Inequality in physical activity and consequences

Monday May 29 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm (Eastern Daylight Time)
McLaughlin College-MC-109

Session Code: SOS2
Session Format: Regular Session
Session Language: English
Research Cluster Affiliation: Sociology of Sport
Session Categories: In-person

Physical activity is a key determinant of health and wellbeing. However, not everyone can be physically active. Long standing research shows that marginalized populations are less likely to be physically active than their counterparts. Despite increasing policy attention, inequality in physical activity remains prevalent. This session welcomed papers that explore inequality in physical activity, its consequences, and potential interventions. Tags: Equality and Inequality, Health and Care, Sport

Organizer: Chloe Sher, University of Toronto; Chair: Chloe Sher, University of Toronto


Nathan Kalman-Lamb, University of New Brunswick

The End of College Football: Exploitation in the Ivory Tower and on the Gridiron

The question of whether college athletes should receive a more robust form of compensation than the scholarships they currently command has never been a more pressing topic. Legislation has been advanced in well over twenty states, as well as US Congress, to grant these athletes the heretofore denied right to remuneration for the promotion of their name, image, and likeness (NIL). Compounding this with recent athlete mobilization around return to play protocols in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, where college football players across the United States spoke up about their working conditions, it would seem that we are on the verge of a revolution in the rights of college athletes. That appearance is profoundly deceiving. Based on interviews with former Division 1 NCAA football players, we argue that the reformist movement to grant college athletes their NIL rights masks the profound harm at the core of elite NCAA sport, particularly in its highest revenue and most dangerous iteration: football. Indeed, the NIL campaign is little more than further cover for an exploitative and dehumanizing system hiding in plain sight within institutions mandated to facilitate education and well-being. Rather than retread the familiar ground of reformist policy and economics, we also challenge the very premises of NCAA football through in-depth interviews with former players who endured and sustained it. It illuminates the ways in which college football - at its very core - is so foundationally harmful that it is beyond reform. The paper teases out the contradictions in both the NCAA’s own logic and that of the reformist movements that seek to mitigate its harms, exposing instead the very impossibility of big-time college football as an ethical form of commodity spectacle.

Non-presenting author: Derek Silva, King's University College at Western

Muhammad Uzair, University of Peshawar

The Role of Culture and Identity in Women's Physical Activity Participation in Pakhtun Culture

Women encounter several obstacles to participating in physical exercise, despite the fact that it is crucial for general health and wellbeing. The attitudes and actions that women have about physical exercise may be greatly influenced by their culture and sense of identity. On the context of Pakistans Pakhtun culture, this study seeks to investigate the influence of culture and identity in womens engagement in physical exercise. The aim of this study is to understand the cultural and identity-related factors that influence physical activity participation among women in the Pakhtun community in Pakistan. Using a qualitative study approach, 30 Pakistani Pakhtun women were interviewed in semi-structured manner to obtain data. The interviews were done in the native language, audio recorded, and transcribed. Data was analysed using thematic analysis. The research found that womens engagement in physical activity in the Pakhtun community was significantly influenced by cultural and identity-related factors such as traditional gender roles, social expectations, and cultural norms. Womens engagement in sports and physical exercise may be significantly impacted by the conservative character of Pakhtun society. Many of the participants said that they felt their possibilities for physical exercise were restricted by society expectations and norms. However, several people also mentioned coming up with novel ways to exercise, such as taking part in old-fashioned sports or dances. The research emphasises the significance of understanding the cultural and identity-related variables that influence women in the Pakhtun population of Pakistan to engage in physical exercise. Additionally, it emphasises the need of inclusive, culturally responsive policies and initiatives that encourage physical activity among women in this community. It is recommended that the cultural and identity-related challenges found in this research be taken into consideration by policies and practices encouraging physical exercise among women in the Pakhtun population.

Julia Ferreira Gomes, York University

Sport for Development: Considering a Trauma- and Violence-Informed Approach

A growing movement towards trauma- and violence-informed (TVI) healthcare has emerged in Canada (Wathen 2021). TVI physical activity has been proposed as an effective approach to support individuals with trauma as an adjunctive treatment to usual care (Darroch et al., 2022; Darroch et al., in press), with several non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—including Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment’s LaunchPad (MLSE LP)—exploring how use of a Trauma- and Violence-Informed approach to Sport For Development (TVISFD) programs may support vulnerable youth. The objectives of this study were to use feminist participatory action research (FPAR, Reid and Frisby, 2008) to: (1) explore how the use of TVISFD programs may support women, girls and gender diverse people living in marginalized communities; and (2) examine how MLSE LP utilizes a TVI approach to help promote gender and health equity in communities that may be experiencing GBV. Key features of MLSE LP’s programs that seemed to align with the tenets of TVI physical activity included: 1) creating emotionally and physically safe environments; and 2) providing a capacity-building and strengths-based approach (Darroch et al., 2022; Darroch et al., in press). We conclude by recommending that MLSE LP implement gender and sexual health training with specific attention to: 1) TVI principles; and 2) intersectional identities.  Further, as participants noted, many of the youth attending MLSE LP disclosed their personal and sometimes traumatic and violent experiences to hourly staff. We thus suggest that MLSE LP prioritize formal de-escalation training for their hourly youth workers.

Non-presenting authors: Lyndsay Hayhurst, York University; Francine Darroch, Carleton University

Chloe Sher, University of Toronto

Trajectories of physical activity and mental health inequality during COVID-19

Physical activity is critical to maintaining good health during COVID-19. This in turn raises the question of how individuals’ physical activity routines may be affected by the pandemic. Existing studies on the changes in physical activity before and during the pandemic show mixed conclusions. In this study, I first identify three major caveats concerning data, measurement, and level of analysis as potential sources for the mixed evidence. To overcome these limitations, I use multiple waves of panel data, a general measure of physical activity, and a person-centered mixture approach to consider differential changes in physical activity among Americans during the pandemic. A longitudinal latent class analysis (LLCA) shows three distinct trajectories of physical activity change within the population. One group of Americans (34%), low-level exercisers, experienced a slight increase from before the pandemic and maintained a low level of physical activity during the pandemic. Another group (40%), medium-level exercisers, experienced a medium increase and maintained a medium level of physical. A third group (26%), high-level exercisers, experienced a substantial increase and maintained a high level of physical activity. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, and socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals have significantly higher odds of falling into low-level exercisers trajectory. I also show that changes in physical activity and placement into differential trajectories produce significant impacts on mental health.