Africa’s World Cup: Critical Reflections on Play, Patriotism, Spectatorship, and Space focuses on a remarkable month in the modern history of Africa and in the global history of football. Peter Alegi and Chris Bolsmann are well-known experts on South African football, and they have assembled an impressive team of local and international journalists, academics, and football experts to reflect on the 2010 World Cup and its broader significance, its meanings, complexities, and contradictions.
The World Cup’s sounds, sights, and aesthetics are explored, along with questions of patriotism, nationalism, and spectatorship in Africa and around the world. Experts on urban design and communities write on how the presence of the World Cup worked to refashion urban spaces and negotiate the local struggles in the hosting cities. The volume is richly illustrated by authors’ photographs, and the essays in this volume feature chronicles of match day experiences; travelogues; ethnographies of fan cultures; analyses of print, broadcast, and electronic media coverage of the tournament; reflections on the World Cup’s private and public spaces; football exhibits in South African museums; and critiques of the World Cup’s processes of inclusion and exclusion, as well as its political and economic legacies.
The volume concludes with a forum on the World Cup, including Thabo Dladla, Director of Soccer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Mohlomi Kekeletso Maubane, a well-known Soweto-based writer and a soccer researcher, and Rodney Reiners, former professional footballer and current chief soccer writer for the Cape Argus newspaper in Cape Town. This collection will appeal to students, scholars, journalists, and fans.
Cover illustration: South African fan blowing his vuvuzela at South Africa vs. France, Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, June 22, 2010. Photo by Chris Bolsmann.
In the United States, the entanglement of sports and education has persisted for over a century. Multimillion-dollar high school football stadiums, college coaches whose salaries are many times those of their institutions’ presidents, psychological and educational tolls on student-athletes, and high-profile academic scandals are just symptoms of a system that has come under increasing fire. Institutions large and small face persistent quandaries: which do they value more, academic integrity or athletic success? Which takes precedence: prioritizing elite teams and athletes, or making it possible for all students to participate in sports? How do we create opportunities for academic—not just athletic—development for players?
In Alternative Models of Sports Development in America, B. David Ridpath—a leading sports development researcher who has studied both the US system and the European club model—offers clear steps toward creating a new status quo. He lays out four possible alternative models that draw various elements from academic, athletic, and European approaches. His proposals will help increase access of all young people to the benefits of sports and exercise, allow athletes to also thrive as students, and improve competitiveness. The result is a book that will resonate with sports development professionals, academic administrators, and parents.
In Animated by Uncertainty, Joshua D. Rubin analyzes South African rugby through the lens of aesthetic politics. Building on 17 months of ethnographic research with rugby coaches, players, and administrators, the author argues that rugby is a form of performance and further that the qualities that define rugby shape the political ends to which the sport can be put. In this respect, Animated by Uncertainty demonstrates that theories of sporting politics cannot afford to overlook the qualities of the sports themselves, and it provides a theoretical approach to illustrate how these qualities can be studied. The book also analyzes the ways that apartheid and colonialism inhere in South African institutions and practices.Drawing inspiration from the observation that South Africans could always abandon rugby if they chose to do so, Rubin highlights how the continuing significance of rugby as a form of performance brings traces of South Africa's apartheid and colonial past into the country's contemporary political moment.
An in-depth and multiperspectival look at the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal and its roots in the culture of baseball fandom.
In 2017 the Houston Astros won their first World Series title, a particularly uplifting victory for the city following Hurricane Harvey. But two years later, the feel-good energy was gone after The Athletic revealed that the Astros had stolen signs from opposing catchers during their championship season, perhaps even during the playoffs and World Series. Their methods were at once high-tech and crude: staff took video of opponents’ pitching signals and transmitted the footage in real time to the Astros’ dugout, where players banged on trash cans to signal to their teammates at bat which pitches were coming their way. Wry observers labeled them the Asterisks, pointing to the title that no longer seemed so earned.
Astros and Asterisks examines the scandal from historical, journalistic, legal, ethical, and cultural perspectives. Authors delve into the Astros’ winning-above-all attitude, cultivated by a former McKinsey consultant; the significance of hiring a pitcher recently suspended for domestic abuse; the career-ending effects of the Astros’ transgression on opposing players; and the ethically fraught choices necessary to participate in sign-stealing. Ultimately, it links the Astros’ choices to the sporting world’s obsession with analytics. What emerges is a sobering tale about the impact of new technology on a game whose romanticized image feels increasingly incongruous with its reality in the era of big data and video.
While basketball didn’t take up residence in the White House in January 2009, the game nonetheless played an outsized role in forming the man who did. In The Audacity of Hoop, celebrated sportswriter Alexander Wolff examines Barack Obama, the person and president, by the light of basketball. This game helped Obama explore his identity, keep a cool head, impress his future wife, and define himself as a candidate.
Wolff chronicles Obama’s love of the game from age 10, on the campaign trail—where it eventually took on talismanic meaning—and throughout his two terms in office. More than 125 photographs illustrate Obama dribbling, shooting free throws, playing pickup games, cooling off with George Clooney, challenging his special assistant Reggie Love for a rebound, and taking basketball to political meetings. There is also an assessment of Obama’s influence on the NBA, including a dawning political consciousness in the league’s locker rooms.
Sidebars reveal the evolution of the president’s playing style, “Baracketology”—a not-entirely-scientific art of filling out the commander in chief’s NCAA tournament bracket—and a timeline charts Obama’s personal and professional highlights.
Equal parts biographical sketch, political narrative, and cultural history, The Audacity of Hoop shows how the game became a touchstone in Obama’s exercise of the power of the presidency.
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