On March 12, the IEC, in partnership with UTMAC, continued its Global Café series of events with an easy-going hangout and informal discussion about the sports world and how it ties in with media and culture.

With a wide range of topics being put forward, the talk started with the role of our parents. One attendee said simply that their love for sports, especially soccer, came from their parents. Another attendee noted that in their culture, their parents never put an emphasis on sports. From a study done in Oslo, Norway by Anders Bakken & Kari Stefansen, a “clear positive relationship between family sport culture and participation in club-organised sports” was observed, and the “relevance of family sport culture for young people’s sports participation reflects a prolonged socialisation effect.” For the attendee who enjoyed soccer, they said that socially, it was always easy to make friends because of their excellence in athletics.

Another topic that came forward was stereotypes in sport. Stereotype Threat: Theory, Process, and Applicationby Michael Inzlicht and Toni Schmader outlined that: 

“Carefully controlled studies reveal that people hold both positive and negative racial and gender stereotypes about athletes, and that when negative stereotypes are brought to mind in a sports performance context, they create the burden of stereotype threat that robs athletes of their potential.”

Some of the women who attended the Global Café event said that they have personally felt that sports culture towards them feels unfair, noting the pay gap between certain sports like the WNBA and NBA. One attendee also noted that in women’s volleyball, the athletes wear little clothing when playing and that has uncomfortably become the norm.

A debate between attendees also began when discussing what constitutes a sport. In Olympic terminology a sport refers to events sanctioned by an international sports federation, which would include chess. An article posted in Psychology Today titled “What Makes a Sport a Sport?” considers that there must be some skill in the physical activity, that it should not be incidental, and that it should attract a crowd at its higher level. By this criteria chess, although physically taxing (sitting for a long period of time) is an incidental physicality. In 2015, Sport England was challenging the inclusion of Bridge as a sport. Had the challenge been successful, the English Bridge Union would lose its government and lottery funding.

The talk ended with the topic of privilege in sports. Attendees like myself who came from low-income households had experiences being unable to pay to play on certain teams although having arguably enough talent. Meanwhile some attendees who did play on sports teams noticed that some peers were not necessarily talented but came from families with high status and connections.

To wrap up my experience at this Global Café, I was able to have a relaxed yet engaging conversation with people who I most likely would have never encountered otherwise. So, in conclusion, pretty cool.

UTMAC are holding virtual training sessions every Thursday, and the IEC are holding a tax information session on Wednesday March 24, as well as “Global Indigenous Perspectives through the Lenses of Cinema” on March 29.

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