Extreme Sports and Cultural Participation: Interview with Steph Mackay Part 2

And here is part two of the interview, while shorter it does give an incredible insight towards the studies that can come from extreme sports. Thank you Mrs. Mackay for allowing us the privilege to work with you.

4) What stereotypes do you think arise within the extreme sports culture when examining the culture through associated digital communications and online forums/spaces for communication?

I think that it is a stereotype of extreme sports participants, in general, to display an ambivalent attitude towards the commercialization and representation of their lifestyle in the mainstream media. Therefore, people are not surprised when extreme sports athletes attempt to distinguish themselves from the mainstream in order to preserve authenticity in their communities, through any number of means, including producing their own digital media self-representations that challenge mainstream media.


5) How do you think inclusion of research on the digital communication practices of extreme sports players potentially impact or enhance pedagogical approaches in Communication Studies?

While the historically dismal media coverage of female athletes interests me in and of itself, I’m especially interested in getting more girls and women to meaningfully participate in sports and physical activities that contribute to their health and wellbeing. Given that my previous research confirmed that skateboarders are using digital media to challenge dominant discursive constructions of gender circulating in mainstream media and to create a community that is ultimately getting more girls and women on boards, I can easily explain the value in using this type of research when teaching courses in Physical and Health Education/Kinesiology programs as well as in courses in Women’s and Gender Studies programs. The value in using this kind of research in Communication Studies programs is more challenging for me to advocate for. However, I believe that research that exposes students to the digital media projects of extreme sport participants allows them to see that self-representational ventures may contribute to challenging male/white/heterosexual, etc. dominated sport cultures and media systems. Indeed, activists in the extreme sports community (e.g., former pro-surfer Cori Schumacher) have informed me they are pleased that academics are finally approaching such topics in their research and have advocated that we include these kinds of examples in our pedagogy.

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