Each issue of Global Sport Matters aims to share knowledge and focus its storytelling around a topic that makes an impact on sport and the world at large.
The World of Football
The Qatar World Cup looks destined to be a debacle, from the scheduling for teams and athletes to the human rights abuses around workers at the event, to the logistics and after-effects of holding the event itself.
At the same time, soccer is changing like all sports – becoming more cross-pollenated between cultures and nations, maneuvering through a massive influx of cash, and modernizing on and off the pitch.
We offer a look at the state of world football through the lens of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Athletes & Activism
Across the world, athletes continue to use the fame and audience afforded to them to fight for social and political change. Today’s athlete activists embrace the legacy of their forebears while also reimagining how and what they fight for.
Following a global pandemic and racial unrest in recent years, athletes have an opportunity now to set the course for a new era beyond the game.
Access & Opportunity in Sport
The physical and social benefits of athletic competition are clear, but across the globe, many are still unable to enjoy them.
Can sport evolve to be more inclusive and adapt to the bodies, minds and circumstances of everyone who wants to play?
Progress vs. Power in Sport
In his 1996 book “In Black & White,” Global Sport Institute founding CEO Kenneth L. Shropshire wrote that “the selection of the right person for a position in sports, both on and off the field of play, is extraordinarily subjective.” That book prescribed reforms across levers of society to increase the representation of Black leaders in sport.
This issue continues Shropshire’s exploration, with a particular interest in how those in power have shaped progress when it comes to diversity, for better and worse.
The Influence of Sports Media
The media shapes how people view characters and issues in sport and society. Today, however, journalists’ stories are increasingly found online and on social networks in addition to more traditional mediums like print, television and radio.
As the media itself has changed, its relationship to and impact on athletes and the sports industry has changed as well. Does a more disparate and diverse media ecosystem inspire hope for a better future in sport, or could old pitfalls arise again in an era defined by digitization and immediacy?
The Return on Our Sports Investment
You can see it from the skyline: Sport is a dominant part of any community where it is played. The economic relationship between professional organizations and these communities has always been fundamental to understanding sport, but as the industry grows, so too does the sway sport holds over cities and states.
How do fans and residents see this relationship? Do these private businesses owe the public more than they are giving? And what is the ideal role sports organizations should play in a community?
Mental Health: A New Priority in Sport
Athletes continue to tell us they are not OK with their actions and words. In response, the sports industry has acknowledged it can and should be doing more to support the people who are its lifeblood, from athletes to coaches and beyond.
Sport is both reckoning with its roots, uncovering how history and habit created circumstances that don’t suit everyone who competes, as well as navigating new territory during a time of unprecedented strain on our mental well-being. By making mental health a priority, sport has an opportunity to confer a host of benefits supporting mental wellness and to be more safe, inclusive, and inspiring.
The Sustainability of Sport
Sport is a large-scale global pursuit that brings together people and places, often creating deep roots with the environment in which it is played. As a result, sport both contributes to ecological change and is affected by it.
As efforts intensify to address decades of carbon emission, commercial growth, and environmental deterioration, sport can take the lead in championing progress. If current trends continue, however, sport could face some of the more serious consequences of a changing Earth.
College Sports 2.0
Last summer, NCAA president Mark Emmert openly acknowledged it was “the right time” to answer the question “if we were going to build college sports again, and in 2020 instead of 1920, what would that look like?”
From education to athlete safety, labor laws to race and gender equity and beyond, this issue offers guidance for what that next iteration of American college sport ought to look like.
Sport & the Body
The body is the most fundamental component of sport, capable of unthinkable feats and requiring considerable care. Athletes continually push their bodies to the brink in order to excel at their craft, and the 21st century has brought about a reimagining of the limits of physical ability.
Yet as the world of sport intensifies its focus on the body, athletes are demanding better care, more freedom, and increased flexibility around how they maintain and shape theirs.
Passions & Pitfalls in American Sports Betting
Sports gambling in the U.S. has quickly gone from mostly illegal and largely taboo to widely embraced and increasingly pervasive. Yet as states, leagues, and fans all join a multibillion-dollar gold rush, there are questions about the effect of this shift on government finances, competitive and journalistic integrity, and public health.
U.S. sports fans may not have asked for betting to become part of their everyday lives, but in 2022, they suddenly find themselves navigating the minefield it presents.
NIL & the Future of College Sports
College sports changed dramatically this year with new NCAA rules allowing athletes to profit from their names, images, and likenesses (NILs). For athlete empowerment advocates, it was a major victory—one that could prompt further reform and reorganization across the landscape of intercollegiate athletics.
How has NIL already impacted college sports, and what is on the horizon for campuses and their communities around the United States?
Taking Charge in Women's Basketball
Across the world, basketball is relatively unique among team sports with the volume of women who play and coach in its ranks. Still, trends in the sport’s leadership don’t accurately reflect the athletes who put in the work each day on the court.
While a diverse crop of head coaches at HBCUs has not created a pipeline to the Power Five, new momentum behind women’s sports has helped carry women’s basketball to new heights. Can an exciting, outspoken generation of leaders in the sport turn it into a more equitable and popular avenue for women to thrive as leaders and athletes?
Rediscovering America's Pastime
For baseball to survive as America’s pastime, the sport known for tradition and nostalgia will need to broaden its appeal across racial, cultural, and gender lines.
For the kid who swings a bat for the first time; the front office data analyst looking for the next big star; the minor leaguer hoping to make it to the bigs; and the major league manager looking to stay on top, can a centuries-old sport become more diverse and inclusive in new ways?
The Athlete's Journey
If you are what you repeatedly do, what happens when you stop doing it?
The athlete’s journey outside of competition is not often covered in media, nor considered all that much by fans. It can, however, be core to athletes’ lived experiences, impacting decisions on where to play, which business opportunities to take, how to take care of their physical and mental health and more.
The Risk & Reward of Globalized Sport
Globalization has accelerated since the latter half of the 20th century, making sport a key cultural import. Whether it was a Michael Jordan sneaker or simply a ball and net that helped new communities discover soccer, the United States gave and received sport along with many nations around the world.
It’s unclear if those same silos still exist today. Sport is increasingly a means by which nations interact, and at a higher level of interconnectedness than ever. In what ways is sport’s impact being utilized as a tool for development and detriment around the world?
Beyond the Binary in Sport
The spectra of sex, gender, and sexuality challenge our traditional understanding of sport and competition, but are increasingly central to the conversation around athlete and fan experience.
With legislation and organizing increasing around how these various identities intersect, sport makes a natural landscape for discourse and broadening our knowledge of these conversations. How are perspectives changing, and what can we discover by diving into the multitudes underneath these nuanced topics?
The Administration of Change
Higher education is an environment ripe for discovery, new knowledge, and innovation. However, the role of Athletic Director at university levels still reflect the commonly seen disparities between representation of race, gender, experience, and perhaps most ironically – education level.
Beyond Black and White, what are the underlying factors for the still murky ‘pipeline’ to administrative leadership in U.S. college sport?
Now & Then: How Sport Has Transformed
For many, it’s been approximately a year in the life of a pandemic. We’ve seen tragedy, resilience, growing gaps of opportunity and opportunities for growth, juxtaposed in communities across the globe. The world of sport was not immune.
From a pause in play, to a push for more progressive racial justice, to unanswered questions about the long-lasting impacts of COVID-19 that still linger in the air – what do we wish we knew then, that we know now?
The Power of Women & Girls in Sport
From participation to coaching, and shattering leadership ceilings, 2020 was slated to be a year of progress for women’s sport. But then came the pandemic.
2021 could still stand to be a significant year of growth for women and girls in sport. What long-standing barriers and future opportunities lie ahead?
How the NFL Moves Forward
18 years after the inception of the Rooney Rule, data shows a lack of forward progress when it comes to diversity at the highest levels of leadership in the NFL.
What actions are necessary to move the chains on safety, equity, and inclusion in the league?
Predictions & Provocations for Sport: 2021
Although no one could have predicted all that 2020 has been, what lessons will the world of sport take into next year?
We asked some of the best and brightest minds to contribute their thoughts.
The Reset of College Sport
Sport at the college level in America is facing issues reflective of the world at large. From the calls for racial equality, labor disputes and discussions, to health and safety concerns with playing in a pandemic – what will this reset moment look like?
COVID-19 & Sport
COVID-19 is the rival no one in sport could game plan for. As many live events remain at a standstill and the world keeps adapting, how is sport resetting upon its staggered returns?