International Sports Studies (ISS)

ISSN: 1443-0770

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International Sports Studies


John Saunders

International Sports Studies 43 No. 2 (2021)     pp: 1-4     2021-12-15

Stichworte/keywords: Editorial

Cite: APA    BibTeX

Saunders, J. (2021). Editorial. International Sports Studies, 43 (2), 1-4. doi:10.30819/iss.43-2.01
doi = {10.30819/iss.43-2.01},
url = {},
year = 2021,
publisher = {Logos Verlag Berlin},
volume = {43},
number = {2},
pages = {1-4},
author = {John Saunders},
title = {Editorial},
journal = {International Sports Studies}

That was the year that was! 2021 seemingly arrived just yesterday and now we are shortly to bid it farewell. I hailed its predecessor as heralding the hope for a new clarity of vision – the start of a new decade which promised much. However, I have become reminded that perfect 20/20 vision in the present may not necessarily lead to reliable predictions for the future. Further I have immediately been taken back to my undergraduate days and the unforgettable words of the great poet T. S Eliot in his poem Burnt Norton – the first of the four Quartets

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present

They are words that seem to ring particularly true not only to anyone contemplating their remorselessly advancing years and reflecting on a career nearing completion, but they also seem particularly apposite for the experiences of the last two years. The pandemic started by destroying our expectations and predictions for what lay ahead. It ensured that our best laid plans for our immediate futures would remain unfulfilled and thus unredeemable. Subsequently during the year, we were left to speculate as to our future pathways - not only with regard to our professional activities, but also concerning our personal and family relationships – with a whole world of separation between ourselves and those of our kith and kin domiciled in distant lands. Though for some it may have been no more than a regional border! Such forced isolation caused many of us to think backwards as well, reflecting on our past trajectories and recalling both mistakes and successes alike. Yet for many it became a time to substitute the incessant demands of work and its associated travel and busy-ness with former and forgotten pleasures. Leisurely walks with friends and family, the rediscovering of rhythms and tempos unimpeded by the daily demands of our diaries and other extraneous demands on our time that had required us to respond immediately and forgo the immediate needs of the surroundings and people closest to us. Above all, with the future in limbo and the past re-emerging in our minds, it reinforced the realisation that the present is what we really have, and it contains what is most important.

For a time, the incessant chatter and noise of the media retained our attention, just as it had dominated our attention at the end of 2019. Yet, somehow during the year, the hype and frenzied reporting seems to have diminished in impact. This was nowhere more evident than in the responses to COP26 – the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, UK. Items in the press came thick and fast leading up to the event: predictions of planetary doom; political conflicts were highlighted as world leaders met or didn’t meet on the conference stage; appearances by the celebrities of the world; demonstrations aplenty. All of this breathless activity faded imperceptibly out of our consciousness as the serious (but more boring?) negotiations between nations started to take place, with much of the brilliance of the limelight now exhausted. The anticlimactic conclusion was judged by Boris Johnson, the chair and among the most optimistic of politicians, as achieving a 6 out of 10. Several positive outcomes were identified such as: commitments to end deforestation; a global methane pledge; a socalled ‘Breakthrough Agenda’, which committed countries to work together to accelerate the clean energy transition. Yet predictably, this was labelled by the critics and activists as too little too late.

Although there are many who would see climate crisis as the major crisis that faces us – there are many other current crises of even more pressing and immediate concern to very many of us. The most urgent of which, would depend upon your own circumstances and where you might find yourself in the world. Examples from recent media would include: the loss of previously taken for granted freedoms in Hong Kong; increased fears for personal safety and the prospect of hunger and poverty in Afghanistan; the loss of political freedoms and the prospects of war in Belarus and the Ukraine; the prospect of secession leading to renewed civil war in Serbia; another military coup in Sudan; civil unrest in Cuba, etc etc.. On a global scale the movement of people leaving failed states and war-torn areas looking for the chance to make a better future, has continued to increase on a scale that the world is quite unable to manage. Sadly, even in the countries that are eagerly sought as destinies, there seem to be endless stories of strife, anxiety and anger to be told. The Economist provides the example of France, the ninth largest economy in the world with the 20th largest population of 67+ million. This pillar of Europe is facing a presidential election. Far from rejoicing in its prosperity, stability and proud history – the mood is sombre.

Tune in to any French prime time talk show this autumn, and discussion rages over the country’s wretched decline. France is losing its factories and jobs, squeezing incomes and small businesses, destroying its landscapes and language, neglecting its borders and squandering its global stature. Its people are fractious and divided, if not on the verge of a civil war, as a public letter from retired army officers suggested earlier this year. At the second presidential primary debate for the centre-right Republicans party, on November 14th, the five candidates competed with each other to chronicle French disaster. Listen to the hard right, and it is “the death of France as we know it”.

The anxiety is widespread. In a recent poll 75% agreed that France is “in decline”. When asked to sum up their mood in another survey, the French favoured three words: uncertainty, worry and fatigue.

So, we are entitled to ask, what is happening in the world as we contemplate the path out of Covid? Should we not be expecting some feeling of optimism and gratitude that modern medicine has provided a way forward out of the pandemic through vaccination and new medical treatments? We should be putting the trials and tribulations of the pandemic behind us, embracing the lessons we have learnt and anticipating the benefits of the reassessments and recalibrations we have undergone over the last two years. Yet instead, we seem to be facing re-entry into a world of strife and dissension. It is a view that that would seem to encourage retreat into the comfort of a limited and familiar space, rather than striking out confidently and optimistically.

So, to return to Eliot – perhaps we need to be reminded that the present is all we have. We will only be able to experience our future when we arrive there. Therefore, the pathway we choose to it, should be as smooth, rich and rewarding as possible. It should not be characterised by hedonism but rather by enhancing rather than diminishing the future. Every moment spent devaluing either our future or our past, is a moment that further undermines our present.

This last point is particularly true when we fail to see our present in the context of both our past and future. One of the major contributions to this current angst within our societies, appears to be the cultural wars being waged by the warriors of WOKE. Passing judgements on figures from a previous time, without a clear understanding of the context in which they operated makes absolutely no sense. It is akin to a capital punishment abolitionist vilifying the heroes of the French Revolution for allowing Madame Guillotine to be the agent of their retribution against the aristocracy. So, it is with defacing statues of those who lived and acted in far different times and were the product of the dominant values and beliefs of that time. It is indeed an act of vandalism. If we remove all evidence of the history to which such people belonged, how can we expect to learn from that time and ensure that the world does indeed move forward?

Although we are talking about the context provided by time – this is equally true of all the contexts in which we currently find ourselves. It is impossible to understand human behaviour without knowing and understanding the context in which it occurs. This is a key principle of the science of human behaviour. Alas it is a principle that has been neglected in the sport sciences in recent years. Whereas research into the physiology, psychology and biomechanics of sport has flourished, too often it is reported in a way that fails to adequately take account of the context in which it occurs. It is why so many findings are ungeneralisable and remain in the laboratory rather than making the journey out onto the playing field of life. Understanding the history and the social context within which sport is practised is essential if scientists and professionals are going to be able to make comparisons between findings gained in different settings. Comparative studies in sport and physical education play an important role in enabling knowledge and understanding about these institutions to be widely shared. Our journal therefore has an important role to play in the development and sharing of knowledge and understanding between scientists and professionals in different settings. This is a role that has been filled by our journal over the last forty-three years. I am pleased to be able to report that the society (ISCPES), following a break of four years in activity, will be meeting again at the end of this year. The meeting which can be attended online will be hosted by Lakshmibai National College of Physical Education in India. Details are provided in this edition, and I commend this important meeting to you. That there is an interest and demand in comparative and international studies is clear from the number of submissions we have been receiving for our journal. The chance to meet with fellow researchers and colleagues in real time, if not actually face to face, is to be welcomed. It is my fervent hope that this will lead to continuing growth in interest in our multidiscipline and internationally focused field. I congratulate the organisers for their initiative. I would also like to pay tribute to former president Dr Walter Ho of the University of Macau, for his role in this as well as for his continuing support of our journal.

So, I come to commend to you the contributions of this latest volume. They come from four different continents and as such provide a representative cross section of our readership. The topics about which they write give an example of the range of understanding and practices that can usefully be shared amongst us. In our first paper Croteau, Eduljee and Murphy report on the health, lifestyle behaviours and well-being of international Masters field hockey athletes. The Masters sport movement provides an important example of why sport represents a solid investment in assisting individuals to commit to health supporting physical activity across the lifespan. The study is particularly interesting, as it provides evidence of the broader sense of wellbeing to be gained by ongoing participation and also the fact that this benefit seems to apply even in the geographic and culturally different environments provided by life in Europe, North America and, Asia and the Pacific.

Our second paper by Kubayi, Coopoo and Toriola addresses a familiar problem – the breakdown in communication between researchers and scientists in sport and the coaches who work with the athletes. The context for this study is provided by elite performance level sport in South Africa and the sports of soccer, athletics, hockey and netball. It is concluded that the sports scientists and academics need to be encouraged to make their work more available by presenting it more frequently face to face during coaching workshops, seminars, clinics and conferences. However, the caveat is that this needs to be done in a way that is understandable, applicable and relevant to helping the coach make effective decisions and solve problems in a way that benefits the athletes as the end product.

A team of medical and pedagogical scientists from Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia provide the Asian input to this volume. They raise a concern over the issue of safety and risk in physical education and how well specialists in the subject are prepared in the area of sport injury management. Hidayat, Sakti, Putro, Triannga, Farkhan, Rahayu and Magetsari collaborated in a survey of 191 physical education teachers. They concluded that there was a need for better and more sustained teacher education on this important topic. PE teacher training should not only upgrade teachers’ knowledge but also increase their self-perceptions of competence. PE teachers should be provided with enhanced training on sports injuries and Basic Life Support (BLS) skills, in order to improve the safety and maximize the benefits of PE classes. It is a finding that could usefully be compared with current practices in other countries and settings, given the common focus in the PE lesson on children performing challenging tasks in widely varying contexts.

Our final paper by Rojo, Ribeiro and Starepravo takes a very much broader perspective. Sport migration is a relatively new, specialised but expanding field in sports studies. This paper is however significant not for what it can tell us about current knowledge in sport migration, but rather in what it tells us about the way knowledge is gathered and disseminated in a specialist area such as this. Building on the ideas of Bourdieu, they demonstrate how the field of knowledge is shaped by the key actors in the process and how these key actors serve to gather and use their academic capital in that process. As such fields of knowledge can become artificially constricted in both the spaces and cultures in which they develop. The authors highlight a very real problem in the generation and transmission of academic knowledge, and it is one that International Sports Studies is well positioned to address. In conclusion, may I encourage you in sharing with these papers to actively engage in reflecting on the importance of the varying contexts these authors bring and how sensitivity to this can enlarge and deepen our own practices and understanding.

John Saunders
Brisbane, November 2021

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