The purposes of this exploratory study were to examine athletic body image and social body image among former competitive female athletes. Additionally, the perceived influence of past competitive experiences on current body image was explored. In-depth interviews were conducted with six former competitive collegiate athletes. The participants ranged in age from 23 to 31, with a mean age of 26. Common factors reported as influencing how participants felt about their bodies as athletes included uniforms, teammates, appearance, fitness, and coach attitudes and behaviors. Participants’ experiences and feelings about their bodies in athletic and social settings varied. Participants recognized some conflict between their athletic body and social ideals, however this incongruence did not seem problematic for most of the participants. Across participants, their current feelings and thoughts about their bodies were based on their former competitive athletic bodies.
Daniel S. Putler and Richard A. Wolfe
Considerable controversy exists concerning university athletics. Depending upon one’s perspective, athletic programs are seen as having important positive, or negative, effects on universities. The objective of the research reported here is to determine whether perceptions of intercollegiate athletic programs differ as a function of issues such as winning, profits, ethics, and the education of athletes. Our analyses indicate that: (a) ethics and winning, and education and revenue, tend to be competing athletic program priorities; (b) individuals cluster in four groups that emphasize athletic program revenue, winning, education, and ethics; and (c) the extent to which cluster membership is related to constituency group (e.g., alumni, students, faculty) membership depends on the constituency group being considered. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of our findings for both theory and practice.
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.
Donald Chu and David Griffey
The contact theory of racial integration is examined in this survey of the behaviors and attitudes of secondary school students and student-athletes. Self-report questionnaires were completed by 1,082 subjects in the urban upstate New York area. Subjects were evaluated on two behavioral (race of students talked to, race of students phoned) and three attitudinal (like more friends of other races, choose interracial school, or races smarter than others) dependent variables. Dependent measures were evaluated relative to their correlations with a number of independent variables (athlete/nonathlete, individual or cooperative sport played, sport experience, won-lost record, exposure to minorities, sex, social status). Results of the study argue for consideration of the contact theory’s applicability to the sport situation.
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.
D. Stanley Eitzen and Maxine Baca Zinn
American colleges and universities use nicknames, colors, logos, and mascots as identifying and unifying symbols, especially concerning their athletic teams. This paper examines the dark side of these solidarity symbols by reporting the incidence and patterns found in the naming of collegiate men’s and women’s athletic teams. The data from 1,185 four-year schools reveal that more than half of American colleges and universities employ names, mascots, and/or logos that demean and derogate women’s teams. There are no significant differences in naming patterns by type of school (public, independent, or religious), but region is significant, with Southern schools more likely to use sexist names than schools elsewhere. The various sexist naming practices contribute to the maintenance of male dominance within college athletics by defining women athletes and women’s athletic programs as second class and trivial.
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.
Barbara A. Brown and B. Gail Frankel
This study examines participation in leisure physical activity, leisure satisfaction, and life satisfaction from a life course perspective, using self-report data from a stratified random sample of adults living in a midsized Canadian city. Findings indicate that physical activity is most strongly associated with leisure satisfaction in the younger age groups, whereas no consistent age pattern is observed in the relationship between physical activity and life satisfaction. Regression analyses that are controlled for income, education, and age indicate major gender differences in the impact of participation in leisure physical activity on life satisfaction, with participation being more important for females. Path analysis indicates that leisure satisfaction contributes both directly and indirectly to life satisfaction. The findings provide evidence for age variation in sources of life satisfaction apart from leisure, and for important gender differences in the role of physical activity.
This article explores the intersection of representation, management, and race in the National Basketball Association (NBA) through a larger question on the relationship between corporate strategies for managing racialized subjects and popular representations of race. The NBA “brand”is situated in terms of recent developments in corporate and popular culture and then analyzed as an example of diversity management. Relying on original interviews with NBA corporate employees, as well as business and marketing industry reporting, the article analyzes the NBA as simultaneously an organization and a brand. As such, the NBA helps to “articulate” the corporate with the popular, largely through an implied racial project that manages race relations by continuing to equate corporate interests with Whiteness. The analysis contributes to ongoing discussions about the role of sports in perpetuating social disparities based on race at a time when “colorblindness” remains the paradigm of White approaches to race.
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.