SPORT, LEISURE, AND THE BODY 

Vision of a Just World

1. What is your vision of a just world in relation to your division's mission? 

Our vision of a just world within the realm of sports and leisure encompasses many issues. One of the primary forms of justice is economic justice. Currently female athletes do not have financial equity for their athletic achievements, college sports do not fund, or market women’s sports in a way that allows for parity. Another issue of justice within sport and athletics is that sexuality would not be a central focus, nor a means of ostracism. Women in athletics are presumed to be lesbians, and men are presumed to by hypersexual, heterosexuals. These presumptions affect interactions, and create a need to hide a part of one’s life. It is often assumed that if one’s sexuality is known, that the ability to be accepted by “mainstream” society will be affected. This can cause another form of economic injustice with the lack of endorsement opportunities. The LPGA has been a great deal of time and money marketing the heterosexual players, their family lives, etc. this promotes the idea of heterosexual normativity, creating further injustice. The final issue of justice within sport and leisure is racial disparities in sport participation rates, particularly among girls of color and girls whose families are recent immigrants to the United States. Moreover, racial stereotypes and beliefs still exist in sport contexts which both enable and constrain participation.

2. What are one or two demonstration project, nations or states that have most effectively addressed your division's mission at any time in history and what are/were their important features?

One justice issue that made national news came when various American Indian tribes protested the continued use of American Indian names, imagery, and chants as part of both collegiate and professional sports. The movement was centered on educating non-Indian people about the offensiveness of many of the practices, and the origins of the names that were being used by teams. While the issue did receive national attention, little has changed in the decade since attempts to change the practices.

3. What are the key difficulties that you and others working toward your division's mission face in your work toward a better world?

Educating people about the inequalities present in most sports is a difficult challenge. Part of the resistance is that people utilize sports as a form of fun and recreation and view sport as entertainment, thus many perceive sport to be outside the realm of social and political issues.

It has also been difficult to try to educate and convince many people that women’s sports are as interesting, competitive, and worthy of attention as male sports. Women’s sports continues to receive less media coverage and when female athletes are represented in the media- it is in ways that reinforce traditional gender stereotypes.  These traditional stereotypes hinder many people’s abilities to see women as “true” athletes.

Division mission statement reviewed in November 2018 by Giovanna Follo, Wright State University- Lake Campus, Sport, Leisure, and the Body Division Chair, 2017-2019.  No edits were made. Division mission statement last edited in 2012 by Cheryl Cooky, Purdue University, Sport, Leisure, and the Body Division Chair, 2011-2013.

Recommended Readings

Coakley, J.J (2008). Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies, 10th edition. McGraw- Hill. (excellent textbook for undergraduate courses, excellent introductory text for those new to the field of sports and society, invaluable resource for statistics, citations and trends for those in the field).

Carrignton, B. (2010). Race, Sport and Politics: The Sporting Black Diaspora. Sage Publications.

Griffin, P. (1998). Strong women, deep closets: Lesbians and homophobia in sport. Human Kinetics Publishers.

Hartmann, D. (2004). Race, Culture and the Revolt of the Black Athlete: The 1968 Olympic Protests and their Aftermath. University of Chicago Press.

Heywood, L. & Dworkin, S. (2003). Built to win: The female athlete as cultural icon. University of Minnesota Press.

Markula, P. (2005). Feminist Sport Studies: Sharing Experiences of Joy and Pain. State University of New York Press.

Messner, M. A. (2002). Taking the Field: Women, Men and Sports. University of Minnesota Press.

Messner, M. A. (1988).  Sports and male domination: The female athlete as contested terrain. Sociology of Sport Journal, 5, 197-211.