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Edited by Vikki Krane

I titled this special issue “Sexualities, Culture, and Sport” to stimulate reflection on important issues inherent in the culture of women’s sport. Sport has the opportunity to provide many positive benefits for women, such as personal and physical empowerment (Blinde, Taub, & Han, 1994; Krane & Romont, 1997; Theberge, 1987); in sport a woman can challenge herself, push her physical limits, and achieve new goals. Concerns related to sexuality however can interfere with the attainment of these benefits. On one hand, stereotypes about athletic females and concerns about femininity linger over women’s sport. Yet, there also is a shroud of silence concerning sexuality (Griffin, 1992; Sparkes, 1996). As a whole, women’s sport is not accepting of diverse sexualities (e.g., lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered individuals). This lack of acceptance has created an oppressive sport environment for all participants. A primary goal of this special issue is to bring to light some of the issues related to female sexuality, which are magnified by the heteropatriarchial American culture and are widespread in women’s sport.

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Vikki Krane

This study is an examination of homonegativism in sport as described by lesbian collegiate athletes. These athletes (N = 12) participated in semi-structured interviews about their athletic experiences. Analysis of the homonegtive experiences of these athletes revealed three mechanisms inherent in homonegativism in sport. These were (a) discomfort with females who do not conform with the traditional feminine gender-role, (b) application of the lesbian label, and (c) distancing from the lesbian label. Female athletes perceived to act in a manner contrary to traditional gender-roles are labeled as lesbians. Through this labeling society reinforces traditional gender-roles and, ultimately, protects male dominance in sport. Many of the labels heard by the athletes reflected stereotypical beliefs about lesbians. The athletes described many situations where coaches and administrators attempted to promote or preserve a feminine image within their athletic teams and programs. The disempowering aspects of homonegativism also were revealed as lesbian athletes felt powerless to challenge homonegativism in sport.

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Vikki Krane

Hanin (1980) proposed the zone of optimal functioning hypothesis (ZOF), suggesting that each athlete has a specific band width, or zone, of anxiety in which best performances will most likely be observed. The present study combined the ZOF hypothesis with the multidimensional anxiety theory (Martens, Burton, Vealey, Bump, & Smith, 1990). Unique cognitive anxiety and somatic anxiety zones were identified, and it was hypothesized that athletes whose anxiety levels fell within these zones would be more successful than athletes whose anxiety levels were outside these zones. Results of separate cognitive and somatic anxiety ANOVAs indicated that poorest performances were observed when athletes’ cognitive and somatic anxiety were above their zones; performances when anxiety was within or below cognitive and somatic anxiety zones did not differ.

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Vikki Krane

Two studies were designed to test the validity of the Mental Readiness Form (MRF; Murphy, Greenspan, Jowdy, and Tammen, 1989) with collegiate athletes. In Study 1, male and female athletes completed the CSAI-2 and the original or a modified MRF within 60 minutes prior to competition. In Study 2, subjects completed two forms of the MRF with slightly different anchor terms, the CSAI-2, trait anxiety measures, and a social desirability scale. Overall, results indicated moderate to strong correlations between corresponding CSAI-2 subscales and MRF items, supporting its concurrent validity. The intercorrelations among MRF items were high, but were similar to the intercorrelations among CSAI-2 subscales. Correlations with trait anxiety also supported the concurrent validity of the MRF. None of the MRF scales or the CSAI-2 were significantly correlated with social desirability. The preliminary analyses in these studies provide initial support for the MRF as a measure of competitive anxiety when expediency is an important concern.

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Vikki Krane

The purpose of this paper is to lay a conceptual foundation for understanding and studying lesbians in sport. To begin to understand lesbians in sport, it is necessary to critically examine the socialization process. Lesbians are socialized within a homonegative and heterosexist society, where they learn homonegative attitudes. The sport environment is even more hostile toward lesbians, thus escalating the negative impact of homonegativism experienced by lesbians in sport compared to nonsport lesbians. These reactions to homonegativism will be manifested through individuals’ mental states (e.g., low self-esteem, low confidence, low satisfaction, high stress) or behaviors (e.g., poor sport performance, substance abuse). However, through exposure to positive social support and successful role models, a positive lesbian identity will be developed. The goals of this framework are to consolidate previous empirical literature about lesbians and apply it to sport and to encourage further conceptualization about lesbians in sport.

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Vikki Krane

Martens (1987) and Dewar and Horn (1992) expressed the need for accepting diverse epistemological perspectives in sport psychology. This paper proposes feminism as an alternative approach to sport psychology research. Feminism grew out of dissatisfaction with “science-as-usual” that often overlooks the experiences of females and acknowledges that sport behavior does not occur in a value-free vacuum; male and female athletes are exposed to very different situations and experiences in sport. A reexamination of the knowledge base, with particular attention to the experiences of females, is needed. Because discontentment with logical positivism has led researchers in a variety of fields to adopt a feminist perspective, a brief critique of logical positivism is provided. A feminist paradigm and feminist methodologies are described, showing how they can enhance knowledge in sport psychology. Finally, examples of feminist inquiry in sport psychology are provided.

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Vikki Krane

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Vikki Krane

The purpose of this paper is to lay a conceptual foundation for understanding and studying lesbians in sport. To begin to understand lesbians in sport, it is necessary to critically examine the socialization process. Lesbians are socialized within a homonegative and heterosexist society, where they learn homonegative attitudes. The sport environment is even more hostile toward lesbians, thus escalating the negative impact of homonegativism experienced by lesbians in sport compared to nonsport lesbians. These reactions to homonegativism will be manifested through individuals’ mental states (e.g., low self-esteem, low confidence, low satisfaction, high stress) or behaviors (e.g., poor sport performance, substance abuse). However, through exposure to positive social support and successful role models, a positive lesbian identity will be developed. The goals of this framework are to consolidate previous empirical literature about lesbians and apply it to sport and to encourage further conceptualization about lesbians in sport.

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Vikki Krane

This paper describes an epistemology integrating feminist standpoint, queer theory, and feminist cultural studies. Feminist standpoint theory assumes that people develop different perspectives based on their position in society, and women have a distinct standpoint because of the power differential between females and males in our society. Queer theory places sexuality as a central focus, acknowledges the common history of devaluation of non heterosexual individuals, and challenges the current power structure marginalizing nonheterosexuals. Feminist cultural studies examines the role of gender within our cultural interactions and the reproduction of gender inequality in society. I then provide examples illustrating how these perspectives come together and guide my research investigating the experiences of lesbians in sport and women’s bodily experiences.

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Vikki Krane