The Role of Sports in Social Movements

The Role of Sports in Social Movements

The public and polarized responses to the protests by Black athletes in professional, college, and youth sports over the national anthem reveal the power of sport as a powerful cultural form. It can dramatize, for large, public audiences, the complex dynamics of activism and resistance, and bring them to broader attention. It can also frame issues, what political scientists call “agenda seeding.” Read more UFABET เว็บตรงไม่ผ่านเอเย่นต์ สมัครเลย

Despite this, scholars have been slow to recognize and articulate the unique power of sporting culture to shape and guide societal struggle. As a result, they have often analyzed athletic activism as a mere reflection of the societal problems it seeks to address and thus not worthy of consideration on its own terms. For example, some studies (e.g., Chaplin and Montez de Oca 2019; Mueller 2021) have found that many respondents want to avoid talking about or supporting athlete activists, while others (e.g., Niven 2021) have pointed to the role of pre-existing political beliefs and commitments in determining support or opposition to racial sporting activism.

The Role of Sports in Social Movements

This article attempts to correct this shortcoming by examining the overt effort by some athletes to use their platforms in service of racial change and justice agendas. Drawing on established theories of the cultural politics of sport, this study focuses on how these activist agendas and their reactions and responses intersect with the defining social characteristics, institutional conventions, and cultural codes of the sporting arena, as well as the social-change discourses that shape American understandings of sport. It is these resources that can help to understand why – as opposed to merely reflecting or reproducing societal issues and problems – this kind of overt activist agenda-setting tends to be so effective in mobilizing support for social movements.




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