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Sport Actvism

What is Sport Activism?

Sport activism is advocating or acting for social or political change in sport, or through sport; for social or political change elsewhere. Effective sport activism and protest dispel the myth that sport and politics do not mix and offer a degree of optimism that oppression can be challenged.

Sport offers a theatre of opportunity ripe for activism which has the potential power to transform circumstances, and can act as a site for resistance towards targets both inside and outside sport, ideologically, politically economically, socio-culturally, and environmentally.

Sport activism represents a challenge to those who uncritically assert that sport is non-political, that politics should be kept out of sport, and to blinkered sport evangelists who believe that sport is always a benign force for social good. Sport Activism contests the conservative social values which permeate sport, the global neo-liberal economic context within which sport is practiced, and is illustrated by a range of examples drawn from both lawful means and civil disobedience.

Examples of Sport Activism [Read more…]


Sport has proved a fertile ground for activism and protest; its history littered with many forms.

There are well documented iconic examples such as the death of suffragette Emily Davison trampled under the King’s horse in 1913, Mohammed Ali repeatedly demanding his Islamic name from his opponent whilst winning the 1967 boxing heavyweight championship, the 200 metre gold and silver medal winners at the 1968 Olympics striking a Black Power salute on the podium whilst bowing their heads to “their” national anthem, and the Black September group kidnapping and killing nine Israeli athletes, coaches and officials at the 1972 Olympics.

More recently Ultras Ahlawy fans joined the Arab Spring protests in 2011 fighting street battles in Cairo to help seize control of Tahir Square. In 2012 Trenton Oldfield risked injury and imprisonment swimming across the river to disrupt the Oxford and Cambridge boat race, whilst other campaigners gained some justice for fans killed in the 1989 disaster at Hillsborough winning legal disclosures and recourse for investigation into misconduct by public authorities.

In 2014 members of Pussy Riot were whipped and tear-gassed whilst trying to sing at the Sochi winter Olympics and many Brazilian people took to the streets in the face of percussion grenades and tear gas to protest against hosting the FIFA world cup. And in 2015, the citizens of Hamburg voted in majority to stop their city hosting the 2024 Olympics, whilst in Yorkshire Newsome Sport and Bowling Club members gained notoriety using an angle grinder to break through the landlord’s steel gate at their club and then playing a celebratory match.




More on Sport Activism [Read more…]


Sport activism is an awakening to pursue transformative change, identify issues, and propose solutions. And campaigns and protests are organized expressions of disapproval, opposition and dissent, utilising imaginative methods. Sport activism is shaped by the identity of activists, the theatre of opportunity that they inhabit, and the issues that inspire them to organize, campaign, and protest. For some, activism is a state of being, a full-time preoccupation, and protests merely significant events which punctuate their vocation.




Sport Activism and Protest is a paper which considers sport activism broadly and offers a range of inspiring examples of how it is carried out.

[Read more…]


This paper offers a lens with which to conceptualise sport activism overall and concludes by offering a “framework” which flexibly encapsulates its diverse nature and consolidates its understanding. It draws on a range of examples to illustrate who is protesting, which issues they are protesting about, how activism is carried out, and the ethics of engagement utilising different methods.

These include familiar iconic protests but in particular, innovative and sustained radical sport activism is illuminated from the sub- cultural shadows

to reveal alternative ways of thinking and being.





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