This is an examination of how homophobia and the lesbian label impact the professional careers of women basketball coaches at Division I universities. In-depth telephone interviews were conducted with 10 women who were head coaches of women’s intercollegiate basketball programs. Two areas in particular were explored in this 75-minute interview: (1) coaching careers, and (2) recruitment of athletes. Relative to coaching careers, coaches discussed how the homophobia in women’s sport narrowed career choices for women and impacted decisions related to the hiring of both head and assistant coaches. The lesbian label also was a concern in terms of the image projected by a basketball program. Secondly, coaches discussed how various aspects of the recruitment process were influenced by the lesbian label. Inquiries by prospective student-athletes, parents, and high school coaches about lesbians on a coaching staff or team were common. The practice of using insinuations about the presence of lesbians on rival teams was mentioned as a frequent negative recruitment technique. Concerns relative to lesbian issues also were identified as being influential in the recruitment decisions of some coaches. In general, most coaches preferred to discuss how lesbian issues impacted other coaches rather than relay accounts of their own experiences in coaching. Fear, silence, denial, and the apologetic were noted to underlie many of the responses provided by coaches.
Susan Wellman and Elaine Blinde
Elaine M. Blinde
Due in part to changes brought about by Title IX and the NCAA, women’s intercollegiate sport programs have increasingly emulated the male model of intercollegiate sport. Given such a shift in orientation, the present study examined the relationship between the degree to which an athlete’s sport program emulated the male model of sport and (a) the nature and type of values emphasized in the athlete’s sport program, and (b) the degree of value alienation experienced by athletes. Such hypothesized relationships are consistent with feminist claims that women are alienated in structures that have been created and shaped by men without regard for the existence or experienees of women. A questionnaire was mailed to 952 former female athletes who had participated in sport programs at 10 Division I universities, with completed questionnaires received from 482 athletes. Results indicated that an increasing emphasis was placed on “male model values” as the sport program of athletes increasingly emulated the male sport model. Furthermore, athletes were slightly more likely to express feelings of value alienation with increasing emulation of the male sport model.
Elaine M. Blinde and Lisa R. McClung
The impact of participation in recreational activities on perceptions of the physical and social selves of individuals with physical disabilities was explored. Eleven women (ages 19 to 54) and 12 men (ages 20 to 36) participated in individualized recreational programs including horseback riding, swimming, fitness, weightlifting, racquetball, bowling, tennis, fishing, walking, and tai chi. Tape-recorded interviews were conducted with these individuals following participation. Content analyses of the interview responses indicated that participation impacted four aspects of the physical self: (a) experiencing the body in new ways, (b) enhancing perceptions of physical attributes, (c) redefining physical capabilities, and (d) increasing perceived confidence to pursue new physical activities. Modifications in respondents’ perceptions of the social self were reflected in two themes: (a) expanding social interactions and experiences, and (b) initiating social activities in other contexts. The gains discussed by respondents suggest that individuals developed an enhanced sense of control in both their physical and social lives.
Elaine M. Blinde and James E. Tierney III
This study explored in depth the process by which sport psychology ideas and techniques are diffused into elite-level swimming programs in the United States. Three stages in the diffusion process were examined: initial exposure, degree of receptivity, and rate of implementation. A questionnaire designed to measure this diffusion process was mailed to the 165 Level 5 coaches in the U.S. Sources through which coaches are exposed to sport psychology were identified, as well as factors influencing levels of receptivity and implementation. Intercorrelations among initial exposure, receptivity, and implementation were also examined and factors were identified that may reduce levels of receptivity and implementation. Findings suggest that despite only a moderate degree of exposure, coaches are generally receptive and willing to implement sport psychology into their programs. Major obstacles to both receptivity and implementation were generally related to structural aspects of amateur swimming in the U.S. or the sport psychology community. Identification of such factors can help the sport psychology community improve the process by which its knowledge base is diffused into the sporting community.
Susan L. Greendorfer and Elaine M. Blinde
Survey data from 1,123 former intercollegiate athletes (427 males and 697 females) were examined relative to commitment to a sport role, educational and occupational preparation, postcareer sport participation, social interests, and adjustment to sport retirement. Chi-square and factor analyses revealed that the former athletes in this study did not totally withdraw from the system of sport, that some shifting or reprioritization of interests occurred during their athletic career, and that the process of leaving sport may be more gradual or transitional than previously believed. Patterns obtained were similar for both males and females, and there was little evidence to suggest these athletes experienced adjustment difficulties. In light of these findings, an alternative conceptualization of the sport “retirement” process is offered.
Elaine M. Blinde, Diane E. Taub and Lingling Han
This exploratory study examines the potential of intercollegiate sport participation to empower women at the group and societal levels. Telephone interviews were conducted with 24 women athletes from various sport teams at three Division I universities. Findings demonstrate that at the group level, sport facilitates female bonding and the development of a group identity and common goals. Empowerment at the societal level was noted when athletes indicated that their participation in sport challenged societal perceptions of women as well as making them more aware of gender inequalities in sport. However, the sport context did not appear to be an effective vehicle in enhancing athletes’ consciousness as women or encouraging their activism in support of women’s issues.
Elaine M. Blinde and Susan L. Greendorfer
This paper is a synthesis of results from five separate studies examining how recent structural and philosophical changes in women’s intercollegiate sport programs may have altered the sport experience of female athletes. Based on both questionnaire and interview data, it was apparent that athletes participating in sport programs characterized by the greatest change (e.g., post-Title IX programs, programs of the 1980s, product-oriented sport models, and Division I programs of recent years) shared somewhat common experiences — with the presence of conflict being one of the most pervasive themes. Four types of conflict were identified: (a) value alienation, (b) role strain, (c) role conflict, and (d) exploitation. Each of these types of conflict is discussed and examples to substantiate the presence of each form of conflict are presented. Based upon the findings, it is suggested that the changing context and emphases of college sport may have exposed female athletes to different sets of circumstances, expectations, and experiences, thus altering the nature of the sport experience and bringing into question the educational legitimacy of college sport.
Douglas Kleiber, Susan Greendorfer, Elaine Blinde and Diane Samdahl
The possibility that the experience of retirement from sport may be different from one athlete to another has not been thoroughly examined. The current study offers evidence on the effect of role performance in intercollegiate basketball and football on life satisfaction in the period of adulthood immediately following. The theoretical departure point for this research comes from Kearl’s (1986) analysis of “exits” in everyday life and his assumption that the quality of role performance in the ending phases of a career will influence subsequent well-being. From a survey of recollections, orientations, and current conditions of 426 former football and basketball players, subjects were grouped according to whether they had received some kind of recognition during their last year (e.g., all-league, honorable mention), whether they had started most of the games or not, and whether their career had been cut short due to serious injury. Life satisfaction, as measured by the LSI-A, showed a significant main effect for career-ending injury but not for the other two variables, and there were no interactions. Athletes who had sustained a careerending injury before completing eligibility showed significantly lower life satisfaction than those who had not. Tests for the influence of year leaving sport and continued involvement in sport did not change the result. Thus, the evidence provides mixed support for the quality-of-exit thesis; while good endings may not affect subsequent life satisfaction, bad endings may.
Sarah G. McCallister, Elaine M. Blinde and Jessie M. Phillips
Given the changing roles of women and the increasing involvement of girls and women in sport and physical activity during the last quarter of the 20th century, traditional gender belief systems about women’s assumed physical weakness and incompetence have been challenged. Belief systems are internalized at a young age and influence future choices and behavior. Therefore, the current study was an exploration of the perceptions and attitudes of young girls at the end of the 20th century. This examination is an attempt to provide an indication of the prospects for greater involvement of girls and women in sport and physical activity in the new millennium. Forty-six fourth and fifth grade girls were interviewed to explore perceptions and attitudes related to sport and physical activity. In particular, we examined (a) perceptions of the capabilities of boys and girls, (b) interactions with boys in sport and physical activity, and (c) internalized messages about sport and physical activity. Participants generally (a) perceived boys as possessing superior sport skills and physical attributes, (b) felt girls and boys played differently, (c) believed that boys held negative views of the physical ability of girls, (d) associated an athlete with being male, and (e) internalized negative societal messages about girls in sport. Despite the optimism surrounding girls’ and women’s increased participation, the attitudes and perceptions of the respondents suggested that many traditional beliefs about sport and physical activity remain.