In 2014, sport scholar Joshua Newman published an article in the Journal of Sport Management, in which he examined the “contextual, epistemological, and ontological underpinnings” (p. 603) of sport management as an academic discipline. The article explored arguments concerning whether the commercialization of sport is a “natural development” of the “free marketization” (p. 604) of the industry, or whether sport scholars can critically reflect on the commercialization of sport as being shaped by the emergence of neoliberalism as an economic theory and sociohistorical formation. One of Dr. Newman’s main contentions in the article centered on rethinking sport management in terms of its “dialectical relationship” with the sports industry: the discipline is not merely a result of the sports market, but rather helps to make the “sport industry (and the study of that industry) just as it makes our pedagogical and intellectual work” (p. 604). In short, Dr. Newman is arguing that it is possible for sport management scholars to more critically reimagine sport and the sport management as a discipline, away from assumptions of market-based inevitabilities, and towards more equitable, social forms of jouissance.
This is a fascinating topic as it relates to the critical study of sport. It is not, however, a new topic for sport management scholars, as multiple scholars have long considered and engaged with the idea of engendering a more critical and reflective sport management field for some time. Almost a decade previous, scholar Wendy Frisby (2005) used her Dr. Earle F. Zeigler Lecture to highlight the potential for engaging sport management with the insight of the critical social sciences. Josh Newman’s recent published meditation, however, serves as a useful point for us to reflect on the state of sport management, especially considering that sport management remains a thriving academic field in the United States that is also shaped by what Dr. Newman calls the “sport as industry hegemony” (p. 604). More importantly, we can consider sport management’s productive, and sometimes problematic, relations with market-based forces and neoliberal ideology, and think about ways of maneuvering the discipline towards a more nuanced, critical perspective on sport’s relation to industry dynamics and the marketplace.
In this episode of Somatic, we talked with Dr. Newman about his article, and his view on the state of critical research in the sport management field as a whole. Original music has been recorded to provide an audial “landscape” to Dr. Newman’s thoughts and reflections. The musical pieces have been weaved together to create a seamless soundscape. The result is an episode that can hopefully contribute to current discussions of critical research within sport management, as well as showcase the potential in linking digital audio expression and platforms with critical academic discourse.
Dr. Joshua Newman is Professor of Sport Management at Florida State University. He is the author of Embodying Dixie: Studies in the Body Pedagogics of Southern Whiteness and Sport, Spectacle, and NASCAR Nation: Consumption and the Cultural Politics of Neoliberalism (with Michael D. Giardina). Dr. Newman previously served as President of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport.
Dr. Newman’s FSU faculty page can be found here.
You can access Dr. Newman’s Journal of Sport Management article “Sport Without Management” here.
Dr. Newman recently co-authored an article with his colleagues at FSU on the political economy of the internships in the sport industry. The article can be found here.