World Athletics policy narrowly defines female athletes, creating contested bodies in elite sport. Framed by feminist cultural studies and transfeminism, we discuss the eligibility rules and their real-life impact. Women with naturally elevated endogenous testosterone (hyperandrogenism) are being treated as if they are cheating. That high testosterone in female bodies has been deemed an unfair competitive advantage is consistent with dominant cultural narratives rather than the research about testosterone and sport performance. Applying an intersectional lens, it becomes clear that race, region, class, and nation intersect so that women athletes from the Global South are disproportionately affected by the eligibility regulations. This creation of contested bodies has led to critical mental and physical health outcomes. Cherry-picking one biological component of a body as the cause of exceptional performance in elite sport is irresponsible. Instead, we need education, compassion, and to follow sound science grounded in moral and ethical research.
Vikki Krane, Emma Calow, and Brandy Panunti
Ketra L. Armstrong
The legacy of racism and anti-Blackness that permeates society also permeates higher education, creating marginalizing experiences for many Black students. With few exceptions, critical discussions about race in kinesiology are lacking, or race talk is oppressive, negotiated as “safe talk,” and/or often silent and masked in race neutrality, racial coding, and color blindness. Consequently, a “quiet game” is in session in many kinesiology classrooms. However, racial silence has different meanings and effects on people of color. For Black students, race is often a salient part of their history, story, and lived experiences; consequently, it often impacts their learning inspiration and aspirations. This essay discusses the concept of “learning while Black” and illustrates ways in which kinesiology may “teach to transgress” racial oppression by intentionally and boldly embracing education as a practice of freedom, imparting race into a pedagogy of empowerment.
Karen P. DePauw
Social justice can be defined in different ways, but the principles providing the foundation/framework include access, equity, and fairness; respect for diversity; participation/engagement; and basic human rights. As an academic discipline and professional practice (field), kinesiology has an important role to play in achieving a socially just society. Social change is about not only disrupting the status quo, but also transformational change and moving toward access, equity, and inclusion. Three narratives reflect upon the ways in which kinesiology and adapted physical activity have disrupted—and must continue to disrupt—the status quo to progress toward a socially just society: reflections of marginality, sport, and social constructs of body and ability; ableism and evolution of adapted physical activity; kinesiology and its responsibility for a sustainable future and socially just society. Although progress has been made, there is still more work to be done.
Diane L. Gill
The theme of the 2021 National Academy of Kinesiology meeting and this special issue, “Kinesiology’s Social Justice Imperative,” suggests we are moving toward social justice. In this paper, I look at kinesiology’s social justice movement over the nearly 100 years of the Academy. More specifically, I consider the representation of women and racial minorities (specifically Black/African Americans) in kinesiology and the Academy throughout our history and social factors related to the changes (or lack thereof) in representation. To move toward social justice, we must learn from that history, highlight the social, and connect with our communities and professionals.
A summary of the evidence for a contribution of genetic variability to physical activity–related traits is presented. The availability of a reference human DNA sequence has made it possible to screen individuals and populations for the presence of genomic differences. Even though more than 100 million DNA variants have been identified, human beings share a genomic sequence, which is more than 99% identical. Four major lessons can be derived from ongoing genomic and genetic studies. First, the connection between a genotype and a phenotype is highly complex. Second, the expression of genes is regulated via multiple interacting mechanisms. Third, redundancy and compensatory mechanisms are ubiquitous. Fourth, complex, multifactorial traits are influenced by polygenic systems defined by hundreds and thousands of loci with most alleles characterized by very small effect sizes. The contribution of genetic variability is briefly summarized for human longevity, common chronic diseases, physical activity level, cardiorespiratory fitness in the sedentary state, and in response to exercise programs.
Mara Simon, Jihyeon Lee, Megen Evans, Sheldon Sucre, and Laura Azzarito
This paper advances a socio-educational and critical orientation for the study of human movement to valorize and recenter voicelessness. Representing the subjugation of marginalized people can open up possibilities for transformative research projects invested in the reimagining of equitable and inclusive studies of human movement and education. First, the authors suggest that ongoing intellectual tensions in the field are unproductive; instead, the authors advance a social justice agenda, advocating for an educational, sociocultural, and critical orientation toward human movement. Second, the authors argue for moving beyond the “exercise is medicine” mantra as a dominant, normative framing of kinesiology. Third, drawing from a socio-educational perspective, the authors propose intersectionality as a crucial component of critical race theory to explore and center the significance of health, physical activity, and movement in the lives of Black, Latinx, Native, LGBQ, and transgender groups, people with disabilities, and those who face body weight stigma, from their own viewpoints.
Samuel R. Hodge and Louis Harrison Jr.
The purpose of this paper is to engage the reader in a conversation about justice imperatives in education, disability, and health. As counternarrative to structured majoritarian scholarship and positioned in the expressed intent of the National Academy of Kinesiology’s 90th annual meeting theme of Kinesiology’s Social Justice Imperative, we express feelings about the urgency for social justice in teacher education. To start, we operationally define social justice as advocacy, agency, and action. Next, we recommend the application of critical theoretical frameworks in conceptualizing and conducting research involving historically marginalized and minoritized populations (e.g., African American students). This conversation is theoretically grounded in intersectionality to offer a nuanced understanding of social constructions, such as ethnicity (e.g., African American) and race (e.g., Black), gender, culture, disability, and sociometric positioning regarding justice imperatives in education, disability, and health.
Thelma S. Horn
This paper is based on a Senior Scholar presentation delivered at the 2020 annual meeting of the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity. The paper begins with a summary of the research work completed by the author and coinvestigators in regard to the influences that significant others (parents, peers, and coaches) exert on the psychosocial well-being of individuals in sport and physical activity. In each of these three areas, illustrative research studies are summarized in a predominantly chronological order with a commentary at the end of each section that identifies unanswered questions and suggests future research directions. In the second section, four particular lessons learned by the author over the course of a scholarly career are identified and explained.
George B. Cunningham, Risa Isard, and E. Nicole Melton
Questions about transgender individuals’ place in sport persist. Therefore, the purpose of this paper was to focus on transgender inclusion in sport. Drawing from varied perspectives, the authors present five reasons for inclusion, basing their arguments on sport as a human right, fairness, gendered notions of athleticism, well-being, and economics. The authors then present a multilevel model for including transgender athletes, coaches, and administrators in sport, identifying factors at the macro-, meso-, and micro-levels of analysis.
Martin E. Block and Abby Fines
Many individuals with disabilities are not physically active. Part of inactivity can be explained by the person’s disability. However, inactivity also may be the result of inequities, attitudes, and misconceptions by physical activity (PA) providers that makes it difficult for those with disabilities to successfully participate in sport, recreation, and fitness pursuits. The purpose of this paper is to examine disability through a social justice lens with specific reference to PA. Concepts of ableism, social justice, and how disability is defined will be explored with specific examples from PA. We conclude with suggestions on how to make PA providers aware of ableism, their biases, and how they define and view disability. This awareness will hopefully lead to changes in the willingness of PA providers to welcome those with disabilities into their programs and provide accommodations so that people with disabilities will be able to access PA.