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Michael A. Messner and Michela Musto

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Michael A. Messner and Michela Musto

Huge numbers of children participate in sports. However, kids and sports are rarely seen, much less systematically studied by sport sociologists. Our survey of the past decade of three major sport sociology journals illustrates a dearth of scholarly research on children and sport. While noting the few exceptions, we observe that sport studies scholars have placed a disproportionate amount of emphasis on studying sport media, and elite amateur, college, and professional athletes and sport organizations, while largely conceding the terrain of children’s sports to journalists and to a handful of scholars whose work is not grounded in sport sociology. We probe this paradox, speculating why sport scholars focus so little on such a large and important object of study in sport studies. We end by outlining a handful of important scholarly questions for sport scholars, focusing especially on key questions in the burgeoning sociological and interdisciplinary fields of children and youth, bodies and health, and intersectional analyses of social inequality.

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Michela Musto and P.J. McGann

The apologetic strategies women employ to manage the cultural tension between athleticism and hegemonic femininity are well documented. Existing research, however, tends to be small-scale. The cumulative symbolic implications of female athlete appearance on cultural ideals remain under-theorized as a result. Our quantitative content analysis of a stratified, random sample of 4,799 collegiate women athletes’ roster photos examined whether sport, school type, and geographical location are related to gendered appearance. Despite important contextual variation, we found overwhelming homogeneity across settings. Our results suggest that the normalization of women’s athleticism is limited and depends on subordinated femininities. Thus, despite some positive changes, team sport still helps stabilize and naturalize the gender order.