2009 - Special Issue

Articles

An Investigation of Male College Athletes’ Attitudes toward Sexual-Orientation
Richard M. Southall - The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Mark S. Nagel - University of South Carolina
Eric D. Anderson - The University of Bath
Fritz G. Polite - University of Tennessee
Crystal Southall - The University of Northern Colorado
Pages 62-77

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Multiple studies have found homophobic cultures within intercollegiate athletic departments. Accordingly, intolerance of gay/lesbian athletes (while most often forbidden by university policy), may still exist. Many “straight” athletes feel gay/lesbian/bi-sexual (GLB) athletes do not “belong” in college sport. In addition, female sport participants are frequently assumed to be lesbians. Within this social milieu, this study surveyed 698 male and female college athletes from four Division I & III universities in a traditionally conservative region, the Southeastern United States, to determine their attitudes toward sexual orientation. The primary research questions were: (a) “What are college-athletes’ attitudes toward sexual orientation?” and (b) “Is there a significant relationship between athletes’ gender and expressed attitudes toward sexual orientation?” Specifically, this study focused on an examination and discussion of male college athletes’ attitudes toward sexual orientation. Results confirm a relationship between athletes’ gender and their sexual-orientation attitudes, specifically the existence of a higher degree of sexual prejudice among male college athletes. This research reveals that while homophobia is quickly eroding - even in the American South - there still exists a need for both expanded research of college athletes’ sexual-orientation attitudes as well as an expansion of educational programs for male college athletes, college athletic administrators and faculty, since 28% of male athlete respondents still reported being homophobic.

One for the Team: Exploring the Relationship Between College Sport, Campus Community, and Academic Social Integration.
Aaron W. Clopton - Louisiana State University
Pages 42-61

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To examine the potential role that identifying with the athletics teams on campus as fan exerted upon a student’s level of academic and social integration, an online survey instrument was distributed to college students (N=1790) at four large, public research universities. Results indicated that fan identification significantly detracted from one’s grade point average. However, the extent to which one maintained that fan identity significantly contributed to the student’s academic and social integration level. Ultimately, though, the students’ perceived sense of community was found to mediate the relationship between fan identification and academic and social integration. Results suggest that the role that college athletics continue to maintain in the academic and social experiences of the overall college campus is significant. Further, this relationship is one with dynamic consequences and is a relationship that requires a more thorough revisiting of policy governing the maintenance of today’s intercollegiate athletics presence.

Examining Academic Role-Set Influence on the Student-Athlete Experience
Lydia F. Bell - The Center for Study of Higher Education
Pages 19-41

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Informed by the words and experiences of 41 Division I-Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) student-athletes, this qualitative study reveals the complexities of the student-athlete academic experience as shaped by their relationships with academic role-set members. Using role-identity as a theoretical framework, the study identifies coaches, athletic academic advisors, fellow athletes, nonathlete peers, faculty and parents as the key actors in the academic role-set. A discussion around the various influences such relationships can have on the academic experience depending on their strength is provided, and future areas of inquiry are proposed.

Stereotypes and Stigmas of College Athletes in Tank McNamara’s Cartoon Strip: Fact or Fiction?
C. Keith Harrison - University of Central Florida
Suzanne Malia Lawrence - Azusa Pacific University
Michelle Plecha - University of California, Los Angeles
Scott J. Bukstein - University of Central Florida
Neza K. Janson - University of Central Florida
Pages 1-18

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The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I student-athletes (N= 43) regarding stereotypical cartoons about athletes. A qualitative approach, which included a visual elicitation technique, was utilized by administering the Lifestyle Association & Representation of Athletes Scale (LARAS). The LARAS explored participants’ perceptions of the following six specific concepts: a) academic support issues; b) academic progress; c) coaches as educators; d) professional sport aspirations; e) media identities, advertising, and representation; and f) cultural issues and recruiting. Five major themes emerged from participants’ perceptions: Big Sport Business, Athletic Image, College Athlete Mindset, Realistic/False Representation, and Institutional Focus. Goffman’s (1959) theory of social stigma and Loury’s (2002) theory on racial stigma are related to the perceptions revealed by the college student-athletes in this study. Implications and recommendations for sport scholars and practitioners are provided.