Americans love sports. An estimated 35 to 50 million American youth play organized sports, the Super Bowl regularly attracts over 160 million viewers, and sports figures are among America’s most recognized celebrities.
Yet on the heels of recent media attention to concussions in football and domestic violence in the NFL, there is currently great interest among coaches and athletes at all levels, as well as many others, to come to practical terms with violence associated with competitive contact sports. There are, moreover, questions about the relationship between sports violence and other habits and behaviors among athletes and spectators, the formation of virtue in sports, moral education in sports, and the intersection of sports, gender, and violence.
In some cases, sports function to inculcate virtue and channel aggression as an alternative to conflict. This analogy, following some theorists, holds true within spectators as well, who through their support of the aggression on the field cathartically direct their passion into their support of the game.
These positive effects stand alongside other descriptions of sports as producing “casualties of war” such as injured (especially concussed) players with a determination to “play through it,” often leading to long-term effects for the players. By investigating the complex relationship between sports and violence at multiple levels (athlete, fan, society) and from a variety of different angles (sociological, historical, practical, medical), the 2016 Ashland Center for Nonviolence Sports and Violence conference seeks to advance important and timely conversations in an interdisciplinary fashion that will appeal to a broad range of groups.
The Sports and Violence Conference will be held on March 19, 2016 on the campus of Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio.
We are seeking paper and panel proposals that engage the conference theme. Papers may vary across disciplines and emphasize either practical or theoretical considerations. We also welcome proposals that engage one or more sphere of life: religion, business, education, the social sector (e.g. family), arts and entertainment, government, media. Presenters who wish to engage technical academic debates are welcome to do so, but should avoid jargon and be aware that the conference audience will be diverse, including students from various backgrounds, non-scholars or practitioners from the community, coaches, athletes, and scholars from multiple disciplines.
Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted using the online submission form here before October 31, 2015. Presenters should plan on a 20 minute paper or presentation with time for questions and discussion. We also welcome panel proposals.
The conference organizers are considering publishing a selection of the papers, depending on submissions. Please indicate in your proposal whether you are willing to produce a version of your presentation for publication.
Possible topics for individual papers and panels might include (but are not limited to):
- Successful efforts by teams at addressing off-field violence
- Virtue formation (e.g. sportsmanship) and athletic training
- Sports and catharsis (social and individual)
- Sports, bodily practice, and identity formation
- Discriminating between “violence” and “force” in sports
- The ethics of spectating
- Sports camaraderie and competition as assets for peacebuilding
- Financial remuneration, sports, and violence
- Sports and trauma
- Sports, psychological conditioning, and violence
- Sports, religion, and violence
- The intersection of sports, a philosophy of embodiment, and violence
- War-making and sports as comparative practices
- Gendered sports and gendered violence
- The possibility of “nonviolent” sports
- National identity, sports, and violence
- Sports, drug abuse, and violence
- Sports, physical activity, and social responsibility
- Globalization, sports, and international dis/unity
Dr. Craig Hovey, Director, Ashland Center for Nonviolence