Call for Papers | “Activism in College Sport”, Special Issue of Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics (JIIA). Call ends June 15, 2022

Mara Green, a Florida State U. volleyball player, took a knee 2016 before a match against the U. of Florida in silent protest against racial injustice and police brutality.(Photo Joe Rondone, Tallahassee Democrat)

Throughout the 20th and early 21st century, protests and resistance for social change has been synonymous with colleges and universities. From the abolition movement to the women’s suffrage movement to the Civil Rights movement to various anti-war movements, postsecondary institutions have served as incubators for student mobilization efforts to challenge injustices on campus and beyond. Despite the breadth of literature on college student involvement in protests and boycotts, comparatively there is less research on activism in and through college sport. In recent years during the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and MeToo movement, there has been a proliferation of college athlete activism geared towards changing the status quo of society including the structure of intercollegiate athletics and campus climates at institutions of higher education. In addition to college athletes, there are a number of individuals and groups connected to sport such as sport scholar activists (Carter-Francique, Gill, & Hart, 2017), sport journalist activists (Agyemang, Singer, & Weems, 2020), legal activists (Hoffman, 2020), and institutional and organizational activists such as athletic departments at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to name a few (Cavil, 2015). 

 Within this special issue, there will be an emphasis on the differences and overlap between activism in college sport and activism through college sport. More specifically, we define activism in college sport as concerted disruptive efforts seeking to alter the structure, policies, and/or practices of the intercollegiate sport system and culture. A prime example of activism in college sport occurred in 2015 when a group of Northwestern football players appealed to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to secure employee status thereby enabling them to unionize and collective bargain with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for equitable compensation, rights to their name, image, and likeness, increased healthcare benefits, and other conditions and resources for their labor as college athletes (Staurowsky, 2014). This type of activism involved changing specific sports policy issues (Hoffman, 2020). Whereas, activism through college sport refers to concerted disruptive actions by individuals or groups connected to college sport who utilize their agency, platform, status, and resources to agitate and advocate for social justice beyond the intercollegiate athletic space such as on campus or society more broadly. An example of activism through college sport occurred during the 2016 season when a group of football players at the University of Missouri collaborated with student activists at the school to demand significant changes in the racist campus climate including the resignation of the president and (Ferguson & Davis, 2019). This type of activism involved changing campus experiences and social issues beyond sport (Hoffman, 2020).

Within this special issue, we seek to draw historical connections between different types of activism and collective action exhibited by individuals and groups connected to college sport over time, space, and context.

In addition, in recent years scholars have highlighted how activism manifest itself in distinct ways. For example, Hoffman (2020) outlined the following types of college athlete activism: a) demonstrations, boycotts, or strikes, b) legislative action, and c) legal action. Cooper, Macaulay, and Mallery (2020) presented a ten-category typology of sport activism including symbolic, scholarly, grassroots, sports-based, economic, media, political, legal, music and art, and military. Within this special issue, we seek to draw historical connections between different types of activism and collective action exhibited by individuals and groups connected to college sport over time, space, and context. For example, efforts focused on gender equity in sport occurred prior to the passage of Title IX with the establishment of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) in the early 20th century and continue in the 21st century with the recent social media activism of Sedona Price of University of Oregon posting a video during the March Madness tournament in March 2021 that revealed how men’s teams continue to receive more resources compared to women’s teams. In terms of racial justice, Black athletes, coaches, and administrators have been active in demand equal treatment dating back to the early 20th century when they were largely excluded from NCAA and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletic (NAIA) programs and these efforts continue in the 21st century with calls for increased diversity in college athletic leadership positions at the national, conference, institutional athletic department, and team levels. Related to college athletes’ rights, players at Ivy League schools in the early 20th century boycotted games when they felt compensation for their talents was lackluster and these challenges persist in the 21st century in the of legal activism against the NCAA and its corporate partners (i.e., Alston v. NCAA), grassroots and mass mobilization activism (i.e., All Players United and National College Players Association (NAPA)) and symbolic and social media activism with the #NotNCAAProperty campaign (Cooper, 2021). 

Given the vast range of issues within and surrounding college sport, it is timely and important to have a special issue that explores historical and contemporary instances of activism in and through college sport, their impacts, and the future trajectory of these efforts. Empirical, conceptual, methodological, and theoretical submissions are encouraged. In this special issue, we invite scholars to offer critical examinations of different types of activism exhibited by individuals, groups, and institutions connected to college sport. 

Please direct questions regarding the focus of the issue to the Special Issue Guest Editor: Joseph N. Cooper, University of Massachusetts Boston, josephn.cooper@umb.edu. Manuscript files (Microsoft word format only) should be submitted according to JIIA guidelines through Manuscript Central no later than June 15, 2022. Manuscripts must conform to the current “Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.” Manuscripts must include an abstract of approximately 150-200 words and complete references. Each manuscript must be typewritten, double-spaced throughout, use “Times New Roman” font (size 12), and utilize one-inch margins on the top, bottom, and sides. Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to reproduce copyrighted information and materials. Submitting a manuscript indicates the author(s) agree(s) to transfer of copyright to The College Sport Research Institute. A publication agreement can be found here. Authors will be notified of the status of their manuscript by September 1, 2022. Accepted manuscripts will be published in November 2022. 

Manuscripts submitted that correctly follow the submission guidelines are initially reviewed at the editorial level. Submissions found to be outside the scope of JIIA, incomplete or incorrectly formatted per JIIA submission guidelines or APA standards, or not meeting standards of sufficient quality may be subject to desk rejection. Final decisions regarding publication in this special issue are made by the JIIA editors. Submissions meeting these criteria are reviewed by a minimum of two reviewers via blind review procedures. JIIA strives to return submissions to authors within 60 days of submission. 

 JIIA Special Issue on Activism and College Sport Guest Editors:
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