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Gender Parity, False Starts, and Promising Practices in the Paralympic Movement

Nikolaus A. Dean, Andrea Bundon, P. David Howe, and Natalie Abele

Although women have been a part of the Paralympic Movement since its inauguration, they remain underrepresented in almost all aspects of parasport. Noting these gender-based discrepancies, the International Paralympic Committee and several National Paralympic Committees have made commitments to address the issue of gender balance across the movement. Guided theoretically by feminist and disability sport scholarship, this article explores the various initiatives and strategies implemented by the International Paralympic Committee and National Paralympic Committees to address the issue of gender parity. Through 29 qualitative interviews with Paralympic athletes, organizers, academics, and journalists, our study illustrates that initiatives and strategies implemented by these organizations have affected women differently based on a range of social, cultural, and political factors.

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“I Can’t Because I Am a Man”: Masculinity, Manhood, and Gender Equality in Sport for Development

Eva Soares Moura

Despite the growing body of feminist research investigating the relationship between sports initiatives and gender development goals, the literature to date has almost exclusively focused on female participation within sport for development programs. The purpose of this paper is to examine men’s behavior and provide novel insights into the perspectives and roles of men in sport for development work. This paper draws upon 11 months of ethnographic research undertaken between 2017 and 2018 in two organizations in São Paulo, Brazil, which use football as a tool to empower women. The findings reveal the diversity of roles men play in gender equality efforts and indicate issues men face, specifically the impact of ideas of manhood that hinder their ability to support broader social justice. The author ends the paper by outlining the necessity to explore masculinity and manhood in more depth to broaden the current understandings of the limitations and potential of sport for development initiatives to change the traditional model of male dominance and, consequently, have a more profound effect on gender equality.

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“I Just Don’t Wanna Deal With the Headache of People Fighting Over the Internet”: A Study of Sponsored Female Climbers’ Digital Labor

Katariina Rahikainen and Kim Toffoletti

Drawing on data from a qualitative study of sponsored and professional female climbers, this article offers a timely examination of the digital labor undertaken by women seeking to forge identities and livelihoods in sport. Female climbers are increasingly turning to social media to generate visibility and sponsorship opportunities in response to the changing social and commercial imperatives of sport, yet the perspective of participants is lacking in existing academic research. The theoretical framework of “athletic labor of femininity” is deployed to explore sportswomen’s decision making when producing social media content. This study departs from previous investigations by considering the sociotechnical aspects of platform algorithms in female climbers’ efforts to remain visible online, and attempts to avoid controversy that can deter followers.

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Theorizing the Moving Body in Competitive Sport

Roslyn Kerr and Seònaid Mary-Kate Espiner

This article examines an area that has received surprisingly little attention within the sociology of sport literature: the role of human movement and the ways in which it can be understood and valued. Drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Judith Butler, in this article, the authors have raised the possibility of sporting “movement capital.” The authors argued that rules and regulations produce and legitimize particular types of movements, which are then reinforced through institutionalized athlete development practices and able to be converted to symbolic capital. However, movements might also be valued as demonstrating particular traits and/or invoking emotional reactions, and be recognized as familiar. The authors concluded that, through identifying the connections between Bourdieu’s habitus and Butler’s performativity, they can understand how the value of movement is constantly in-flux, constantly regenerating as athletes imperfectly produce and reproduce recognizable movements as part of their sporting habitus.

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The Changing Nature of Gay Rugby Clubs in the United Kingdom

Ken Muir, Eric Anderson, Keith D. Parry, and David Letts

Rugby has traditionally existed as a leading definer of masculinity in British culture, which has included overt homophobia. However, cultural attitudes toward homosexuality have improved rapidly in the 21st century. To assess the impact of wider societal change on gay rugby teams, we employed a multiple methods investigation across five gay rugby teams in England. Results show that, whereas athletes once played for these teams to escape homophobia in broader rugby culture, this is no longer true. Affiliation with gay clubs is now primarily for social purposes, and gay rugby clubs now protect the physical safety of gay men from being less prepared to play the game, whereas before it was safety from homophobia. This research shows that gay rugby clubs have undergone an organizational shift in response to the increased social acceptance of sexual minorities.

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“I Don’t Know How You Get Past That”: Racism and Stereotyping in College Football Recruiting Media

Adam Love, Sam Winemiller, Guy Harrison, and Jason Stamm

College football programs invest millions of dollars into recruiting top high school prospects. This recruiting process is covered extensively by reporters from sports media outlets. While the players being recruited are predominately Black, the sports media is disproportionately dominated by White men. In this context, the current study reports on data from interviews with 15 participants who work in the college football recruiting media industry. While some participants adopted a color-blind perspective dominated by a belief that racism no longer exists, most reporters expressed an awareness of racial stereotypes in the sports media and felt a need to address racial inequity. Such awareness presents an opportunity for anti-racist training that may help media members avoid racial stereotyping and address racism in the field.

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“Just Existing Is Activism”: Transgender Experiences in Martial Arts

Anna Kavoura, Alex Channon, and Marja Kokkonen

This study focuses on transgender experiences in martial arts. Interviews with three Finnish and two British transgender martial artists were thematically analyzed, and findings were interpreted through the lens of queer theory. Two themes were identified related to the ways that transgender martial artists experience their sporting contexts, namely martial arts as an empowering and inclusive context and the challenges related to being transgender in martial arts. Two themes were also identified when it comes to participants’ strategies for coping with cis-/heteronormativity in martial arts. Whenever possible, participants employed social change strategies, whereas other times, they drew on self-care strategies. Following this, we suggest a need for context-specific, protective policies; nonbinary means of organizing sport; and gender diversity education for instructors to better cater for the specific needs of transgender people in sport.

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Sport for Development and Transformative Social Change: The Potential of Margaret Archer’s Morphogenetic Approach to Reconceptualize a Long-Standing Problem

Iain Lindsey and Gareth Wiltshire

Frequent calls for sport for development (SFD) to be reoriented toward transformative social change reflect the extent that policies and programs have instead focused on individualized forms of personal development. However, SFD research has yet to substantially address fundamental ontological assumptions and underlying conceptualizations of transformative social change. To addresses this gap, this article considers how Margaret Archer’s Morphogenetic Approach can help explain how transformative social change might occur through SFD activities. Three conceptual contributions are brought into focus: (a) assuming a realist social ontology; (b) making distinctions between structure, culture, and agency; and (c) identifying social change as happening across three temporal phases. The authors conclude by identifying potential benefits and implications of applying the Morphogenetic Approach to consider the potential for SFD to contribute to social change.

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Sport, Nationalism, and the Narration of Cultural Scripts: The Death of Colin Meads and the New Zealand Imagination

Mark Falcous and Lauren Turner

This paper explores the narrativization of sports icons within the context of nationalist discourse. The authors explore New Zealand media coverage surrounding the death of Colin Meads in August 2017. Meads, a former all Black rugby captain, coach and administrator, media pundit, and corporate spokesman, was a high-profile public icon. His death was met with saturation national media coverage. The authors’ cultural studies informed analysis of Meads’ narrativization is twofold. First, the authors contextualize the cultural scripts surrounding him prior to his death. Second, they critically read media narrativization following his death within the context of narratives of nation. They explore this mediation in the context of intersecting themes of rurality, Whiteness, masculinity, and rugby. Print media coverage widely articulated Meads to the nation as the archetypical “kiwi,” liturgized his contribution to rugby during and after his playing career, and his “no-nonsense” character. In doing so, it reinforced a selective national narrative, premised on a combination of both remembering and forgetting. This narrative reaffirms White-settler, male heroism, and rugby as central to New Zealand nationhood and assuages contemporary national anxieties and the cultural hierarchies they entangle.

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Women’s Bodies, Femininity, and Spacetimemattering: A Baradian Analysis of the Activewear Phenomenon

Julie E. Brice

Over the past decade, activewear has become a booming international business and cultural phenomenon. It has simultaneously been critiqued for its pervasive neoliberal, postfeminist, and healthism rhetoric and the ways it continues to (re)produce hegemonic femininity. In this paper, the author drew upon new materialist theory, specifically Karen Barad’s concept of spacetimemattering, to contribute to this body of literature, providing an alternative perspective on the production of femininity and feminist politics within activewear. Using a Baradian-inspired approach, this paper brought various material-discourses and events from multiple time periods into dialogue with the activewear phenomenon to (re)think the production of femininity. Specifically, the analysis explored how activewear entanglements across various spatiotemporalities challenge appearance-based femininity and increase the visibility (and acceptance) of the moving female body. Through this exploration, the author provided a way to (re)imagine feminist politics that are embedded in women’s everyday fitness practices.