Parissa Safai, a professor in York University’s School of Kinesiology and Health Science, Faculty of Health, has been elected to serve as president of the International Sociology of Sport Association (ISSA), effective Jan. 1, 2024 and until 2028.
Established in 1965, ISSA is an international scholarly organization in the field of the sociology of sport. ISSA is affiliated with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), collaborates with the International Sociology Association by leading Research Committee 27 (Sociology of Sport) and is responsible for producing the International Review for the Sociology of Sport journal.
Safai has served as general secretary of ISSA since 2020, and when she assumes her new role in January, will be the first York faculty member to serve as president of the association. “The opportunity to lead and support the international sociology of sport community through the ISSA is exciting and very meaningful for me,” she says. “The association represents a scholarly home for many from all over the world, a place where we can continue to safely engage in dialogue and debate about sport and physical culture through a sociological lens. Maintaining and protecting such a space is critical, as some of our members in some areas of the world are increasingly facing restrictions on what they can freely study and teach.”
Representing a community of diverse scholars, ISSA works to promote international co-operation in the field of the sociology of sport; exchange information gathered through research; convene international congresses, seminars and symposia; identify sociological problems in sport and organize international research programs to address them; oversee and co-ordinate ISSA’s official publications; and co-operate with other committees, groups and organizations to solve problems of mutual interest.
“ISSA is a critically important community for scholars, exploring the social, political economic, historical and cultural complexities of sport,” says Safai. “Sport is truly a global phenomenon, and its sociological study affords us opportunity to interrogate the intricate ways it can be used to reproduce inequity or to advance social justice.”
At ISSA, she says, she will be working alongside colleagues who share her vision of the association as an inclusive global scholarly community. “One of my top priorities as the incoming president will be to continue to increase the diversity and accessibility of our association and its journal, especially for Global South scholars and scholars for whom English is not their first language,” she says.
Beyond ISSA, Safai’s research and teaching interests focus on the critical study of sport at the intersection of risk, health and health care, as well as sport and social inequality, with focused attention paid to the impact of gender, socio-economic and ethnocultural inequities on accessible physical activity for all. She served as interim associate dean, teaching and learning in the Faculty of Health from 2017 to 2018; and from January 2021 to April 2022, she served as special advisor to the president for academic continuity planning and COVID-19 response.