Cool Courses: Global Perspectives in Sport

Posted Oct 13, 2023

There is more to sport than what happens on the field or court. Sometimes, there are outside influences that have larger impacts than wins and losses. Most recently in the news, the International Olympic Committee has banned and cut funding for the Russian Olympic Committee, after the ROC claimed athletes from occupied regions in Ukraine as Russian. What will be the ripple effects of that decision?

Associate Professor of Sport Management Megan Chawanksy would know. She teaches a course called Global Perspectives in Sport, which looks at topics like this. 

Let’s learn more about this Cool Course!

SGMT 2600: Global Perspectives in Sport

This course considers the international sport environment from a U.S.-based perspective. It examines the international aspects of American sport, and sport outside of the United States (U.S.). The course provides an overview of sport throughout the world, including sports and sport events/competitions, governance, key organizations and actors, management, business and financial elements, marketing, key trends, and the cultural significance of sport in various locations. The purpose of this course is to provide students with tools and strategies for analyzing and understanding sport, sporting events, and the management of sport in a global context.

Why do you love teaching this course?

I love teaching this course because every year (and every day) brings a new story or issue that we have to be ready to discuss. For example, last year we spent a lot of the course studying and analyzing the men’s World Cup in Qatar. All of the concepts and ideas we had discussed in the first eight weeks of the course were coming to light in real time. It was exciting and invigorating to explore all the themes that got kicked up that year.

What is the most unexpected thing students learn in this course?

I think students develop an appreciation for all the things they don’t know about sport. This can be a hard lesson to learn, but so much of our sport consumption in the U.S. is U.S. sport. There is so much more to know and enjoy!

How do the themes in your course prepare students to think critically?

I use the terms “Global, Grobal and Glocal” to organize the course. So, we build up our stamina to think critically about sport thinking first about sport in a global context.

Then, we think about the growth imperatives that sport has to expand its product to different locations. I push students to think about the pros and cons when this happens. So, for example, we spend some time thinking about the five NFL games that will take place in London (three) and Germany (two) this year. Who wins and loses in this plan? What’s the impetus behind the decision? What questions should we be asking?

After we explore some of these case studies, we finish by looking at the global influence of sport in our local context, either in recreational spaces or in larger professional spaces like with the Crew and Blue Jackets.

What is some of your favorite student feedback you have received about this course?

For the past few years, Otterbein alum and fan favorite Jeff Gibbs has joined us via Zoom from Japan, where he is currently playing professional basketball. Jeff talks to the students about his life as an athlete who has played in Germany and Japan, and his experiences help bring to light out discussion of athlete migration. Students often list this as their favorite class during the course!

What are some interesting projects or activities you do to engage your students in your course?

This year I assigned a new task which asked the class to do the global outlook for the sport of women’s wrestling and for esports, two activities we’ll be adding to Otterbein. We’ve heard a lot about the local interest in these activities, but I wanted students to think about what the rest of the world is doing when it comes to women’s wrestling and esports. We had a meeting with Vice President for Student Affairs Bill Fox at the start of the semester, and we’ll report our ideas to the new leaders of these activities.

What is a dream course you would like to develop or teach?

I’d love to take this class on the road! I had planned a study abroad course to Tokyo in 2020, but the pandemic forced us to cancel. I’m looking at Los Angeles in 2028 to see if we can visit and study the challenges and opportunities in global sport through the Summer Games. Stay tuned!