Conflict and the College Sport Experience of Women Athletes

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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  • 1 Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
  • | 2 University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
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This paper is a synthesis of results from five separate studies examining how recent structural and philosophical changes in women’s intercollegiate sport programs may have altered the sport experience of female athletes. Based on both questionnaire and interview data, it was apparent that athletes participating in sport programs characterized by the greatest change (e.g., post-Title IX programs, programs of the 1980s, product-oriented sport models, and Division I programs of recent years) shared somewhat common experiences — with the presence of conflict being one of the most pervasive themes. Four types of conflict were identified: (a) value alienation, (b) role strain, (c) role conflict, and (d) exploitation. Each of these types of conflict is discussed and examples to substantiate the presence of each form of conflict are presented. Based upon the findings, it is suggested that the changing context and emphases of college sport may have exposed female athletes to different sets of circumstances, expectations, and experiences, thus altering the nature of the sport experience and bringing into question the educational legitimacy of college sport.

Correspondence Address: Dr. Elaine Blinde Department of Physical Education 113 Davies Southern Illinois University Carbondale, IL 62901 618-453-3119
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