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Reconstructing, Challenging, and Negotiating Sex/Gender in Sport: U.S. Public Opinion About Transgender Athletes’ Rights, Rights for Athletes With Varied Sex Characteristics, Sex Testing, and Gender Segregation

Chris Knoester, Rachel Allison, and Victoria T. Fields

Using data from the National Sports and Society Survey (N = 3,993), this study considers U.S. public opinion about transgender athletes’ rights, rights for athletes with varied sex characteristics, sex testing, and gender segregation in sports. Social structural location, social group, and ideological characteristics are examined as predictors of these opinions. Results indicated that most U.S. adults seem to support transgender athletes’ rights and rights for athletes with varied sex characteristics and oppose sex testing and gender segregation in youth sports. Men, heterosexuals, older generations, those without a college education, Republicans, Christians, and rural residents, as well as those who exhibit more traditionalism and traditionally gendered beliefs in their ideologies, were more opposed to athletes’ rights and inclusivity on these issues.

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Volume 40 (2023): Issue 3 (Sep 2023)

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Pregnancy, Parenthood, and Elite Athletics: “There’s a Lot of Work Still Yet To Be Done”

Sydney V.M. Smith, Audrey R. Giles, and Francine E. Darroch

Several female athletes have recently challenged the long-standing assumption that pregnancy/parenthood (particularly motherhood) and participation in elite-level sport are mutually exclusive. These women’s actions have elicited change across the elite athletics industry and have sparked a need for further research to understand how elite athlete-parents perceive these shifts. We used feminist poststructuralist theory, feminist participatory action research, and semistructured interviews to explore the perspectives of 21 pregnant and parenting elite/international and world-class athletes (11 women and 10 men) on the developing degree of acceptance of parenthood in elite athletics. Through feminist poststructuralist discourse analysis, we identified that, despite considerable recent advancements, there is still a need for continued change in the degree to which pregnant/parenting elite athletes are accepted and supported within elite athletics.

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Gender Equality in the “Next Stage” of the “New Age?” Content and Fan Perceptions of English Media Coverage of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup

Stacey Pope, Rachel Allison, and Kate Petty

This article offers an original contribution by examining both the quantity and quality of English print media coverage of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and how fans perceive and respond to this coverage. It is the first longitudinal analysis of media coverage of women’s football in the United Kingdom and compares print media coverage between the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cups. We draw on a content analysis of five English national newspapers and 49 semistructured interviews with fans. We develop new theoretical insights through the development of our framework of the “next stage” of the “new age.” Our findings show media coverage of women’s football has substantially increased, with respectful coverage sustained. The new theme of gender equality made visible several types of inequality, but the media industry failed to acknowledge its own role in reinforcing gender inequalities. Interviewees were critical of the time-limited “revolution” whereby coverage was limited to the duration of the World Cup. To advance gender equality, future media coverage must be sustained, meaningful, and prominent.

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Does Location Matter? An Econometric Analysis of Stadium Location and Attendance at National Women’s Soccer League Matches

Tarlan Chahardovali, Nicholas M. Watanabe, and Ryan W. Dastrup

This study examines the impact of stadium locations on attendance in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). We develop a match-level attendance model incorporating control variables such as market factors and consumer preferences to assess attendance for NWSL games. Our results indicate that attendance drops the further an NWSL stadium is from the city center. Specifically, the coefficients suggest an inverse relationship between attendance at NWSL matches and the distance to the city center, indicating that for every mile further an NWSL team was from the city center, attendance declined by about 6.6%. Our findings show that some of the perceived differences in demand for women’s soccer may be due to infrastructural inequalities such as stadium locations. Therefore, one way to boost demand and attendance in professional women’s sport, specifically soccer, is to move away from suburban stadiums and toward downtown locations.

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“Sorry If I Offended”: The Art of Nonapology, Racism, and White Supremacy in Sport

Jessica W. Chin and Matthew R. Hodler

Despite perceived postracial ideologies of American sport, players, coaches, fans, and media have been complicit in reaffirming racial hierarchies through racist microaggressions and remarks. Such racist violations are commonly exposed in the current moment of widespread social media engagement and social justice activism. Subsequently, many violators issue apologies—often employing the conjunction “if”—which hinges the apology on the condition of the targeted group taking offense. We call these conditional apologies nonapology apologies and argue that they fall within a racializing apologia framework, devaluing and questioning the place of those offended in American society and sport, and reinforcing White supremacy. In this paper, we examine apology statements by sports figures and explore the implications of nonapology apologies.

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Unrealistic Expectations and Future Status Coercion in Minor League Baseball Players’ Future-Oriented Labor

Christopher M. McLeod, Nola Agha, N. David Pifer, and Tarlan Chahardovali

This study examines minor league baseball players’ future-oriented labor by interviewing 44 baseball players and collecting data on 8,000 minor league baseball players’ careers. Minor league baseball players’ expectations of reaching Major League Baseball impacted how they evaluated their work in the present, leading them to tolerate unfair pay and working conditions. We show that players’ expectations of reaching Major League Baseball were moderately unrealistic, partly due to managerial practices encouraging unrealistic expectations. This study contributes to labor research by showing that future-oriented labor ideology is based on unrealistic expectations that employers can promote to create opportunities for future status coercion.

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Weighing the Body: Women Olympic Weightlifters Negotiating Weight Class, Body Image, and the Unruly Body

Monica Nelson and Shannon Jette

Women athletes’ experiences of gendered body ideals and empowerment have been well-documented. However, the existing literature largely neglects strength sports, which have a complex relationship with gendered norms given their historical association with masculinity and wide range of weight classes. In this article, we use a feminist poststructuralist lens to explore how eight Olympic Weightlifters participating in the women’s category choose their weight classes while balancing strength, competitiveness, and esthetics. Participants often referenced sport-specific and gendered body discourses when choosing their weight classes, yet also identified a nondiscursive element that could force them to forego athletic and esthetic body ideals: the body itself. Based on these narratives, we suggest that awareness of the “rebellious body” be considered an important element of women athletes’ bodily empowerment.

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Volume 40 (2023): Issue 2 (Jun 2023): Special Issue: A Critical Examination of Race and Antiracism in the Sport for Development Field

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Feminist Sport Media Studies in SSJ: Mapping Theoretical Frameworks and Geographies of Knowledge Production

Dunja Antunovic

This conceptual review identifies the contributions of the Sociology of Sport Journal to the subfield of feminist sport media studies. Since the first issue of Sociology of Sport Journal, over 60 articles addressed primarily the media representations research area of feminist sport media studies, using a range of theoretical frameworks that mirrored theoretical shifts in the field. An empirical analysis of geographies of knowledge production indicates that the scholarship in Sociology of Sport Journal in this subfield is primarily based in the United States and focuses on Western contexts. The article concludes with a reflection on the importance of special issues and interdisciplinary collaborations in feminist sport media studies.