Theresa A. Walton
Theresa A. Walton
World-class runner Steve Prefontaine died May 30, 1975, at the age of 24. Running during a time of unparalleled track and field popularity, he was a favorite media focus. Incredibly, he regained media attention in the 1990s. Using a critical cultural studies approach, this article explores media accounts of Prefontaine. A 1970s working-class “rebel with a cause,” Prefontaine served as an ideal of White working-class masculinity and as a voice calling for structural changes to the track and field governing body. In the 1990s, with the Nike funded reemergence of Prefontaine, that rebelliousness was recontextualized and co-opted, shifting Prefontaine into a commodified maverick celebrity, embodying the changing ideals of White, classless masculinity and supporting the ideology of individualism in late consumer capitalism.
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.
Theresa A. Walton and Michelle T. Helstein
Attempts to unify and mobilize the U.S. collegiate wrestling community to “save” it from decline frames Title IX as the main “problem” to overcome. The logic of a community of identification at work in this strategy limits the interventions that can be made for wrestling while enabling corporate men’s sport to remain the hegemonic form of U.S. collegiate athletics. We explicate and critique the varied articulations of wrestling as a community of identification following Helstein’s (2005) call to deconstruct assumptions of unified sporting communities and to consider communities of articulation. We illustrate how communities of identification necessarily fail and how moving toward communities of articulation offers an intervention that enables a reframing of the relationship between Title IX and collegiate wrestling that could motivate meaningful change.
Theresa A. Walton and Jennifer L. Fisette
We used ethnographic methods to examine the ways that adolescent girls (n=9) defined and understood themselves as individuals and in relation to cultural identities. We utilized Cook-Sather’s (2002, 2006, 2007) theory of translation to make sense of their identification as an unfixed process of negotiation by centering their voices and revelations. While the girls struggled to articulate cultural identities in relation to themselves, they had clear notions of those identities and the social expectations associated to them. They noted the ways cultural identities could be both empowering and constricting. Moreover, we found that they understood and discussed cultural identities in relation to themselves and others in ways that both resisted and maintained social categories.