By C. Brandon Chapman, College of Education

PULLMAN, Wash. – The political ramifications of international sports require that we think of them not just as competitions, but also as a legitimate political institution, according to Scott Jedlicka, assistant professor in sport management at Washington State University.

For example, “a recently declassified U.S. intelligence report suggests that, among other things, Russian interference in the presidential election was retaliation for last summer’s Olympic doping scandal involving Russian athletes,” he said. “This is the most recent prominent example of how international sport can matter to international politics.”

Jedlicka’s presentation at 4-5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, in Cleveland Hall 255, will be the first in a series about sports research hosted by the College of Education sport management program.

Scholarship of sports

“We want to make sure that all of us, especially our students, are challenged to think deeper about what is often considered a very practical field as opposed to a scholarly field,” said Simon Licen, assistant professor in sport management and part of the series steering committee with Jedlicka and assistant professor of sport management Tae Ho Kim.

“We have a goal to change the culture and increase research activity in this field,” Licen said. “Over time, this will hopefully lead to more grant funding, donations and everything that emerges as a consequence of intellectual deliberation – much of which is included in the Drive to 25 metrics.”

He expects the series gathering to continue about once a month. The final meeting on April 12 will include graduate students presenting research ideas and soliciting feedback.

Politics of international sport

Jedlicka said sport on an international scale is organized to reconcile the concepts of nationalism and globalism, and it contains elements of both.

“On one hand, international sport is controlled by private, transnational organizations that espouse liberal democratic values and eschew governmental interference,” he said. “But on the other hand, international sport heavily emphasizes national representations and symbolism, encouraging spectators and national governments to take pride in the accomplishments of ‘their’ athletes and teams.”

He will speak on international sport governance – and corruption, as seen with FIFA, doping in cycling, match fixing and more. He will touch upon global political change and discuss cities that have gone bankrupt from hosting international sporting events.

“I hope people will come away with a more nuanced understanding of international sport governance and its place in the international system,” he said.