Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society)


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Conference Highlights

Almost two-thirds of papers 15 did not specify a theoretical framework. Of the nine that did, three used grounded theory, three used a feminist framework, one used figurational sociology, one used gender relations theory and one used Sidentop's model of participation. The age profile of participants was described in different ways although some grouping was possible Table I.

The results are organized in two sections: reasons for participation in physical activity and barriers to participation in physical activity. Within each section, results are presented in order of the age group which participated in the study. Table II summarizes the main findings of this review. Although most people recognized that there were health benefits associated with physical activity, this was not the main reason for participation. Other factors such as weight management, enjoyment, social interaction and support were more common reasons for people being physically active.

Participation for young children was found to be more enjoyable when children were not being forced to compete and win, but encouraged to experiment with different activities. MacPhail et al. Enjoyment and support from parents were also crucial [ 22 ]. Parents play a large role in enabling young children opportunities to be physically active and Bostock [ 23 ] found that mothers with young children discouraged their children from playing in an environment perceived as unsafe.

Concerns about body shape and weight management were the main reasons for the participation of young girls. A number of studies [ 25—27 ] reported pressure to conform to popular ideals of beauty as important reasons for teenage girls being physically active. Flintoff and Scraton [ 28 ] interviewed very active girls who described having learnt new skills, increased self-esteem, improved fitness and developed new social networks as motivation to be physically active. Those who continued participating through these transitionary periods recalled the importance of positive influences at school in becoming and staying physically active.

For girls, having peers to share their active time with was important. A wide range of adults were studied including patients in GP referral schemes, gay and disabled groups, runners and South Asian and Black communities. Non-exercisers recalled negative school experiences as reasons for not participating into middle age [ 31 ].

Studies of GP exercise referral schemes found that the medical sanctioning of programs was a great motivator for participation [ 32 ]. Other benefits reported by referral scheme participants were the social support network created and the general health benefits of being active [ 30 , 33 ]. Among disabled men, exercise provided an opportunity to positively reinterpret their role following a disabling injury [ 34 ]. For this group, displaying and confirming their status as active and competitive was beneficial. Participants in this study described the support network offered by participation as the real value of physical activity and sport.


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In particular, meeting other disabled men and sharing similar experiences was a key motivator. The building of skills and confidence was another motive for disabled men's participation in sport [ 35 ]. The enjoyment and social networks offered by sport and physical activity are clearly important motivators for many different groups of people aged between 18 and 50 years. The reasons for participation can, however, differ subtly between people within a single group. Runners were elite members of the club and were motivated by intense competition and winning. Conversely, joggers did not consider themselves competitive in races but aimed to better their own previous best time.

Joggers were more motivated by the health benefits of running and the increased status afforded to them by non-exercisers who saw them as fit and healthy. Hardcastle and Taylor [ 37 ] suggest that a complex interplay of physical, psychological and environmental factors influence participation among older people.

Older adults identified the health benefits of physical activity in terms of reducing the effects of aging and being fit and able to play with grandchildren [ 38 ]. While GP referrals [ 32 , 39 ] encouraged the uptake of exercise in older age groups participation appears to be maintained through enjoyment and strong social networks.

This is exemplified by Cooper and Thomas' [ 40 ] study of ballroom dancers in London.

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Social dancers described dance as helping them challenge the traditional expectations of older people being physically infirm. Participation over time was supported by the flexible nature of ballroom dancing. Different styles of dance provide more or less vigorous forms of activity to suit the skills and limitations of each dancer. Equally important was the social network provided by the weekly social dance encouraging the maintenance of participation across major life events such as bereavement through the support of other dancers in the group.

Other studies also highlight the importance of social networks in maintaining participation [ 41 ]. On a simple level, barriers to participation in physical activity include high costs, poor access to facilities and unsafe environments. Other more complex issues relating to identity and shifting social networks also have a great influence. There were no studies reporting on the barriers to participation in sport and physical activity facing young children. Negative experiences during school physical activity [physical education PE ] classes were the strongest factor discouraging participation in teenage girls [ 29 ].

For many girls, impressing boyfriends and other peers was seen as more important than physical activity. While many girls wanted to be physically active, a tension existed between wishing to appear feminine and attractive and the sweaty muscular image attached to active women [ 25 ]. A number of studies [ 27 , 29 , 42 ] showed that tight, ill-fitting PE uniforms were major impediments to girls participating in school sport. These concerns over image and relationships with peers led to an increased interest in non-active leisure.

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Flintoff and Scraton [ 28 ] cited the disruptive influence of boys in PE class as another major reason for girls' non-participation. The competitive nature of PE classes and the lack of support for girls from teachers reinforced these problems. Girls were actively marginalized in PE class by boys and many described not being able to get involved in games or even getting to use equipment.


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Teachers were found to be complicit in this marginalization by not challenging the disruptive behavior of boys in class. Mulvihill et al. Orme [ 42 ] found that girls were bored by the traditional sports offered in PE. Being unable to demonstrate competency of a skill to peers in class also made people uncomfortable with PE. Non-traditional activities such as dance were more popular than traditional PE as they provided the opportunity for fun and enjoyment without competition [ 28 ]. Coakley and White [ 29 ] showed that the transition from childhood to adulthood was a key risk time for drop-out.

Anxiety and lack of confidence about entering unfamiliar settings such as gyms were the main barriers to participation in GP referral schemes. The adults reported in the studies reviewed did not identify with role models used to promote physical activity and people from this age group suggested that realistic exercise leaders would be more effective in encouraging participation [ 41 ].

The lack of realistic role models was also a problem for members of the South Asian and Black community [ 43 ]. This group did not see physical activity as a black or Asian pursuit, but rather as white, middle-class, male domain. The authors argue that there were few opportunities or facilities available to this group.

Self-perception is incredibly important in motivating people to participate in all types of physical activity. The stigma attached to being socially disadvantaged was shown to decrease exercise among low-income women in the Midlands [ 23 ]. Women in this study did not want others to see them walking due to the social stigma attached with not owning a car. Arthur and Finch's [ 35 ] study of adults with disabilities found that few relevant or positive role models existed. Disabled men reported a lack of knowledge about the appropriate types or levels of activity in relation to their disability.

Additionally there were few opportunities to meet other people who were active and disabled. This study also found that the dominance of masculine stereotypes in sport was a particular challenge to participation among gay men. Gay men reported withdrawing from organized sport due to feeling uncomfortable in the associated social situations [ 34 ].

Shaw and Hoeber's [ 44 ] discourse study of three English sports governing bodies reinforced the negative impact of macho culture in sport. Their study found that discourses of masculinity were predominant at all levels of the organization from coaching to senior management. The use of gendered language was shown to actively discourage women from advancing in these organizations. Discourses of femininity characterized by loyalty, organizational, communicative and human resource skills were associated with middle and lower management positions compared with masculine discourses centered on elite coaching, competition and the imperative to win , which were associated with senior organizational roles.

As in other age groups, the lack of realistic role models in the community was a deterrent. Exercise prescriptions were perceived as targeted at young people and not relevant to older groups. Porter [ 31 ] found that older people were anxious about returning to physical activity and identified cost and time barriers as the main problems. This paper has reviewed the qualitative research into the reasons for participation and non-participation of UK adults and children in sport and physical activity.

The review covered all qualitative papers relating to sport and physical activity in the United Kingdom from to It would appear that little theory is being generated empirically and suggests that any understanding of reasons for participation and non-participation in physical activity in the United Kingdom may be limited. Shaw and Hoeber [ 44 ] provide one example of the benefits a theoretical framework brings to qualitative research in their analysis of the gendered nature of discourses in three national sporting bodies.

Their feminist discourse analysis framework directed the research toward the particular forms of language used in a specific social setting and the implications of this language for marginalizing some groups while supporting the dominance of others. The authors used this framework to show how the masculine discourses used in senior positions actively reduced the career opportunities for women, while men were shown to be actively deterred from regional development officer posts by the feminine discourse surrounding these roles. Fun, enjoyment and social support for aspects of identity were reported more often as predictors of participation and non-participation than perceived health benefits.

For young children and teenage girls in particular, pressure to conform to social stereotypes is a key motivator. Along with older groups, children see enjoyment and social interaction with peers as reasons to be physically active. Although girls report a willingness to be active, this must be on their own terms in a safe non-threatening environment. A clear opposition can be seen between girls wanting to be physically active and at the same time feminine [ 25 ] and the strong macho culture of school and extracurricular sport [ 46 ].

One area where the evidence base is strong is the negative impact which school PE classes have on participation of young girls. Changing PE uniforms, providing single sex classes and offering alternate, non-competitive forms of PE are easy, realistic ways in which PE could be changed and which the research suggests would improve long-term participation. Additionally, teachers need to take a more active role in ensuring that students are involved and enjoying PE classes.

There appears to be some change in this area. A number of papers reviewed made the point that the role models for children and young adults are usually beautiful and thin in the case of women and muscular in the case of men. The desire to be thin and, in the case of girls, feminine, leads to increased motivation to be physically active [ 28 ]. This desire is not as strong in older populations and from the mids on, role models with a perfect body have a negative effect on participation [ 43 ].

While the masculine nature of organized and semi-organized sport culture marginalizes women, this review has shown that groups of men are also marginalized. Robertson [ 34 ] has suggested a rethinking of youth sports and in particular the links between sport and masculine identities. Identity formation is a key transition in adolescence, and there is some evidence that physical activity advances identity development.

Kendzierski [ 48 ] reported that individuals with an exercise self-schema self-perception as a physically active person tended to be active more often and in more types of activity than those with a non-exercise schema self-perception as not physically active. This relationship between leisure activity and identity may also be dependent on gender and the gendered nature of activities [ 49 ].

Alternate models of sporting clubs, such as those in which children can try a number of traditional and non-traditional sports in one place, could also provide improved take up and maintenance of participation. With the exception of the walking and cycling action plan, there appears to be little reference to empirical research on reasons for and barriers to participation in physical activity in government policy [ 11 , 50—55 ]. Little is known about the reasons why people do and do not participate in physical activity and the relationship between their levels of participation and different stages in their lives.

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A number of the papers reviewed [ 29 , 34 , 35 ] found that significant shifts in the life course have implications for participation in physical activity. A mix of quantitative and qualitative methods could build an evidence base to understand changes to sport and physical activity at critical transitional phases during childhood, adolescence and adult life.

This review provides a starting point for new work. This review has identified qualitative studies of the reasons for and barriers to participation in sport and physical activity. Participation is motivated by enjoyment and the development and maintenance of social support networks. Barriers to participation include transitions at key stages of the life course and having to reorient individual identities during these times.

The introduction provides a succinct and cogent justification for the study of sport history, reminding us that unless we have academically rigorous studies of sport, 'ahistorical and mythologised invocations of the past will continue to inform our everyday awareness of sport' page 4. This introduction also emphasises that the study of sport history has been uneven and that some crucial issues, such as the history of the relationship between radio and sport, have been largely neglected.

The appendix at the end of the book is a short yet admirably clear survey of the rise of academic sports history in Britain and of other forms of historical writing upon sport including autobiographical accounts of what sport has meant to fans, a genre stimulated by Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch, but it may have been more appropriate to have included this appendix with the rationale for sport history provided in the introduction.

The following six chapters all open with a review of theoretical approaches to particular aspect of sport and its social setting. These reviews are clearly expressed, sometimes more clearly expressed than the original work they summarise, and they are related to the discussions of empirical data which make up the remainder of each chapter. Chapter One concentrates upon sport, politics and the state. It shows that even though the erroneous nature of claims that sport can be kept separate from politics is easy to demonstrate, the view persists that sport becomes sullied through contact with politics.

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Polley uses the models of state involvement with sport formulated by Lincoln Allison and John Hargreaves as the structure for his assessment of historical writings concerned with the attempts of British governments to exploit sport and with the forms of political conformity and political division provoked by sport. His analysis of the Sports Council and of the activities of Ministers for Sport emphasises that the strength of the voluntary tradition within British sport has meant that in sport the state has tended to act as a facilitator rather than a controller.

The level of government interference with the Sports Council, he suggests, has been similar to that with the BBC. Polley rightly stresses the role of local authorities in the provision of sports facilities, but the changes in the level of support at public sector schools for sport is an aspect of state involvement with sport which is rather pushed to one side in this chapter. The political debates surrounding sporting relations with South Africa and the use of sport as an arm of diplomacy form a major section of this chapter.

The political dimensions of sport are recurring themes of the second chapter which concentrates upon ' Sport, the nation and the world. Much of this chapter concentrates upon the expansion of international sporting competition since the 1 s and shows how this led to an abandonment of the lofty isolationism which had characterised much of British sport in the s.

The desire for success in international competition has led to greater awareness of the shortcomings of sport structures in Britain and to the growing numbers of coaches and players from overseas taking part in British sport. The international dimensions of sport are discussed in relation to the concept of globalisation and the differing meanings which this term can have when applied to sport.

Polley appraises show far the extension of international sports competitions have brought about greater homogenisation of sports in different countries and the greater movement of players and spectators across international boundaries but at the same time have strengthened national identities and animosities.

This is the clearest and most perceptive examination of globalisation and British sport which this reviewer has encountered. The economic significance of sport is discussed in chapter three which looks at the growth of commercialisation within sport. Polley traces the expansion of the commercial sponsorship of sport and its connections with advertising through the televising of sport.

He explains how the decline in the numbers of paying spectators for many sports led to the search for alternative sources of income and that the acceptance of a more overtly commercialised and profitmaximising outlook on the part of sport administrators and players can be related to the avid pursuit of wealth associated with the rise of Thatcherite values in so much of society. Polley provides examples of how sports have changed their rules and consequently styles of play in the hope of attracting larger television audiences and higher levels of sponsorship.

Little is included about the escalating earnings of leading professional sportsplayers, a trend which has alarmed many followers of sport, though there are comments, but not much more than passing comments, upon this in other chapters. Polley's analysis of the contribution of sport to the national product in the s and s emphasises the crying need for a survey of what sport has contributed to the economy in the twentieth century. Statistics in this chapter illustrate the main points and never become overbearing.

In the first section of his study of sport and gender Polley examines the main strands in the already vast literature which have considered how the physicality of sport has meant that it has had a crucial role in debates about the use of the body and consequently in the construction of gender identities. Polley shows how so much of sport is taken to be men's sport and that sport has prioritised some expressions of masculinity whilst marginalising others. Sports organised openly for gays, for instance, has been very much a development of recent years.

He charts how the numbers of women playing and watching sports since have grown, how women have taken up sports previously played exclusively by men and how in the 1 s and more particularly the s single governing bodies have assumed responsibility for the female and male variants of their sports.


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Polley demonstrates that sport remains a site of gender politics. Chapter Five considers sport, social class and professional status. Polley explains how the different social settings of different sports have meant that different social groups have used them to emphasise their status and social exclusiveness whereas other sports replicate the social order by allocating differing roles to those with different backgrounds. The elitism of sport such as golf and polo have attracted those wishing to climb the social ladder.

The weakening of some social barriers in sports, such as cricket scrapping the distinction between amateurs and professionals, and the rise of trade unions or professional associations for paid sportsplayers are assessed as evidence for the spread of professional cultures. Polley casts doubts upon how far the increased earnings of professional footballers have resulted in their embourgeiosement and consequently questions the validity of income as a signifier of class. This chapter says disappointing little about how far and in what respects sports have been a focus for class conflicts, but it does mention the claims that football hooliganism is an expression of working-class alienation and the anarchist resentment against fox hunters, though the anti-hunting lobby seems to be one which crosses class boundaries.

There is only passing comment upon how sports can act as a register of class relations and whilst the opening sections of this chapter note the rise of other identities such as those based upon ethnicity or gender, the issue of whether the social relations of sport indicate that class is dead in contemporary Britain is side-stepped.

The chapter concerned with ethnicity in sport shows how sports have perpetuated assumptions surrounding ethnicity and have been a vehicle for racism in society in general. Polley demonstrates that the high level of success among black sportsplayers in a small number of sports is not proof of the widely-held conviction that blacks have different physical and mental capabilities from whites but that it can be related to economic deprivation, a lack of opportunities in other sports and the beliefs among teachers and coaches that blacks are naturally suited to some sports. Although successful black sportspeople receive much praise, they are often the targets of much racial abuse.

Polley shows that on the field of play and within sport administration, non-whites have been underrepresented in positions of authority, though the scale of this has diminished in recent years. Perhaps more could have been said about the level of black involvement with the running of the Professional Footballers' Association, a form of sports administration with a strong black presence.

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Movements such as Stop the Seventy Tour and the Kick Racism Out campaigns are discussed to show how sport has been involved in attempts to combat racism. Polley very rightly points out that most of the literature concerned with racism and sport in Britain has focused upon those of African-Caribbean descent. Little has been published about South Asian involvement with sport and the comparative absence within sport of South Asian women. One feature of recreational cricket in the North of England during the 1 S and more particularly the 1 s has been the growth in the numbers of Asian cricket clubs.

At several points in this book Polley considers the impact of television upon sport and to a lesser extent the representations of sport by the newspaper press.

Sport in Asian Society: Past and present

They have had a crucial part in stimulating interest in sport and in shaping the meanings attached to sport. It can be contended that sport stars and the qualities which they are taken to celebrate have been very largely a construction of the media. Newspapers are a major source for most academic histories of sport.

As the media are so vital for an understanding of sport in modern Britain, Polley ought to have included a chapter devoted to the relationship between them and sport. It has already been mentioned that radio sports journalism has been largely neglected by media historians, and many areas of the press and sport are under-researched but sufficient has been written for an assessment of the interactions between sport and television.

With the exception of sport and the media, Moving the Goalposts succeeds admirably in assessing the interrelationship between sport and society in Britain since The strengths and limitations of the literature are evaluated judiciously and presented with clarity. The bibliography is comprehensive and runs to seventeen pages. Only one factual slip was noticed - Len Hutton became England's cricket captain in not Those who teach undergraduate modules upon the social and cultural history of sport will welcome this work and have no hesitation in recommending it as the starting point for studying the post-war period but it will also become an essential text for the study of post-war popular culture in Britain.

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Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society) Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society)
Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society) Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society)
Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society) Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society)
Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society) Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society)
Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society) Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society)
Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society) Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society)
Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society) Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society)
Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society) Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society)
Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society) Sport in South Asian Society: Past and Present (Sport in the Global Society)

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