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Making Our Footprint: Constraints in the Legitimization of Sport Ecology in Practice and the Academy

Sport and the Environment

ISBN: 978-1-78769-030-1, eISBN: 978-1-78769-029-5

Publication date: 30 July 2020


Sport ecology research has finally reached a point of critical mass where it is time to see it as a subdiscipline within the sport academy. Researchers have worked to grow the quality of this research over the years. This improvement is due, in part, to the deeper collaboration that those working in the sport ecology field have made with industry professionals. These partnerships have led to richer data and deeper influence on common practice and deeper integration of sustainability in the sport sector.

This chapter discusses the progress and the challenges that have come with legitimizing this line of research, which some now refer to as sport ecology. We approach this chapter based on research specific to partnerships in and out of sport focused on advancing environmental sustainability. However, we draw on our own experiences as they pertain to the role that academics can play to enhance and contribute to the integration of environmental sustainability into industry practice by advancing sport ecology research.

Academics have an integral role to play through contributing a foundational understanding of research methods and specific content areas (e.g., marketing, consumer behavior, policy development, governance, and organizational behavior) to the sport sector's efforts.

The difficulties of engaging the sport sector are discussed and an optimistic, albeit idealized, “preferred future” is proposed on how academics and practitioners can collaborate to promote the sport sector's role in advancing worldwide efforts to address climate change through climate action.




The authors would like to acknowledge their fellow colleagues and their efforts to advance the Sport Ecology Group.


McCullough, B.P. and Kellison, T. (2020), "Making Our Footprint: Constraints in the Legitimization of Sport Ecology in Practice and the Academy", Wilson, B. and Millington, B. (Ed.) Sport and the Environment (Research in the Sociology of Sport, Vol. 13), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 199-216.



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