One underreported issue in the research on Christian athletes has been the difficulties these athletes experience in living with the demands and expectations of the dominant culture of elite, competitive sport. Data were derived from in-depth interviews with 31 elite athletes (23 males and 8 females), who were also professing Christians and associated with the evangelical organization, Athletes-in-Action. The athletes reported that it was by turning to or returning to an evangelical Christian faith that they were better able to cope with their problems and with the demands of the culture of elite, competitive sport. Discussion of these findings included a consideration of Coakley’s (1994) model “of conflict, doubt, and resolution,” which attempts to represent the conflicts experienced by Christian athletes in elite sport, and the approaches they take to assuage these conflicts.
Christopher L. Stevenson
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ketra L. Armstrong
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.
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.
Elizabeth C.J. Pike
The proposal that older people should engage in “active aging” has come to dominate local, national, and international policy agendas. This encompasses a variety of ways that older persons might maintain active citizenship, but invariably promotes physical activity and exercise as having health and social benefits, despite a lack of conclusive evidence to support such claims. In this paper, I further examine the meaning of these claims through an analysis of policy documents, reports, and media articles which promote the perceived benefits of physical activity in later life. I revisit Cohen’s (2002) concepts of folk devils and moral panics to understand how these messages simultaneously problematize older people while creating a market for emergent moral entrepreneurs who claim to have the solution to the problem they have in part created. I conclude with recommendations for improved understanding of the benefits and appropriate provision for active aging.