Several studies on the experiences of nonheterosexual women in sport have highlighted the development of lesbian subcultures in sport, while others have emphasized the scarcity of athletic contexts embracing sexual diversity. This article explores the narratives of 14 young Francophone sportswomen positioning themselves as “gaie,” lesbian, bisexual, or refusing labels altogether. Using a feminist poststructuralist perspective, we examine their discursive constructions of sport and argue that the discourses articulated in sport allow for the creation of a space of resistance to heteronormativity. We suggest that the sport space is constructed as a “gaie” space within which a normalizing version of lesbian sexuality is proposed. We investigate how in/ex/clusion discourses are inscribed in space and how subjects are impacted by and, in turn, impact these discourses.
Barbara Ravel and Geneviéve Rail
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.
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.
In the practical discourse of sport the focus is on the individual athlete as the autonomous and independent locus of action. This discourse is deconstructed from a, poststructuralist perspective. It is argued that in sport the disciplinary techniques of the body and self, as depicted by Michel Foucault, are both an instrument and an effect of competing. Disciplinary and normalizing practices such as bodily exercises or filling in a training diary are instruments for athletes to transcend their current performance, which is the core of the logic of competing. Furthermore, disciplining is the outcome of this “rationale” to excel. Giddens’s notion of structure is used to explicate the structure of competing. Yet his Cartesian conception of agents as knowledgeable is qualified, that is, within the practices of training and the structure of competing, some consequences of these practices escape athletes’ intention. The constitution of athletes’ subjectivity and even the consequences of the process of competing may be beyond their control.
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 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).
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.
Emily A. Roper
Fear of violent crime and concern for personal safety are well documented fears among women (Bialeschki & Hicks, 1998; Wesley & Gaarder, 2004). Feminist theorists argue that concern for personal safety among women is one of the most significant ways in which women’s lives and their use of space is controlled and restricted (Bialeschki, 1999; Cops & Pleysier, 2011). Employing a feminist standpoint framework (Hill Collins, 2000), the purpose of this study was to qualitatively examine recreational female runners’ concerns for safety while running outdoors in an urban park setting and the strategies employed to negotiate or manage their concerns. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 20 female recreational runners. Interview data were analyzed following the procedures outlined by Corbin and Strauss (2007) for open and axial coding. The following themes emerged from the interview data: (a) fear of being attacked, (b) environmental and social cues, (c) normalization of street harassment, (d) negotiation strategies, and (e) recommendations for enhancing safety. The findings provide important information pertaining to women’s access to safe outdoor space in which to exercise. Perceptions of safety, fear of being attacked and experiences of harassment have the power to negatively influence women’s engagement and enjoyment in outdoor PA/exercise.
Theresa A. Walton and Ted M. Butryn
In this article, we examine the complex relationship between whiteness and men’s U.S. distance running. Through a critical examination of over 700 print and electronic sources dealing with distance running in the U.S. from the 1970s through the present, we present evidence that distance running has been framed as a “White space” that is threatened by both external factors (dominance of male international distance-running competition by athletes from African nations) and internal factors (lack of U.S. White male success in conjunction with the success of U.S. citizens of color, born within and outside of the U.S.). We also examine several forms of backlash against these perceived threats, including the media focus on a succession of next White hopes, the rise of U.S. only prize money in road races, and the marginalization of African-born U.S. runners. Our analysis reveals how the media works to normalize whiteness within the larger narrative of U.S. distance running and suggests the need for future work on whiteness and sport.