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A Therapeutic Landscape for Some but Not for All: An Ethnographic Exploration of the Bethlem Royal Hospital Parkrun

Garcia Ashdown-Franks, Michael Atkinson, and Catherine M. Sabiston

This study sought to explore the experiences of those involved in the Bethlem parkrun. A mobile ethnography employing participant observation and informal discussion was conducted on the grounds of the hospital in London, United Kingdom. The findings focused on “what it is like” to participate in this parkrun and were organized into two themes: (a) Bethlem as a Shared Leisure Space and (b) Shared Leisure Space, But for Whom? Findings illustrated the emplaced and relational experiences of some participants in this “therapeutic landscape,” while highlighting that the events were exclusionary for others, namely service-users. These findings contrast the therapeutic landscapes literature, which largely assumes their benefits are experienced equally. This work may provide further understanding of the individual and collective experiences of parkrun.

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What Is a Girl Worth?: Gender-Based Violence and Accountability in SportsWorld

Marissa Kiss, Katelyn E. Foltz, Angela Hattery, Katie Mirance, and Earl Smith

Despite having clear policies that address athlete misconduct, including gender-based violence, at the collegiate and professional levels, members of SportsWorld—athletes, coaches, and staff—are rarely, if ever, held accountable. And, even when they face a penalty, more than 80% are allowed to either remain on the team or transfer and continue playing. In this paper, we explore the impact of this lack of accountability, including the “positive” benefits to players that include the opportunity to play in national playoffs and secure lucrative contracts as well as the negative impacts on victims and communities, most disturbingly the impact of serial abusers like Larry Nassar whose unfettered access to athletes resulted in hundreds of victimized individuals.

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“Getting Back on the Bike”: Risk, Injury, and Sport-Related Concussion in Competitive Road Cycling

Jack Hardwicke, Howard Thomas Hurst, and Christopher R. Matthews

A clear and consistent finding across three decades of sociological work focused on performance sports is that various sports can be considered social spaces in which risk, pain, and injury are accepted, normalized, and valorized. In recent years, the emergent scientific and popular concern around the short- and long-term consequences of sport-related concussion has seen a resurgence in the use of classic sociological ideas to help understand why athletes appear to downplay, continue competing, and sometimes ignore potential brain injuries. Using data from interviews, this paper explores these social processes in the sport of road cycling in Britain. We present the argument that the enduring utility of classic sociological concepts in explaining athlete behaviors toward risk, pain, and injury may be indicative of the obdurate nature of the cultural norms which circulate in performance sport settings. With regard to the ongoing problems with concussion in sport, we show the continued need to understand the social context in which much sport is imagined and practiced. This leads to our suggestion that sociocultural and interactional processes in many sporting subcultures that support the normative acceptance of behaviors which often prioritize performance over health need to be more readily challenged if we wish to achieve comprehensive change toward improved athlete welfare.

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Exploring Gender Diversity and Trauma- and Violence-Informed Sport for Development

Julia Ferreira Gomes, Lyndsay M.C. Hayhurst, Francine Darroch, and Marika Warner

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated gender-based violence (GBV) rates in Canada, especially affecting young women and gender-diverse youth. Trauma- and violence-informed physical activity and sport for development (SFD) are recognized strategies for supporting survivors of violence, preventing GBV, and challenging gender norms. This paper explores the potential of trauma- and violence-informed approaches with a Canadian SFD organization, focusing on programs aimed to promote gender diversity and address GBV. Grounded in intersectional feminism and queer theory, findings from interviews with SFD staff and participants (n = 15) revealed challenges in maintaining a trauma- and violence-informed approach in a heteronormative sporting space. In conclusion, further research on trauma-informed SFD is crucial due to increasing GBV rates in sport.

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All the Right Questions: Exploring Racial Stereotypes in Sports Press Conferences

Vincent Peña

Sports press conferences are an area in need of more study and critique, especially regarding how sports journalists ask questions to athletes. This study analyzes the press conferences (N = 44) for four major college football teams during the 2021–2022 season, using textual analysis to explore whether sports journalists’ questions differ based on the race of the athlete and whether those questions reflect racial stereotypes. This study relies on theories of race and representation, including racial formation theory and color-blind racism, and builds upon research on stereotypes in sports. The author found that questions asked to White and Black athletes often reflected stereotypical binaries that emphasized White athletes’ intelligence, leadership, and humanity while highlighting Black athletes’ athleticism, strength, and physical ability.

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A Perfect Storm: Black Feminism and Women’s National Basketball Association Black Athlete Activism

Letisha Engracia Cardoso Brown, A. Lamont Williams, Amanda N. Schweinbenz, and Ann Pegoraro

This article pays homage to Black Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) players and their activist efforts. Such players are often-overlooked activists who are always “holdin it down” while simultaneously keeping activism at the forefront of their agenda. When the 2020 Women’s National Basketball Association season opened, the athletes in this league took the opportunity to highlight social injustice in the United States; not surprising given the history of Black feminism and athlete activism in this league. Using underwater waves as a metaphor, we examine how the intersectionality of Black feminism and Black athlete activism has largely gone unnoticed. Feminism and women’s rights movements have largely been associated with White women while Black activism has been associated with Black men. This manuscript aims to highlight the efforts of Black women and nonbinary athletes whose work has been instrumental in societal progression.

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A New Typology of Out-of-School Youth Sports in 21st Century America: The Contrasting Organizational Logics of “Sport-Focused” and “Sport-for-Development” Programming Under Neoliberal Conditions

Douglas Hartmann, Teresa Toguchi Swartz, Edgar Jesus Campos, Amy August, Alex Manning, and Sarah Catherine Billups

Out-of-school youth sport in the United States is bigger, more varied, and more impactful than ever before. In dialogue with existing scholarship, this paper uses multisite, collaborative fieldwork to identify core elements of program variation and develop a composite typology of this organizational field. The typology is based on a distinction between “sport-focused” programs and programs oriented toward nonsport social and developmental goals. Our primary insight is that programs within these domains exhibit two different organizational logics, one hierarchical, the other categorical. We also argue that variabilities of funding, social context, and reliance on public facilities are additional factors that impact the operation and effectiveness of these program types including their ability to address the racialized challenges of access, equity, and inclusion. Theorizing these differential configurations and their underlying characteristics can help parents, policymakers, practitioners (including coaches), and sports researchers engage youth sports more effectively under increasingly competitive neoliberal conditions.

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Volume 41 (2024): Issue 1 (Mar 2024)

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Anti-Black Racism and Soccer in Canada: Is It Because I’m Black, Ref?

Paul Nya and Jay Scherer

This study critically examines the experiences of members of a sub-Saharan African men’s recreational soccer club with anti-Black racism in a Western Canadian city. Drawing from extensive ethnographic fieldwork, and working at the intersections of Critical Race Theory and Physical Cultural Studies, our analysis focuses on how team members navigate a racial hierarchy that privileges Whiteness and cements their status as outsiders through both overt and subtle forms of racism on the pitch, and the laborious, retraumatizing challenges of “proving” these racist incidents to those in positions of institutional power. We underline the need for anti-racist and anti-oppressive policies and training, and independent judiciaries to monitor and address racist incidents and systemic racism—and its intersections with other forms of oppression—in Canadian sport cultures.

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Embodied Cultural Capital, Social Class, Race and Ethnicity, and Sports Performance in Girls Soccer

Pat Rubio Goldsmith and Richard Abel

Compared with working-class parents, middle-class parents increasingly promote sports performance for their children as part of a larger strategy of ensuring that their children are upwardly mobile and likely to attend and graduate from college. However, we need to learn more about the distribution of youth sports performance in specific sports and whether it relates to social class. In this study, we test for a relationship between social class and performance in girls soccer by examining the success of high school girls soccer teams in 16,091 contests. We find that schools with more working-class youth consistently lose by many goals. The relationship between performance and social class is weaker in predominantly Latinx schools than in predominantly Black and predominantly White ones, likely reflecting the community cultural wealth in soccer in Latinx immigrant communities. We discuss the practical and theoretical implications of these findings.