Confronting Challenges

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Olivia R. Howe, PhD Student, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Charles University, Prague, Praha, Hlavní mesto, Czech Republic
Steph Doehler, Staff Tutor and Associate Lecturer, School of Education, Childhood, Youth, and Sport, The Open University, United Kingdom

Let Them Play?: The Evolution of Amateur Anti-transgender Sports Participation as a Republican Party Platform

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Leanne Doherty  

The Republican Party in the United States has been steadily moving towards a more "conservative" moral policy platform since the early 1980s with the overwhelming influence of the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition at the national level. This evolution continues at the state level today, with a focus on protecting individuals, especially children. One of the most recent narratives in this movement is legislation to prevent transgender athletes from participating in amateur sports. In 2021, 35 bills have been introduced in 31 states that attempt to exclude transgender youth from participating in athletics. This study looks at the reasons why this area of legislation has gained traction amongst state Republican parties, even though it doesn't necessarily have overwhelming public support. It also considers the private organizations who support these bills and why the bills fit into the Republican Party's agenda of protection that was nationally codified during the 2016 and 2020 Republican National Conventions. The paper concludes by analyzing the success of passage of these bills and the results of their passage through economic, political, and societal measures.

Featured Challenges and Best Practices for Sexual Violence Prevention and Education in Division I Athletics Departments View Digital Media

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Katrina Garry,  Molly Harry  

Sexual violence within member institutions of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have been a longstanding issue. The NCAA has provided athletics departments with guidance through its Policy on Campus Sexual Violence (2021), but practitioners tasked with implementing Title IX and preventing sexual violence and educating stakeholders on these areas still encounter many obstacles related to training and compliance. However, practitioners have also developed strategies to tackle these obstacles. Thus, the purpose of this study was to interview practitioners working at the nexus of intercollegiate athletics and Title IX (n = 15) to uncover challenges related to sexual violence prevention and education and ways these leaders chose to address said challenges. Through a conceptual combination of bottom-up policy implementation and procedural justice, three challenges and associated best practices emerged from participants’ interviews. The first challenge was (1a) a resistance to sexual violence education from stakeholders which was addressed by the best practice of (1b) creating a community mindset. The second challenge was (2a) an emphasis on external image by the institution/athletics departments, with the best practice being (2b) proactive stakeholder participation. The third challenge participants discussed was (3a) information gatekeeping which was broken down by establishing the best practice of (3b) a scaffold of trust and communication between Title IX officials and athletics. Recommendations for practitioners are provided.

Functional Fitness as a Way to Bring the World's Athletes Together in Sport

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Robert Romano  

What is commonly referred to as ‘Functional Fitness’ involves a series of movements that condition a person’s muscles, joints, and ligaments to work together in a way that prepares the human body for everyday tasks. The exercises involved tend to replicate common bodily activities done at home, work, or even while participating in sports. The dead lift is an example of a functional fitness exercise because it trains the muscles used when you pick up an object from the floor. As a result of the growth in this unique fitness area, numerous national and international competitions (CrossFit, Hyroxs, NFG Fitfest, Tribal Clash) have been established to tests athletes’ proficiency across a variety of movement patterns, activities, and energy systems. Athletes competing in these various contests must show their competency in several skill areas including demonstrations of aerobic capacity, strength, endurance, mixed modal capacity, and power. But how does an athlete qualify to compete in one or more of these competitions? What skill level is necessary to be part of the experience? From which countries do these athletes reside, or is it primarily U.S. athletes who compete? Are the competitions equitable when it comes to both men and women competing? By focusing on the CrossFit Open, CrossFit Regional Competitions, and the CrossFit Games, this paper attempts to answer these questions while also demonstrating that various forms of ‘Functional Fitness’ and ‘Functional Fitness’ competitions are a way to bring both professional and recreational athletes together in sport.

Athlete Perceptions of Governance Issues Related to Sexual Abuse in Sport

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Jörg Krieger,  Lindsay Pieper  

Cases of abuse in sport have emerged in frightening regularity over the past two decades and coincide with the rise of athletes seeking greater involvement in sport’s governance. However, little is known about athlete perceptions of the systematic organizational-level problems that fail to curtail sexual abuse. In this study, we explore what athletes believe are the key issues in governance that facilitate sexual abuse in sport. An analysis of lawsuits athletes filed against US sport organizations and testimony they provided to the US Congress, from 2017 to 2022, show four ways in which organizational culture, decisions, and policies helped permit misconduct in sport. Athlete perspectives suggest governance issues related to monopolistic power structures, athlete representation, conflicts of interest, and commercialization facilitated an abuse-prone culture within Olympic and Paralympic sport in the United States. These findings show that athletes feel that the adjudication mechanisms that remain connected to national and international sport bodies do not always curtail abuse and support those who have questioned approaches that are driven from within the sport sector and argue that sport’s self-regulation of abuse and mistreatment is not working.

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