Action Sports and the Olympic Games : Past, Present, Future book cover
1st Edition

Action Sports and the Olympic Games
Past, Present, Future

ISBN 9781138492851
Published November 5, 2021 by Routledge
326 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
SAVE $32.00
was $160.00
USD $128.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Based on a decade of research by two leading action sports scholars, this book maps the relationship between action sports and the Olympic Movement, from the inclusion of the first action sports to those featuring for the first time in the Tokyo Olympic Games and beyond.


In an effort to remain relevant to younger audiences, four new action sports, surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing, and BMX freestyle were included in the Tokyo Olympic program. Drawing upon interviews with Olympic insiders, as well as leaders, athletes, and participants in these action sports communities, the book details the impacts on the action sports industry and cultures, and offers national comparisons to show the uneven effects resulting from Olympic inclusion. It reveals the intricate workings of power and politics in contemporary sports organisations, and maps key trends in this changing sporting landscape.


Action Sports and the Olympic Games is a fascinating read for anybody studying the Olympics, the sociology of sport, action sports, or sport policy.

Table of Contents

1. Introducing Action Sports and the Olympic Games

2. Mapping Action Sports and the Olympic Games: Theoretical and Conceptual Considerations

3. Researching the Action Sports-Olympic Games Assemblage: A Longitudinal and Multi-Method Approach

4. The History of Action sports and the Olympics Games

5. Agenda 2020 and the Tokyo Announcement: Initial Responses and Debates in Action Sport Cultures

6. Action Sports and the Politics of Governance

7. The Action Sports Industry: A Shifting Landscape

8. Skateboarding, the Olympics and Flexible Opposition: The Sportisation of the Anti-Sport

9. Surfing’s Paradoxical Journey from Alternative Lifestyle to Olympic Sport

10. Developing Pathways to Tokyo: National Differences in the Professionalisation of Self-Governing Action Sports

11. Action Sports and the Opportunities and Challenges for Gender Equity

12. Conclusion

View More



Belinda Wheaton is Professor of Sociology of Sport at the University of Waikato, Aotearoa New Zealand.


Holly Thorpe is Professor of Sociology of Sport and Physical Culture at the University of Waikato, Aotearoa New Zealand.


"Action Sports and the Olympic Games unravels the dynamic, complex and contested nature of sport. Exposing the hypocrisies, inconsistencies, frustrations and false promises at the confluence of culturally distinct modern and alternative sports, Belinda Wheaton and Holly Thorpe present a coherent narrative around tensions, contradictions, and power struggles. Written by the two foremost scholars of alternative and lifestyle sports, Action Sports and the Olympic Games is empirically rich, theoretically deep, thoroughly contextualized, and nuanced with diverse voices and multiple truths; essential reading for those seeking to understand the politics, forms and meanings of contemporary sport." - Professor Douglas Booth, Thompson Rivers University, Canada.

"As the Olympic Games shifts from Tokyo to Paris this superbly written, well documented and rigorously researched study reveals the parallel shifts and power plays taking place over the definitions of sports that comprise the mega-event. I recommend this book to anyone – student, researcher, teacher or sports fan – who wants to know how and why sports such as skateboarding and surfing joined the Olympic spectacle and what the future may hold for the biggest multi-sport event on the planet." - Professor John Horne, Waseda University, Japan.

"In this supremely timely, superbly researched and comprehensive study, Wheaton and Thorpe provide a pioneering and multi-faceted sociology of action sports – including skateboarding, surfing, windsurfing, snowboarding, sport climbing and BMX– at the Olympics. Full of information and insight, this is a must-read for everyone interested in alternative sports, competition, and youth cultures." - Professor Iain Borden, University College London, UK.

"Wheaton and Thorpe’s partnership over the past 10 years has generated some of the best cultural analysis of action sports. This book continues that trend. Their thorough analysis and in-depth investigation into the Olympics and inclusion of action sports brings valuable insight into the politics of the International Olympic Committee, the negotiation with sports that were often considered "alternative," and the social consequences of this inclusion on the social worlds of surfing and skateboarding. Theoretically sophisticated and well-written, this is a valuable contribution to the literature in the sociology of sport, actions sports, and the Olympic movement." – Professor Becky Beal, California State University, East Bay, US.

"Action Sports and the Olympic Games applies theory in a clear and precise manner and draws on rich empirical data from case studies of different sports and sports organizations to offer deep insights into contemporary sport … [it] is the apogee of the two foremost critical scholars of alternative and lifestyle sports. It is the culmination of decades of studying lifestyle, alternative, and extreme sports by cultural insiders from windsurfing (Wheaton) and snowboarding (Thorpe) … Ultimately, Wheaton and Thorpe step well beyond the relationship between action sports and the olympic movement, and offer insights into the dynamic, complex, and contested nature of sport per se … Action Sports and the Olympic Games is essential reading for anyone interested in the politics, forms, and meanings of contemporary sport." - Douglas Booth, Thompson Rivers University, Canada, Sociology of Sport Journal