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Christopher L. Stevenson

Two forms of justice, distributive and procedural, were used to examine athletes’ perceptions of the fairness of selections for national sports teams. Two questions were investigated: whether the athletes perceived the selections to be fair, and whether their perceptions of the fairness of the selection outcomes were related to their perceptions of the fairness of the selection procedures. Data were collected through interviews from all first-year players on six selected national teams. Three procedures were identified by which the teams selected their athletes: “board of selectors,” “national coach,” and “mixed.” The first type of selection process was associated with perceptions of unfairness of both the selection procedures and the outcomes. The second type was perceived to be fair in both its selection procedures and outcomes. The third type, mixed, occupied an intermediate position and the athletes were ambivalent about both its procedures and selection outcomes. It was concluded that the athletes’ perceptions of the fairness of the selection outcomes were indeed related to their perceptions of the fairness of the selection procedures.

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Christopher L. Stevenson

This investigation examined the ways in which, and the rationalizations with which, certain elite athletes juxtaposed the two role-identities of “Christian” and “athlete.” The data were obtained through in-depth interviews with current and former college and professional athletes associated with the Athletes-in-Action (AIA) organization in Western Canada (N=31: 23 males, 8 females). Initial analysis indicated considerable variability in the types of behavior that the athletes, as Christians, saw as acceptable in their sport environments, and yet the majority of these Christian-athletes did not appear to perceive any values-conflict between their Christian faith and their sporting practices. A more detailed examination using both a developmental and an interactionist perspective identified three more or less distinct types of accommodation to the normative expectations associated with the two role-identities (the segregated, selective, and committed types), each of which was associated with different consequences for the athletes’ own behaviors in sport, the values and attitudes they expressed, and the kinds of behaviors they perceived to be acceptable for Christian-athletes.

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Christopher L. Stevenson

From an interactionist perspective which sees socialization as identity formation and recognizes the importance of both the creation and confirmation of role-identities, the present research examined the early stages of the careers of international athletes (N=29). The athletes’ introductions to the sports in which they would eventually gain international status were “sponsored” by a variety of individuals: parents, siblings, peers, and others. Such introductions did not automatically create an immediate commitment on the part of the athlete to his or her sport. For 18 of the athletes, other contingencies had to occur before they became committed to their sports, and their commitment was based on the two considerations of (a) potential for success and (b) the people involved in the sport. The eventual commitments of the athletes were developed and deepened by the processes of entanglements, commitments, and reputations and identities. All of these developments in the athlete’s career were understood from the point of view of the athlete striving to appropriate desirable and valued role-identities from the options available and obtaining confirmation of these identities from significant others.

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Christopher L. Stevenson

One underreported issue in the research on Christian athletes has been the difficulties these athletes experience in living with the demands and expectations of the dominant culture of elite, competitive sport. Data were derived from in-depth interviews with 31 elite athletes (23 males and 8 females), who were also professing Christians and associated with the evangelical organization, Athletes-in-Action. The athletes reported that it was by turning to or returning to an evangelical Christian faith that they were better able to cope with their problems and with the demands of the culture of elite, competitive sport. Discussion of these findings included a consideration of Coakley’s (1994) model “of conflict, doubt, and resolution,” which attempts to represent the conflicts experienced by Christian athletes in elite sport, and the approaches they take to assuage these conflicts.