Sport Participation and the African-American Female

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Title:
Sport Participation and the African-American Female Her Experiences in Her Own Words
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1 online resource (67 p.)
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english
Creator:
Arinze,Nneka
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University of Florida
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Gainesville, Fla.
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Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Master's ( M.S.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Sport Management, Tourism, Recreation, and Sport Management
Committee Chair:
Kerwin, Shannon M
Committee Members:
Sagas, Michael B.
Connaughton, Daniel P

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
african -- american -- black -- experiences -- female -- girls -- high -- participation -- reasons -- sport
Tourism, Recreation, and Sport Management -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
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Sport Management thesis, M.S.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

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Abstract:
Sport is believed to provide a number of benefits, especially to its adolescent participants. However, not all adolescents participate in sport and are thus unable to reap these benefits. Black high school girls have the lowest sport participation rates. Some possible reasons for this are due to the availability of opportunities and the influence of parents and peers. This study used an interview based approach to further address sport participation issues among black girls. Eleven college women were asked to reflect on their experiences and views of sport during their high school years. Many of the reasons for participating in sport echoed those expressed in the current research literature. However, this study adds to the literature by asking how issues regarding social identity affect participation choices.
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In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
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Includes vita.
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Includes bibliographical references.
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Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
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This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Nneka Arinze.
Thesis:
Thesis (M.S.)--University of Florida, 2011.
Local:
Adviser: Kerwin, Shannon M.
Electronic Access:
RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2012-02-29

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lcc - LD1780 2011
System ID:
UFE0043427:00001


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1 SPORT PARTICIPATI ON AND THE AFRICAN AMERICAN FEMALE: HER EXPERIENCES IN HER OWN WORDS By NNEKA ARINZE A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2011

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2 2011 Nneka Arinze

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3 To my father who instilled in me my great love for sport

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank first and foremost Dr. Charles S. Williams for convincing me first to come to the University of Florida and then to write a thesis. I am indebted to my advisor, Dr. Shannon Kerwin, for her invaluable help in completing this project. Without her help I am positive this would have never been completed. I would also like to thank the rest of the committee Drs. Connaughton and Sagas, for their guidance in this project. I thank all my friends for their support. Most importantly, I thank all of the participants for their willingness to provide their stories and thus contribute to the bod y of research.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 7 LIST OF TERMS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 8 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 10 Statement of Purpose ................................ ................................ ............................. 12 Research Questions ................................ ................................ ............................... 13 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ .......................... 14 Sport Participation ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 14 Barriers/Motivations ................................ ................................ ................................ 15 Facility Access ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 15 Parental Influence ................................ ................................ ............................ 16 Peer Influence ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 17 Personal Motivations ................................ ................................ ........................ 18 Social Identity ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 20 3 METHODS ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 24 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 24 Instrumentation: Interview Guide ................................ ................................ ............ 26 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 27 4 FINDINGS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 30 Current Sport Participation ................................ ................................ ...................... 30 Non Participation ................................ ................................ .............................. 30 Participation ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 30 Sub theme 1: fitness/health ................................ ................................ ........ 31 Sub theme 2: habit ................................ ................................ ..................... 31 Sub theme 3: influence of friends ................................ ............................... 32 Sub theme 4: accessibility ................................ ................................ .......... 32 General View of Sport ................................ ................................ ............................. 33 Sub Theme 1: Positive Social Benefits through Sport ................................ ..... 34 Sub Theme 2: Negative Sport as a Wasteful Activity ................................ ...... 35 Reasons for or against Sport Participation in High School ................................ ...... 35

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6 Sub Theme 1: Assumed Lack of Skills ................................ ............................. 35 ................................ ............................ 36 Sub Theme 3: Sug gestion ................................ ................................ ................ 37 Sub Theme 4: Fitness ................................ ................................ ...................... 37 Family ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 38 Economic Factors ................................ ................................ ............................. 38 Culture ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 39 Support for Sport by Parents ................................ ................................ ............ 40 Social Identity ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 41 Theme: Importance of Education ................................ ................................ ..... 4 1 Theme: Gender Identity and Sport ................................ ................................ ... 43 Sub theme 1: Williams effect ................................ ................................ ...... 43 Sub theme 2: butch and lesbian ................................ ................................ 44 Sub theme 3: breaking stereotypes ................................ ........................... 45 Theme: Appearance Concerns ................................ ................................ ......... 45 Sub theme 1: hair ................................ ................................ ....................... 45 Sub theme 2: fear of darkening ................................ ................................ .. 46 5 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 49 Experiences ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 49 Reasons ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 49 Economic Factors ................................ ................................ ............................. 51 Social Identity ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 51 Gender Identity ................................ ................................ ................................ 52 Education ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 53 Appearance Concerns ................................ ................................ ...................... 53 6 LIMITATIONS AND IMPLICATIONS ................................ ................................ ...... 55 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 55 Implications for Future Research ................................ ................................ ............ 55 Implications for Sport Managers ................................ ................................ ............. 57 APPENDIX: INTERVIEW GUIDE ................................ ................................ .................. 58 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................... 64 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ............................ 67

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7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3 1 Participant characteristics ................................ ................................ ................... 29 4 1 Descript ions of current participation ................................ ................................ ... 47 4 2 Descriptions of the reasons for and against high school sport participation ....... 48

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8 LIST OF TERM S Athlete Used in reference t o those participants who did participate in sport during high school Non athlete Used in reference to those participants who did not participate in high school sport

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9 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science SPORT PARTICIPATI ON AND THE AFRICAN AMERICAN FEMALE: HER EXPERIENCES IN HER OWN WORDS By Nneka Arinze August 2011 Chair: Shannon Kerwin Major: Sport Management S port is believed to provide a number of benefits, especially to its adolescent participants. However, not all adolescents participate in sport and are thus unable to reap these benefits. Black high school girls have the lowest sport participation rates. So me possible reasons for this are due to the availability of opportunities and the influence of parents and peers. This study used an interview based approach to further address sport participation issues among black girls. Eleven college women were asked to reflect on their experiences and views of sport during their high school years. Many of the reasons for participating in sport echoed those expressed in the current research literature. However, this study adds to the literature by asking how issues re garding social identity affect participation choices.

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10 CHAPTER 1 I NTRODUCTION The mental and physical benefits of youth sports have been widely acclaimed (cf., Guest & Schneider, 2003; Kjnniksen, Anderssen, & Wold, 2009 ; Taliaferro, Rienzo, Miller, Pi gg & Dodd, 2008 ). Specifically, research on the psychological outcomes of sport participation has shown that cohesion amongst team members can boost an worth (Bloom Loughead, & Newin, 2008). Findlay and Bowker (2009) also found t hat athletes had higher scores of self esteem and self concept than non athletes, where participation in strenuous activity for females in particular was linked to higher physical self competence. Relatedly, sport participation has been associated with a d ecrease in feelings of hopelessness and the number of suicide attempts, particularly amongst adolescent males (Taliaferro et al., 2008). The influence of sport was also highlighted within the immigrant youth population, where participation in sport aided t he adaptation of immigrant children into their new surroundings (Doherty & Taylor, 2007). participation (Guest & Schneider, 2003). While both sport and non sport activities positively a ffect academic outcomes, athletes in schools with low academic expectations (i.e., students are not expected to go on to four year colleges) or in areas of low socioeconomic status were more likely to be perceived to be good students by their peers and hav e higher actual achievement and grade point averages (GPAs ) ( Guest & Schneider, 2003). Thus, it may be likely that increased participation in sport as an extracurricular activity throughout adolescence provides opportunities to develop positive relationshi ps with teachers, administration, and classmates. Beyond positive

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11 peer perception, in the same study, participation in sport was associated with higher educational outcomes such as attendance and GPA (Videon, 2002). This positive effect was seen to be gre a ter for males than for females. This may be attributed to the fact that girls have been documented as already having high GPAs and low numbers of excused absences, or possibly because boys and girls have different experiences in sport (Videon, 2002). In addition to the educational and general psychological benefits, both males and females can reap physical activity benefits derived from sport participation (Taliaferro, Rienzo, & Donovan, 2010; Snyder, et al. 2010). Sport participation is associated with a healthier diet and regular participation in physical activity (Taliaferro et al., 2010). Athletes also perceive themselves to be healthier, have higher physical function, and have lower pain scores (Snyder et al., 2010). Despite the benefits of sport par ticipation, various demographic factors have been linked to low sport participation rates (Lown & Braunschweig, 2008; Powell, Slater, Chatoupka, & Harper, 2006; Videon, 2002). First, the age of the child may be a factor worthy of consideration. Specificall y, Videon (2002) found that as students move up in the grade school system, the likelihood of sport participation decreases. Second, there is a participation gap by gender as males participate in sport at higher rates than females (Kjnniksen et al., 2009; Videon, 2002). Third, this gender gap is greater among black adolescents than in white populations with black males participating at much higher rates than black females (Eaton, Kann, Kinchen, et al., 2010; Videon, 2002). Given the cross section of risk f actors, black high school girls have a greater likelihood of decreased sport participation.

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12 The value of sport participation described above is a description of the potential benefits that can be extracted from participation. It is important to recognize that not all youth s will realize the positive effects of sport participation, and further not all youth s will be involved in sport related activities. Thus, simply uncovering the benefits of sport participation may not be enough. Taking a step back to gain a comprehensive understanding of adolescent views of sport participation and their sport experiences may become necessary in determining if and how these benefits are being reaped. Further, it is important to understand the sport participation experience s of marginalized groups (i.e., adolescent black females), who are often outside the majority currently seen to participate in sport, and to learn how they view and define their level of sport participation. This information could increase our understandi ng of the potential barriers that are preventing adolescent black females from engaging in sport participation, which may in turn aid sport managers in enhancing their experiences Statement of Purpose The purpose of this study was to explore African Amer and experiences with sport participation. The study use d a qualitative research design. Specifically, African American university women were interviewed to gain retrospective involvement in their sport (or non sport) experience, and the role of their high school environment in shaping their perception and attitudes toward sport participation. These factors wer e then analyzed to determine how each one influences participant per ceptions of sport participation and what it

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13 Research Questions RQ1. What are some of the reasons black females choose to or not to participate in sport during their adolescence? RQ2. What types of activit ies are chosen in lieu of sport? RQ3. What role do parents/guardians play in their choices to participate in sport? RQ4. What role does family income and economic status play in a young black RQ5. Does the racial make up of t he residential area and high school influence sport participation? RQ6. Does social (e.g. race, athletic) identity inform extracurricular activity choice?

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14 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Sport Participation While the listed benefits make sport an enticing v enture for children and help parents justify sport participation for their kids, there are still individuals who are not participating. In a study of sport participation and adolescents, Baecke, Burema, and Frijters (1982) stated that it is important to al so study physical activity rates because sport is often used as a measure of physical activity and participants often link sport to leisure time physical activity As such, this link may provide valuable information regarding levels of sport participation. Physical activity and sport participation levels vary on race and gender lines (Eaton et al., 2010; Kimm, Glynn, Friska, et al., 2002). A longitudinal study by Kimm et al. (2002) discovered lower physical activity levels for African American girls compare d to Caucasian girls, beginning at the young ages of nine and ten years old. Girls of both races experienced a drop in physical activity rates, but the rate of decline in ph ysical activity amongst African Americans led to only 44% of girls reporting activi ty, compared to 69% for Caucasian girls. Another study by Lown and Braunschweig (2008) focused on overweight low income African American girls. Eighty percent of the participants were living with single mothers and at a poverty rate of 64% (Lown & Braunsch weig, 2008). Using a B ody Mass Index (B MI ) based measure for obesity, they found 58% of the girls to have a BMI ranking in the 95 th percentile when compared to other girls their age, classifying them as obese (Lown & Braunschweig, 2008). Furthermore, only 27% of the girls were characterized as active (Lown & Braunschweig, 2008). It is also interesting to note that higher activity correlated with a lower BMI. In another study

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15 which examined high school students, black females were the most likely t o be physi cally inactive (Eaton et al., 2010). Race and gender differences are further seen when sport is looked at specifically. For example, f orty three percent of the black high school girls polled did not participate in any form of physical activity; while among white girls, th is number was only 25.4% (Eaton behind white high school girls and black males, who had rates of 57.7% and 67.6%, respectively (Eaton et al., 2010). Becau far behind comparison groups, it is important to review the possible barriers to and motivations for participation. Barriers/Motivations Facility Access The level of physical inactivity amongst minorities especially African American girls, is startling. It becomes necessary to look for the possible reasons for this inactivity. Research has shown that access to facilities may be a contributing factor (Powell et al., 2006). A study by Powell et al. (2006) f ound that the existence of higher proportions of minority groups in a neighborhood correlated to a decreased availability of physical activity related facilities. Wilson, Kirtland, Ainsworth and Addy (2004) conducted a telephone survey to gauge the percept ions of residents regarding access to outdoor venues for physical activity, such as nature trails. They found that lower income residents were more likely to perceive the barriers of safety concerns and lower access to facilities (Wilson et al. 2004). Whe n lower income residents perceived high access to trails and used them, they were more likely to meet recommended levels of physical activity (Wilson et al. 2004).

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16 The community in which a child lives may also limit opportunities and foster concerns abou related activities (Outley & Floyd, 2002). The degree of facility access is a likely cause for concern as it correlates to income level and level of facilities in the area (Powell et al., 2006; Wilson et al., 2004). Physical activity centers, such as fitness centers and sport clubs, were least prevalent in lower income areas and in areas with higher percentages of African American residents (Powell et al., 2006). If these findings can be general ized to the greater black population may be linked to the absence of proper facilities. Safety concerns about the neighborhood or environment were also raised by Outley and Floyd (2002) and Wilson et al. (200 4). This again may be a contributing factor to the limited physical activity of black girls. The link between income status and facility access provides a useful window into the possible reasons for low physical activity levels. The high rate of poverty w ithin the black community makes it more likely that blacks may live in neighborhoods with fewer recreational facilities, limiting access to sport participation opportunities. It also increases the likelihood that blacks will live in neighborhoods where the y feel physical activity may not be safe due to their surroundings. However, while the poverty rate among blacks remained relatively the same at 24.5%, real household income rose between the years of 2006 2007 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008). Thus, while it may still be a likely cause of inactivity, a focus on poverty may not provide the full answer to the problem. Par ental Influence Another important aspect of physical activity participation is the characteristics of parents and children. More specifically, ha ving both parents in the home leads to a

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17 greater likelihood of participating in sport (Videon, 2002), and the educational backgrounds, employment, and work hours of their parents may affect the level and choice of activity of adolescents (Barnett, 2008; Vi deon, 2002). Further, Kimm, et al. (2002) found that lower education levels of parents decreased the likelihood of their participation in physical activity. Having parents with some college was related to a greater likelihood of decline than having parents who completed four years. This trend is further evidenced as girls whose parents had only completed high school experienced the greatest declines in activity (Kimm et al., 2002). Th e interest of parents also influenced youth participation (Thomps on, Rehman, & Hubert, 2005). Thompson et al. (2005) found that the level of support and encouragement that parents do or do not provide their children influences their level of participation. This trend may be particularly salient for young girls. Younger girls were more likely to feel encouraged by others, such as their family or friends, to be physically active (Lown & Braunschweig, 2008), but younger adolescents may experience an inability to access opportunities if parents are not supportive and/or refu se to provide (Thompson, et al., 2005). Conversely, Thompson et al. (2005) uncovered that adol escents with family members who are also active in sports may be more encouraged to engage in sport participation. Peer I nfluence Peer groups also have influence on participation decisions. Fun with friends was a key factor for participation, as sports pr ovide a venue to either make new friends or further relationships with existing ones (Casey et al., 2009; Thompson et al., 2005).

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18 Peers can also have a negative influence as teasing, especially from boys, was also a concern. Girls were teased particularly regarding weight and dress. They were also teased in reference to their skill levels, whether they were perceived to have little skill or in relation to their peers (Casey et al., 2009). Thus, negative feedback from peers regarding female sport participation may be a dissuading factor, leading to lower participation rates. Personal M otivations In an Australian study (Casey et al., 2009), w hen adolescent girls were asked to reflect on their personal reasons for sport participation, the girls reported various reasons including fitness concerns, socialization, skill improvement, and fun and enjoyment (Casey et al., 2009). These factors were also found in other studies (Allen, 2003; Weiss & Petlichkoff, 1989). Socialization concerns were d iscussed as a need to affiliate with others and a desire for recognition from peers (Allen, 2003). Goal from others, increased the likelihood of continued participation, self competence, and enjoyment (Casey et al., 2009). Conversely when these goals were not met and participants felt inadequately skilled, continued participation was less likely (Casey et al., 2009). One strategy was to gear themselves towards less popula r sports so as to avoid competition for spots on popular teams but still ensure participation (Casey et al., 2009). Another factor was a lack of opportunities to play as the few spots available were limited to competitive teams as few or no recreational t eams are available at older age skill level. The degree to which they are confident in their skills affected their decisions

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19 to try out for school or community comp etitive teams. Those who were unable to play at younger ages were further dissuaded by a belief that they were too old to develop all of the necessary skills and would thus be far behind their peers (Thompson et al., 2005). Additionally, for high school st udents, increased academic responsibilities are perceived as a barrier to sport participation as the amount of homework and limited exposure to physical education affects physically active leisure (Thompson et al. 2005). Moreover, the development of an a thletic identity may be influenced by when sport participation first occurs for an adolescent. Specifically, Kjnniksen et al. (2009) found participation in sport in adolescence to be linked to higher levels of physical activity and that association varied by age. In particular, the age at which all adolescents began sport participation and the number of teams joined (i.e. the frequency of participation) during adolescence was significantly related to adulthood physical activity (Kjnniksen et al., 2009). F or adolescents who continued to participate at age 16 rather than dropping out, it was more likely that they would continue to be physically active in adulthood (Kjnniksen et al., 2009). This was especially true for females as a correlation between physic al activity in adulthood could be made only with participation in sport at ages 16 and 18, while in males participation at every age was correlated to physical activity in adulthood (Kjnniksen et al., 2009). Thus, it becomes increasingly important to unde rstand the context and experience factors that may influence beginning or continued sport participation in adolescent populations. It may be particularly relevant to study how these facts affect marginalized populations, those groups who are underrepresent ed in previous studies.

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20 Social Identity Further research reveals that the personal views of girls may also be a major factor that limits their sport participation (cf., Tracy & Erkut, 2002). Social Identity Theory (SIT) looks at the way members of margina lized groups come to identify themselves in terms of the group shared experiences (Tajfel, 1974). In general, a social identity is formed based on the awareness of membership in a social group and the meaning that the group holds (Tajfel, 1974). Social g roups are in turn not necessarily groups of as the African American community, these shar ed meanings may arise as result of similar experiences such as encounters with discrimination and stereotypes (Hogg, 2006). As Tajfel (1974) writes: For our purpose social categorization can be understood as the ordering of social environment in terms of social categories, that is of groupings of social categorization is a process of bringing together social objects or s actions, intentions, attitudes, and systems of beliefs (p. 69). After one recognizes her membership in a group, she will stay in that group and join others as well if they positively affect her social identity. She will also remain if there are reasons t hat make it impossible to leave the group or if doing so presents a value conflict, even if the group negatively affects her social identity. In these cases she may seek to reinterpret group attributes so as to make them seem more positive and/or try to i mprove the status of the group. Another strategy is the creation of characteristics which create a new form of distinction that will be viewed positively by other groups (Tajfel,

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21 1974). It becomes important to establish distinctions, whether existing or ne wly created, The ways in which African A merican girls define themselves may be due to their shared experiences. More specifically, t heir various patterns of behaviors that may reveal a d esire to create distinctiveness may contribute to their definition of self Contrary to the behavior of their peer groups, Tracy and Erkut (2002) found that African American girls are the least likely adolescent group to link popularity to sports participa tion. They found that African American girls tend to have the lowest association between sport participation and self esteem. Instead popularity for them was more closely associated with high grades in school, with sport participation ranking second. This was in stark contrast to all other groups in the study as both Cauca sian boys and girls and African American boys stated that sport participation w as number one. Instead, African American girls associate popularity with performance in school. For them, the best way to become popular is not to become a stellar athlete, but to become known as the smartest student. It is possible that they seek to define themselves collectively in ways that do not include sport. A study comparing sex role perceptions of blac k female athletes and non athletes found no significant differences in their views of expected behaviors (Rao & Overman, 1984). Both groups held traditional views of the role of a wife and a mother and liberal views of the other roles of women. This findin g was significant as other studies reported that female athletes typically held more traditional views of their sex roles as a coping mechanism for their participation in a male dominated field. Thus, there is less psychological conflict for black women ne gotiating their roles as athletes

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22 and women (Rao & Overman, 1984). The study illustrates that black women are distinct in their formation of their role perceptions. Their perceptions shift collectively as a group from societal norms. However, in depth expl oration of these identities or roles has received relatively little scholarly attention. Philips (1998) found distinctiveness exist s in leisure choices. Black and white high school students differed in their preferences of leisure activities. Blacks had s trong approval for basketball, going to the mall, singing in the choir and dancing, while white students indicated approval for six activities more so than blacks. These included soccer, horseback riding, water skiing, camping, fishing, and golfing. The di fferences in approval show a difference in approved activities. Black students indicated peer approval for fewer physical activities; in particular, the only highly approved sport in the study was basketball. This may indicate that leisure choice is inform ed by racial identity. blackness in the eyes of in group peers. Lastly, black students also considered a smaller group of people to be their friends than whites, which means tha t their decisions would be affected by a smaller number of individuals. More specifically, blacks reported a lesser degree of peer influence than reported by white students (Philips, 1998). This further leads to the notion that activity choices may not be merely influenced on a peer level, but affected on a more widespread scale. Blacks in general experience lower levels of physical activity than whites. Black girls have the steepest inactivity levels as they are affected by lower levels of activity due to both their race and gender. Much has been written about the low physical activity levels of African American females. Many studies have remarked the trend of the

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23 African research ident ifying how African American females perceive sport participation and their role s as sport participants is sparse. Accordingly, most research has focused on quantitatively linking potential factors affecting participation. For example, r esearch has looked into the issue of facility access as a possible reason (Powell et al., 2006). Further it has been concluded that because the black community is disproportionately affected by poverty, the levels of inactivity among African American s may be due to the high levels (64%) of poverty within the group (Lown and Braunschweig, 2008). Unfortunately, previous conclusions related to low income populations may be generalized to multiple findings regarding low physical activity levels amongst African American s. Specifi cally, i n the literature reviewed here, much of the data focuses on the issues of low income and/or overweight girls. This however casts an unrepresentative image of the group. For instance, the African American middle class is expanding, easing some of th e past restrictions on access, yet, these members are largely ignored in the present studies. It is possible that by looking at blacks across multiple income brackets, more light can be shed on the true extent of African participation experiences. The present study seeks to understand the participation patterns amongst more diverse populations of this group to reveal the motivations, perceptions, and experiences that may contribute to sport participation.

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24 CHAPTER 3 METHODS The goal o f this study was views of sport participation. In particular, I sought to understand if athletic identity, parental involvement and school environment played a role in the sport activity experiences of black female students. To gauge these factors, interviews were conducted wherein the participants provide d their stories. Questions and concepts covered in the interview guide touched on their personal experiences in sport, their Participants After Institutional Review Board ( IRB ) approval was obtained, th e p articipants included eleven women drawn from major southeastern universities using s nowball sampling After contac ting initial participants through a convenience sampling strategy (N=x) those interviewed provided contacts for other potential participants (N=x) Participants were given consent forms to be completed at the start of the interview session. Other than t hose consenting to impromptu interviews, all participants were provided with electronic copies of the form and the interview questions for review in advance. Upon receiving consent, all i nterviews were tape recorded, and the participants were made aware o f their right to stop recording at any time. I, t he researcher proctored the interviews which took place in the venu choosing. These locations included public student centers, restaurants, and by phone. Participants in the sample r anged in age from 19 to 23. The mode age was 21 which included five participants Nine participants degrees, one a graduate degree, and one recently graduated from university with a

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25 Eight of the participan ts lived with both parents in the home during high school. One lived with a single mother. The two others had mothers who had remarried. Table 3 1 is a summary of the participant characteristics. B ecause the sample is rem oved from high school, it offered the benefit of looking at the totality of high school experiences. However, i n spite of this benefit, retrospective recall is often open to criticisms of reliability. Several authors have found that this may not be a problem (Hardt, Sidor, Bracko & Egle, 2006; Snelgrove & Havitz, 2010). Hardt et al. (2006) found moderate to good reliabilities in their study of adult recall of childhood experiences. Nonetheless, b ecause the sample in this study was drawn from current and recently graduated university studen ts and not current high school students, it was important to ensure the trustworthiness of their responses as they were asked to reflect on their past experiences. Snelgrove and Havitz (2010) suggest ed several ways to reduce the bias and error in retrospe ctive studies. Using fixed response questions can lead to recall error if participants are forced to respond to questions using set answers that do not apply to their experience or if they are unable to answer a question. To further reduce bias, memory rec all can be aided by using cues, such as providing general questions to the participant before the interview (Snelgrove & Havitz, 2010). It is also helpful to ask participants to reflect on their experiences and summarize that information (Roberts, 2005). P er their suggestions, the interview questions were open ended, allowing participants to report freely ab out their experiences and reducing the likelihood of forced responses. Participants were also given the opportunity to reflect back on their experiences prior to the interview as they were provided the questions in advance and given time just before the start of the interview.

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26 Instrumentation: Interview Guide The interview proces s use d a combined approach, drawing from both the standardized open response and the general interview guide approaches to draw upon the strengths of both approaches to help minimize their weaknesses. The standardized approach has the benefit of ensuring that each participant is presented the same questions which increases the com parability of the data and reduces bias. In contrast, the interview guide approach allows flexibility in the order and wording of questions, or the flow of the inter view (Patton, 2002). Combining the two approaches best serve d the purposes of this study because it provided structure so that certain questions were asked of all participants for comparability, as drawn from the interview guide, and still allow ed the rest that she would feel most comfortable speaking about her unique experiences. The questions within the interview guide (Appendix A) were influenced by the survey items within two question naires: the Questionnaire Assessing School Physical Activity Environment (Q SPACE; Robertson Wilson & Holden 2007) and the Athletic Identity Questionnaire (AIQ; Anderson, Msse & Hergenroede, 2007). These studies provide d starting points to discuss spor ting experiences, but interview questions were not limited to items within these scales Additional interview guide questions were based both on a review of the literature and on my personal experiences and assumptions as an African American female who has participated in sport. Specifically questions tailored to uncovering how parental support and income status played a role in the description of sport participation experiences were informed by previous research. However, q uestions about personal appearan ce and culture were informed by my

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27 recognition of peer concerns about hair and body image and the impact of culture on sport choice. As such, in Chapter 5 my voice is represented in the writing as I reflect on how the findings corroborate or reject my assu mptions. The final interview guide was presented to a panel of experts comprised of two professo rs and two black college women (who did not participate in this study ) to establish item relevance and best wording and order to ensure readability and clarity. Minor adjustments were made as a result of their comments. Data Analysis Tape recorded interviews wer e transcribed into word processing software (Microsoft Word) and then transferred to qualitative data analysis software (i.e., NVivo 9.0). NVivo is softw are program that allows the user to import documents and code textual data. It facilitates the establishment of relationships between the data to build codes and sub codes. The text was then coded by the researcher using the stages of analysis as proposed by Strauss and Corbin (1998). As such, after the first interviews were transcribed, they wer e microa nalyzed, as the transcript was read through and then analyzed line by line to develop the concepts and categories that will be used throughout coding. Next, open coding was used to further develop concepts and categories by delineating the characteristics of each, using the findings of the microanalysis and the research questions as a basis. Later axial coding was used to further c ategorize the data and devel op relationships and conditions for the categories. It was also used to establish subcategories for higher order categories that were initially developed. To enhance credibility in the coding process, the coding scheme that was developed was given to an in dividual (i.e., my thesis supervisor) who was not involved

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28 in the interviews to independently review the codes, coding categories, and interview transcripts. No discrepancies or inaccuracies were noted. Because the goal of the study was to determine parti symbolic interaction theory proved useful during coding. Symbolic interactionism looks at the shared meanings people develop as a result of their interactions and the ways in which those meanings in turn affect their descriptions o f their actions (Patton, 2002). The meanings for things are derived from the ways in which they affect a particular course of action. Shared meanings arise when people come to a consensus over the ways in which meaning is attached to that thing and the app ropriate reaction to it (McCall, 2006). It was hoped that the commonalities discovered in recurring themes would

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29 Table 3 1. Participant characteristics Pseudonym Age High school racial characteristics High school sport participation Current sport or physical activity participation Dori 21 MB Track and field, volleyball None Sabra 19 MW None Intramural sport Chloe 21 MB None None Breni 22 D Soccer Soccer Frances 21 MW, MH Basketball None Jean n ette 20 MW Track and field, volleyball, cross country Running Melanie 20 MW, D None None Lenay 22 MW None Exercise Elsie 21 MW Basketball, volleyball Basketball Erin 23 D Tennis Tennis Terren 21 D, MH, MB, MW Basketball, tennis Intramural sport D Diverse MB Mostly black MH Mostly Hispanic MW Mostly White

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30 CHAPTER 4 F INDINGS The following section provides a summary of the themes generated from the interview data. Both common and unique themes will be discussed and supporting quotations will be provided to provide context to the themes described. Pseudonyms have been used to ensure confidentiality. Current Sport Participation E ach participant was asked to comment on whether or not she currently participated in sport. Detailed reasons for participation and non participation were solicited. A summary of the descriptions of participation and non participation is presented in Table 4 1 Non P articipation Participants were also asked about their current participation in sport or physical activity. Among those who did not currently participate in sports or physical activity (4 participants) there were two groups. The first two individuals were those who had participated in high school but now could not due to the time constraints of their current schedules. The second grou p comprised of those who were neither active in high school nor now Their reason for current inactivity was a lack of interest. Participation Among those who currently participate in sport or physical activity (7 participants) the reasons f or doing so were more diverse. Not only was there more, each participant also gave multiple reasons. Among these were the influence of friends, concerns about health and fitness, lifelong habit, and accessibility.

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31 Sub theme 1: f itness/health Health manage their weight an d body image and maintain sport specific skills. Three (3) of the participants indicated health and fitness concerns. Jeannette and Ter ren discussed a mentioned a desire to return to a body ideal, mentioning the body she att ained through one of the reasons. Um i maintaining body shape, they also indicated that remaining active helps to manage the stress in their lives. Erin her desire to maintain her I felt that my skills in tennis were declining, and I wanted to make Sub th eme 2: h abit Habit refers to the par her life and a desire to thus maintain participation as a lifestyle choice. In talking about their reasons for participation in sport, four (4) of the participants indicated that they cont inue to participate because sport and physical activity have become habitual For example Jeannete said Elsie mentioned that h er continued participation after high school was never doubted. It had become ingrained in her. Terren likewise mentioned: know, I was active in high school. So I kind of wan a depend on that to keep m e balanced. I want to be like, a hard working student, as far as

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32 like my mental capabilities, but I also want to be physically active in my The participants show an attraction to s port because of their past experiences. Sub theme 3: i nfluence of friends The influence of friends on sport participation is evident through their suggestion of involvem ent and co participation with the participant Three (3) of the participants indicated the influence of their friends in their decisions to continue participation. Frances pointed to her best friend as the reason that she participated in intramural sport in the past in o rder to continues to participate because she is able to play with her boyfriend and other friends. As she t Usually because my roommate asks me. My roommate is super fit, super active. Oh goodness, Uh she asks me if I wanna, like, run with her for a little bit, do stadiums, or do yoga. Friends help to facilitate activity for the participants in each cas e by providing the participants with opportunities to participate. Sub theme 4: a ccessibility The last reason for current participation given was that of greater accessibility to participation opportunities. Only one participant, Sabra, indicated this reas on for her current involvement in sport. She currently participates in intramural sport in college because opportunities for her are more accessible than they were in high school.

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33 Yes I did volleyball, Frisbee, and basketball and I did volunteering with [ f intramurals are m on campus already, and if not that will bring me here and so I can play. t fits in with my schedule better now than it probably did back then The free entry for participants regardless of skill level, access to transportation, and scheduling of matches of the college intramural games eliminate the obstacles of par ticipation that she experienced in high school. General V iew of S port Because this study sought to uncover the views and experiences of young females with sport, it was important to understand how the participants viewed sport generally. They were asked to define sport in their own terms In doing so, one main theme emerged. Specifically, six (6) of the participants thought physical activity was essential in the definition of sport participation. The following sample of quotations capture s this theme: Chloe : get. . .it exerts physical energy I would say is a sport. Melanie: Lenay: I cons ate up. know. I feel like a sport, you have to sweat, you k now. Bowling, you know, I mean nsider that too much of a sport Three (3) others emphasized the importance of organization and structure to the

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34 activity. the athlete be playing on a school or community sponsored team. Sub T heme 1: Positive Social B enefits through S port After defining sport, the participants were asked their personal view of sport participation. This was then coded into two broad categori es: positive or negative. Most participants (10) viewed sport positively. The main theme here was the effect of organized team membership specifically the benefits it provides. Participants listed among the benefits the presence of coaches as positive rol e models, opportunities for physical activity, the ability to develop team work sk ills, and chances to meet new people. Dori highlighted the influence of coaches to keep players out of trouble, especially males in single parent homes in need of posit ive m but I do think it provides a structure that a lot of, in particular males, who many times at my school, were living in single parent homes, and the father was absent from the home, so you have that male figure in their lives still as important for delivering values: being competitive, winning and just being a part of something. Lenay also saw sport as beneficial, in particular because it provides opportunities for I mean the physical activity, I think, is the bigg est benefit. Um, just getting outside and doing something really working your body. I feel like a lot of on Facebook. They do

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35 Sub Theme 2: Negative Sp o rt as a Wasteful A ctivity Only one participant, Melanie had a negative perception of sport participation. To her, it seemed like a wasteful activity. Time would be better spent in furthering Athletes, especially male athletes received credit for the ir lawyers who are doing things that are professional, really well i n the world and they like, a waste of time and money. Like, what is it furthering, like, [in] my life? How is it Reasons for or against S port P art icipation in High School The interview questions allowed the participants the opportunity to elaborate on their own perceptions of the positive and negative aspects of sport participation in high school as well as the reasons for their participation or no n participation. Specifically, assumed lack of skill was the most common reason for non participation in high school, the reasons for sport participation identified b y those that did participate in high school. high school sport participation is presented in Table 4 2 Sub T heme 1: A ssumed Lack of S kills The greatest reason for avo belief that she was unqualified to participate. After assessing her own skills and in comparing them to her perceptions of required standards, she deemed herself incapable, not giving coaches the opp ortunity to assess her talent. Three (3) of the four

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36 (4) non athlete participants mentioned that they did not feel capable of making the team. Sabra mentioned: team, cuz back then, like, our basketball team at our school is really good. And so I able to, uh meet up with expectations and like, make the team, bother trying out. Further, while she had experience in the sport in 8th grade, Lenay mentioned having started too late to be go out for the high school soccer team: I started too late. I feel like if you want to do sports later on, you need to start them -to me, like, certain ones like soccer, basketball, stuff like -that time you reach middle school or high school, if you want to play was something m ore that my parents did, um, when we were growing up, I probably would have played in high school. Other reasons given for not participating in sport included bad previous experiences, injury concerns, and scheduling conflicts. Sub T heme 2: Sport for Act The most common reason given for joining a team was simply a need to find an activity to do to fill the time Four (4) participants expressed this as a reason for their participation in high school sport. As Dori said, I need to activities. easy for me to do. And I wanted something to do after school so I didn have to go home, right away.

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37 Terren moved around often throughout high school and sport remained a constant in her life. Sport became a greater weight as an activity that provided a vehicle to get more involved and restart: Well for me, particularly, um, because I went to so many high schools, ng was always, like, to get settled, and e situation and to play sports. reasons possible, the simplest was looking for another opp ortunity to get involved and avoid having to go home too early. Sub Th eme 3 : Suggestion Getting involved was as simple as being asked to try a sport. Two (2) participants listed suggestion as one of the reasons they began participation. Dori pointed out: reasons why I did it: it was just an invite. All it took was an invite and then everything k of invitation as a Uh.. I was interested in tennis and, um, it seemed like I was gonna go out kind of person who needs to be pushed towards passionate about it. So nobody was really pushing me, but I knew who to go to. I actually knew the guy, the coach. I knew who to go to to get involved, but I really pushed. Sub T heme 4 : Fitness Two (2) participants also mentioned fitness concerns as reasons to be involved. Jeannette originally saw joining the cross country team as an opportunity to get in

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38 shape for track season. Similarly Dori saw the weight loss benefits of participating in track and field: helped me to tone up and shape up, and lose a lot of weight. And then I did shot put and disc to remain in shape. And that was int eresting because you involved and not walking out of high school just being socially involved but also physically involved as well. Family The influence of the family was seen in three areas: economic factors culture, and parental support Based on previous li terature, when asked to comment on their reasons for participation or non participation in high school sport, the participants were probed to specifically comment on economic, cultural, and support factors. The following sections detail the perceptions ela borated on by the participants. Economic F actors Potential economic factors encompassed the costs of activities and the burden presented by them. Only two (2) participants spoke of cost being a factor in their participation choice. The o thers recognized th e help of fundraising or simply did not feel costs to have had an effect. Some mentioned that while they recognized the expense of the activities, their parents were willing to do all in their power to make things happen. The following quotes provide examp les of how potential financial concerns were addressed by their parents. Lenay: It was definitely tough for them to pay for these activities for us but I extravagant, they really tried to see what they could do so we could participate in the activity.

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39 yeah, I want I rich or anything like that, like far from it. But I could honestly say that they always made the ends connect. Always. Culture Participants were asked whether or not they felt that culture may have had an ( 3) partici pants believed that culture may have an effect on the sports their parents preferred or saw as more African American. masculinity and femininity. Two (2) participants expl ained cultural view of femininity found amongst Haitians. The re is an acceptance of an ultra feminine image. A strong distinction is made between women and men. Traditional masculine tasks are still unacceptable for women. Makeup, dresses, and cooking are the domains of women. The following quotations from Dori and Chloe explain the differences. Dori: I think because of the way that my culture is, there are some things accepted that s any instance that came to my mind. things would those be? ladies do. I me men for

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40 Chloe: feminine and a man is supposed to be really masculine. So I guess as far really like to dress up, when I was younger. But, like, my mom, she would always be pushing me like, nd wanting me to always watch her in the kitchen, how to clean, to be very feminine, like to walk a certain way. U m and a man Support for S port by P arents Support for sport was divided into three categories: emotional, financial, and transportation : Emotional: attendance at events when possible, positiv e encouragement Financial: provision of funds to cover costs of activities Transportation: willingness to provide rides to and from activities Each participant talked about the support they received differently. While none spoke of approval of their participation, each participant received a different extracurricular activities, those who participated in sport related more of a balance support levels. The support they received ranged from high to low. Erin spoke of a traditional level of high support of support, while Dori spoke of a lower level of support. Erin : Yes, they were very supportive. If I needed something for tennis, they wo uld eagerly buy it for me. And they always came to, um, practice, and they always encouraged me.

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41 Dori: They allowed me to do it, but they never assisted in anything. In any did, my parents supported, in terms of allowing me to do it. Actively kind of thinks a lot of things are funny and he can crack himself up. But one of the reasons why he kind of laughed one o f the times was because I or two years ago. I brought it up and was like, never even supported started laughing. And it was funny to them, not funny to me cuz I still had to e would have hoped. Social I dentity To better understand how the participants have shaped their identities within their membership groups (i.e. women and black women specifically), participants were asked questions related to those identities. Theme: Im portance of E ducation Because the role of education emerged as a theme in the research ( Tracy & Erkut, 2002 ), participants were asked questions about their views on and the role of education in their sporting lives. Some participants (3), while not asked d irectly, expressed strong views on the topic when asked about other topics, such as culture, income, or sport in general. Seven p articipants spoke about the importance of education to both them and their parents. Sabra and Chloe, both of Haitian descent i ndicated that a focus on of your time needs to be spent on getting good grades and being with your family. So sports is

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42 like, more so, like really stay home and study and then maybe get a job Chloe: So my mom, s he went, like she got a certificate to teach and my dad got a certificate as a mental health technician, but nothing beyond that, gonna work to take ca re of my kids and I expect them t like.. Be cause I sacrificed and I am sacrificing for them, like I expect them to go and not being born here, um, they kinda, like, stopped going to school to help support the family and t burner. Four o thers simply related it as important to their parents as exemplified by this quote from Melanie: Both my parents gradua ted from college, and stuff. So it was more or less, can build up a resume and something to talk ab out with people in interviews. When reviewing the relationship between sport and education in their lives, the four athletes who commented on the topic saw no conflict. Terren : Personal ly, no, [there was no conflict], u m, because I told you, my parents we re very strong advocates of education I knew where to draw the line. And there were some games I did miss because I had, like, a dual enrolled class or something. So personally, for me it was not an issue. I t to high school to learn. Frances saw sport as beneficial to helping her achieve her educational goals because of the time management it forced her to acquire : grades tend to be b and get things done.

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43 Theme: Gender I dentity and S port there were acceptable or unacceptable sports for women and a similar prompt in reference specifically to black women. Contact sports, such as football and hockey, were deemed una cceptable for all women by four (4) participants Other than that, no major distinction was made. By and large, they sa w sport as not being racialized in their own minds. However, they did name sports in which black women are n o t traditionally involv ed su ch as golf, swimming, and hockey. Rather than their own personal views, they seemed to relate what others might think were they to see black women involved. Chloe : But I think people would be really odd [confused] if they saw, like, a black woman playing From the discussion of sports, participants were led to think about their views of female athletes and black female athletes, specifically. Sub t heme 1 : Williams effect By and large, the image of a female athlete was Venus and Serena Williams. Six (6) of the participants indicated one or both when asked to think of a female athlete. Two (2) others mentioned other notable black athletes -Marion Jones and Wilma Rudolph -as coming to mind first when thinking about female athletes in general.

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4 4 Sub theme 2: b utch and lesbian In describing female athletes in general the most common theme was the manly, butch, possibly lesbian female athlete. This view was held by both athletes (2) and non athletes (3) Melanie was not an athlete and described herself as delicate. The girls who were athletes were in stark contrast to her and femininity: Like, if there were girls who participated in sport, they were your butch very, very, you know, aggressive girls. You know, like for me it was kinda like, I know this sounds really bad, but it was kinda like shrug y our shoulders, Terren, an athlete, based her description on her personal experiences with her peers. She had this to say in her description of female athletes: Uhm, first thing that comes to mind is sc ary, butch looking females, (laughs) the fact that we have that stereotype, that you have to be, you know, like, this overbearing l ooking, man looking person. But ,uh, a lot of spo of manly looking girls, that may or may not have preferred, um, the regular idea. But unfortunate ly that was the first thing that came to my mind. Stereotypes about basketball players were expressed by other women as well. In subscribe to the belief but recognize d the stereotype as popular and foremost in her mind when thinking of female athletes in high school: Like they had this thing, which is not true, but, like, based on, like, girls on the basketball team was gay and stuff like that, which I know is not true But Frances was a member of the basketball team and was concerned about how the stereotype may have affected in high school and stuff like that. Definitely worried, like you

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45 whatever, in the media sometimes. Sub theme 3: b reaking stereotypes Athletes were also described in more positive terms traits by five participants In particular, they were noted for positive personality stereotypes that d ictate what a woman should be. There was a notion of strength which Lenay summarized it based in saying: like sexual female Well defying stereotypes are like girls who are really weak and just like to sit at home and like bake cookies, or, you know, watch movies, read. Not that e activities, but really like girls getting out more impressed by them than I am by, like, male Olympians. T heme: Appearance C oncerns To better understand how concerns about personal appearance factor into time in high school when you were concerned with how sports participati on would affect were issues conc erning hair and skin darkening. Sub theme 1: h air Five participants described concerns they had with revolving around their hair. Concerns abou t hai r were mostly due to the effects of water or sweat Avoidance of

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46 swimming was common as a way to keep hair manageable. Erin, concerned about the damaging effects that the c [swimming] because Sabra also ruled out swimming, but the desire to maintain her relaxer (also referred to as a perm) also led her to avoid cross country as well: I immediately hair, w hich my hair was permed manage my hair or just, like, have it thrown back the wh also the reason why [when] I started to do cross country and I was just like, perm. After achieving a straight look with a relaxer, water would cause the hair to rever t back reversion, albeit more costly as it negates the effect of the freshly applied chemical es of frequent styling. Speaking of her decision not to become a majorette, she said: e that would be a lot. Li ke the probably have to be relaxed? So that was another thing that kept me. Sub theme 2: f ear of darkening The last appearance concern was a fear of getting darker. Three of the participants discussed this co ncern. This was evident by an aversion to outdoor sports and trying to stay out of the sun. Chloe best illustrated this concern: I know that sounds, like, superficial, but not wanting to be in the sun. Like season complexion and then your normal complexion. Like, people who was supposed to be really, really light and bright would be really, like,

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47 Table 4 1. Descriptions of current p articipation Themes Discussed # of participants Sample quotations Non participation (4) Time constraints 2 Lack of interest 2 "Lack of interest is why." Partici pation (7) Habit 4 team." Influence of friends 3 because I also have other friends that play." Fitness/Health 3 excess amo unt of weight that I need to get rid Accessibility 1

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48 Table 4 2. Descriptions of the r easons for and against high school sport participation High school participation # of participants S ample quotations Non participation (4) Assumed lack of skills 3 Injury concerns 1 "Um for me it was really like I just see how very, very, cautious or prudent more or less." Scheduling 1 Bad previous experience 1 "I did club soccer for my city. And it was fun, but the coach was really terrible, and his attitude towards us was terrible, so I never, like, wanted to pursue it more." Participation (7) Sport for activity's sake 4 "And I wanted something to do after school Suggestion 2 "So, uh, th e reasons why I did it: it was just an invite". Fitness 2 "And then at the time I was a lot larger then tone up and shape up, and lose a lot of weight."

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49 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION The purpose of this study wa s to gain a better understanding of African American participation of both those who did and those who did not participate in high school sport to gain a fuller understanding of the African American experience. With seven of the eleven participants reporting high school sport participation, the sample had a higher percentage (~ 64%) of participation than the national average for of 46.7% black females reported by Eaton et. al. (2010). While unrepresentative statistically, the higher percentage allowed a greater number of sporting experiences to be uncovered t han would have other wise been possible. During the course of the interview process, six research questions were addresse d. Broadly, they regarded (a) the reasons for sport participation, (b) activities chosen instead, (c) the role of parents/guardians, (d) the role of income and economic factors, (e) the influence of the high school, and (f) role of social identity. The fi rst five questions were answered in relation to factors directly impacting experiences in sport while the last was answered by their descriptions of their i dentity in light of sport participation. Experiences The factors related to the part in sport were their reasons for or against participation and economic factors Reasons research mentioned above. The sub theme of accessibility sup ports the findings of

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50 Casey et al. (2009). The authors recognized the possibility of reduced opportunities of participation when parents are not supportive and do not provide transportation. Here in this study, Sabra felt sport was now more accessible beca use she was no longer transportation to games that she began participating intramural sports. The sub theme of suggestion supports both the findings of Casey et al. (2009) and Thomp son et al. (2005). While both studies recognized the importance of peers in adolescent participation, the current study shows peer influence continue s to factor in the of Kjnniksen et al. (2009) was supporte d, as five of the seven athlete participants continued to participate in physical activity after high school. The current study adds to that research by revealing the establishment of habit as a potential reason why female high school athletes in that stud y were more likely to be physically active adults. In terms of their high school participation, again Casey et al. (2009) was supported by the finding of an assumed lack of skill as a reason for inactivity and the influence of suggestion to be a reason fo r activity. Because the Casey et al. study was based in Australia, the current study adds to the literature by addressing the participation concerns of American, specifically African American, girls. Also, because much of the research focused on the level of influence from parents and peers, the school personnel, may also play role in getting involved in sport by suggesting their participation and encouraging them to try out for school teams. The findings here

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51 on the experiences of African American females in sport. Understanding how these perceptions develop and then manifest i nto young adolescent females lives is an important area for future research. Economic F actors Economic factors did not play a large role in this study. The majority of participants did not see costs as important factor s in their decisions. This was not e xpected given previous research pointing to the influence of race and income on sport and physical activity. However this may be because the sample had demographics vastly different from those explored in previous studies. Previous research ( Kimm et al. 2 002; Lown & Braunschweig, 2008) overwhelming ly explores issues using populations comprised of low income black girls from urban areas. The sample was overwhelmingly middle class and grew up with, for the most part, both parents in the home. This study adds to current literature by providing a voice to an often overlooked segment of the black population: the middle class. That most of the women in the study believed cost was not an issue and yet not all participated in sport suggests that reasons not directl y linked to financial expense should be uncovered in exploring inactivity amongst black girls. In particular exploring factors related to social identity may prove helpful. Social Identity Social identity was included in this study as a means of understan ding the implications of the membership in the social group, black women, had for sport participation. The three main issues that developed were gender identity, education, and appearance concerns.

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52 Gender I dentity When participants were asked to identify their thoughts on the term female their general view of female athletes. While Venus and Serena Williams, Marion Jones, and Wilma Rudolph are national sport icons, it is interesting that no athletes of other races were named. That all of the famous athletes named by the participants were all black athletes suggests that the participants identified more readily with black athletes. This is in keeping with SIT in that th ere is a greater identification with in group peers. Their view of gender and sport may be racialized due to their shared experiences in sport and out in their greater lives. The racialization of their gendered experience was further evident in the prese ntation of lesbian and butch stereotypes. In light of the findings of Rao and Overman (1984), I did not expect as many of the participants to present lesbian stereotypes in their descriptions of athletes. There should have been a greater acceptance of trad itional masculine traits among female athletes rather than stigmatizing effect. It was most surprising, however, that these views were held by athletes, those involved in the sport. SIT suggests that shared meanings may arise from encounters with stereotyp es. Because basketball is the sport that the stereotype was most directed to, it is possible that Frances and Terren had much more experience and found much of their athletic identity formed in defense of it. More research should be done to understand the effects such stereotypes have on the athletes. The discussion of culture provided further counters to the acceptance of masculine traits with feminine identity. Originally, I believed that culture would have an effect in terms of sports chosen, enthusias m for those sports, and possibly a distaste for

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53 sport. The revelations about Haitian culture came as a complete surprise. The finding is in stark contrast to the findings of Rao and Overman (1984). Rather than being more open in their view of femininity, c ulture had the effect of pushing a more feminine ideal, which would lead to greater conflict between the roles of athlete and woman. Because this finding was related to the Haitian heritage of the participants, it gave voice to a subgroup of the black popu lation not yet explored in sport research. Rather than looking at blacks as a homogenous group, more notice should be taken of cultural subgroups. Because immigrants from the Caribbean, Africa, and other places are classif ied as black, they may be subject to both the same and completely different influences from the general black population in America. Education Many of the participants had both a positive view of sport and education. This was expected. What was not expected was the view of sport as a was te of time in light of the importance of education. While only one participant expressed this view, it was particularly strong enough to merit discussion. Her statements related directly to the research of Tracy and Erkut (2002) about black high school gir ls. That research indicated that black girls saw education as the best route to popularity. Melanie likewise indicated a preference for education over sport. Specifically she saw greater importance in the professions of medical doctors and lawyers than in the pursuit of athletics. Because her viewpoint was so strong, further research should be done to determine whether this is a prevalent view among black girls. Appearance C oncerns In asking about personal appearance concerns, it was expected that hair would be an issue for many of the black women. What was not expected was the concern

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54 about skin darkening. That three of the women expressed a decision to avoid sports because of this fear suggests that it was salient enough a concern to warrant recall. Th e sun and outdoor sports may have been avoided in order to avoid the greater distinction shared experiences with discrimination due to skin color and a desire to minimi ze further instances.

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55 CHAPTER 6 LIMITATIONS AND IMPL ICATIONS Limitations Because I, the researcher, am also an African American female, it is possible that the answers I received from the participants would differ from those collected were a research er of a different race or gender had conducted the interviews. It is also possible, however, that my similarity to the participants allowed a greater freedom in their answers that would be otherwise possible to achieve. Nevertheless these findings are no t generalizable to the African American female population as a whole. First the pool of potential participants was limited to schools in the southeastern United States. Because there may be regional differences in the experiences of African Americans, t hi s poses a limitation. Second the participants have described their unique experiences. A number of factors specific to the individual colors each experience experiences, it makes no cla im that these findings will apply to the African American female population as a whole. Implications for Future Research Future research arising from the findings of this study would further explore the experiences of black women in sport. In particular, a greater breadth of the popul ation should be studied. First while studies have explored immigrants and their sport participation, future research should explore the impacts of immigration or first generational status on sport participation. This would l ook directly at the intersections between their native cultural identities, assimilated American black identity, and sport. Second, the findings suggest that mor e income groups should be included in studies of

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56 sport participation experiences By expanding research studies to include a greater to determine whether the best ways to address inactivity would be based on socioeconomic status or social identity. Finally, and more s pecifically, more information should be collected regarding the breadth of the impact hair, skin, and other appearance concerns have on participation levels. T hese identity issues are often overlooked in survey research as the scale of measurement is often hard to quantify. As such, continued research should incorporate interview samples from across the country that examine the potential social identity factors that are involved in shaping and Moving beyond the black community, more research should be conducted on girls of all races and income. More can be done to learn their reasons for and against sport parti cipation. Because an assumed lack of skill appeared in this study and in Casey et al., future research should seek to understand how girls come to perceive these skill differences. Further qualitative study can be undertaken to understand the mechanisms by which they compare their skills to others and the ages at which such comparisons cause girls to begin to exclude themselves from sport. Each of the reasons given for and against sport participation can provide a starting point for future research. Howev er, the impact of friends on participation choices should especially be studied. In this study, friends were listed as a reason not just in high school participation but in participation beyond in to early adulthood. The role of peer influence in adult act ivity choices should be researched to better understand the

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57 power of this potential resource in encouraging higher levels of sport participation and physical activity among women. I mplications for Sport M anagers The current research has implications for t hose involved in youth sport initiatives at all levels of competition, from community to high school. Because the assumed lack of skill was a major factor against sport participation, it is important that sport managers provide opportunities for sport part icipation that are not tryout based. At the community level this would require ensuring recreational teams are available for older children, and in the high school setting this may involve the installation of intramural programs. This may encourage girls w ho are not yet confident in their skills to join teams at a higher rate. Issues directly tied to race should also be addressed. Race based initiatives should take into account the possibility of multiple cultural groups within the black population and the different needs of those groups. The initiatives should also account for specific appearance concerns of black girls. More can be done to lessen the impact of such concerns have on participation. This can be done by educating girls about their options for reducing possible problems with hair while maintaining participation. Skin color concerns will need to be addressed in a sensitive manner taking into full account the reasons for concern.

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58 APPENDIX INTERVIEW GUIDE Opening prompt (2 minutes allotted) The goal of this study is to take a look at African with high school sport and extracurricular activities. So, before we start, I would like you take a moment to reflect back on your high school experience. Think about all of the extracurricular activities you participated in (for example, sports, clubs, an after school job), what your friend group was like, what your peers were like, and your high school in general. Next reflect on what your relationship with your family wa s like during your high school years, specifically think about the role your family played in your extracurricular activities as well as some of the activities that your family may have been involved in. Finally, with your permission, I would like to audio tape this interview. This data will be kept confidential. (If prefer not to audiotape, ask if notes may be taken and used as data). answer and that you may ask to withdraw fr om the study or stop recording at any time. Preliminary questions o What is your age? o Your year of study and the degree you are pursuing at the University of Florida (UF)? o What high school did you attend and where was it located? (To help ensure sample incl udes diversity in schools and cities represented) o Main questions o Extracurricular high school involvement

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59 In this next section, I am particularly interested in the extracurricular activities that you were involved in high school Topic: Sports school and community o Did you participate in any sports while in high school? It is important to note that during this discussion sports may include all levels of involvement, ranging from organized team participation (varsity, JV, church leagues, community sports) t o informal pick up games. If no, why did you choose not to participate in sports? If yes, answer (a g). If no, skip to (h). If yes, which sports were you involved in? How long were you involved in that sport? (years, hours a week) How did you get involved? o Can you provide an example or story that comes to mind of a particularly positive experience with your sports involvement? o Can you provide an example or story that comes to mind of a particularly negative experience with your sports involvement? o What were your reasons for participating in formal (organized) sports? (if applicable) o What were your reasons for participating in pick up sports? (if applicable) Topic: Clubs at school, community organizations o Did you participate in any clubs at your high school o r within the community? If yes, which clubs were you involved in? o What were your reasons for participating in high school or community clubs? (if applicable) Topic: Jobs o Did you have a part time or full time job during high school? If yes, did this job tak e away from your other extra curricular involvement? Did it limit your ability to participate? Topic: Informal activities

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60 o Were you involved in other informal activities during high school? This th friends, hobbies, church or other solitary activities outside of sport and organized clubs and programs. If yes, what portion of your time outside of school was spent on these activities? Probe: Ho urs per day/week, days per week In the next few section s, I will be asking questions to gain an understanding of what factors may have played a role in your participation (or lack thereof) in sport activities. Role of high school environment in activity choices o What activities did your high school offer? Pro be: Sports teams, clubs and organizations o Were there participation costs for these activities? (Membership fees, dues, uniform costs, etc.) Were the fees higher for certain activities? Please explain. Probe: Exact costs, which particular activities were m ost expensive o Did your school provide transportation to students to participate in these activities? Probe: Was this the case for sports and club activities? o How would you describe the racial make up of your high school? Probe: The racial make up of the hi gh school as a whole? Sport teams? Probe: The racial make up of your friend group? o What was the economic status of the area surrounding your high school? Probe: Would you describe the area as low, middle, or high income? What factors lead you to this concl usion? Probe: Did your school have a free and reduced lunch program? Probe: Did your school have adequate classroom resources? (Enough textbooks per student, condition of materials, etc.) (Note: Last two probes give an idea of the economic make up of the student body and high school itself, respectively)

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61 In this section, I will be asking questions regarding your family and their role in shaping your involvement in high school activities. I would first like you to tell me a little about your family struct ure. For instance, did you live with one or both of your parents or with another guardian? Role of parents/guardians and family in activity choices o activities? Probe: Were they supportive ? Emotionally? Financially? Probe: Did they provide transportation to activities (if applicable)? Probe for: Which activities? Transportation to s ports? Clubs? All? o What is the highest level of schooling that your parents have completed? o What is your p they participate in sports? If yes, which sports? o For example did they come from a culture where sport was viewed favorabl y, or instead sport was seen negatively? o Did your siblings participate in sport? If yes, do you have brothers or sisters? Which sport(s) did they play? In this section, I will be asking questions regarding how economic factors may have influenced your invo lvement in high school activities. Role of family income and economic status in activity choices o Did the actual cost of high school or community sports, activities, or clubs ever influence whether or not you could participate? Probe: If yes, were clubs or sporting activities influenced more by cost? Or were they about the same? Probe: If you are comfortable, can you describe a situation where money was an issue in your participation?

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62 In this final section, I will be asking questions regarding how you view s ports participation. Role of Social Identity in activity choices o How would you define sport participation? Probe: What activities or sports are included in this definition?) o In your mind, are there acceptable and unacceptable sports for females? If so, w hat are they? o In your mind, are there acceptable and unacceptable sports for black females? If so, what are they? o Probe: Are there stereotypes that come to mind with the term e they? Does it call to mind particular famous athletes, personality types? Do you consider yourself an athlete? o Probe: Does it call to mind particular athletes? Are there stereotypes attached to the t are they? o How do you see/perceive/view other females who participated in sport in high school? Probe: A positive or negative perception of other females who may be involved in sport? Provide an example of a female in high school who you associate with sports participation. o What is your personal view of sport participation? Probe: Do you see it as positive or negative? Why? (Gauging personal views of sport participation, meanings attached to athletes.) Probe: If men tioned participation in academically focused extracurriculars, then Were you concerned that it may interfere with your academic success? In what way? o How did your friends in high school view sport participation? Probe: What gives you the impression that they had this view?

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63 o Can you describe a time in high school when you were concerned with how sports participation would affect your maintenance of personal appearance? ruining a new style) Co ncerns with changes in weight/size? Concerns with losing too much weight or gaining too much mass? Concerns with the required uniform/attire? Probe: Any other concerns with personal appearance? Final Comments: Current opinion on participation o Do you curren tly participate in any sports? Physical activity programs? Clubs? Probe: Explain why or why not. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME

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64 LIST OF REFERENCES Abrams, D. & Brown, R. (1989). Self consciousness and social identity: Self regulation as a g roup member. Social Psychology Quarterly 52 (4), 311 318. Allen, J. (2003). Social m otivation in y outh s port. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology 25 (4), 551 567. Anderson, C., Msse, L., & Hergenroede, A. (2007). Factorial and construct v alidity of t he Athletic Identity Questionnaire for Adolescents. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 39 (1), 59 69. Baecke, J., Burema, J., & Frijters, J. (1982). A short questionnaire for the measurement of habitual physical activity in epidemiological studies. A merican Journal of Clinical Nutrition 36 936 942. Barnett, L. (2008). Predicting youth participation in extracurricular recreation activities: Relationships with i ndividual, parent, and family characteristics. Journal of Par k and Recreation Administrati on, 26 (4), 28 69. Bloom, G, Loughead, T., & Newin, J. (2008). Team building for youth sport. The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance 79 (9), 44 47. Casey, M., Eime R., Payne, W. & Harvey, J. (2009). Using a sociological approach to exam ine participation in sport and physical activity among the rural adolescent girls. Qualitative Health Research 19 881 893. Doherty, A. & Taylor, T. (2007). Sport and physical recreation in the settlement of immigrant youth. Leisure, 31 (1), 27 55. Eaton D, Kan (2010). Youth risk behavior surveillance United States, 2009. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 59(SS05), 1 142. Findlay, L. & Bowker, A. (2009). The link between competit ive sport participation and self concept in early adolescence: A consideration of gender and sport orientation. Journal of Youth & Adolescence 38 (1), 29 40. The medi ating effects of schools, communities, and identity. Sociology of Education 76 (2), 89 109. Hardt J, Sidor A, Bracko M, & Egle U (2006). Reliability of retrospective assessments of childhood experiences in Germany. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 194 (9), 676 83.

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65 Hogg, M. (2006). Social identity theory. In Burke, P. (Ed.). Contemporary social psychological theories ( pp. 111 135). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Kimm, S., Glynn N., Kriska, A., et al. (2002) The New England Journal of Medicine 347 (10), 709 715. Kjnniksen, L. Anderssen, N. & Wold, B. (2009). Organized youth sport as a predictor of physical activity in adulthood. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 19, 646 654. Lown, D. & Braunschweig, C. (2008). Determinant s of physical activity in low income, overweight African American girls. American Journal of Health and Behavior 32(3), 253 259. McCall, G. (2006). Symbolic interaction. In P. Burke (Ed.), Contemporary Social Psychological Theories (pp. 1 23). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. influence of parenting strategies on their leisure behavior. Leisure Sciences, 24, 161 179. Patton, M. (2002). Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Philips, S. (1998). Race and gender differences in adolescent peer group approval of leisure activities. Journal of Leisure Research, 30 (2), 214 232. Powell, L., Slater, S., Chatoupka, F., & Harper, D. (2006 ). Availability of physical activity related facilities and neighborhood demographic and socioeconomic characteristic: A national study. American Journal of Public Health, 96(9), 1676 1680. Rao, V. & Overman, S. (1984). Sex role perceptions among black fe male athletes and nonathletes. Sex Roles 11 (7/8), 601 614. Roberts, D. (2005). Recreating experiences: Improving the validity of data. Evaluation Journal of Australasia 4(1/2), 44 51. Robertson Wilson, J., Lvesque, L., & Holde n, R. (2007). Development of a q uestionnaire assessing school physical activity e nvironment. Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science 11 (2), 93 107. Snelgrove R & Havitz, M. (2010). Looking back in time: The pitfalls and potential of retrospective m ethods in l ei sure s tudies Leisure Sciences: An Interdisciplinary Journal 32 (4), 337 351.

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66 Snyder, A. R., Martinez, J. C., Bay, R., Parsons, J. T., Sauers, E. L., & Valovic h McLeod, T. C. (2010). Health r elated q uality of life d iffers between a dolescent a thletes and a dolescent n on athletes. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation 19 (3), 237 248. Tajfel, H. (1974). Social identity and intergroup behavior. Social Science Information 13 (2), 65 93. Taliaferro, L. A., Rienzo, B. A., & Donova n, K. A. (2010). Relationships b etw een y outh s port p articipation and s elected h ealth risk behaviors f rom 1999 to 2007. Journal of School Health, 80 (8), 399 410. Taliaferro, L. A., Rienzo, B. A., Miller, M. D.,Pigg, M., & Dodd, V. J. (2008). High school youth and suicide risk: Exploring pro tection afforded through physical activity and sport participation. Journal of School Health. 78 ( 10), 546 553. Thompson, A., Rehman, L., & Humbert, L. (2005). Factors influencing the p hysically a ctive leisure of c hildren and youth: A q ualitative s tudy. Le isure Sciences 27 (5), 421 438. Tracy, A., & Erkut, S. (2002). Gender and race patterns in the pathways from sports participation to self esteem. Sociological Perspectives 45 (4), 445 466. rty Rate http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/income_wealth/cb08 129.html Videon, T. (2002). Who plays and who benefits: Gender, interscholastic athletics, and academic outcomes. Sociological Perspectives 45 (4) 415 444. withdrawal for sport: Identifyin g the missing links. Pediatric Exercise Science 1 195 211. Wilson, D., Kirtland, K., Ainsworth, B., & Addy, C. (2004). Socioeconomic status and perceptions of access and safety for physical activity. Annals of Behavioral Medicine 28 ( 1), 20 28.

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67 BIOGR APHICAL SKETCH Nneka attended the University of Georgia where she received a Bachelor of Science in sport management in 2009. She served as a teaching assistant at the University of Florida.