The Sport Nexus and Gender Injustice

Ann Travers


Male-dominated and sex segregated elite professional and amateur sport1 in North America constitutes a "sport nexus" (Burstyn, 1999; Heywood & Dworkin, 2003) that combines economic and cultural influence to reinforce and perpetuate gender injustice. The sport nexus is an androcentric sex-segregated commercially powerful set of institutions that is highly visible and at the same time almost completely taken for granted to the extent that its anti-democratic impetus goes virtually unnoticed. The sport nexus’s hegemonic role in defining sporting norms (Coakley & Donnelly, 2004) means that its role in shaping lower level amateur and recreational sporting institutions and cultures is highly significant. Fraser (2007) defines gender justice, and hence democracy, in terms of "participatory parity," that is, material and cultural equality for women. The sport nexus itself is characterized by highly gendered occupational segregation (Coventry, 2004). It further contributes to gender injustice, homophobia and transphobia by promoting the ideology of the two sex system (Fausto-Sterling, 2000) and gendering citizenship as fundamentally male (Burstyn, 1999). Feminist strategies for sport reformation attempt to reduce or eradicate the role of the sport nexus in legitimating and perpetuating gender injustice. In this article I consider the potential of these strategies and conclude with a set of recommendations for transforming organized sport at both elite and recreational levels.


gender; sport nexus

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Copyright (c) 2014 Ann Travers