When fourteen-year-old Nadia Comaneci won gold at the 1976 Olympic Games, her youthful appearance inspired concerns about the hard training of young gymnasts. These concerns frequently centered around the coach as a figure of authority with the power to potentially exploit young girls. This paper both confirms and questions this assumption through using an Actor Network Theory (ANT) perspective. It is argued that what has been missing from previous accounts of sports training and competition is the role that nonhumans play. It is shown how existing Foucauldian work examining gymnastics can be extended through demonstrating the Latourian notion that power is enacted through nonhumans. It is further suggested that the inclusion of nonhumans such as video cameras into the gymnastics network can potentially generate different power arrangements from the traditional authoritarian coach/athlete relationship. Latour’s concepts of mediators and intermediaries are used to show how nonhumans can have agency and affect gymnastics performance, demonstrating that power is shared among both human and nonhuman actants.
Megan Apse, Roslyn Kerr and Kevin Moore
This study examined the ways in which discourses operate when parents talk about their children’s participation in rugby league in New Zealand. The primary interest was in the recruitment and reinforcement of sport and physical activity discourses. The paper uses a critical discursive psychological approach to identify regularities in the ways a sample of parents spoke about their children’s sport and links these patterned ways of speaking to the dominant discourses that they both comprise and are composed of. The navigation of discourses, chiefly those around masculinity, revealed that children’s sport and physical activity are regarded in gendered ways. The parents’ engagement with dominant discourses enabled them to position themselves as both knowledgeable of social norms and acting in the best interest of their child(ren).