The apologetic strategies women employ to manage the cultural tension between athleticism and hegemonic femininity are well documented. Existing research, however, tends to be small-scale. The cumulative symbolic implications of female athlete appearance on cultural ideals remain under-theorized as a result. Our quantitative content analysis of a stratified, random sample of 4,799 collegiate women athletes’ roster photos examined whether sport, school type, and geographical location are related to gendered appearance. Despite important contextual variation, we found overwhelming homogeneity across settings. Our results suggest that the normalization of women’s athleticism is limited and depends on subordinated femininities. Thus, despite some positive changes, team sport still helps stabilize and naturalize the gender order.
Michela Musto and P.J. McGann
Following the research into narrative of scholars such as Laurel Richardson, Carolyn Ellis, and John Van Maanen, I explore the narrative as a way of writing about experiences of sport, specifically of my experiences of identity within high-performance sport. Using the narrative form, I create a space for a variety of my voices to emerge—including both my academic and my athletic voices. Narrative also allows me to show how different stories—stories of gender and racialization—are told, while exploring my identity and how the multiplicity of stories mirrors the hybridity or ambiguity of identity. These stories serve as an illustration of Debra Shogan’s argument that this hybridity of identity disrupts the normalizing project of modern high-performance sport (1999).
Francis L. F. Lee
This article examines the role of the news media in the production of media sports spectacle through representation of soccer fandom and articulation of the meanings of sports events. The article analyzes the visits of two European soccer teams (Liverpool FC and Real Madrid) to Hong Kong in the summer of 2003. Newspaper discourses are found to generate a picture of generalized fandom and normalized fanaticism towards these events. At the same time, the media articulated the meanings of the events within the context of both global and local processes. The overall result is that public discourse embraced the commercialization of sports, and the media helped to transform the preseason “friendlies” into hugely successful spectacles. These results are understood within the theoretical framework of the society of the spectacle proffered by Debord (1995), though the analysis also points to the limitations of Debord’s framework.
Rylee Dionigi and Gabrielle O’Flynn
Physical performance discourses are concerned with improving fitness and competing to win or achieve a personal best. Older people are commonly not recognized as acceptable or normal subjects of performance discourses because they are traditionally positioned as weak and less able. Yet the number of older people participating in physically demanding competitive sports is increasing. The purpose of this paper is to use a poststructural framework to explore how Masters athletes use performance discourses to define their participation. Interviews and observations were conducted with 138 participants (ages 55–94) of the 8th Australian Masters Games. The findings indicate that performance discourses work both as a medium for redefining what it means to be an older athlete and for re-inscribing normalized constructs of the acceptable older athlete.
Marlene A. Dixon, Stacy M. Warner and Jennifer E. Bruening
This qualitative study uses expectancy-value and life course theories (Giele & Elder, 1998) to examine both the proximal and distal impact of early family socialization on enduring female participation in sport. Seventeen National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I female head coaches from the U.S. participated in interviews regarding parental influence on their sport involvement. Participants revealed three general mechanisms of sport socialization: a) role modeling, b) providing experience, and c) interpreting experience. Parental influence impacted their enduring involvement in sport by normalizing the sport experience, particularly in terms of gender, and by allowing them a voice in their own participation decisions. Insights regarding the roles of both parents and the interactive and contextual nature of socialization for increasing female participation are discussed.
Judy Liao and Pirkko Markula
In November 2010, the US media reported that basketball player Diana Taurasi tested positive for a banned substance while playing in Turkey. In this study, we explore the media coverage of Taurasi’s positive drug test from a Deleuzian perspective. We consider the media coverage as an assemblage (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987; Malins, 2004) to analyze how Taurasi’s drug using body is articulated with the elite female sporting body in the coverage of her doping incident (Markula, 2004; Wise, 2011). Our analysis demonstrates that Taurasi’s position as a professional basketball player in the US dominated the discussion to legitimize her exoneration of banned substance use. In addition, Turkey, its “amateur” sport and poor drug control procedure, was located to the periphery to normalize a certain type of professionalism, doping control, and body as the desirable elements of sporting practice.
One of the ways heterosexuality maintains its privileged status is through the discursive figure of “the closet,” where everyday speech normalizes heterosexuality while silencing lesbian sexuality. In this paper, feminist and queer theories are used to explain why the closet has featured so prominently in women’s physical education. The paper also contains a poststructural analysis of how the closet was constructed in the life histories of 6 lesbian and heterosexual physical educators. Excerpts from the life histories illustrate how silences inside the closet acquired meaning only in relation to everyday talk about heterosexuality. Finally, deconstruction is used to suggest how heterosexuality can sometimes find itself inside the closet, thereby undermining the boundaries between inside/outside, silence/speech, and lesbian/heterosexual.
Alexandra J. Rankin-Wright, Kevin Hylton and Leanne Norman
The article examines how UK sport organizations have framed race equality and diversity, in sport coaching. Semistructured interviews were used to gain insight into organizational perspectives toward ‘race’, ethnicity, racial equality, and whiteness. Using Critical Race Theory and Black feminism, color-blind practices were found to reinforce a denial that ‘race’ is a salient factor underpinning inequalities in coaching. The dominant practices employed by key stakeholders are discussed under three themes: equating diversity as inclusion; fore fronting meritocracy and individual agency; and framing whiteness. We argue that these practices sustain the institutional racialised processes and formations that serve to normalize and privilege whiteness. We conclude that for Black and minoritised ethnic coaches to become key actors in sport coaching in the UK ‘race’ and racial equality need to be centered in research, policy and practice.
Following Michel Foucault, feminist sport scholars have demonstrated how women’s physical activity can act as a technology of domination that anchors women into a discoursive web of normalizing practices. There has been less emphasis on Foucault’s later work that focuses on the individual’s role of changing the practices of domination. Foucault argues that human beings turn themselves into subjects through what he labels “the technologies of the self.” While his work is not gender specific, some feminists have seen the technologies of the self as a possibility to reconceptualize the self, agency and resistance in feminist theory and politics. In this paper, I aim to examine what Foucault’s technologies of self can offer feminists in sport studies. I begin by reviewing applications of Foucault’s technology of the self to analyses of women’s physical activity. I will next locate the technologies of the self within Foucault’s theory of power, self and ethics to further reflect how valuable this concept can be for feminist sport studies.
Medical narratives surrounding the Western “obesity epidemic” have generated greater fears of “fatness” that have permeated Western collective consciousness, and these anxieties have manifested themselves as a moral panic. The medicalization of fatness via the establishment of the disease of “obesity” has necessarily entailed a combining of medical narratives/imperatives and historico-cultural discursive formations of fatness as a moral failing and as an aesthetic affront. The threat that this epidemic poses is framed by medical discourse not simply as endangering health, but fraying the very (moral) fabric of society. In this article, I argue that all the discourses that circulate around fatness and (re)produce it as a pathology have been subsumed under, and absorbed by, dominant medical narratives. I suggest that a medico-moral discourse has inf(l)ected popular understandings of fatness as an affront to health that gives way to deeper, more fundamental social concerns and anxieties about normalization and normative appearance. Specifically, I examine the constructions of individual responsibility that are evident in medical narratives and discourses about obesity.