributed to the virus number 1,281,309 worldwide.

Of course, what makes Covid 19 so significant is not simply that it should have happened, but that it is the first pandemic in this era of globalisation which we have entered only comparatively recently. Some might remember the SARS epidemic which affected mainly people in Asia. As indicated by its name, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV-2), it was very similar initially in its effects. Yet, after first emerging in 2002, it was eradicated less than two years later. It seems that this was achieved largely by what has been called simple public health measures. This involved “testing people with symptoms (fever and respiratory problems), isolating and quarantining suspected cases, and restricting travel.” These same measures of course have been implemented in most countries following the virus’ spread to Italy early in 2020. However, the fact that different nations have responded differently and also experienced very different outcomes should be of considerable interest as we consider the whole concept of a global threat and global responses. The ten worst affected countries currently are in order:

Contry; Confirmed Cases; Deaths
United States; 10,460,302; 244,421
India; 8,684,039; 128,165
Brazil; 5,749,007; 163,406
France; 1,865,538; 42,535
Russia; 1,836,960; 31,593
Spain; 1,417,709; 40,105
Argentina; 1,273,343; 34,531
United Kingdom; 1,256,725; 50,365
Colombia; 1,165,326; 33,312
Italy; 1,028,424; 42,953

They are dominated by the advanced economies of the northern hemisphere. The countries who have previously experienced the SARS epidemic in Asia have fared comparatively lightly. Bearing in mind that statistics of this nature may not be strictly comparable given variation in the criteria used and the methods of sourcing and collecting this information, it is still interesting to hypothesise why outcomes can differ so much. Explanations might include reference to the environments in which people live – physical space, climate and availability of sophisticated health care systems to name a few – or they might dwell on the culture of those involved, their willingness to follow instructions imposed upon them, the importance of competing objectives that might make prioritising health and physical wellness less of a priority. Whatever the case, satisfactory explanations are more likely to involve some interactions involving measures of both the individuals and the environments within which they live. Any attempt to explain or understand human behaviour needs to consider a variety of factors and knowing how to take account of them is an important part of the skill base that scholars of international and comparative studies bring with them. Such skills and knowledge are more important in a globalised world than they have ever been. Yet such skills may be becoming harder to achieve, precisely because of some of the effects of processes associated with globalisation. I would recommend to you a recent documentary produced by Netflix and widely available on YouTube. “The Social Dilemma” is an examination of the use of social media and in particular focuses on the relationship between the growing addiction amongst young people to the use of smartphones and, specifically their social media programmes, and the rising levels of concern about deteriorating mental health and wellbeing among the world’s youth. It draws a relationship between the psychological disorder of narcissism and the failure of phone obsessed young people to experience real human to human interaction, with a related increase in aggressive bullying and dysfunctional behaviour. Thus, the results of experiencing interactions and personal validation through the proxy world of social media, rather than face to face, is a dehumanisation of the individual and leads to a distorted experience of the world in simple dichotomies of a single view, right or wrong. So, whatever the continuing effects of the pandemic, as these continue to unfold, it will be important that we continue to build our understanding of other people in their own worlds. We need to avoid the trap of believing that our own world is the only world and the right world. However smart artificial intelligence becomes, a screen is only two dimensional and it is the extra dimensions that enable us to grow as humans and cope with the complexity and challenges of our own unique worlds. One of the less helpful trends of our globalised digitised world, has been the pursuit and glorification of the cult of celebrity. One of the difficulties of that celebrity status is it is frequently awarded on the basis of undeserving and irrelevant characteristics such as, acting ability, physical beauty or sporting reputation. Yet many seem to feel that this status entitles them to pontificate or attempt to influence others in areas that have nothing to do with their expertise. Ricky Gervais, in his chairing of the 2020 golden globes award, brought a refreshing dose of reality in advising the celebrities who were to receive awards:

You are in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg. So, if you win, come up accept your little award. Thank your agent and your God and **** off. OK?

It is in that spirit of willingness to learn from the work of a range of colleagues working in a range of places and professional situations around the world, I commend to you the contributions to be found in the following pages. To start the ball rolling, we have a report from Hairui Liu, Wei Shen and Peter Hastie on the application of a curriculum model which was developed in the US and has since gained some popularity in a number of settings around the world. The origins of sport education came from a realisation that, in too many situations, physical education had failed to excite the same degree of enthusiasm among school pupils as could often be observed when they involved themselves in sport. The model thus extends the skill/technique focus which is found in many traditional physical education settings, to include more of the dimensions of sport – formal competition, affiliation, festivity experienced over a season. They concluded that, within this Chinese university context, the students achieved a higher level of performance and more enthusiastic engagement when the model was adopted as a basis for their learning.

Our second article moves from an education setting to a contemporary sport science framework, the world of professional sport and one of the higher levels of competition in the world – the English Championship. Rhys Carr, Rich Mullen and Morgan Williams monitored the running intensity of players throughout a season. In particular they questioned the demands for high intensity running when playing in a 4-4-2 formation and implementing a high press strategy, such as adopted by Liverpool in their highly successful 2019 English Premiership season. They concluded that, for players in the centre forward and wide midfield positions, the demands created were impossible to maintain for an entire match. They were then able to draw out some practical and tactical implications for managers and their support staff, relating to substitution strategy and the physical match preparation of players in these positions and with these strategic responsibilities.

Our third article involves an exploration of the perpetual discomfort many of us feel as educators when we compare the practice of sport against the ideals we hold for it. As professionals in the field, many of us are driven by our belief in what sport can offer. Yet the modern commodification of sport, coupled with the excessive need to win as a motive that exceeds all others, consistently produces behaviours and outcomes which we seek to disassociate from our professional practices. The article by Irantzu Ibanez, Ana Zuazagoitia, Ibon Echeazarra, Luis Maria Zulaika XXABSTRACT Iker Ros is set in the context of the Basque region of Spain and explores the values held by students in their pre-service training with regard to the practice of extracurricular sport. The students show an awareness of the mismatch between their ideals of extracurricular sport as an educational experience and the influence on current practices that comes from the way in which sport is conducted in the society at large. The authors conclude with a plea for greater alignment between the practice of sport in schools and teh educational values that should guide it.

Our final contribution is from South Africa where Lesego Phetlhe, Heather Morris- Eyton XXABSTRACT Alliance Kubayi report on the concerns of football (soccer) coaches in Guateng province. It is clear that these coaches, in common with others around the world, suffer a degree of stress in their chosen occupation. The sources of this stress are to be found in the nature of the complex tasks they are expected to manage, as well as in the always challenging job of managing the players for whom they are responsible. To this can be added the difficult environmental conditions they are faced with, as well as the inevitable concern with having to produce results for the players and their team. Their research has produced some useful guidelines for administrators that can facilitate the jobs of the coaches and lead to benefits in enhanced performances and results. Finally, in our book review, Luiz Uehara evaluates Jorge Knijnik’s thoughtful analysis of the impact of the 2014 world cup on Brazil. From both author and reviewer, it is possible to feel the pride and passion in their nation of birth and its special contribution to the world’s most popular game. It is my privilege to recommend the work of these international scholars to you. I leave you the reader with the hope that in introducing our next volume, I will be able to celebrate with you more positive news about the progress of the pandemic and its implications for international and comparative sport and physical education.

John Saunders
Brisbane, November 2020

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