The De-Athleticization of Women: The Naming and Gender Marking of Collegiate Sport Teams

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 Colorado State University
  • 2 University of Michigan–Flint
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American colleges and universities use nicknames, colors, logos, and mascots as identifying and unifying symbols, especially concerning their athletic teams. This paper examines the dark side of these solidarity symbols by reporting the incidence and patterns found in the naming of collegiate men’s and women’s athletic teams. The data from 1,185 four-year schools reveal that more than half of American colleges and universities employ names, mascots, and/or logos that demean and derogate women’s teams. There are no significant differences in naming patterns by type of school (public, independent, or religious), but region is significant, with Southern schools more likely to use sexist names than schools elsewhere. The various sexist naming practices contribute to the maintenance of male dominance within college athletics by defining women athletes and women’s athletic programs as second class and trivial.

D. Stanley Eitzen is with the Department of Sociology at Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO 80523. Maxine Baca Zinn is with the Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan-Flint, Flint, MI 48502.

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