2024 Annual Conference of the
North American Society for Sport History (NASSH)

Call for Papers: “Sport Studies as a Public Service: Popular Scholarship, Histories, and Activism”

NASSH 2024 Pre-Conference Workshop

Thursday May 23 and the morning of Friday May 24

Call ends February 16, 2024

For the full 2024 NASSH call for papers, click here.

In the concluding piece of the Journal of Sport History’s special issue on the fiftieth anniversary of NASSH, historians Andrew Linden and Alison Wrynn highlight how “there are now myriad opportunities for the publishing of academic articles, and even more ways for scholars to disseminate their research to the field and the public at large.” Despite these new opportunities, there remains a barrier between the public and academics. As the current president Sarah Fields remarks, “‘The academy in general and sport history in particular have moved further away from the general public and lay audiences.’” Linden and Wrynn describe this phenomenon as “concerning,” highlighting how “academic research needs to strive to do something to advance society” and that the legitimacy of our field depends on the public’s interest in “the sporting past.” In the time since Linden and Wrynn wrote their piece, dramatic changes, such as the end of the New York Times’ sports section and HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, befell our popular media landscape, making communicating with the broader public even harder than before. [1]

As programming with a more critical view, such as Real Sports, decreases, we believe it is time to revisit the question: what is the sport scholar’s role today? Overall, we believe it is necessary to reflect on how scholars of sport and adjacent fields tell what Fields calls “‘good stories’” to the public. We open this workshop to individuals who have gone beyond academic journals to critically examine recreation, sport, and/or leisure through teaching, museums, public policy, activism, new media (podcasts, social media, documentary), or any number of alternatives. Overall, the intent of the pre-conference workshop is for sport scholars to reflect, share, and write about their responsibility to the public and their efforts to provide “good stories.”

The following questions, as a starting point, will help to frame the workshop:

  • How are sport scholars engaging with and disseminating information to the public-at-large?
  • What are the successes and challenges of such plans?
  • What can the general field do to improve its outreach to the public on a school, local, state/provincial, and/or regional level?
  • How has our ability to communicate our research changed over time?
  • How can we make our work simultaneously rich with academic rigor and yet compelling to the general society?
  • How can JSH, and other academic journals on sport and leisure, change to better convey historical research and “good stories”?
  • How can our research provide a mutually benefiting outcome for ourselves, our subjects, and the public?

Venue: Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center, Denver, Colorado.

Dates: The workshop will be held in-person prior to the 2024 NASSH conference. The workshop dates will be Thursday, May 23 (all-day) and the morning of Friday, May 24, 2024.

Requirements: Please indicate your interest by submitting a 300-500 word abstract and a 200-word biography via the 2024 Pre-Conference Submission Form https://forms.gle/apwj88PGoBABFmNf7 by Friday, February 16, 2024.

Those selected will be notified by the end of February and are required to submit a completed paper by April 30, 2024. Participants will present their paper to the workshop and have their work reviewed by attendees. Accepted participants may receive some financial assistance. Workshop papers will be considered for a special issue of the Journal of Sport History.

For additional questions, please contact the organizers:
Aaron Bonsu – Pennsylvania State University: azb6585@psu.edu
Cam Mallett – Pennsylvania State University: cmm8140@psu.edu
Carly Adams – University of Lethbridge: carly.adams@uleth.ca

[1] Andrew D. Linden and Alison M. Wrynn, “Looking at the Past, Thinking about the Future: The Journal of Sport History,” Journal of Sport History 48, no. 3 (2021): 414-424; Katie Robertson and John Koblin, “The New York Times to Disband its Sports Department,” The New York Times, July 10, 2023; Joe Otterson, “‘Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel’ to End HBO Run After 29 Seasons,” Variety, September 6, 2023.