EVENT Mar 15
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Sports Fandom

Organization: Transformative Works and Cultures
Categories: Interdisciplinary, Popular Culture, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Food Studies, History, Philosophy, Miscellaneous
Event Date: 2025-03-15 Abstract Due: 2024-01-01

Sports Fandom

The multiple facets of passionate audience engagement with sports have long been understudied within fan studies. With its early roots in feminist theory and cultural studies, fan studies research has often focused on certain marginalized subcultural identities and practices of fans in relation to upending normative power dynamics. Given the dominant hegemonic position of mainstream sports cultures and the social capital generally accorded to traditional (male, white, straight, cis) sports fans, established sports cultures may seem like a less obvious target for fan studies modes of inquiry. Sports themselves also may appear to offer a challenging site for identifying transformative fan projects, as some of the most commonly studied fan activities may be assumed to take on less imaginative forms within sports cultures. And yet, sporting cultures and their fandom have often flourished in spaces and with people who would appear to challenge the dominant understanding of who creates and engages with sports fandom.  

Because of this, both sports studies and fan studies have grown in exciting new directions that overlap in productive ways and could lead to generative interdisciplinary collaborations. In addition to an increased interest in the activities of marginalized identities such as women, LGBTQ+ folks, and people of color within sports organizations, industries, and cultures, there has also been a turn toward investigating activist/politically-engaged sports fans (and the fans who reject athlete activism). With the proliferation of narrowcasting and niche sport-specific and fan-centered digital platforms, the mediatization of sport demands the methodological approaches and digital sensibilities of fan studies scholars. Sports studies scholars are approaching conversations about fan engagement with athletes (e.g., their rights, safety, and labor) and with the institutional structures of leagues and teams (e.g., ownership and control) with an ethical lens and a close attunement to complex power dynamics that fan studies scholars routinely deploy. There are countless possibilities for bringing sports studies and fan studies together more effectively; indeed, a sports fan donning a beloved player’s jersey, tweeting at their favorite team’s account expressing disdain about a recent scandal, or rewatching and re-editing video of a great play could be understood as a sports-specific way of engaging in cosplay, fan activism, and vidding.

Given these dynamics, we encourage submissions both from fan studies scholars writing about sports and from sports scholars writing about fandom.

Submissions could involve studies of:

marginalized or untraditional fans of major American sports (football, baseball, basketball) and sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA)
fans of sports that are less popular and/or underrepresented in contemporary sports media 
global and transnational sports fandom
fan engagements with sports media, including mass media/legacy media, digital/social media, and grassroots/niche media
sports fan activism of wider social and political circumstances and/or political expression focused on sports issues
anti-fandom and toxic fandoms of athletes, teams, sports leagues, and even sports themselves
fan activities around sports games and gaming like fantasy sports, March Madness brackets, and sports betting

Submission Guidelines

Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC, http://journal.transformativeworks.org/) is an international peer-reviewed online Gold Open Access publication of the nonprofit Organization for Transformative Works, copyrighted under a Creative Commons License. TWC aims to provide a publishing outlet that welcomes fan-related topics and promotes dialogue between academic and fan communities. TWC accommodates academic articles of varying scope as well as other forms, such as multimedia, that embrace the technical possibilities of the internet and test the limits of the genre of academic writing.

Submit final papers directly to Transformative Works and Cultures by January 1, 2024.

Articles: Peer review. Maximum 8,000 words.

Symposium: Editorial review. Maximum 4,000 words.

Please visit TWC's website (https://journal.transformativeworks.org/) for complete submission guidelines, or email the TWC Editor (editor@transformativeworks.org). 

Contact—Contact guest editors Jason Kido Lopez and Lori Kido Lopez with any questions before or after the due date at LKLopez@wisc.edu and Jason.Lopez@wisc.edu.  

Due date—Jan 1, 2024, for March 2025 publication.


Jason and Lori Kido Lopez