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When Sport Fandom Meets Motherhood: A Qualitative Exploration of Women’s Experiences

Kim Toffoletti and Katherine Sveinson

Existing literature provides nascent insights into structural arrangements that shape mothers’ experiences of being a sport fan, yet we know little about the social meaning sport fandom holds for mothers. This exploratory study draws on qualitative interviews with 41 mothers from Australia and North America to examine their understandings of sport fandom in the context of their everyday lives and contemporary ideologies about mothering. Findings suggest that sport fandom presents an opportunity for mothers to redefine and transform both fan and mothering practices, thereby challenging popular orthodoxies that fandom becomes less important to women after having children. By foregrounding mothers’ efforts to stay engaged with their fandom, we extend research on the experiences of women sport fans and offer alternatives to normative constructs of fandom.

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Trans Women and/in Sport: Exploring Sport Feminisms to Understand Exclusions

Jayne Caudwell

This paper explores past and present conceptual aspects of sport feminisms to understand trans women and/in sport. The adverse treatment of trans sportswomen now runs through governing bodies, sport media, individuals who are in decision-making roles, policy formation, and public social attitude. The move to exclude and/or restrict trans women from sport is apparent at national and international levels and demonstrates shifts in sport policy. The aim of the paper is to explore past and present developments in sport feminism to highlight the value of its dynamism to explain, critique, and challenge the current treatment of trans women athletes. The paper highlights the need to further develop, within sport sociology, a de-colonial transfeminism. De-colonial in this context involves postcolonial feminism, Black feminism, and queer of color critical approaches.

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“Compatriot” or “Stateless”: Iranian State-Owned Media and Social Media Depictions of Iranian Refugee Kimia Alizadeh’s Match at the Tokyo Olympic Games

Mahdi Latififard, Andrew C. Billings, Sean R. Sadri, and Amin Yadegari

The only Iranian woman to ever win an Olympic medal, Taekwondo Athlete Kimia Alizadeh, immigrated to Germany and became a refugee participant for the 2020/2021 Tokyo Games, competing against her former compatriot, teammate, and friend. This study content analyzes four Iranian media sources as they rendered the story of a former national hero-turned-refugee. A total of 15 frame categories were applied to each of the media sources: (a) Twitter (n = 5,662), (b) television (n = 103), (c) radio (n = 117), and (d) newspapers/digital-native news (n = 119). Television was found to adopt the most critical tones of Alizadeh, with social media, newspapers, and radio offering assessments that ranged from neutral to positive. Interestingly, social media and newspaper frames were significantly correlated, while other media sources were not.

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A Bourdieusian Approach to Pain Management and Health in Professional Cricket

Daniel Read, Ivan Thomas, Aaron C.T. Smith, and James Skinner

Painkiller (mis)use in sport presents a range of potential health risks to athletes (e.g., injury exacerbation). There is a lack of qualitative data examining the sociological genesis of variations in attitudes toward painkiller use. Focusing on the concept of physical capital, this article explores how attitudes toward painkiller use among professional cricket players in England are socialized by their workplace. Attitudes toward painkiller (mis)use stem from field-level structures that foster employment vulnerability, ensuring physical capital is precarious and legitimating painkiller (mis)use as a method of protecting economic opportunities with the added benefit of accruing symbolic capital by demonstrating toughness. Based on the findings, this article advocates for a sociologically informed harm-reduction approach to pain management in elite sport.

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Intertwining Influences on Perceptions of Risk, Pain, and Injury in Sport: A Close Study of a Chinese New Immigrant Mother–Daughter Pair

Lucen Liu and Liyun Wendy Choo

Sociological research on sport risk, pain, and injury primarily focuses on young, Western, high-performance male athletes in organized sport. In contrast, ethnic minority women’s experiences with sporting pain and injury, and risk perceptions are often underrepresented. This paper presents a close study of a Chinese new immigrant mother’s risk rationality and practices as related to her daughter’s sporting experiences in New Zealand. A conceptual framework of “neoliberal ethnic discourses of risk” was used to explore how intertwining factors of ethnicity, gender, and immigrant identity, influenced participants’ preferences for particular sports, and their perception and experiences of risk, pain, and injury. This study invites sports sociologists and organizations to consider how cultural and gendered discourses influenced Chinese new immigrant women’s sporting participation in host countries, such as New Zealand, especially why the group might be less active and more resistant to particular sports and physical activities while strongly favoring others.

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(Un)Doing Diversity Work in a “Diverse” Space: Examining Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Work in Historically Black College and University Athletics

A. Lamont Williams, Marcis Fennell, and Yannick Kluch

Matters related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have taken center stage in intercollegiate athletics in response to renewed momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement after the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery (to name a few) in 2020. Following the trend, athletics diversity and inclusion officer positions have been developed to implement DEI programming and strategy in athletics on respective campuses. However, while research on DEI programming at historically White institutions is well established, inquiries on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are rare. To fill this gap in the literature on strategic DEI efforts, the present study aims to analyze the current landscape of DEI work at HBCUs. Drawing from racialized organization theory, we argue that the contemporary conceptualization of DEI hinders the perceptual need for DEI programming at HBCUs. Thus, the monolithic approach of DEI programming cannot remain the pragmatic solution to inequitable experiences in NCAA athletics, specifically at HBCUs. Considerations include budgetary allocations, professional development, and the overall athlete experience.

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Recuperative Wokeness: Nike and the Commodification of Potential for Social Change

Eric L. Chan, Faye Linda Wachs, Christian Garcia, Beverly Teresa Cotter, and Rojelio Muñoz

Faced with the increasingly politicized nature of sport and the need for resource accumulation under neoliberal capitalism, brands employ political stances to connect with consumers and expand customer bases. The ubiquity of social media in the present moment offers a unique opportunity to analyze corporate messaging and also audience response. Seven hundred and fifty YouTube comments from three Nike ads were coded. Overall commenters responded positively to Nike acting as a “representative” for progressivism in sport while failing to acknowledge larger social movements or Nike’s own questionable business practices. Using Debord’s theory of spectacle and Fisher’s capitalist realism, we discuss “recuperative wokeness,” our term for how these narratives serve to co-opt activism, and how this works to maintain the legitimacy of neoliberal market system.

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College Football “Kids”: Infantilizing Language in Football Bowl Subdivision Bowl Game Broadcasts

Chris Corr, Crystal Southall, Billy Hawkins, and Richard M. Southall

Paternalistic institutional structures are strategically arranged to maintain locus of control and preserve male-centric patriarchal authority. A confluence of cultural, social, and legal structures perpetuates paternalism within National Collegiate Athletic Association college sport and specifically in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) football. This study examined FBS bowl game broadcasts to determine the prevalence of paternalistic and infantilizing commentary. An analysis of in-game commentary from a sample of 18 FBS bowl games from the 2019 to 2020 season revealed that commentators frequently infantilize FBS football players, normalizing a paternalistic and exploitative coach–athlete relationship.

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Hegemony and the National Collegiate Athletic Association: A Critical Discourse Analysis of National Collegiate Athletic Association Resources Concerning Name, Image, and Likeness

Molly Harry

When athletes gained rights from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to monetize their name, image, and likeness (NIL), the NCAA’s historic hegemony over college sports was challenged. However, given the recency of NIL, there is minimal research on how the NCAA communicated NIL changes to its members during this time. Through the lens of hegemony theory, this research explored how the NCAA communicated its hegemony and its loss of power via its distribution of NIL resources (N = 48). Critical discourse analysis demonstrated the NCAA and its leaders predominantly employed ideological influence in their communications to members and athletes to follow NIL guidelines. This influence centered around appeals to fairness and amateurism. The NCAA also tried to use coercion to force compliance. Finally, with an increasing trend toward decentralization, the NCAA relinquished hegemony in communications that shifted control to member institutions and by requesting federal involvement.

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“They’ve Never Played the Game”: “Cool Sports Girls,” Gender Inequality, and Garbage Time in Sports Punditry

Taylor M. Henry

In the 2010s, certain women in the sports television industry ascended beyond the often-reductive roles of studio hosts or sideline reporters, giving their sports opinions and occasionally hosting their own programs. This article argues that women who achieve this standing are forced to play a new role, that of the “cool sports girl.” Although “cool sports girls” gain male support through adopting masculine-coded traits, such as sports knowledge and smack talk, this article examines the misogynistic backlash these women face, interpreting the backlash as representing finite boundaries of the gains that women have achieved in a hypermasculine industry. This article reads the tenure of Katie Nolan at Fox Sports (2013–2017) as a representative example of how female television pundits exhibit agency amid entrenched industrial patriarchy.