Identity and body-related sport experiences of racialized young women athletes in Canada


Research on ethnicity, race, and sport are often divided by gender, with racism primarily studied as a factor affecting men athletes, while studies on women athletes focus predominantly on barriers that culture and religion place on sport participation. An inclusive and meaningful approach to research is necessary when studying racialized groups because ethnicity and race are integral to understandings of identity, diversity, discrimination, and overall experiences in sport (Adair & Rowe, 2010). The purpose of this qualitative description study was to explore the identities and body-related sport experiences of racialized young women athletes in Canada. Eight racialized young women athletes (Mage = 16.63 years, SD = 1.19), engaged in semi-structured one-on-one interviews. A thematic analysis was conducted, and four themes were generated to describe the athletes' identities and body-related sport experiences: (a) Who am I? (i.e., racialized young women athletes' identity in sport); (b) My body, my movements (i.e., emotions related to the body and performance); (c) Challenging societal norms (i.e., expectations and negative stereotyping in sport); and (d) The importance of representation (i.e., diversity and inclusion in sport). The athletes defined their identities in sport irrespective of how they are viewed by others. Competing in a diverse environment, challenges related to being different, and the emotional body experiences of performance were important aspects of being racialized young women athletes. This study identified critical nuances around the quality of sport experiences for racialized young women athletes. Further research is needed to understand the complex experiences of racialized young women athletes.