The Fetishization of Sport: Exploring the Effects of Fetishistic Disavowal in Sportswashing

BLACK, Jack, KEARNS, Colm and SINCLAIR, Gary (2024). The Fetishization of Sport: Exploring the Effects of Fetishistic Disavowal in Sportswashing. Journal of Sport and Social Issues.

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Is it possible to remain a sports fan when prominent sports teams and events are utilized to “sportswash” human rights abuses and other controversies? Indeed, while there is an abundance of analyses critiquing different instances of sportswashing, the exploration of the role of sportswashing and its connection to the “sports fan” presents an essential and necessary area of investigation and theoretical inquiry. To unpick this dilemma, this article proposes the concept of “fetishistic disavowal” to help theorize the impact of sportswashing, as well as its relation to the sports fan and critical sports academic. This argues that, as spectators and fans of sport—and, moreover, as critical academics—we often acknowledge and accept that sport is used to perpetuate and even maintain a variety of social, economic, and political inequalities. Yet, while we are aware of such knowledge, we nonetheless remain fully capable of disavowing this very knowledge as an accepted part of sport. Given this, it is argued that the fetishization of sport can provide a suitable conduit for the fetishistic disavowal that sportswashing requires, with the concept offering a unique way of approaching sport’s inherent contradictions, while also theorizing how subjects relate to these contradictions as part of their involvement in and with sport. Where sportswashing directly implicates the fan in its implementation—relying upon a level of fetishistic disavowal between the fan and their club and proffering a disavowed acknowledgement of the effects of sportswashing and its interpellation through sport—this article outlines how applications of fetishistic disavowal provide a unique theoretical lens through which analyses of sport, and its ethical significance, can be critiqued.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Centre for Sport and Exercise Science; Sport Industry Research Centre; Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute; Sociology, Politics and Policy Research Group; Humanities Research Centre; Department of Sport; Department of Media Arts and Communication; Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics; Department of Humanities; 1504 Commercial Services; 1608 Sociology; Sport, Leisure & Tourism
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2024 09:58
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2024 09:58

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