This work built upon previous research examining meritocracy in elite sport by examining the socioeconomic and racial composition of the high schools of 1,881 players on National Football League (NFL) rosters in 2016. The NFL player data from pro-football-reference.com and perceived race data coded from player pictures are matched to school data for 23,785 public high schools in the Common Core of Data and 3,333 private high schools in the Private School Universe Survey. Using t tests of differences in group averages and General Linear Model analysis of variance, the authors found large statistically significant racial disparities within the NFL with Black NFL players attending high schools with an average of twice as many students in poverty and five times as many Black students than the high schools attended by White NFL players. Overall, NFL players attended high schools with lower socioeconomic status student bodies than the general student population, suggesting more meritocracy. However, analysis by player race shows the difference driven by the racial composition of the NFL compared with the general student population, suggesting this meritocracy is more complex; Black NFL players attended higher socioeconomic status schools with more White students than the general Black student population, and White NFL players attended higher socioeconomic status schools with fewer Black students than the general White student population.
Kristopher White, Kathryn Wilson, Theresa A. Walton-Fisette, Brian H. Yim, and Michele K. Donnelly
Gareth M. Barrett, I. Sherwin, and Alexander D. Blackett
Although the sport of rugby union has expanded globally in both the men’s and women’s formats recently, there remains an under-representation of women coaches across all contexts. Research has focused its analysis on the under-representation of women coaches in a select few sports such as soccer. No extant research has empirically analyzed this under-representation within rugby union. This study addressed this research lacuna on why this under-representation exists from the perspective of 21 women rugby union coaches based within the United Kingdom and Ireland. The specific research objective was to analyze the coaches’ lived experiences of attending formal coach education courses in rugby union. Data were collected through individual semi-structured interviews. Data were analyzed thematically and conceptualized via an abductive logic against LaVoi’s Ecological-Intersectional Model and Pierre Bourdieu’s species of capital. Supportive and positive themes reported how the coach education courses had been delivered in a collegiate and lateral manner. Courses thus acted as settings where greater amounts of cultural and social capital could be acquired from both course tutors and peers. This enabled social networks to be made that were used for continual professional development beyond the courses. Barriers and negative experiences orientated upon the lack of empathy imparted by course tutors on account of men having fulfilled these roles on most occasions. Recommendations on how national governing bodies can improve the experiences of women coaches attending future coach education courses are discussed.
Fabrice Burlot, Mathilde Desenfant, and Helene Joncheray
The requirements of performance sport are becoming more and more time-consuming for athletes. Based on the work of Rosa, the article looks into the ability of athletes to reconcile their training project and the increasing requirements of practice at a high level. To address this issue, we interviewed 63 high-level French athletes who train at the French Institute of Sport. The results show that although the training project appears to be time-consuming, it is nonetheless a source of social balance and a reassuring choice for their future professional retraining. In order to preserve this educational project in the time-consuming context of high-performance sports, athletes on the one hand implement strategies of arrangement in order to produce an acceptable timetable, and on the other hand use this temporality as an adjustment variable allowing them to better manage temporal emergencies. By giving athletes a voice, this work deconstructs the idea of the incompatibility of educational and sports projects and offers recommendations to sports institutions.
Natalie M. Welch, Jessica L. Siegele, and Robin Hardin
Women continue to struggle to reach senior-level leadership positions in collegiate sports, and ethnic minorities face the challenges due to their ethnicity as well. This research examined the experiences and challenges of ethnic minority women who are collegiate athletic directors at predominantly White institutions (PWIs). Semistructured interviews were conducted with eight participants using intersectionality as a theoretical framework. Three themes emerged from the data analysis: (a) intersectional challenges, (b) questions of competence, and (c) professional support. The women were continually battling the idea of having to prove themselves and negotiating the challenges of being an ethnic minority woman working in collegiate athletics. They credit their professional networks as a valuable resource during their career progression. The women noted that sexism was more prevalent in their experiences than issues related to their ethnicity. The masculine athletic director stereotype persists in collegiate sports, but the findings of this study can contest the notion of a standard leadership identity that has long been perceived as a White man.
Kieran James and Yogesh Nadan
This article studies the amateur elite National Soccer League in the Fiji Islands from 1980 to 1992 and the Fiji national team's landmark 1–0 win over Australia in 1988. The authors use the theoretical idea of “gesturing elsewhere,” taken from the work of popular music scholar Emma Baulch, to explain how the local Fiji soccer community receives its meaning and identity largely as the local-outpost or chapter of the global soccer scene. Therefore, a victory over the sporting powerhouse Australia boosts the self-image of the Fiji soccer world by temporarily upturning the established hierarchies. The shock 1988 win saw Fiji assigned extra credibility in the global context. The authors also look at the Indo-Fijian (Fijians of Indian decent) emigrant communities of the West and argue that, through their ongoing love of Fiji soccer, they play a role akin to offshore memory or offshore library, cataloging past history and revering past stars and classic contests.
In a 2004 autobiography, legendary player Pete Rose confessed to gambling on baseball games, even those that included his Cincinnati Reds. The passage of time has clarified much about the betting scandal that plagued Major League Baseball (MLB) in 1989. Over the course of the six-month saga, Rose’s denials and his adversarial relationship with the Commissioner’s Office shrouded MLB’s investigation in controversy. This study explores the press coverage of the scandal in 1989 and determines that the Cincinnati press was more sympathetic to, and supportive of Rose than out-of-market coverage, represented in this investigation by The New York Times. These findings are consistent with previous research that indicates that local media favors hometown institutions during times of crisis. This study expands that theory by demonstrating that favoritism extends to individual players whose connection to the city is significant, and furthers our understanding of the media’s role in shaping the narratives of scandal.
Nicky Lewis, Walter Gantz, and Lawrence A. Wenner
Using an active audience perspective, this study examines the wide-ranging in-person and second-screen behaviors that occur while viewing live sports. A national sample of participants (N = 630) was surveyed about their live sports viewing behaviors while watching a normal game, a close game, and one where the outcome was clear. Viewers concurrently engaged in a variety of game-related and unrelated activities, many involving additional screens and a social dimension (e.g., talking about the game with others in person and through media, hanging out with family/friends). Games that were not close encouraged more activity than games that were close. Sports fanship was positively associated with game-related behaviors but not unrelated behaviors. In all, live sports viewing involves a wide array of simultaneous in-person and second-screen activity, with some of that activity focused on the sporting events themselves, and other activities focused on meeting the responsibilities of daily life.
Samantha King and Gavin Weedon
This article raises the ecological substance and relational co-constitution of bodies as a generative question for sociologists of sport and physical culture. It proceeds from our observation that recent research on the materiality of athletic bodies, and on the environmental issues in which sport is implicated, tends to run on parallel tracks. By exploring how biological, environmental, and social natures cohere in the making and unmaking of healthy bodies, our aim is to connect and extend these vibrant areas of research. We do so by developing the concept of “ecological embodiment,” a descriptor for a fluid state of becoming and a sensibility for thinking about hierarchical socioecological entanglements. To illustrate this concept, we draw on a study of whey protein powder, a key ingredient in contemporary fitness cultures.
Terry Eddy, B. Colin Cork, Katie Lebel, and Erin Howie Hickey
Research on sport sponsors’ use of social media has begun to emerge, but, to date, limited research has examined how sponsors are using social media as an activation platform to engage with followers. Thus, the purpose of this research was to examine differences in follower engagement with regard to sponsored Twitter posts from North American professional sport organizations, based upon the focus, scope, and activation type of the sponsored messages. This manuscript consists of two related studies—Study 1 employed a deductive content analysis, followed by negative binomial regression modeling, to examine differences in engagement between message structures defined by focus and scope. Study 2 featured an inductive content analysis to investigate differences in engagement between different types of activations. The findings suggest that, in general, more passive (or less overt) forms of sponsor integration in social media messages drive more engagement among followers.