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New book puts discrimination in sport under the microscope


A new book, bringing together international perspectives on the wide-spread problem of discrimination in sport and how it can be tackled, has been published by a Leeds Beckett University academic.

Dr Dan Kilvington

Despite campaigns to educate and increase awareness, discrimination continues to be a deep-rooted problem in sport. Sport and Discrimination, edited by Dr Daniel Kilvington, Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Leeds Beckett University, and Dr John Price, Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland, offers international perspectives on the problem of discrimination across a variety of sports and potential ways of contesting and challenging this. 

Dr Kilvington explained: “Sport is commonly regarded as a level playing field: a space where the best players naturally rise to the top; a site where achievements are based on merit and hard work. This perception of sport appears to ignore how racism, sexism, homophobia and able-ism operate and discriminate against players, coaches, sporting organisations, and fans. This book brings together key academics, practitioners and campaign groups from around the world to place sport under the discriminatory microscope.” 

Drawing on examples from football, rugby, cricket, tennis, climbing, the Olympics and the Paralympics, the authors analyse current debates and discuss the latest research on the changing nature of discrimination in sport. Taking into account the experiences of athletes and coaches across all performance levels, it presents recommendations for further action and directions for future research. 

Dr Kilvington said: “The book features authors from America, France, India, Australia and the UK, examining a plethora of sports such as football, cricket, climbing and American football. It highlights that discrimination, in multiple forms, operates in both micro and macro levels. Campaign group Kick It Out, for example, discuss the growing threat of overt football fan prejudice on social media platforms; while Dr Michael Regan (Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Texas A&M University, USA) and Joe Feagin (Ella C. McFadden Professor of Sociology at Texas A&M University), in their chapter, explore the covert nature of racism within American college sports. 

“Dr John Price, my co-editor, and I hoped to identify themes and patterns across the work, which crosses academic disciplines and international boundaries.  The most significant theme throughout the book refers to the debate surrounding the power and importance of language in constructing, reproducing, contesting and challenging discrimination in sport. 

“The importance of language acts as a reminder that discrimination occurs, and therefore needs to be tackled, at a variety of levels.  It exists from an institutional and policy level, through the formal and informal structures of employment and administration, to the everyday talk sometimes misleadingly dismissed as ‘banter’. It also embodies some powerful histories, traditions and ideologies that need to be contextualised and understood before progress can be achieved. In taking critical approaches to language in use across these different levels and contexts, the chapters offer not only a variety of insights into how discrimination is constituted, but also how it may be challenged and reduced.” 

Sport and Discrimination is published by Routledge and is aimed at all students and academics in the field of sports studies with an interest in the sociology of sport and the relationship between sport, society and the media. 

Dr Daniel Kilvington’s research interests include ‘race’, racisms and ethnicity within sport and media contexts. He is the co-author of Race, Racism and Sports Journalism (2012), Sport, Racism and Social Media (2014) and author of British Asians, Exclusion and the Football Industry (2016). He is the co-founder of the Sport and Discrimination Conference series and a trustee of the community cohesion charity, The Zesh Rehman Foundation (ZRF). 

Competition: The Communications team has a copy of Sport and Discrimination to give away as a competition prize. To enter, please email with ‘Sport and Discrimination’ as the subject title, by the closing date of Friday 10 March.

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