SOCIAL AND SEXUAL IDENTITY OF THE WOMEN‟S BASKETBALL TEAM
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Previous research showed that the sporting arena was full of homophobia, stereotypes, marginalisation and discrimination (Griffin, 1992, 1998, 1999; Connell, 1995; Clarke, 1998; Sykes, 1998; Caudwell, 1999; Messner, 1999; Cox and Thompson, 2000; Sparkes, 2002; Russell, 2007; Satore and Cunningham, 2009). However recent research suggests that there are some women who can enjoy being out in the sporting arena and have had positive experiences relating to their sexual identity (Pronger, 2000; Broad, 2001; Ravel and Rail, 2006, 2008; Wellard, 2009; Drury, 2011). This study aimed to explore and understand the experiences and feelings of five players in a women‟s university basketball team, in relation to their sexual identities and how this might have changed over time. The team being studied have created a safe and open space for the performance of different sexual identities. Individual, semi-structured interviews took place with five members of the women‟s basketball team. Two identified as straight, one as gay and the remaining two had ambiguous definitions of their sexuality. They had been with this team between five and ten years so have all seen the team go through change and have varying numbers of gay and straight members. The data was analysed thematically by the researcher which revealed four themes. The first is that sexuality is still not a clear-cut definition for some people. Secondly this team has fostered a unique open, inclusive and accepting environment for players to experiment and explore sexuality without discrimination. This was fostered through the presence of a number of homosexual players, but also through specific relationships between players and coaching staff. However the results also showed that there are still moments of homophobia and struggles with sexual identity and association with this team for every player on the team, regardless of their sexuality. Finally future research for the sporting environment is considered, involving areas such as fluid sexuality and effects of humour in the coaching environment.
- Masters Degrees (Sport) 
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