The purpose of this paper is to review and critique the major approaches to the analysis of participation in sport, and to present suggestions for new approaches offering more useful bases for the explanation and understanding of the participation phenomenon. Past research has focused on the characteristics and backgrounds of sport participants or on the process of socialization into sport roles. Employing the theoretical guidelines provided by Giddens, it is recommended that future research be based on a conceptualization of participation as a process by which men and women actively create their sporting lives within the constraints of particular social and political structures. Examples of this approach are provided and the implications of the approach are discussed.
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This article examines elite athletes’ understandings of the relationship between sport participation and health. Data are taken from interviews with 20 male and female athletes. Athletes’ assessments of the impact of sport on health and wellbeing include attributions of negative, positive, and, most often, mixed outcomes. In these elite athletes’ conceptualizations of health, injury and illness are subordinated to a view of health as capacity, and the primary frame of reference in which they consider capacity is their immediate competitive careers. Respondents’ accounts of efforts to manage the threats to their health that are posed by their sporting activity frequently convey a disembodied notion of the athletic body as an object to be managed.
This paper examines the construction of community on a women’s ice hockey team. The analysis is based on fieldwork and interviews with an elite-level team. Within an organizational context in which men play central roles in the management of team affairs and the circle of team supporters, the dressing room provides a space where players come together as hockey players and as women. The analysis suggests that the construction of community on a woman’s hockey team is grounded in members’ shared identity as hockey players and their commitment to the sport. This common focus and interest unite women from diverse backgrounds and social locations.
This article offers an analysis of the social sources of biomedical interest in women’s sports injuries through a case study of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. Although both men and women incur them, there is extensive research interest in women’s ACL injuries. Drawing on interviews with researchers who have contributed to this research, the investigation examines the social sources of this interest. Explanations lie largely in the evolution of the agenda in sport medicine to a concern with injury prevention, which coincides with a movement toward the inclusion of women in health research. The article concludes with a consideration of the political and ideological implications of the interaction of the prevention and inclusion agendas in research on women’s sport injuries.
Cet article propose une analyse des sources sociales de l’intérêt biomédical pour les blessures dans les sports féminins à travers l’étude du cas des blessures au ligament croisé antérieur (LCA). Bien que les hommes et les femmes en soient tous deux victimes, il y a énormément d’intérêt en recherche pour les blessures au LCA chez les femmes. S’appuyant sur des entrevues avec des chercheurs qui ont contribué à ce projet, l’étude examine les sources sociales de cet intérêt. Les explications reposent grandement sur l’évolution de l’agenda en médecine du sport vers un souci de prévention des blessures, ce qui coïncide avec un mouvement vers l’inclusion des femmes dans la recherche sur la santé. L’article conclut par une considération des implications politiques et idéologiques de l’interaction des agendas de prévention et d’inclusion en recherche sur les blessures sportives chez les femmes.
This paper analyzes media accounts of a dramatic and highly publicized incident of sport violence. In a game between the Canadian and Soviet teams at the 1987 World Junior Hockey Championship, a fight broke out that escalated into a brawl involving all members of both teams. After some 20 minutes of fighting, the game was declared over and both teams were suspended from the tournament. The analysis shows that newspaper accounts framed the incident primarily as a technical failing that could have been prevented if some individuals had acted responsibly. Interpretations that located the incident in the culture and organization of the sport assumed the status of secondary accounts. The dominance of the primary definition meant that a critique of the social basis of violence in sport never received a full airing. More significantly, the opportunity to initiate fundamental change in one of the cultural bases of hegemonic masculinity was lost.
Nancy Theberge and Alan Cronk
The limited coverage of women in the sports media is not due simply to journalists’ bias against women’s sports. The exclusion is woven into news-workers’ beliefs about the contents of the news and their own methods of uncovering the news. Utilizing data from fieldwork in a U.S. newspaper, this article examines some features of the newspaper production process that read women out of the sports news. In casting the news net, journalists seek subjects that are both deemed newsworthy and able to provide reliable and accessible news material. The advantage enjoyed by men’s sports lies in the assumption of greater public interest and the greater resources of men’s commercial sports that guarantee preferred access to the media. Another practice that biases the sports news is standardization of the contents of the sports section. The range of contents is reduced by regularly covering only certain subjects, again mainly men’s sports. Newsworkers see this standardization as a practical necessity that enables them to do their job. They believe they are printing what their audiences wish to read. Their reliance upon bureaucratic news sources and the standardization of the production process mean that newsworkers routinely define sports news as news about men’s sports.