International Sports Studies (ISS)

ISSN: 1443-0770

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International Sports Studies


John Saunders

International Sports Studies 44 No. 1 (2022)     pp: 1-5     2022-03-30

Stichworte/keywords: Editorial, International Sports Studies

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Saunders, J. (2022). Editorial. International Sports Studies, 44 (1), 1-5. doi:10.30819/iss.44-1.01
doi = {10.30819/iss.44-1.01},
url = {},
year = 2022,
publisher = {Logos Verlag Berlin},
volume = {44},
number = {1},
pages = {1-5},
author = {John Saunders},
title = {Editorial},
journal = {International Sports Studies}

This 2022 volume of our journal represents the completion of a decade of service by your current editorial team. As with all anniversaries this has initiated a moment of reflection. One characteristically based on a comparison of the ‘now’ with the ‘then’. I have referred before to Alvin Toffler’s thesis of future shock. First published in 1970, over fifty years ago, he accurately forecast some of the results of the accelerating pace of change that we have lived through. He indicated that the human race would eventually reach the limits of its ability to adapt to change of such a pace and scale. So, when we look back at 2012 it is relevant to ask the question how well have we been coping with the changes we have been experiencing? Does ‘now’ look any different to back ‘then’? It represents a mere decade, but does it actually seem more like a lifetime? Well, it is worth noting to start with how widespread a theme in today’s media is the emphasis on the difficulties faced by today’s generation. The suggestion is that life now has become somewhat tougher than it was for those who preceded them. Perhaps bizarrely, this seems to have become accompanied by a recurring notion that many of today’s people are also hurting as a result of injuries and injustices suffered in the past. In this context, the past can comprise any period from recent childhood to several decades or even to hundreds of years. This appears to be accompanied by a belief that the only way to rid oneself of this distress is to somehow reach back into the past and confront it. This means either seeking reparation or, where that is clearly impossible, trying in some way to pretend it never happened by cancelling the memory of these offensive previous times while gaining vengeance by destroying its statues or burning its literature. Such a view and such solutions suggest a fiercely egocentric view of the world. It comes allied with a sense of empowerment that simply cannot accommodate a perspective where reality is multidimensional and contested, yet ultimately shared. For such sharing must involve accommodation to and recognition of the thoughts, experiences and will of others. Mental health and wellbeing have become a consistent focus, particularly when considering the adaptations to lifestyle demanded by the management of the Covid 19 pandemic. Governments in many countries, particularly in the so-called democratic world, appear to be almost consistently under attack for their inability to deliver on the widespread expectations held by their populations. From this perspective, we might appear to be entering into a new age of turbulence, following a relatively peaceful few decades of uninterrupted prosperity and stability. Yet although materially, today’s youth have never been more fortunate or well provided for, it seems this economically centred reality has failed to bring with it any accompanying sense of gratitude, pleasure or satisfaction. Of course, such perceptions are always going to be dependent on what region of the world and under what circumstances you find yourself. In 2012 in Egypt for example the so-called Arab spring had brought new optimism and revolutionary zeal to the young people of that country. Such that in Cairo, protestors were breaking down barricades outside the presidential palace. In the same year protestors in Romania were also out on the streets, with violent demonstrations in Bucharest against their government’s economic austerity initiatives. In Nigeria, terrorist bomb attacks by the radical Boko Haram group, resulted in 185 deaths. In the Philippines, at the end of the year the super typhoon Bopha struck, killing more than 1000 people and destroying close to 200,000 homes. Even in a relatively stable US, they experienced one of the worst school massacres at Sandy Hook primary school in Connecticut, when a 20-year-old gunman killed 26 people mainly children. Many 2 families would also have been impacted by the reporting of the 2000 lives lost by their military in their campaign in distant Afghanistan.

So there was as always, tragedy and trauma aplenty for so many in the world’s population in every corner of the globe. Yet so many of these memories have dimmed and dropped out of the collective consciousness of those not directly affected. Perhaps fortunately, we are more likely to remember some of the more positive celebrations of the year. For us, in sport we remember a wonderful and harmonious celebration of the Olympic Games held in London. Athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees took part, enabling many nations to celebrate their own heroes, their successes and their courage. On the world political stage Great Britain celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of their long serving monarch Queen Elizabeth II remembering with gratitude the exemplary duty and service she had given to stable and continuing government and to the benefit of many generations. China welcomed Xi Jinping as its new leader at a significant time in its continuing development, while the US elected Barrack Obama to a second term as its president.

So, to return to the question – do we face a vastly different world today then we did ten years ago? Or is it simply that we are facing quite different perceptions of it? There have been several troubling reports, spread widely in the media, that today’s generation iGen/Gen Z are less resilient and less happy than their predecessors (Twenge, 2017). Of course, it is self-evident that the way we each see and experience our world is mediated by our own perceptual processes and the way they interact with the environment we individually inhabit. The current environment has, self-evidently, been impacted by the digital world and the products that it has put in place. This impact has not been trivial and the benefits and problems it has brought will have consequences for the current generation in many ways we may not yet fully understand. Since the environments in which we all grew up and came to maturity will differ and leave their unique imprints upon us, it is inevitable that they will influence and modify the ways in which we will perceive and react to change. Change works best when it is allowed to evolve and the participants in it can process it and adapt to it. This is how successful cultural change occurs. It cannot be achieved by means of imposition or indoctrination from others ‘outside the tent’. This is a fascinating topic which would take many chapters to explore properly, but I would just like to highlight the importance of language in this process. This draws attention to the responsibility that we academics have as communicators, role models and sometimes arbiters, in the way that language is used. I would like to provide just two examples of how change has been enforced upon commonly used concepts by the misuse of language – either wilfully or just unthoughtfully and ignorantly. As a result, misunderstandings can arise and often opportunities for progress can be blocked and lost. The first example I will use is that of discrimination. In my own youth, providing students with the tools of discrimination was seen as a primary aim of education. Popular culture had emerged as a product of the 1950s and 60s. The modern cyber space is just the extended and updated example of popular culture where all have access to the cultural space. For many conservative and traditional thinkers, exposure to the often ill thought-out and trivial ravings of the masses was seen as a threat to the healthy growth and wellbeing of young minds. Rather they would be better nurtured on the great works of literature. Critically important was the ability to discriminate, which gave its owner the power to identify quality in a product or a process. It enabled its possessor to sort out the valuable from the worthless. Simply, it was seen as the essence of education and intelligence. Yet today a visit to the 3 definitions offered on the internet, reveals the following as the definition for discrimination
the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of ethnicity, age, sex, or disability.

This clearly represents a lazy extrapolation from popular usage. What is illustrated here, is the shallow and uneducated use or ironically the non-use of the concept of discrimination. Its misuse in popular media as here, shows how deep the effect of sloppiness can be. Ironically it is the unthinking and immediate pigeonholing of individuals into categories as a means of making judgements about them, as practised in today’s identity politics, which is the very opposite of the educated skill of using discrimination.

The notion of patriotism provides another interesting example of how the meanings behind words can become modified by usage and common associations in certain contexts. For most, the notion of patriotism has a wholly commendable and respectable origin. It involves characteristics such as
- special affection for one’s own country
- a sense of personal identification with the country
- special concern for the well-being of the country
- willingness to sacrifice to promote the country’s good (Nathanson (1993)

Yet in more recent times it has been used frequently in association with the concept of nationalism which has been defined as:
identification with one's own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations.

The qualification in bold is interesting. It appears to be a product of current tensions with globalists who promote a vision of a world without borders. From such a perspective the very notion of ‘nations’ provides an impediment to the way in which they see the world as progressing with greater harmony. Consequently, patriotism is no longer seen as desirable and something which should be part of our children’s upbringing, but rather a symbol of narrow mindedness and xenophobia. The previously identified desire to place people into categories rather than see them as rounded and complex individuals, has led to a view of patriotism as necessarily being in opposition to a broader world view. The possibilities of patriots being capable of embracing a range of values and concern for others in other lands, is not even considered when the new category of nationalist is employed. Again, the process of creating a simple categorisation serves to obliterate the complexity of humanity and can force us to make limiting and ultimately dangerous distinctions between individuals.

These two brief examples illustrate the importance of the stewardship of language for which we, as scholarly publishers, must accept responsibility. It is also supremely important in our world of International Sport Studies. Although for convenience’s sake we choose English as our language vehicle, we seek to be an avenue for the promotion of international communication from a non-partisan perspective. At the same time, we seek to support a discriminatory notion of quality in communication, alongside a deep respect for the national cultures in which each study has originated.

Volume 44:1 represents another step forward in the development of this journal. To meet the increasing demand by authors to publish with us, we have taken the step of increasing the number of papers to six in this edition. Once again, we are pleased to 4 reflect the variety in topics, methodology and geography which represents our field. Our authors in this edition are to be found spread around the continents of Asia, North America, and Oceania. Their topics embrace the practice of physical education, traditional games and the sports of lawn bowls and professional soccer.

The first article by Georgakis and Horton, focuses on the history of lawn bowls in Australia. It is one of the oldest established sports in that country. The authors analyse its changing place in a developing nation, as a sport which can only be understood by reference to the culture and society in which it is placed. Our second study has its origins in the Philippines - a culture which has always embraced sports, music and play with an enthusiasm that seems to set it apart. The study by Gutierrez, Manuel, XXABSTRACT Masbang focuses on traditional games played in the Kapampangan region of the nation’s largest island of Luzon. Their qualitative data involve the perceptions of both elders and youngsters with regard to the strength and status of traditional games today. The authors conclude that, although the territories in which the games are played have become urbanised, the evidence suggests that the traditional games continue to be played in these modern urban surrounds. They nonetheless warn of the need to be proactive if the play opportunities and motor skill development of future generations are not to be severely curtailed. The third article by Tsuda, Wyant, Bulger, Taliaferro, Burgeson, Wechsler XXABSTRACT Elliott is an ambitious enquiry into the accountability systems in place for physical education within the schooling systems of the US. This study reminds us of the limits in generalizing about practices in any country, but particularly one as vast as the US. Their education systems are organised on a state-by-state basis and are thus varied in nature. It also emphasises what an important concept accountability in curricula is. This is particularly so when it is matched against the often empty aspirational goal statements that frequently remain as just good ideas on pieces of paper.

The three remaining papers share a common focus on professional soccer in Europe. Although all the authors are themselves situated outside of Europe, this common interest reinforces the global dimension of sport and in particular the significance of the European leagues as representing the apex of the world’s most popular game. The paper by Selçuk Özaydın reminds us how important the sale of broadcasting rights has been in the development of sport as an international business. Ozaydin’s analysis shows the relative success experienced by the various European leagues in maximising the opportunities presented by the attractiveness of their product for the entertainment industry. This very thorough analysis is based upon sixteen European countries and emphasises the absolute centrality of the broadcast income to the financial health of the world’s top leagues and clubs. In the next paper Aydin Celen has taken advantage of the natural experiment offered by the Covid pandemic requiring major football clubs to play their matches behind closed doors. It has enabled him to factor out the presence of the crowd as an influence when examining the phenomenon of home ground advantage. Based on twenty-one football leagues in eleven European countries, he has demonstrated that even without a crowd, the home advantage is still to be found. However, the degree of advantage appears to be reduced when the crowd is taken out of the equation, although the difference was not statistically significant. The final paper examines the impact of the introduction of the video assistant referee and its associated protocols into the English premier league in the season 2019/2020. The experience of this leading league is discussed in comparison with other top world leagues including the German, Spanish and Chinese.

Finally, in addition to the consolidation of this edition to include six articles, I am delighted to be able to draw your attention to the reinvigoration of the professional association which founded this journal. For the last four years the International Society for Comparative Physical Education and Sport has been in suspension. It seemed at the time as if it had become another victim of an academic environment which has increasingly failed to support adequately the endeavours of those whose volunteer efforts have kept professional associations alive for so many years. Increasingly, bureaucratically imposed workload policies have driven academics to achieve performance goals in areas that could most easily be measured. Specifically, teaching and research publications have produced the metrics that can most easily be converted into the dollar value of an academic’s work. Contribution to the broader community including the broader academic community, has been less easily measured and as a result has frequently slipped off the radar. Young ambitious academics in today’s more competitive world, are driven to invest their time and effort in the areas of most immediate reward to them. Those associations that have survived and flourished, have been those who through sponsorship or the ability to gather hefty subscription fees from members, have been able to hire executive directors and staff supporting offices. As far as the internationally focused associations are concerned, those that have survived have owed it largely to the commitment and dedication of a few individuals. In the case of ISCPES, we are delighted to learn that Professor Rosa de D’Amico of Venezuela, a well-known presence in international physical education, has taken on the position of President and has assembled an energetic team around her. The contribution of former president Walter Ho of Macau must also be acknowledged, both for his role in the rebirth of the society and his ongoing support of this journal. I draw your attention to the ISCPES news and events section in this edition and urge you to consider becoming more involved with colleagues who share your interest in international sports studies. As always, I am pleased to commend to you the work of our authors and encourage you as readers to continue to share their work in your discussions with your students and colleagues.

John Saunders
Brisbane, February 2022

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