1st Edition

Sport and Physical Activity in Catastrophic Environments

Edited By Jim Cherrington, Jack Black Copyright 2023
    242 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    242 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book considers the ability of individuals and communities to maintain healthy relationships with their surroundings—before, during and after catastrophic events—through physical activity and sporting practices.

    Broad and ambitious in scope, this book uses sport and physical activity as a lens through which to examine our catastrophic societies and spaces. Acknowledging that catastrophes are complex, overlapping phenomena in need of sophisticated, interdisciplinary solutions, this book explores the social, economic, ecological and moral injustices that determine the personal and emotional impact of catastrophe. Drawing from international case studies, this book uniquely explores the different landscapes and contexts of catastrophe as well as the affective qualities of sporting practices. This includes topics such as DIY skateparks in Jamaica; former child soldiers in Africa; the funding of sport, recreation and cultural activities by extractive industries in northern Canada; mountain biking in the UK; and urban exploration in New Zealand. Featuring the work of ex-professional athletes, artists, anthropologists, sociologists, political ecologists, community development workers and philosophers, this book offers new perspectives on capitalism, nature, sociality, morality and identity.

    This is essential reading for academics and practitioners in sociology, disaster studies, sport-for-development and political ecology.

    Introduction: sport and physical activity in catastrophic environments—tuning to the ‘weird’ and the ‘eerie’


    PART I

    The end of capitalism

    1 Skateboarding in Jamaica: commoning a postcapitalist future


    2 Post-Colonial residue in sport-for-development partnerships: localised insights from Cameroon


    3 The extractives industry, Indigenous communities and the use of sport, recreational and cultural programs in catastrophic environments



    The end of the social

    4 An examination of physical activity norms and code making during a global pandemic: watchful indifference and managing the bubble


    5 Physical activity and community resilience


    6 Women’s basketball and political activism in the time of COVID-19: inside the ‘Wubble’


    7 Sport governance in times of crisis: the case of montenegro and COVID-19



    The end of nature

    8 Mountain biking in the (Neg)Anthropocene: encountering, witnessing and reorienting to the end of the ‘Natural’ world


    9 An urban explorer’s experiences of meshwork, melding and the uncanny: invisible cities of the rubble


    10 Climate change, catastrophe and hope in football fandom: football as an island of hope in a warming sea of despair



    The end of morality

    11 Informational hazards and moral harm: sport and exercise science laboratories as sites of moral catastrophes


    12 Participant-Centred skateboarding in the West Bank, occupied Palestine: an Analysis of the Work of SkatePal


    13 The use of sports for former child soldiers: the faces, forces and barriers behind social inclusion



    Jim Cherrington is Senior Lecturer in physical activity, sport and health at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. His research explores how identity, bodies, knowledge and objects are materialised in/through everyday life. Much of his recent work is dedicated to investigating the socio-historical, socio-technical and onto-political conditions of ‘nature’ (sport). He is also interested in methodological innovation, both in his work on visual methodologies and creative forms of representation and is committed to finding novel ways of documenting a range of human-nonhuman relationships.

    Jack Black is Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, UK and affiliated with the Centre for Culture, Media and Society, where he is the research lead for the Anti-Racism Research Group. An interdisciplinary researcher working within psychoanalysis and the humanities, Jack’s research examines the ontological importance of time, temporality and catastrophe in natural and environmental approaches.

    'This book demonstrates academic bravery, with authors addressing the toughest topics in sport. In thirteen chapters, the editors deftly pull together a set of topics that serve as a map of the ways sport responds to catastrophe, both fast and slow. The book rejects assumptions of 'how things are' and 'how we've always done things', drawing attention to the underlying structures and systems in which sport is played and challenging the reader to reconsider sport as a vehicle for positive change and hope in the dark. I expect that moving forward, Sport and Physical Activity in Catastrophic Environments will become essential reading for graduate students and emerging academics as the disciplines of sport, recreation, physical education, and leisure navigate the next decades of climate change, racism, capitalism, (de-)colonialism, and other forms of catastrophe.'

    Madeleine Orr, Loughborough University, UK, Founder and Co-Director of The Sport Ecology Group. 


    'Timely, exciting, and ambitious, this book uses physical activity as a lens to disrupt and destabilise our notions of nature, capitalism, and morality during the ‘end times’. The contributors to Sport and Physical Activity in Catastrophic Environments explore how we can resist and thrive within the wreckage of political and environmental disruption. Jim Cherrington and Jack Black have assembled ex-professional athletes, academics, and artists to interrogate how sport and physical activity can be used to encounter, question, and even challenge catastrophic environments. Writing from different corners of the world and approaching the notion of ‘catastrophe’ from contrasting angles, the contributors help the reader appreciate the ecological, social, and political significance of sport in our toxic world, and the radical potential of physical activity. From urban exploration in earthquake-struck cities, to skateboarding in occupied Palestine; and from mountain biking in ‘post-natural’ environments, to basketball-activism during COVID-19: this powerful collection sets the bar high and plots the path for future research. This book is a must read for those grappling for answers in a time of war, plague, and climate chaos.'

    Thom Davies, University of Nottingham, UK.


    'A conceptually and empirically rich collection that offers compelling insights from around the world into the role of sport and physical activity in adapting to catastrophe. Cherrington and Black have successfully curated a compelling and timely contribution to knowledge; an intelligent and ethical book of interest to all those fascinated with thinking through how participants in sport and physical activity respond to the complexities of the environment in the context of change, continuity, and notions of ‘the end’.'

    Cassandra Phoenix, Associate Professor in Physical Activity and Health, Durham University, UK.


    'In September 2017, images of golfers finishing their round as the Eagle Creek Fire tore up a mountain behind them went viral and were seen widely as a spectacular symbol of climate denial. On the other hand, exercise and time in nature are often advocated as an antidote for climate anxiety, yet rarely does such advice reckon with the reality that increasingly, people’s local environments no longer provide safety or solace (and indeed for many disadvantaged communities, they never did). Cherrington and Black’s edited collection delves into the complexities of what it might mean to live – not just to survive – amidst compounding socio-ecological crises, and how sport and physical activity might help us notice, process, engage with, resist and reform the multifaceted catastrophes of these times. This book will open crucial conversations about the possible futures of sport and provide a critically needed embodied and energised approach to questions about coping with environmental breakdown.'  

    Blanche Verlie, Author of Learning to Live with Climate Change: From Anxiety to Transformation