Negotiating gender in professional soccer: an analysis of female footballers in the United States
Journal article, Peer reviewed
MetadataShow full item record
- Artikler / Articles 
Original versionChoregia. 2014, 10, 5-27
Youth soccer is thriving in the United States but the country's professional soccer leagues over the past couple decades have had mixed results in terms of commercial viability with some leagues surviving (e.g., MLS) and others ceasing (e.g., WUSA). While scholars and practitioners may offer explanations regarding the reasons for the specific challenges facing women's professional soccer leagues, the present study looked at this subject by examining one group of stakeholders - female elite athletes - and the players’ perceptions of gender in the USA professional soccer program. The findings of this qualitative analysis were concentrated into three interconnected themes. The first theme involved the participants' perceptions of role models and their socialization as soccer players. Media images and the invisibility of the female athlete formed the second theme. The third theme was the sexualization of elite female bodies and transgressions of compulsory heterosexuality boundaries. The analysis of the interviews revealed an interesting paradox of elite female athletes using gender to understand sports. The interviewed athletes used stereotypical notions of masculinity to increase their legitimacy as elite athletes, while at the same time devaluing the abilities of female coaches by using stereotypical notions of femininity. In addition to discussing the empirical results and interconnected themes, the implications of the findings are also detailed.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0).