Rhetoric, Sport, and the Political

Workshop Leaders:

Michael L. Butterworth, Ohio University
Daniel A. Grano, University of North Carolina-Charlotte

Critical scholars of sport have long felt compelled to justify the topic as a legitimate site of study. In light of the growing presence of rhetorical scholarship about sport, the need for such justifications appears now to have given way to more theoretical concerns. In this workshop, we take up these concerns by asserting that rhetorical scholarship of sport should identify sport as a complex site for the identification, enactment, and contestation of the political. More specifically, we will suggest that:

  • Sport is not merely a “mirror” of society; rather, it plays a role in constituting society
  • Sport is neither separate from nor opposed to politics; rather, it is defined by a range of political practices, including allocations of resources, representations of identity, projections of nationalism and globalization, activism, and change
  • Sport is more than a pathway to studying other, “more important” issues; rather, sport is a site within which unique social formations and political struggles take shape.

In this workshop, we will engage with ideas evaluating the intersections of rhetoric, sport, and the political. Readings will be grounded in rhetorical studies, with supplemental readings coming from political theory and cultural studies. We will also identify exemplars of rhetorical scholarship featuring sport, while using contemporary discourses as invitations to identify future research trajectories. Participants are encouraged to bring a project-in-progress, but it is not required.

Questions should be directed to Michael Butterworth, butterwm@ohio.edu.