2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture

John N. Singer

Texas A&M University
Session: Songs of Liberation: Methods of Resistance in Sporting Spaces #1
Last Chance U: Exploring College Football Experiences and Media Narratives through Video Elicitation

In 2016 Netflix released an original documentary series, Last Chance U, focused on the East Mississippi State Community College (EMCC) football program. EMCC recruits athletes with a promise to be a stepping stone to major NCAA Division I football programs. The docu-series focuses on athletes who attend EMCC after running into academic or personal trouble at such big-time programs or who need extra academic assistance to be eligible. EMCC gets framed as the ‘last chance’ for these men to turn their lives around and reach their athletic potential. While some researchers have used the method of photo elicitation (e.g. in sport sociology, Harrison, Lawrence & Buckstein, 2011), less has been done using video as a medium for engaging with research participants. In this research, we engage in video elicitation using the docu-series Last Chance U to explore both the media construction of American college football as well as the experiences of players and former players. In this case, we are interested not only in the ways narratives of college football are produced via the docu-series (see Dexter & Chepyator-Thomson), but the ways in which we can use those narratives to explore the real, everyday experiences of collegiate football players.

Session: Songs of liberation: Methods of resistance in sporting spaces #2
Sport Management: Courage to Grow Through Songs of Liberation
In an article entitled “Sport without management” in the Journal of Sport Management, Newman (2014) problematized how the field of sport management usurped various sport-related disciplines (e.g., sport sociology, sport philosophy, sport history) via the rise of neoliberalism and related market forces. This bourgeoning of the sport management discipline has brought with it the “the collapse of sport studies’ multifarious epistemological and axiological features” (Newman, 2014, p. 603) into narrow conceptualizations of science and scientific inquiry (e.g., positivism) that stymie the production of emancipatory research. Though the rise of neoliberalism has provided new challenges for scholars doing liberation work in sport studies, it has also created opportunities for methodological innovation and resistance (see Cannella & Lincoln, 2015) – including within peripheral sporting spaces such as the academic field of sport management. Through sharing our own stories as critical sport management scholars we seek to shine light on the aforementioned issue and delve deeper into the meaning, significance and necessity of “songs of liberation” as methods of resistance in sporting spaces. As resistance often takes courage, we hope to accentuate creative developments in the context of oppressive sporting spaces. Thus, we close with a visual and auditory representation of contemporary liberation efforts.

The death of a devil: Notes on hearing the veiled
In 1920, pioneering sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois published a powerful soliloquy piercing the veil of white racism. His prophetic analyses in Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil remains one of the more powerful examinations of race and racism in US social science (Feagin, Vera, & Ducey, 2017), including an early formation of critical whiteness studies. Informed by critical works from Du Bois, as well as other scholars such as Marimba Ani (1994) and Derrick Bell (1991), this presentation makes use of spoken word (i.e., poetry) to interrogate the existential responsibilities of whites in addressing white racism. Recently, although few in numbers, some whites (e.g., Gregg Popovich) have attempted to critically address topics relating to whiteness and white racism in sporting spaces. Therefore, the purpose of this presentation is to contextualize this existential struggle of white being within the context of “hearing” the voices from within the veil. As noted by Jenson (2005), whites must begin to reflexively answer a central question with which Du Bois was originally concerned: How does it feel to be a problem? Doing so may provide opportunities for other whites to begin hearing songs of liberation as they relate to contemporary social justice movements.

Session: Gender, Race and Sport: Intersections/Assemblages
“White Man’z World”: Elite White Men Ruling in and through College Sport
Since Harry Edward’s (1969, 1973) pioneering work at the intersections of race, gender, sport, and society the exploitation of college athletes, particularly black males at NCAA Division-I historically white institutions (HWI) in the U.S., has received considerable attention from scholars and other social commentators. But what is largely missing from these discussions is an explicit and nuanced focus on the elite white men who have created and continue to maintain the oppressive culture and system of college sport. In this presentation we draw primarily from sociologists, Joe Feagin’s and Kimberly Ducey’s (2017) elite white male dominance system framework to foreground elite white men and illuminate how their interlocking racial, class, and gender statuses affect their powerful decision-making in college sport. In line with this year’s conference theme, we also draw from hip-hop rap artist, Tupac “2Pac” Shakur’s 1996 song White Man’z World to further discuss how “The Triple Helix” (Feagin & Ducey, 2017) of class, race, and gender domination operates in and through college sport, and impacts Black male athletes in particular, but also athletes from other demographic backgrounds and relevant social group identities as well. Implications for research, policy and practice will also be elucidated.

Session: Globalized NFL: Boundaries, Flows, Politics
Shield or sword?: Elite white men, coloniality, and the NFL
The metaphor of “the shield” has often been used by top executives to refer to the brand of the NFL. However, despite incorporating a shield into the logo of the NFL, the league operates less as a “defensive” structure and more so as an offensive weapon – a sword – in a globalized context (Hsu, 2013). Drawing primarily from Feagin and Ducey’s (2017) conceptualization of the elite-white-male dominance system, this presentation seeks to shed light on and contextualize the colonial politics of NFL globalism. As primary stakeholders, team owners and ownership groups actively create and reproduce the intersectional politics of colonialism in the context of a globalizing NFL. In his discussion of the Eurocentric diffusionist model employed by Euro-sport entities, Carrington (2010) noted how sport has been “magically removed from the conditions of white supremacy, patriarchy and colonial governance to which it is necessarily tied” (p. 46). Therefore, the purpose of this presentation is to make use of the elite-white-male-dominance system as an analytic framework for contextualizing and understanding the colonial politics of elite white men in and through the NFL along with implications therein.