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Transregional sport’s historical role in politics and international affairs is extensive – sometimes overtly, in other ways more subtly behind the scenes. Relevant to the current global situation, sport has been used ‘politically’ in numerous ‘soft’ ways during and in the remnants of major crises, including as a resource to supplement social infrastructure limitations, a tool to stem economic bleeding, as leverage for social order, a ‘positive’ distraction, a symbol of collective resolve, and as a signal of national re-invention. Moving forward, what significant political role (if any) might sport play domestically and globally once a new ‘normal’ emerges from the wreckage wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic?
In this presentation, Dr. Tim Elcombe will first highlight conceptual (and actualized) links between politics and sport that cut across the BSIA research clusters, and then consider the role transregional sport may play in international (and domestic) affairs in a post-pandemic world. In particular, he will hypothesize a significant future role (for better or worse) of transregional sport in:
-post-pandemic celebrations of collective human resolve and the global village through sporting mega events
-reflections of post-pandemic (and post-Trump/Brexit) national identities and representation through inter-national sporting competition
-soft power plays via sporting mega event hosting (and boycotting), club ownership, and state sponsorships in the shaping/re-shaping of the international order
-global ‘efforts’ to create a civil, sustainable, and resilient future world via non-state (sporting) actors and institutions
To conclude, Dr. Elcombe will raise issues of potential relevance to BSIA scholars regarding Canada’s co-hosting of the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup.
About the speaker
Tim Elcombe is an Associate Professor in Laurier’s Department of Kinesiology & Physical Education and a BSIA Fellow. His current scholarship focuses on the complex interconnections between sport, ethics, governance, and politics in the context of international affairs. Published works related to sport and politics include the significance of insignificant sport (Balsillie Papers), on sustainable Olympic governance with Dr. Stephen Wenn (The SAIS Review of International Affairs), the ‘accidental’ democratic role of Don Cherry (Journal of Canadian Studies), Canadian ‘nation-making’ through hockey (International Journal of the History of Sport), and the battle between the Reformist and New Left in 1970s America through sport (International Journal of the History of Sport). Dr. Elcombe serves as the co-lead for the BSIA’s STEM for Global Resilience research cluster.