The Power of “Small Stories:” Narratives and Notions of Gender Equality in Conversations about Sport

in Sociology of Sport Journal

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Marie HardinPenn State University

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Erin Elizabeth WhitesidePenn State University

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This study examines narratives by young adults about sport and gender in relation to equality. Specifically, we explore how focus-group participants used small stories to situate male and female athletes and Title IX. The U.S. law has been credited for increasing opportunities for girls and women but is considered a source of tension for gender relations. Our findings suggest that participants’ stories ultimately did not support emancipatory goals for girls and women because they positioned equality as a right women had not earned. We argue that feminists cannot underestimate the need to inject counternarratives into public discourse at every level, including stories shared with children about sport. These narratives must address misconceptions about equality and gender equity and, ultimately, challenge gender ideology.

The authors are with Penn State, Center for Sports Journalism, 222 Carnegie, University Park, PA, 16802.

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