The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of success on athletes who reached the top of the world in their sport. Individual in-depth interviews were conducted with 17 world champion athletes, representing 7 different sports and 4 different countries. All athletes, 11 males and 6 females, had won major international competitions (World Cup, World Championships, and/or Olympic Games) between the years 1964 and 1988. The number of individual World Cup wins ranged from 1 to 86. The results indicate that athletes who became the best in their sport, subsequently experienced many additional demands. Most had little or no assistance in dealing with these demands. Approximately one third of these athletes coped well with the additional demands and continued to win. The remaining two thirds did not handle the additional demands as well and either never repeated their winning performance or took a significant amount of time to do so. Strategies to help prepare future champions to handle the demands of winning are suggested.
Kathy Kreiner-Phillips and Terry Orlick
Daniel Gould, Diane Guinan, Christy Greenleaf, Russ Medbery and Kirsten Peterson
This study was designed to examine if mental skills and strategies such as high confidence, commitment, and the use of cooperative routines, as well as previously unexamined physical, social, and environmental factors affect Olympic performance. Athletes and coaches from 8 Atlanta US Olympic teams were interviewed. Four teams met/exceeded performance expectations and 4 teams failed to perform up to performance predictions. Focus group interviews were conducted with 2 to 4 athletes from each team. Individual interviews were conducted with 1 or 2 coaches from each team. Each interview was recorded, transcribed, and analyzed by three trained investigators using hierarchical content analyses. Differences existed between teams that met/exceeded performance expectations and teams that failed. Teams that met/exceeded expectations participated in resident training programs, experienced crowd and family or friend support, utilized mental preparation, and were highly focused and committed. Teams that failed to meet expectations experienced planning and team cohesion problems, lacked experience, faced travel problems, experienced coaching problems, and encountered problems related to focus and commitment. Results indicated that achievement of peak performance at the Olympic Games is a complex and delicate process influenced by a variety of psychological, physical, social, and organizational factors.
Susan Lynn, Kristie Walsdorf, Marie Hardin and Brent Hardin
The purpose of this study is to ascertain how, if at all, advertising images in Sports Illustrated for Kids (SIK) changed following the 1996 Olympic Games, from late 1996 through 1999. Advertising photographs in 36 issues of SIK, from July 1996 to June 1999 were examined using content analysis methodology. A recording instrument was generated to analyze SIK advertising photographs. SPSS Statistical Package 9.0 was used to analyze the nominal data. Simple descriptive statistics, crosstabs, and frequency distributions were used for determining the presence of an association between gender and the remaining variables. Findings from this content analysis of SIK advertising were comparable with those of Cuneen and Sidwell’s (1998) analysis of SIK advertisement photographs. A clear pattern of differential photographic treatment of gender was noted throughout the analysis. Although there have been some improvements, a majority of the stereotypical relationships between gender and sport that the previous researchers found have continued in SIK photographs, even when cultural acceptance and expectations of women in sport have evolved toward equity.
Matthew A. Grant and Paul G. Schempp
Researchers sought to identify and analyze the actions of elite swimmers on a competition day that the athletes believed were critical to their success, and to understand the meaning the athletes assigned to each of these activities. The present study describes the competition-day routines of the elite swimmers by presenting the athletes’ actions, meanings, segments, and preparations within a substantive grounded theory. To this end, five U.S. Olympic medal-winning male swimmers from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games participated in a three-stage data collection: an initial interview during a two-day training visit, a competition observation at an elite meet, and a follow-up interview via telephone. In addition, each participant’s coach was interviewed. Utilizing constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006), a substantive theory of a competition-day routine for elite swimmers emerged. Results suggested that athletes understood all their actions during a competition day as one routine, and research of competitive routines should include both the ostensive (i.e., plan) and performative (i.e., enactment) aspects of routines (Feldman & Pentland, 2003).
Ik Young Chang, Jane Crossman, Jane Taylor and Diane Walker
This study compared and explored the textual coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games (OG) and Paralympic Games (PG) by the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail. The authors found 8 high-order themes and 25 low-order themes for the OG. The high-order themes were predicting game results, reporting game results, athleticism, politics, ethical issues, nationalism, the media, and the economy. For the PG, there were 4 high-order themes, and each high-order theme had 1 low-order theme. The high-order themes were reporting game results, athleticism, ethical issues, and equality between Paralympians and Olympians. Comparisons between OG and PG coverage are discussed and recommendations for future research provided.
Francine Darroch, Audrey R. Giles and Roisin McGettigan-Dumas
More elite female distance runners are opting to have children during their athletic careers. Despite this, there is a dearth of information regarding pregnancy and physical activity for elite level athletes. Further, current pregnancy physical activity guidelines are not relevant for this population`s needs. Two research questions frame this study: are elite female distance runners’ pregnancy informational needs being met?; where do they seek and find trustworthy advice on physical activity during pregnancy? Open-ended, semistructured interviews were conducted with 14 women who experienced at least one pregnancy within the past five years, had achieved a minimum of the USA Track and Field 2012 Olympic Team marathon trials ‘B’ entry standard or equivalent performances for distance running events 1,500m or longer. The participants had between one—three children, hail from five countries and participated in 14 Olympic Games and 72 World Championships. Utilizing poststructuralist feminist theory and thematic analysis, our findings revealed that the participants received advice from three main sources, both in person and online: medical professionals, coaches, and other elite female distance runners. However, we found that they also received unsolicited advice and comments from community members where they lived. The participants identified fellow elite female distance runners as the most reliable and trustworthy sources of information, followed by medical professionals, then coaches. Ultimately, the women revealed a lack of formal sources they could turn to for trustworthy advice about how to have a safe and healthy pregnancy while continuing to train at a high intensity. These results illuminate the need to meet female elite athletes’ informational needs in terms of well-being during pregnancy.
Lynda B. Ransdell and Christine L. Wells
Women’s running has made significant gains during the past century. The Feminine Sportive Federation International, an international organization for women in sport, was an early advocate for women’s running. They lobbied for the inclusion of 5 new women’s events in the 1928 Olympics, the longest of which was 800 meters. Unfortunately, some competitors in the 800 m event collapsed, providing “rationale” for excluding women from distance racing (Noakes, 1991). Later, the 800 meter event was re-introduced in the 1960 Olympics, and so the interest in “women’s distance running” was re-kindled. Women continued to call for greater challenges, and eventually in 1972, they were officially allowed to run the Boston Marathon (Noakes, 1991). Today, distances of 5,10, and 42 kilometers make up the majority of road races throughout the country. These events are not limited to top-flight women athletes racing for fame and fortune or a chance to represent America in the Olympic Games. Rather, thousands of women—of all shapes, running styles and fitness levels—enter these weekend races, most with little hope of winning a prize.
Currently, women runners are recognized at the national level as “open” (any age) or “masters” (40 years of age and older) competitors. This separation is important because performance varies with age. How age affects performance depends upon a number of factors including overall health, injury status, training, and genetic endowment. Considerable individual variability exists, but at some point in middle-age, performance declines. Although equal performance is not likely from outstanding 45 year old and 25 year old competitors, each may be considered an “elite” performer when competition is separated into age groups. The separation of athletes into masters and open categories and further into age groups results in opportunities for many to receive recognition, and for competitors to set and achieve goals relative to their age. Age-group competition has attracted thousands and thousands of “new” runners and encouraged former competitors to “stay with it for a few more years.”
Very little is known about women who run at the “masters” level. There is general information about how aging affects the male athlete’s performance, but little information about how aging affects women’s performances. This paper is a review of the literature on masters women runners and a description of 1) their physical and physiological characteristics, 2) their performance, 3) their performance decline with advancing age, and 4) the health related benefits of physical activity.
Nicholas M. Watanabe, Tie Nie and Grace Yan
The Olympic Games are one of the most popular global televised sporting events. In the greater body of sport communication literature, a great deal of focus has been placed on examining sport media from the West. This article considers the unique and specific case of Chinese Olympic broadcast commentary televised by state media. In this, an evolutionary process of sport media can be seen in the analysis of several themes: nationalism and identity, heroes and failure, collectivism and individualism, and the portrayal of female athletes. In considering the dynamic changes that have come about in the past 3 decades of Chinese commentary, it is evident that many themes in Chinese sport media have become reflective of those found in Western sport media. While Chinese sport media have similarities to Western sport media, it is important to note that Chinese sport media are unique. Results of this work can help provide richer understanding of sport media and consumers in China.
Zhengjia Liu and Dan Berkowitz
Social media have changed the way that social actors participate in sports events. “Prosumers” are able to directly offer different interpretations without journalists’ mediation when a social issue arises. However, social media do not fundamentally change the significance of cultural narratives in communication. This study focuses on discussions initiated by a commercial feed on a Chinese microblogging site during the 2012 London Olympic Games. Qualitative textual analysis was conducted. The study found that enduring cultural narratives create the predrafts of social-media communication; the instantaneity of microblogging referred to not simply its physical appearance but also the meaning of that appearance. In addition, social-media texts illustrate a society’s ongoing stories. Going beyond the limitations of previous control-vs.-freedom paradigms, this study explores a Chinese consumer society that is more dynamic and complex than previous studies would suggest.
Stephen Dittmore, Daniel Mahony, Damon P.S. Andrew and Mary A. Hums
The purpose of this study was to measure U.S. National Governing Body (NGB) administrators’ perceptions of fairness of financial resource allocation within the U.S. Olympic Movement. This study extends previous research on distributive justice in the sport industry by examining a new setting and controlling for the potential moderating effect of procedural justice. Presidents and executive directors responded to a survey containing three resource allocation scenarios. Study participants most often identified need to be competitively successful as the most fair distribution principle, but believed equity based on medals won was the most likely to be used. Results also indicated significant differences in the perceived fairness of distribution principles based on the budget size of the NGB, the membership size of the NGB, and the NGB’s success in the Olympic Games. These results have implications for the evolving priorities of NGBs, how these priorities are being addressed, and possible reactions to resource distribution decisions.