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.
Cassandra Wells and Simon C. Darnell
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.
Melanie M. Adams and Diane L. Gill
Even with adequate levels of physical activity, sedentary behavior contributes to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Reducing sedentary behavior through increased daily movements, not solely exercise, can reduce health risks; particularly for women who are inactive and overweight. This study examined an intervention to increase overweight women’s self-efficacy for reducing sedentary behavior. Volunteers (M age =58.5 yrs, M BMI =36) were waitlisted (n = 24) or enrolled in the intervention (n = 40), called On Our Feet, which combined face-to-face sessions and e-mail messages over 6 weeks. Physical activity and sedentary behavior were measured by accelerometer and self-report. A 4-item survey assessed self-efficacy. Process evaluations included participant ratings of intervention components and open-ended questions. Repeated-measures ANOVAs revealed no changes in accelerometer-determined physical activity or sedentary behavior, but a significant multivariate interaction was found for self-reported sitting and physical activity, F(3,60) = 3.65, p = .02. Intervention participants increased both light and moderate physical activity and both groups decreased sedentary behavior. Self-efficacy decreased for all at midpoint, but intervention recipients rebounded at post. A moderately strong relationship (r = .48, p = .01) between midpoint self-efficacy and reduced sedentary behavior was found. Participants rated the pedometer, intervention emails, and goal setting as effective and highly used. Open-ended responses pointed to barriers of required sitting and a need to match intervention components to women’s lives. Community-based interventions for reducing sedentary behavior have the potential to improve health. Ideas to enhance future interventions are discussed.
Jennifer E. Carter and Nancy A. Rudd
Sports have received widespread attention for the risk of disordered eating, but prevalence rates among athletes have varied from one to 62 percent across studies (Beals, 2004). One explanation for this discrepancy has been the tendency for previous studies to select “at-risk” sports for examination. The current study extends prior inquiry by expanding the sample to the entire student-athlete group at Ohio State University. Approximately 800 varsity student-athletes at this large Division I university completed the Questionnaire for Eating Disorder Diagnosis (Q-EDD; Mintz, O’Halloran, Mulholland, & Schneider, 1997) in 2001 and 2002, allowing gender and type of sport comparisons. The purposes of the study were to identify at-risk athletes as part of a screening process designed for eating disorder prevention, and to continue to refine the assessment of disordered eating in athletes. Not surprisingly, results showed that subclinical eating problems were more prevalent than clinical eating disorders in athletes, with 19 percent of female athletes and 12 percent of male athletes reporting eating disorder symptoms in year one, and 17 percent of female athletes and nine percent of male athletes in year two. Because the Q-EDD does not fully capture male body image problems, in 2002 questions were added to the Q-EDD that assessed preoccupation with muscularity, and preliminary Endings showed that one percent of male athletes fit a diagnosis of Muscle Dysmorphia. For both years, athletes from lean sports reported significantly more eating disorder symptoms than did athletes from nonlean sports. Specific policies employed by this university and prevention strategies will be discussed.
Nancy C. Rich
There are an abundant number of published studies in which the authors state that post-pubertal men are stronger, faster and more powerful and therefore more proficient than women in many motor skills. The topics of strength and neuromuscular response time are phenomena that have been used in the past as bases for the rationalization that women do not have the physical characteristics that are essential requirements for front-line work as soldiers, firepersons, police officers and construction workers, and also that they are not as proficient as men in other occupations. This paper is a review of physiological and performance data that have contributed to our knowledge base in the areas of strength and neuromuscular response times of women. In addition, data regarding the deterioration of these parameters that occur with aging and the potential determent of this deterioration as a consequence of a lifetime of activity will be considered. Finally, a suggestion will be made that female and male data should be analyzed and reported in ways that eliminate genetic characteristics which bias the data.
Lynda B. Ransdell, Mary K. Dinger, Stacy Beske and Colleen Cooke
The purpose of this paper is to examine factors related to success in academic publishing for women in exercise science. Two trained investigators conducted hand searches of 7 prominent exercise science journals to ascertain the names of the most prolific women authors between 1991 and 1996. Seventeen (17) women, whose names will not be revealed (due to confidentiality), were identified. Following their identification, women were asked to submit a copy of their vita and complete a questionnaire related to scholarly productivity. Thirteen out of seventeen women agreed to participate in the study, yielding a response rate of 76%. Personal attributes that contributed most to their success in publishing were self-motivation, discipline, and perseverance. Situational or sociological factors mentioned were the availability of mentors, talented collaborators, and institutional or personal support. Some tips for maximizing productivity include having proper preparation and a narrow focus, and developing skills in writing, research design, and analysis. Women reported many gender-related barriers early in their careers, but these barriers faded with experience and reputation establishment. The two most frequent recommendations for ensuring successful collaborations with others were completing work in a timely fashion and being a team player. Sacrifices made for publishing included fewer social interactions and less time for leisure activities and vacations. With the exception of some barriers related to gender, our findings are in agreement with others who have examined correlates of productivity in mixed samples of men and women from a variety of fields.
Ruth Ference and K. Denise Muth
The purpose of the study was to investigate how involvement in exercise and participation in team sports were related to the multidimension self-perceptions of middle school females. The study was conducted in 2 middle schools with 181 8th-grade females. Instruments used were the Physical Activity Survey and Harter’s Self-Perception Profile for Children. Results show that participation in team sports was related to four domains of self-perception: social acceptance, athletic competence, scholastic competence, and global self-worth. Informal exercise was related to social acceptance and global self-worth of middle school females. Therefore, it appears that both team sports and exercise may be important in enhancing self-concept in middle school females. Results also show that over half of middle school females in this study participated in three or more team sports during middle school. However, almost half of these students report exercising informally less than three times a week. These results support the increased opportunities of team sports for middle school females.
Katherine M. Jamieson, Kaori Araki, Yong Chul Chung, Sun Yong Kwon, Lisa Riggioni and Victoria Acosta Musalem
Recently, a significant growth in immigrant populations has influenced the social, cultural, and political landscape of many local communities. Understanding such changes in U.S. and local demography are central to effective efforts toward reducing physical inactivity, and associated health risks and diseases. In part to document the ways that physical activity currently fits into particular women’s lives, and as critique of the essentialized notions of immigrant communities as deficient in their health standards, we set out to investigate just how physically active Latinas in local communities were. The research was guided by the following two questions: 1) What are the social conditions under which adolescent Latinas make choices about physical activity? 2) To what extent are adolescent Latinas involved in physical activity? Centering on these two questions we administered questionnaires that measured current physical activity involvement, and individual and family background factors. Survey data indicate that Latina physical activity scores increase when home and work related physical activity is included in a self-report measure.
Vicki Ebbeck, Patti Lou Watkins and Susan S. Levy
This study examined possible determinants of some of the health behaviors of larger women. Specifically, it was of interest to discern if affect (depression, social physique anxiety) mediated the relationship between self-conceptions (global self-worth, perceived physical appearance) and behavior (disordered eating, physical activity). The investigation was grounded in the model of self-worth forwarded by Harter (1987). A total of 71 overweight or obese women agreed to participate in the study. Data collection involved a researcher meeting individually with each of the participants to record physical assessments as well as responses to a packet of self-report questionnaires. A series of canonical correlation analyses were then conducted to test each of the three conditions for mediation effects outlined by Baron and Kenny (1986). Results suggested that indeed the set of self-conceptions indirectly influenced the set of behaviors via the set of affect variables. Surprisingly, however, involvement in physical activity failed to contribute to the multivariate relationships. The findings further our understanding of how self-conceptions are related to behavior and highlight the value of examining multiple health behaviors in parallel.
Jacqueline G. Haslett
The purpose of this paper is to give historical insight into the progressive thinking of nineteenth century American philanthropist, Mary Hemenway (1820-1894), and why she was interested and believed in physical education for females. Also interesting is how her integrated thinking is compatible with the thinking in present-day education reform
The presentation of the findings will include a brief background of Mrs. Hemenway’s family life, and a brief description of her philanthropic contributions and activities. These include: 1) public education in America, particularly female education, 2) physical education and home economics education, 3) Native-American research, and 4) other significant issues and philanthropic activities in American education. The major focus will be her contributions to physical education and her founding of the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics, and influences that persuaded her interests in these pursuits.
The sources used include early normal school catalogues, minutes of meetings, course syllabi and lecture synopses, written papers, early and recent bulletins, personal correspondences, government reports, college documents, pamphlets, memorial pamphlet, one new and several old books, and old newspaper clippings and professional journals.