Call for Papers | “Sport for Social Change: Bridging the Theory-Practice Divide” | Special Issue of Journal of Sport Management. Call ends August 30, 2018

Guest Editors:

  • Jon Welty Peachey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States
  • Nico Schulenkorf, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
  • Ramon Spaaij, Victoria University, Australia, and University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The Street Soccer 945 Invitational is a first class tournament held each year to honor the efforts of homeless Street Soccer players from across the East Coast.

While theory development around sport for social change agendas has received greater attention from scholars over the past 10 years, it remains underdeveloped when compared to theoretical advancements and innovations in other aspects of the sport industry (Welty Peachey, 2015; Lyras & Welty Peachey, 2011). Scholars have wrestled with the appropriateness of theory in this context, whether theory should or even can drive interventions and change agendas, and how management practice can advance theory development in this space (Coalter, 2013; Lyras & Welty Peachey, 2011; Schulenkorf, 2012; Schulenkorf & Spaaij, 2015). Sport for social change, broadly speaking, captures change that occurs both in and through sport. These initiatives and programs vitally aim to achieve change in sport structures, systems, and processes, or to evince change through sport targeting various individual- and community-level outcomes such as social inclusion, social capital development, peace building, conflict resolution, crime reduction, healthy lifestyles, capacity building, and community development, among many others (Schulenkorf, Sherry, & Rowe, 2016). Scholars engaged in sport for social change work often partner closely with industry and practitioners, and are thus well positioned to make essential contributions to the nexus between theory and practice.

There has been some limited yet important theory-building in this space, from both theory to practice and practice to theory perspectives (e.g., see Coalter, 2013; Edwards, 2015; Lyras & Welty Peachey, 2011; Schulenkorf, 2012). Still, there are concerted calls by scholars for more theoretical work in sport for social change to ground practice in theory and to consider contextual influences and challenges to theory development (Coalter 2007, 2013; Schulenkorf & Spaaij, 2015). This is particularly relevant for sport management scholars who are required to critically analyze and discuss the tactics, strategies, and implications of programs to achieve meaningful outcomes for all stakeholders. Hence, given the practical focus central to the sport for social change agenda, it seems appropriate and necessary to invite scholars to explore and consider how theory can inform practice in sport for social change, and on how practice can also inform theory development. This special issue will give voice to these important considerations, and answer calls by many scholars to explore the nature of theory development within the sport for social change context.

This special issue also builds upon, extends, and progresses two previous special issues in the sport for social change sphere: a special issue in Sport Management Review in 2015 on Managing Sport for Social Change, and a special issue in theInternational Journal of Sport Management and Marketing in 2015 on Sport for Development and Peace Theory Building and Program Development. These two previous special issues made significant contributions to the field, but they did not specifically address the nexus between theory and practice within sport for social change. Thus, this special issue is a logical next step, and it highlights the significance of our proposal for the wider sport management community.

Empirical and conceptual work focusing on theory to practice and practice to theory perspectives within the sport for social change genre is welcome for this special issue. Within the broad agenda outlined above, specific topics to be addressed may include, but are not limited to:

  • Building/constructing theory driven from practice and experiences in the field of sport for social change
  • The role of theory in informing practice in sport for social change. Is/can there be a universal theory of sport for social change?
  • Practitioner contributions to theory development – methods and strategies for involving practitioners in theory building
  • Challenges in translating theory to practice or practice to theory in sport for social change
  • Strategies for translating theory to practice or practice to theory in sport for social change
  • Contextual influences on theory development in sport for social change
  • Bridging the practical and theoretical divide between researchers from high- as well as low- and middle-income countries
  • New methods for examining and testing theory to practice and practice to theory applications within sport for social change
  • Indigenous voices in theory development in sport for social change
  • Innovative approaches towards communicating practice and theory in sport for social change
  • Critical evaluations or assessments of theory-supported sport for social change initiatives
  • Explorations on how theory can inform/change sport for social change policy

Submission Guidelines

Manuscripts should follow the guidelines in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (, and should be prepared in accordance with the Journal of Sport Management “Instructions to Authors” ( Manuscripts must not be submitted to another journal while they are under review by the Journal of Sport Management, nor should they have been previously published.

Manuscripts should be submitted no later than August 30, 2018 using ScholarOne. Authors should indicate in their cover letter that the submission is to be considered for the Special Issue on Sport for Social Change: Bridging the Theory-Practice Divide.

Please note: Separately and without the paper being attached, the co-editors request an email be sent to with the subject “JSM SI on Sport for Social Change” to let us know the title of the paper and the list of co-authors that have been submitted to ScholarOne.

Guest Editors – Contact Information

Jon Welty Peachey:
Nico Schulenkorf:
Ramon Spaaij:


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.