Sport is a social institution that is rife with raced and gendered discursive fields, creating structural and power relations that may influence the leadership experiences of Black women there-in. Tins study utilized the tenets of Black Feminist Thought as a foundation for examining the leadership experiences of a case selection of Black women (n=21) in community recreational sports. The results revealed that a personal interest in sport and an ethic of caring motivated the women’s involvement in the leadership of community recreation sports. Although the women reported barriers of gender inequity, racial discrimination, poor communication, lack of resources, and organizational constraints, they appeared to rely on their internal fortitude as a reservoir for resistance to combat the institutional challenges faced and have meaningful sport leadership experiences. The study illuminated the importance of individual consciousness to these women’s sense of self and their ability to resist the domination of the power and ideologies situated in their sport leadership settings.
James Curtis, William McTeer and Philip White
This paper reports on tests of relationships between participation in organized sport as a youth and earned income in adulthood. The data are drawn from a sample survey of adult Canadians. The results, both before and after appropriate controls, show that those who participated in organized sport as a youth tended to have higher annual earned incomes as adults than those who did not participate in this way. The relationships are stronger and more consistent for males than females across social subgroups defined by education level completed. Further supplemental analyses compare the explanatory import of youth sport participation and other forms of voluntary community involvement as a youth. Also presented are interpretations of the results, which emphasize the “cultural and social capital” and “physical capital” outcomes of involvement in youth sport activity.
Brian Wilson and Robert Sparks
This paper examines the impacts of athletic-apparel commercial messages on youth and youth cultures. Sneaker companies routinely use celebrity Black athletes, like Michael Jordan, to help position and market their premium brands. While concerns have been raised over the potential negative impacts of this practice, the processes through which athletic-apparel commercials become interpreted and assimilated into youth cultures have not been well-researched, A study is reported that used focus-group methodology and Radway’s (1991) concept of “interpretive communities” to examine how Black and non-Black male adolescents view sneaker commercials and celebrity Black athletes. This paper explores the ways that “cultural power” and “symbolic power” (Lull, 1995) are exercised by both the sneaker companies that feature celebrity Black athlete spokespersons and by the youth “communities” that consume these images. Overall, the youth in the study comprised two distinct interpretive communities defined by cultural differences related to their distinct social locations and racial identities.
Peter P. Bartlewski
The purpose of this research was to explore the effectiveness of exercise in reducing body image concerns of female college students. Women enrolled in an aerobic exercise course or in a social psychology course at a medium sized university reported their social physique anxiety and body esteem at the beginning and end of the semester. For women in the aerobic exercise classes, social physique anxiety decreased and body esteem increased over the course of the semester. Social physique anxiety and body esteem did not change significantly for those in the (nonexercising) social psychology classes. The researchers concluded that participation in aerobic exercise programs may help to improve the body image of female college students. Based upon these results further investigation of the mechanisms by which exercise influences body image is warranted.
Cynthia A. Hasbrook
While there appears to be valid evidence to support the notion that sport participation is related to social class, such a relationship has not been clearly and directly demonstrated to exist among youth. Consequently, data from two studies that specifically investigated the potential relationship between formal youth sport participation and social class background are reported. The findings indicate that regardless of social class background, male youth participate in sport to an equal extent whereas female youth from lower social class backgrounds tend to participate in sport to a lesser degree than do their upper-class counterparts. Several explanations for these somewhat unexpected findings are offered, including the possibility of a diminishing relationship between sport participation and social class background. The multiple hierarchy notion of stratification is offered as a theoretical model in which to couch the major finding that sport participation appears to be stratified along social class lines among female youth but not among male youth.
Cassandra Wells and Simon C. Darnell
The sex testing of South African runner Caster Semenya in 2009 was widely discussed in media, but the most serious and significant sites of debate may have been within the cultures and institutions of track & field itself. In this article, we report findings from an analysis of an online track & field community—TrackNet Listserv—through which the Semenya case, and the politics and ethics of sex testing, were discussed. The results suggest that listserv members recognized the contestability of sex testing policies and identified with feminist struggles, but nevertheless largely argued for sex testing’s necessity in light of understandings of the biologically normative female body and the importance of maintaining fairness in and through sex-segregated sport. The implications for the sport of track & field and for sporting feminisms are discussed.
Neal Christopherson, Michelle Janning and Eileen Diaz McConnell
The 1999 Women’s World Cup Soccer Championship serves as a particularly good site for examining both the social construction of gender and the structure of contradiction surrounding women’s role in sport and society. We conducted a content analysis of 576 American newspaper articles reporting on the 1999 Women’s World Cup Soccer Championship. Contradictory messages surrounding women and sports were present, as past research has suggested. An analysis of more qualitative aspects of our data reveals the structure of these contradictions and provides substantial depth to this analysis. We discuss how the media actively promoted or constructed certain gender ideologies and how these gender ideologies contributed to the popularity of the event.
Brian Wilson and Lyndsay Hayhurst
This article reports findings from an interview-based study focused around the role of the Internet in the development and operations of four nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that use sport as part of their youth engagement efforts. Findings showed, on the one hand, how the emergence of certain NGOs would not have been possible if not for the Internet. On the other hand, it was clear that the Internet contributes to a form of “ironic activism,” meaning that the practices that underlie certain forms of Internet-enabled NGO activity also reproduce neoliberal, market-driven approaches to dealing with social problems. The article includes discussion about ways in which the use of communication technologies by “sport for development” NGOs is reflective of broader developments in and around the NGO community.
Kathleen E. Miller, Grace M. Barnes, Don Sabo, Merrill J. Melnick and Michael P. Farrell
Contrary to popular assumption, adolescent anabolic-androgenic steroid use is not limited to serious male athletes. This paper examines the relationships among gender, athletic participation, and health-related problem behaviors among adolescent steroid users. Regression analyses were performed on a nationally representative sample of over 16,000 high school students (the 1997 Youth Risk Behavior Survey), of whom nearly 500 had used steroids. Compared to nonusers, steroid users were significantly more likely to report substance use, suicidal behavior, and sexual risk-taking; however, patterns of risk behavior varied by the user’s athletic status and gender. After controlling for age, race, ethnicity, and parental education, both athletic participation and female gender were negatively associated with most risk behaviors among users of anabolic steroids.
Sarah R. Crissey and Joy Crissey Honea
This study examines the relationship between sport participation and perceptions of body size and weight-loss strategies among adolescent girls. Using a sample of 7,214 girls, ages 12–18 years, from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we find that girls who participate in stereotypically feminine sports are more likely to report feeling overweight, attempt to lose weight, and use multiple weight-loss strategies compared with nonathletes. We also find that the associations for weight loss, but not overweight perception, are generally weaker for non-White girls. These findings suggest that participation in stereotypically feminine sports, particularly for White girls, might exacerbate body image and dieting problems associated with dominant gender roles, but participation in stereotypically masculine sports does not.