Examining the Workplace Experiences of Sport Employees Who Are LGBT: A Social Categorization Theory Perspective

in Journal of Sport Management
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  • 1 Texas Tech University
  • | 2 Texas A & M University
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The purpose of this qualitative analysis was to explore the work experiences of sport employees who are LGBT, and examine how these individuals negotiate their multiple social identities in a sport context. Considering the growing interest in sport, and sport management in particular, it is important for scholars to gain of better understanding of why people choose to work in the sport industry, and understand how employee identity may influence career decisions and subsequent work experiences. Thus, the researchers only interviewed employees who did not fulfill coaching or player roles, as these individuals could potentially work in other industries. Analysis of the data revealed how working in a sport context may present sexual minorities with certain advantages, such as an opportunity to enhance self-esteem and gain social acceptance. When confronted with unjust treatment because of their sexual orientation, employees used coworker social support and social mobility techniques to cope with these negative situations. Although the employees did not always view their sexual orientation as salient to their identity, they had all disclosed their sexual orientation, to varying degrees, to others in the workplace. Finally, though the participants did not engage in social change activities, some of their supportive coworkers attempted to proactively create a more inclusive work environment. Implications of these findings are discussed and practical suggestions are provided.

E. Nicole Melton is with the Department of Health, Exercise, and Sport Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX. George B. Cunningham is with the Laboratory for Diversity in Sport at Texas A & M University, College Station, TX.

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