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Transforming Sport

Transforming Sport

By Sport and Leisure Cultures Research Group
Transforming Sport is a podcast run by the Sport and Leisure Cultures research group at the University of Brighton. In it, we feature discussions on the place and role of sport in contemporary society, drawing on the research expertise of our staff and guests. The overall focus of the podcast is on understanding how sport can rise to meet various challenges it faces in the 21st century. In this way, we highlight both transformations that are needed within sport itself, and also the ways sport can help to transform individuals, communities, and societies.
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Episode 14: Mobilizing Football Fans for Climate Change with Jennifer Amann
In this episode of Transforming Sport, Sean Heath speaks with Jennifer Amann, a rising force in the academic and not-for-profit worlds connecting football and climate change. They speak at length about Jenny’s work in the field of climate change and football, the intersections of sport fandom and climate action, and the requirements to think, and take action, in a holistic manner to work towards environmental sustainability. Jenny discusses her recent work with Pledgeball, a not-for-profit based in the UK, and some of the lessons she has learned while researching the mobilization of football fans to tackle climate change. She has a forthcoming article on this topic which will be published later this year. Jenny is currently working with the not-for-profit community interest company Spirit of Football ( on the “The Ball 2022” project ( She also works for the not-for-profit group Pledgeball where she is a research and development consultant. In addition, Jenny has worked as a Research Assistant at the Sport and Leisure Cultures Research Group of the University of Brighton. You can find more information about her research and the critical work she is undertaking transforming football and mobilizing football fans to make positive impacts on climate change on her twitter account @hej_jennifer Contact us: @SportTransform or @SeanmrHeath
May 06, 2022
Episode 13: eSport for Development with Dr. Holly Collison
On the third episode in our mini-series on eSport I had the pleasure to speak with Dr. Holly Collison, Lecturer at the Institute for Sport Business at Loughborough University London, UK. She is an anthropologist in the field of Sport for Development and Peace (SDP). Holly has completed extensive fieldwork in West and East Africa and South East Asia examining post-conflict development interventions and the use of sport. Her research explores youth identity, notions of community, international development, peacebuilding, social inclusion, and grassroots perspectives and experiences of SDP. Recently her work has shifted to focus on eSport as a space for social inclusion and community development on which she has co-published multiple journal articles. In this episode we discussed the research she has undertaken with eSport stakeholders in the UK and United States, looking at how eSport communities can provide spaces for social inclusion as well as exclusion, including toxicity and tribal mentalities in these digital spaces. Space is indeed an important theoretical concept for Holly, and she has used a tripartite conception of space following Henri Lefebvre to explore questions around eSports potential for incorporation into Sport for Development (SfD) more broadly. Dr. Holly Collison’s recent publications include Exploring the Contested Notion of Social Inclusion and Gender Inclusivity within eSport Spaces and Landscapes of Tension, Tribalism and Toxicity: Configuring a Spatial Politics of eSport Communities. She has recently been invited to participate in expert meetings for the United Nations on the topics of the “Sustainable Development Goals and the UN System” (New York, 2018), and “The Use of Sport as an Educational Tool to Tackle Radicalisation and Violent Extremism” (Vienna, 2018, 2019). Find out more about her latest research and publications on her Loughborough University staff profile page here. Contact us: @SportTransform or @SeanmrHeath
September 24, 2021
Episode 12: eSport Health and Performance with Gscience Co-founder Jamie Kiff
This week we have our second instalment on the topic of eSports. In March of 2021 Jamie Kiff, Co-founder of Gscience delivered aa virtual guest lecture to Sport Management degree students at the University of Brighton. There he spoke about his experiences working outside of academia in the start-up industry, working with professional eSports athletes to develop healthier practices in the professional gaming industry. With a background in sport science and human kinetics, and a Master’s degree in Strength and Conditioning from Loughborough University, he has been applying notions of bodily health and wellbeing to Gamers, who are often stereotyped as the antithesis of high performance athletes in other sports. Through outlining his own educational journey, he highlights some of the practical industry skills he developed as a strength and conditioning student, skills he now applies to working with professional eSports athletes and coaches. Gscience - eSport Health and Performance: Sport and Leisure Cultures Research Group: Sean Heath: @SeanmrHeath;
August 20, 2021
Episode 11: The eSport Revolution with Dr. Anne Tjønndal
Dr. Anne Tjønndal is Associate Professor of Sport Sociology at Nord University, Norway, and has held the title of Norwegian National Champion in Women’s Boxing. She has a prolific publishing record in academia on a variety of topics from gender equity issues in boxing, eSports, coaching policy in sport, and social innovation in sport. She recently published an article “Youth Sport 2.0” which reviews the growth of eSports in Norway between 2016 and 2019. In this episode we discussed the stereotypes of the “gamer” and how her research has shed light on this false portrayal. We discussed the ability for eSport to provide spaces for forms of social inclusion and community, which more traditional “physical” sport clubs have recognized and have begun to incorporate into their club structure. We also discussed the difficulties facing the recognition and incorporation of eSports into national sporting frameworks and policy. Dr. Anne Tjønndal’s recent publications include Social Innovation in Sport and Gender Equity and Sports Coaching in Norway: Political Discourses and Developmental Trajectories from 1970 to 2020. Her larger research interests include social inequality, gender and sport, eSports, innovation and entrepreneurship in sports, and sports policy. Find out more about her latest research and publications on her Nord University staff profile page here.
July 16, 2021
Episode 10: Sport Ecology with Dr. Madeline Orr
In January 2021 Dr. Madeline Orr delivered an online talk for the Sport and Leisure Culture’s research group’s 2021 Seminar Series. In her lecture she explores the bidirectional relationship between sport, the environment, and climate change, and why sport can be a vehicle for change to the growing and continuing climate crisis. As Director and co-founder of the Sport Ecology Group, Maddy is a leading voice for change in the sport sector, how everyone from grassroots to transnational sporting organizations can do their part to help ameliorate and prevent further climate degradation. This episode shifts between the lecture she gave for the SLC 2021 Seminar Series and a conversation I had with her where we further explored some of the pressing issues of sport ecology and climate change. Dr. Maddy Orr’s recent publications include “Sport Facilities as Sites of Environmental and Social Resistance” and “Climate Vulnerability as a Catalyst for Early Stadium Replacement”. Her larger research interests include the impacts of climate change on the sport sector, with a focus on vulnerability and resilience research. Find out more about her research and the Sport Ecology Group at Additional resources: Rapid Transition Alliance UN Climate Change Conference Beyond Sport
June 11, 2021
Season 2 Trailer - Transforming Sport
The Transforming Sport Podcast is back for a second season this coming summer. We have a new series of public talks and conversations with sport experts, both academic and professional, coming your way.
May 28, 2021
Episode 9: Running, the Environment, and Human Becoming
In this episode Dr. Thomas F. Carter, Reader in Anthropology at the University of Brighton, speaks with your host, Sean Heath, about all things running. Tom’s ethnographically focused anthropological research centres on the relationships between the individual and the state, the movement, migrations, and mobilities of various peoples, the politics of spectacle, and the dialectic relations of spatialized embodiment. He is currently working on a project centred around the human body, human movement, and how running makes us human. Our conversation today centres on his book entitled On Running and Becoming Human: An Anthropological Perspective. We discuss the connections between our own moving bodies, our environments, and how the act of running literally shapes our minds, our bodies and the ways we experience our environments. Tom’s decades of running experience in both mundane and exotic places across the globe provides the route of travel as we wandered through the anthropological, neurological, philosophical and experiential aspects of our very human form of locomotion: running. From the seemingly simple acts of running through neighbourhoods when we arrive in new cities to get an understanding of the layout of where we are, to the seeking out and exploration of spaces and places near and far from the places we live, Tom weaves together an intricate argument which positions the mind as an extension of the senses and the moving body out into the world. Our being through the act of running incorporates the environments we move through as environs, our individually positioned experiences of those environments informed by our societies, cultures, and physiology. Dr. Thomas F. Carter has a forthcoming publication in forthcoming in The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology, entitled "Gender and Sport" (2020). His latest book, On Running and Becoming Human: An Anthropological Perspective can be found through the link and is published by PalgraveMacMillan. His other research is accessible via his University of Brighton staff research profile page
December 19, 2020
Episode 8: NFL and College Athlete’s Career Transitions
In this episode of Transforming Sport, Dr. Anastasiya Khomutova from the University of Brighton speaks with Dr. Robert W. Turner II, who is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Clinical Research and Leadership at The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Science and Global Sport Visiting scholar at Arizona State University. They sat down to discuss the issues facing professional football players transitioning out of sport and the unpaid labour of college athletes in the United States. Uniquely qualified as a former professional football player in the NFL, CFL, and defunct US Football League, and an expert in psychosocial and neurocognitive risk and protective factors in sport scholarship, Robert Turner’s ethnographic account of the lifeworld of professional athletes and the transitions between college, professional, and retired status highlights the struggles of pursuing the athletic dream. Here he discusses his personal journey and trajectory from professional football player to career academic researcher. Noting the mistrust which athletes often have of journalists, Robert discusses the necessity of an ethical approach to building rapport with interlocutors. He also discusses how a lack of focus on the transition to life after sports can have a variety of long-term health consequences and that teachers, coaches, and scholars need to support athletes to develop their skills and themselves as individuals beyond their sport. Robert W. Turner II’s book is entitled Not For Long: The Life and Career of the NFL Athlete. He can be found on twitter at @robertturnerphd, and his other research, including the HBO Sports documentary Student Athlete, is accessible via his website or his George Washington University staff profile page. Anastasiya Khomutova is Senior Lecturer and member of the Sport and Leisure Cultures research group at the University of Brighton. She can be found on twitter @DrKhomutova, and her research is accessible via her University of Brighton staff profile page.
November 27, 2020
Episode 7: Swimming and Well-Being
In this episode of Transforming Sport, Alex Channon interviews Sport and Leisure Cultures research group member Sean Heath about his ongoing research with youth competitive swimmers  An expert in youth competitive swimming and children’s sport scholarship, and an avid swimmer, Sean Heath recently turned his attention to pain, injury, and the well-being of youth who compete and train with competitive swimming clubs. Here he discusses the importance of the physical, emotional, and social aspects of training and competition in swimming as a key aspects of youths’ everyday experiences and their well-being. Noting the disjunctures and disruptions which injury and illness can cause in the lives of athletes, Sean discusses the variations in participation which allows youth to maintain connection to the water and their sport. He also discusses the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic on the sport of swimming in the UK and some of the encouraging lessons a break from organized competitive sport can provide. Sean Heath has two recent publications on the effects of burnout and the COVID-19 pandemic, on youth competitive swimmers’ well-being. These are in the edited volume High Performance Youth Swimming published by Routledge; Anthropology of Children and Youth Interest Group, American Anthropological Association. He can be found on twitter at @SeanmrHeath, and his other research is accessible via his University of Brighton staff profile page:
November 13, 2020
Episode 6: Mixed Martial Arts Sport Medics
In this episode of Transforming Sport, I interview Sport and Leisure Cultures research group member Dr Alex Channon about his ongoing research with combat sport medics.  An expert in mixed martial arts and combat sport scholarship, and an avid practitioner, Dr Channon recently turned his attention to medical care, or lack thereof within combat sports. Here he discusses the importance of situating sport medics within the social, economic, and political frameworks which place pressures on combatants, sports organizers, coaches, broadcasters and medics to provide a spectacle for viewers, often at the expense of the health of athletes. Noting a lack of regulation for medical care by any governing body for MMA sport within the UK, Dr Channon discusses the variations in medical care, who is defined as a sports medic and what strategies medics use in what are often ethically fraught situations. Dr Channon has a recently published academic article in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.  He can be found on twitter at @DrAlexChannon, and his other research is accessible via his University of Brighton staff profile page:
October 09, 2020
Episode 5: Refugees Welcome - Sports Clubs, Coaching and Integration
In this episode of Transforming Sport, I interview Sport and Leisure Cultures research group member Dr Mark Doidge about his research on refugee’s integration into sports clubs and wider communities.  An expert in the political and social role of football fans, Dr Doidge began volunteering his time with charities who work with refugees in Calais and in Brighton during the refugee ‘crisis’ of 2015. Here he discusses the importance of sport clubs as welcoming sites of sociality and integration of communities, both host and refugee, and how coaches can take an active role as brokers of sociality between sport club members. Dr Doidge has a recently published academic article in the International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics. He can be found on twitter at @markdoidge, and his other research is accessible via his University of Brighton staff profile page:
September 24, 2020
Episode 4: Constraints Based Coaching and Athlete Centred Coaching Pedagogy
In this Episode of Transforming Sport, Sport and Leisure Cultures research group member Sean Heath interviews Dr. James Wallis of University of Brighton about his research on athlete centered approaches to coaching, and coaching youth cricketers. An expert in pedagogy of physical education and coaching, Dr. Wallis has had to adapt his coaching techniques in unique ways during the COVID-19 lockdown. Here he discusses the importance of constraints based coaching methods and how these, combined with the knowledge of the individual characteristics of the practitioners, can shape healthier, more enjoyable, and more holistic coaching practices. Dr. Wallis has a forthcoming book on these topics which will be published in September 2020. The video of Jim’s back garden cricket pitch constraints coaching setup can be found here: You can find more information on Jim’s research via his University of Brighton staff profile page:
September 11, 2020
Episode 3: Sport for Development Research during a Global Pandemic
This week I sat down with my fellow PhD Candidate Arthur Gaillard from the School of Sport and Service Management at the University of Brighton. His research focuses on the production of knowledge in the Sport for Development sector, trying to understand how the metrics for monitoring and evaluating these disparate developmental programs are created in the field, and how those are then translated and transformed by the various actors involved with these organizations. Our discussion centered around the changing landscape of face-to-face research during the COVID-19 global health pandemic, what effects this has had on his research, and how those within the SDP sector are adapting and innovating in this new pandemic environment. Contacts for Arthur Gaillard: Email: Twitter: @mc_argailla Research Profile:
August 28, 2020
Episode 2: Mixed Martial Arts and Men's Mental Health
In this episode of Transforming Sport, Sport and Leisure Cultures research group member Dr Alex Channon interviews Dr Jack Sugden of Edge Hill University about his research on mixed martial arts (MMA) and men’s mental health.  An expert in sport development and management, Dr Sugden started training in MMA as part of a research project exploring the sport’s appeal to its practitioners.  Here he discusses the importance it holds in the lives of those who practice it, focusing specifically on the stories told by men about its value in helping them cope with various troubles of modern life.  Dr Sugden has recently written about this project on the academic blog site, The Conversation, and also has an academic article on the topic forthcoming for publication in the Sociology of Sport Journal.   Jack Sugden can be found on twitter at @j_sugden, and his other research is accessible via his Edge Hill University staff profile page:
August 14, 2020
Episode 1: Why Transforming Sport Matters
In this inaugural episode of Transforming Sport, Sean Heath speaks with Sport and Leisure Cultures research group members, Dr. Thomas Carter, Dr. Dan Burdsey, and Dr. Mark Doidge about the broad field of social science research into sport. Drawing from their collectively edited book Transforming Sport: Knowledges, Practices, Structures our discussion centred around why sport matters and what transforming sport means in today’s volatile world. If we are the type of games we play, then we need to be looking at sport as a social catalyst while peeling back the veneer of sport as “inherently good” and looking at the social injustices that sport hides. Thomas Carter On Running and Becoming Human: An Anthropological Perspective Daniel Burdsey Racism and English Football: For Club and Country Mark Doidge Ultras: European Football Fandom in the Twenty First Century @markdoidge
July 31, 2020
Transforming Sport - Season 1 Trailer
Although the Transforming Sport podcast is run by and features discussions with academic researchers, our intention is to discuss these kinds of issues in ways which appeal to listeners outside of academia. For listeners who want to engage with deeper theoretical questions, think critically about research methods and so on, we will provide links in each podcast to academic literature to help keep the conversation going. Thank you for listening to this introduction; we hope that your interest has been piqued, and invite you to continue listening.
May 26, 2020