Managing Coed Soccer: Gender, Power, and Participation
Flanagan, Mary Katherine (author)
Giardina, Michael D. (professor directing dissertation)
Nudd, Donna M. (university representative)
Newman, Joshua I. (committee member)
James, Jeffrey D. (committee member)
Department of Sport Management (degree granting department)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
Soccer (also referred to as football) is considered the world's most popular sport. (Dunning, 1999; Economist, 2005; Mueller, Guttmann, 1993; Cantu & Vancamp, 1996). Across the globe, over 400 million men, women and children watch and play soccer in over 200 countries (Jensen, 2011). Even in the United States, where the professional game is often marginalized, youth soccer records equally high participation rates for both boys and girls (Sabo, 2008). Although participation in soccer generally decreases with age at a higher rate relative to other team sports, the trend is slower among women (National Sporting Goods Association, 2011), which some scholars have referred to as the `feminization of soccer' (Andrews, 1997; Sugden, 1994). Cultural milestones such as the institution of Title IX in 1972, the short-lived Women's United Soccer Association and Women's Professional Soccer leagues, and the increased visibility of the Women's World Cup have contributed to this phenomenon. While there is ample research on cultural discourses relating to class, gender and ideologies that are reproduced on and around the youth soccer field (Swanson, 2009), and likewise on forms of social capital, disciplined bodies, work ethic and middle-class family values that are embodied therein (Andrews, 1997; Swanson, 2009), there is less research surrounding adult participation in soccer and the cultural representations it enacts, embodies, and reproduces. At the adult level, coed soccer recreational soccer leagues are a relatively recent trend (Henry & Comeaux, 1999). In comparison to youth and even adolescent soccer leagues, among adult soccer players there is typically a larger imbalance in the number of men and women participating (National Sporting Goods Association, 2001). According to the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA), the national governing board for adult soccer leagues, of the organizations 251,000 members approximately 25 percent are women (S. Schroedl, personal communication, January 5, 2013).This statistic suggests lower participation rates in soccer among adult women as opposed to adult men on a macro scale. On a micro scale, this is the case for the South City Soccer Association (SCSA) - an adult recreational soccer league located in a midsize southeastern town in the United States. SCSA is the case on which this study is focused. To best understand the current state of coed adult recreational soccer and the state of SCSA, it is important to begin with a contextual background of adult recreational soccer on the national level in general and also one specific to the league's 30-year history. Employing qualitative methodologies in the form of participant-observation, interviews with past and present players, and self-reflexivity, I explore the socio-cultural challenges of `managing' coed soccer. Expanding upon the work of Henry and Comeaux (1999), I deconstruct a widely accepted system of coed soccer. With a focus on gender, power relations, and barriers to participation, I investigate underlying cultural themes such as the social construction of space, identities, and practices. My study follows Giardina and Newman (2011), who call for a form of Physical Cultural Studies (PCS) in which the researcher physically immerses herself in the field and collaborates with participants to produce a rich account filled with multiple voices and perspectives. I build upon PCS with a feminist version, one that is grounded in a feminist standpoint epistemology. As an adult female soccer player-researcher in the league, I incorporate self-reflexivity (Carrington, 2008) in an effort to unearth the silent but powerful systems at work in this space of physicality. My project attempts to understand why adult women are underrepresented in the adult league and assist sport managers of such leagues in increasing its female membership.
Cultural Studies, Gender, Power, Sport
February 18, 2013.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Sport Management in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education.
Includes bibliographical references.
Michael D. Giardina, Professor Directing Dissertation; Donna M. Nudd, University Representative; Joshua I. Newman, Committee Member; Jeffrey D. James, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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