Participation Versus Performance: A Critical Appraisal of (dis)Ability, Gender and Cultural Diversity in Junior-Age Sport

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Ramon SPAAIJ, Victoria University, Australia
Ruth JEANES, Monash University, Australia
Karen FARQUHARSON, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
Sean GORMAN, Curtin University, Australia
Dean LUSHER, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
Junior-age sport is an important site where children and young people learn about social norms and develop attitudes toward people with diverse backgrounds and abilities. It thus presents a space where social inequalities can be reproduced, reinforced or challenged. How diversity is experienced and managed in junior sport can affect how participants are socialised to understand and respond to diversity throughout their lives. This paper discusses the findings of a three-year mixed methods research project that critically examined how diversity is understood, experienced and managed in junior sports clubs in Australia, and to what extent including people with diverse backgrounds and abilities is deemed compatible with promoting sporting excellence and competitiveness. The findings show that intersectional understandings of and approaches to diversity are virtually non-existent in junior sports clubs. Moreover, the research reveals a persistent tension between the promotion of diversity and inclusion on the one hand, and the focus on performance on the other hand, in ways that tend to reproduce social inequalities in junior sport.