Recently, there has been an increased effort to establish multicultural training programs for consultants working with diverse athlete populations. Although several authors have suggested that one aspect of such training is the examination of one’s biases related to race (Andersen, 1993; Martens, Mobley, & Zizzi, 2000), a systematic means of doing so has not yet been adequately discussed. In this article, I briefly discuss the field of whiteness studies, and the process of confronting what McIntosh (1988) has termed the “invisible knapsack of white privilege.” I then present the results of a life-history interview with a white male consultant, in which we discussed his changing sense of racial awareness and how he views his own white racial identity and the privileges associated with it. Finally, I discuss the results of a three-way discussion between myself, the consultant, and an African-American graduate student in sport psychology and present a preliminary account of white privileges specific to the applied field.
Ted M. Butryn
Ted M. Butryn
This paper examines the cyborg identities of 7 elite track and field athletes using a paradigmatic analysis of narratives (Polkinghorne, 1995, 1997). Following a discussion of philosophical and cultural studies conceptualizations of technology, and a brief overview of various types of sport technologies, I present several themes that emerged through an analysis of the collection of stories told by participants during in-depth interviews. In general, while participants engaged with a range of technologies, their stories dealt predominately with the tensions within world-class athletics between modernist notions of the “natural” body and postmodern conceptualizations of corporeality. The paper concludes with comments about the ongoing politics of sporting cyborg bodies and the increasing relevance of cyborg theory to critical sport studies work.
Rachel Vaccaro and Ted M. Butryn
Individuals suffering from mental illness face challenges that are related to stigma and lack of education that are often reinforced by the media. Specifically, the elite athletic culture is not conducive for athletes who suffer from mental illness because there is at times a belief that mental illnesses are less prevalent in elite sport. Even though incidence of mental illness in elite athletes has gained more prominence in the popular media, there is still a lack of research in this area. Specifically, there is limited research regarding media representations of athletes who suffer from mental illness. To address this gap in the literature, an ethnographic content analysis (ECA) was done to examine Suzy Favor Hamilton’s open discussion of bipolar disorder surrounding the release of her new memoir, Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running From Madness. ECA yielded one overarching theme with three supporting sub-themes. Results indicated that even though Favor Hamilton’s book worked to spread awareness, the media attention surrounding the book release represented omission of mental illness in the environment of athletics. Overall, sports culture provides an environment that is not often willing to accept that mental illnesses exist in athletes.
Kerry R. McGannon and Ted M. Butryn
In this study, scholarship was extended on the cultural meanings of race and athlete activism by interrogating one key media spectacle surrounding athlete protests: President Trump’s 2017 speech questioning the National Football League (NFL) players’ character, with a focus on NFL owners’ responses. The NFL owners’ statements (n = 32) were subjected to critical discourse analysis. Discourses of post-racial nationalism and functionalism and the subject positions of “good player citizen” and “benevolent facilitator” (re)created meanings of the protests devoid of racial politics, linked to ideologies of color blindness, meritocracy, and diversity. These discourses and subject positions allowed the NFL owners to control protest meanings to maintain White privilege and appeal to their White fan base. These findings expand research on color-blind racism in sport, which perpetuates neoliberal ideals and the myth of a post-racial America, via taken-for-granted language use within discourses.
Theresa A. Walton and Ted M. Butryn
In this article, we examine the complex relationship between whiteness and men’s U.S. distance running. Through a critical examination of over 700 print and electronic sources dealing with distance running in the U.S. from the 1970s through the present, we present evidence that distance running has been framed as a “White space” that is threatened by both external factors (dominance of male international distance-running competition by athletes from African nations) and internal factors (lack of U.S. White male success in conjunction with the success of U.S. citizens of color, born within and outside of the U.S.). We also examine several forms of backlash against these perceived threats, including the media focus on a succession of next White hopes, the rise of U.S. only prize money in road races, and the marginalization of African-born U.S. runners. Our analysis reveals how the media works to normalize whiteness within the larger narrative of U.S. distance running and suggests the need for future work on whiteness and sport.
Ted M. Butryn, Matthew A. Masucci, and jay a. johnson
While most professional sports quickly postponed their seasons due to COVID-19, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) took a decidedly contrarian approach as president Dana White continued to promote UFC 249 until pressure forced its cancelation on April 9, 2020. Drawing from work on sport and spectacle and the media as well as sport management scholarship on crisis management, the authors provide a commentary on the mediated spectacle of White’s (eventually successful) efforts to promote UFC 249 during the pandemic. Drawing from numerous media sources, they discuss how White sought to control the public narrative in several key ways. The authors further explore how White decried the seriousness of the pandemic while centralizing the UFC’s place in the U.S. sporting landscape. Finally, the authors discuss how White’s efforts might both help and hinder the UFC as a mainstream sports promotion.
Leslee A. Fisher, Ted M. Butryn, and Emily A. Roper
The central purpose of this paper is to speculate on the ways that sport psychology researchers, educators, and practitioners can use a cultural studies perspective to enhance their research and applied work. At base, cultural studies critiques and challenges existing norms and practices and examines how these practices affect people in their everyday lives (Hall, 1996a). Although cultural studies has been notoriously difficult to define (see Storey, 1996), most cultural studies projects deal with the interrelated issues of (a) social difference, (b) the distribution of power, and (c) social justice. In this paper, cultural studies is first defined, incorporating sport-related examples wherever possible. Next, key concepts in cultural studies including power, privilege, and praxis are explored. We then discuss how sport psychology scholars and practitioners might promote an “athletes-as-citizens” (Sage, 1993) model of service provision in the applied setting.
Ted M. Butryn, Nicole M. LaVoi, Kerri J. Kauer, Tamar Z. Semerjian, and Jennifer J. Waldron
Over the past decade, a growing number of scholars in sport psychology and sport sociology have begun forging inter- and transdiciplinary research lines that attempt to follow Ingham, Blissmer, and Wells Davidson’s (1998) call for a coming together of the sport sociological and sport psychological imaginations. This paper presents the results of a thematic analysis of the stories of five early-to midcareer academics who have lived at/through the boundaries of these two sub disciplines of Kinesiology. Following an introduction in which we attempt to situate the two subdisciplines within the larger field of Kinesiology, we present a thematic analysis of the five individual stories, and attempt to tie them to the politicized boundaries and related spaces of tensions faced by those wishing to do the kind of interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary work advocated recently by the emerging areas of cultural sport psychology (CSP) and physical cultural studies (PCS).