SPORT, LEISURE, AND THE BODY 

Our vision of a just world within and between the intertwined realms of sports, leisure, and the body encompasses many issues. One of the primary forms of justice is economic justice. Unjust treatment in the form of inadequate compensation persists in both professional and collegiate athletics. Athletes’ bodies continue to be framed as profitable, with inequities being particularly salient across racial and gender lines. Female athletes and coaches do not have financial equity for their athletic achievements, nor do colleges and universities market women’s sports in a way that allows for parity. This leads to another overlapping issue, which is gender inequality. Women in athletics, and women’s bodies—both on the playing field and in the mundane spaces of daily life — continue to be overly sexualized, demeaned, and disrespected in ways that men’s bodies are typically not. Further, sexuality should not be a central focus, nor a means of ostracism, in these arenas. A final issue of justice within the areas of sport, leisure, and the body is racial inequality — particularly in sport participation rates, access to leisure activities, and the ability to make caring for one’s body a priority. Moreover, racial stereotypes and beliefs still exist in sporting contexts which both enable and constrain participation. In sum, the study of sport, leisure and the body can expose inequities that reflect widespread, pressing social problems. Athletes should feel empowered to use their voices to speak out on issues of social injustice, and likewise, we should work toward social justice for athletes. Activist work and public scholarship in these areas is critical for working toward a more just world, given the centrality of sport, leisure, and the body in both the public sphere and individuals’ private lives.

Division mission statement edited in December 2019 by Alicia Smith-Tran, Texas Christian University, Sport, Leisure, and the Body Division Chair, 2019-2021.

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.