Motherhood, Sport Leadership, and Domain Theory: Experiences from New Zealand

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Sarah Leberman Massey University

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Farah Palmer Massey University

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Mothers’ voices are often silent in leisure and sport literature. This research used domain theory (Layder, 1997, 2006) to highlight the varied social domains that influence the experiences of nine women as mothers and sport leaders in New Zealand. Semistructured interviews were conducted and analyzed for themes using Hyper-RESEARCH. The findings suggest that potential constraints regarding sport leadership included guilt, exhaustion and stress, social disapproval and organizational resistance to the presence of children in sport settings. These women negotiate these potential constraints and manage their multiple identities with passion for sport and leadership, strong support networks, and specific integrating/compartmentalizing strategies to create work-family-leisure balance. The participants accentuated the mutual benefits of motherhood and sport leadership for themselves and for those they influence, while focusing on changes they can bring about at the personal and interpersonal level. Organizational and institutional change was less forthcoming, but a critical mass of mothers in some sport settings was slowly creating a desire for change.

Leberman and Palmer are with the Dept. of Management, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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