Women's sport remains a contested realm that frequently features standards and regulations premised on women's inferiority and physiological distinctions from men. In response to these purported sex-based differences, a range of protective policies have been implemented to ostensibly ensure women's safety and health, defend “fair competition” in women's sport, and/or prevent the violation of social and medical boundaries that define who is a “woman.” Yet, protective policies encompass a multitude of rationales and strategies, demonstrating the malleability of “protection” in terms of who is protected and why. In this article, I draw from Michel Foucault's theory of “governmentality” to investigate the nuances of protective policies, especially their placed importance on sex differences. To do so, I examine three case studies: World Athletics’ (WA) 2019 female eligibility policy, WA's 2019 transgender eligibility policy, and the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) consensus statement on relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S). Using document texts and semi-structured interviews with eight scientists involved with developing the case studies, I find that protective policies are developed through messy and often contentious processes that selectively draw from varying knowledges and discourses. This then culminates in contrasting methods of defining, protecting, and governing women athletes and their bodies.
In this study, using data from the National Sports and Society Survey (N = 2853), we examine U.S. women’s reports of their sport consumption and self-identified sport fandom. Multiple regression analyses are used to assess associations between social structural and sociocultural antecedents of consumption and women’s frequencies of watching and following sport, frequencies of attending live sport events, and the amount of money that they spend to watch and follow sport. We then investigate the relationships between women’s sport consumption behaviors and their fandom. We find that women are common consumers of sport and their consumption is positively associated with their socioeconomic statuses, number of children, social relationships, sport participation experiences, and sport-related identities. We also find evidence that women’s sport consumption behaviors are only modestly associated with their levels of fandom. We conclude with reflections on what these results mean for better understanding and supporting women’s sport consumption and fandom.
The controversy about the campaign to boycott Israel in general and Israeli sports in particular suffers from the absence of empirical data about the political character of the Israeli sports sphere, as well as the way Jewish Israelis see a possible boycott. Supporters of the boycott hope, among other things, that the campaign is registered among Israelis, and maybe even contribute to political change. Liberal opposition relies on the argument that sports is a beacon of inter-ethnic tolerance that should be cherished rather than targeted. Through a survey with a representative sample of internet users among the adult Jewish citizens of Israel (N = 600), this study provides the following related observations: (1) there is no evidence that Jewish Israeli sports fans are more likely to question the regime of Jewish supremacy than non-fans. (2) Among Jewish Israelis there is a small, but non-negligible minority who justifies the boycott of Israeli sports, and this minority is even larger among people who attend the soccer stadium and/or are politically active. (3) A significant majority of Jewish Israelis (69%) are concerned about a possible boycott of Israel in general, but this majority is less clear among men who are sports fans. The findings question the liberal expectation that Israeli sports serve as a model for inclusive citizenship and at the same time they indicate the potential of sports to amplify existing political tendencies among fans. These observations should be considered in future debates about sanctions and boycotts.
Empirical studies show that first- and second-generation immigrants are less likely to be members of sports clubs than their non-immigrant peers. Common explanations are cultural differences and socioeconomic disadvantages. However, lower participation rates in amateur sport could be at least partly due to ethnic discrimination. Are minority ethnic groups granted the same right to belong as their non-immigrant peers? To answer this question, this paper uses publicly available data from a field experiment in which mock applications were sent out to over 1,600 football clubs in Germany. Having a foreign-sounding name significantly reduces the likelihood of being invited to participate. The paper concludes that amateur football clubs are not as permeable as they are often perceived to be. It claims that traditional explanations for lower participation rates of immigrants need to be revisited.
For many high-performance athletes, competing in the Olympic Games is a major goal. Achieving this goal requires more than ever substantial investments of time and personal resources towards the sports career over several years. Thus, some athletes neglect other areas of life (e.g. education), which can pose a problem for the time after high-performance sport, while other athletes pursue a dual career. Previous studies have shown that former high-performance athletes achieved higher levels of education and better vocational positions than the general population. Due to the advancing professionalization and commercialization of high-performance sport, the question emerges whether these results are valid for athletes that are more recently retired. In addition, cross-cultural generalisability of these findings are of interest. For this purpose, 341 former athletes representing Switzerland at the Olympics were surveyed about their athletic, educational, and vocational careers. It turns out that these athletes obtained more degrees of higher education than the general population. Relative to their siblings, they have higher school-leaving certificates and work in more prestigious occupations. Following the holistic-interactionistic paradigm, person-oriented analyses was performed and revealed nine – mostly satisfactory – vocational career patterns. Hence, involvement in high-performance sport facilitates rather than hinders a successful vocational career.
Esports is often described as a growing industry ripe with financial opportunities for young professional, competitive gamers. However, these claims rarely consider how income is distributed amongst players. This study uses prize earnings data from 2005 to 2019 to examine labor market inequality and related social inequalities and social stratifications. Lorenz curves and Gini coefficients show that inequality has increased in the labor market overall and the labor markets for the five top games based on total prizes awarded ( Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, League of Legends, StarCraft II). Competitors can expect to earn more today than in 2005, but median incomes have shown sporadic and inconsistent growth compared with top incomes. Moreover, most competitors earn less than the US poverty threshold. Comparing the earnings of the top female players to the whole labor market shows that gender inequalities exist in median incomes and the likelihood of earning more than the poverty threshold. The esports labor market is an engine of inequality that provides opportunities for a few (primarily male) competitors while building a growing class of lowly paid players who support the interests of game designers and event organizers.
This article explores an important measure in current prevention policies in sport: guidelines against sexual harassment and abuse. Because little is known about how people involved in sport understand and relate to such guidelines, it fills a gap in current research on sexual harassment and abuse prevention in sport. We draw on ‘video elicitation’ focus group interviews with sport students in Norway. Our analysis is guided by Norbert Elias's sociology of knowledge and particularly his concept of ‘degrees of involvement and detachment’. First, we found that the students had limited knowledge about the sexual harassment and abuse guidelines. Second, we saw how their discussions alternated between different positions when reflecting upon the guidelines’ usefulness. From a relatively detached position, the students supported the general idea of guidelines. From the more involved position they voiced concern related to conduct regulations that conflicted with valued aspects of sport practice and mentioned problematic aspects of sport culture that the guidelines do not target. In a blend of involvement and detachment, the students drew on their sport experiences to reflect critically on both the potentials and limitations of the sexual harassment and abuse guidelines. Finally, we draw some implications of the analysis for the improvement of prevention work.
The conditions under which women's national football teams do better or worse in international tournaments remains an open question. Using data from 116 countries worldwide, we have examined three arguments accounting for the gender gap in international football success, focusing on positive externalities from economic development and women's empowerment, and the active policies promoting women's football. Our findings show that the international performance of women's national football teams compared to men's national football teams increases with women's empowerment and in countries committed to the promotion of women's football, while economic development is not relevant. The general question we address is whether gender gaps disappear because of economic and social development, or if active policies promoting women are required to achieve gender equality.
In many so-called developed countries, participation to at least one physical activity or sport is a mass phenomenon. More, the combination of a high involvement rate and omnivorousness/voraciousness results in a very high volume of practice and lead to a significant volume of accidents. Academic studies have shown the importance of socio-demographic characteristics, such as age and sex, the mode of practice and the physical activity or sport itself in the occurrence of accidents. However, it is also necessary to take into account certain cultural dimensions of investment in sport, and more particularly the legitimate definition of risk specific to each activity. Since commitment and risk-taking are characteristic of young men, we tested the hypothesis that there are more accidents in physical activity or sports in which young men are statistically over-represented. This study evaluated this hypothesis using a sample of 29,000 reported physical activity or sports for a sample of 7,424 practitioners (national survey of the Ministry of Sports in France, people aged 15 and over). We used a multilevel cross classified logistic regression. The results show first a strong effect of the variable concerning the overrepresentation of young men in a physical activity or sport. Secondary, other results are more usual with the effect of modes of practice involved (high frequency, club and competition) and of the physical activity or sport itself (example of alpine skiing) and a single sociodemographic characteristic (the under 30 yo). Conversely, some results are more original, showing the non-effect of sex taken independently. These results provide essential information for taking into account the cultural dimension in sport-related prevention and for the management of the teams responsible for administering it.
Weight stigma is a negative social process that involves discrimination against overweight and obese people. Gyms are important environments to promote exercise where weight stigma can be a hindrance for obese exercise practitioners. This critical-oriented study provides evidence-based answers to this question: How do obese users experience weight stigma in gyms? Six obese gym users (BMI >30) participated in semi-structured interviews and provided visual data for photo-elicitation. A thematic analysis enabled the grouping of their experiences around weight stigma into three forms of discrimination: 1) direct: negative comments about body weight and body size; 2) indirect: internalization of negative stereotypes on weight, ability or appearance; 3) structural: explicit or symbolic rejection related with weight-centric exercise, equipment and recommendations implicit in marketing and advertising. The results provide evidence and interpretations of different forms of discrimination and inequality that operate in gyms, and how they affect obese users’ experiences. Based on these results, we compile a list of measures to prevent weight stigma and recommendations for exercise professionals to relate with obese users.