Motherhood and Sport : Collective Stories of Identity and Difference book cover
1st Edition

Motherhood and Sport
Collective Stories of Identity and Difference

ISBN 9780367691820
Published August 5, 2022 by Routledge
226 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Although sport participation decreases on average for women once they become mothers, female athletes from the recreational, to the competitive, to the elite level have demonstrated that motherhood does not signal the end of sport engagement and athletic identities, or career and leadership roles. This is the first book to offer an in-depth examination of the nexus of women, sport and culture within the context of motherhood, uncovering new narratives that raise the profile of non-conformist performances.

The book brings together international researchers using innovative and rigorous qualitative methods to show how sport affords or constrains women’s agency to devise, negotiate and live alternative versions of motherhood in and through sport. Presenting stories of sporting mothers in contexts including martial arts, leisure swimming, recreational running, triathlon and climbing, the book explores the shifting meaning and practices of motherhood across social, cultural and media/digital landscapes.

Deliberately challenging taken-for-granted ways of thinking about motherhood and sport, this book is fascinating reading for anybody with an interest in the socio-cultural study of sport, gender and sport, women’s studies, sport coaching, sport leadership, sport development, or qualitative and digital research methods.

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables

List of contributors

Foreword – Lisette Burrows


1: Introduction: Contextualising motherhood and sport

Lucy Spowart and Kerry R. McGannon

Part I: Critical approaches to data analysis

2. Phenomenological insights on motherhood and aquatic embodiment

Adam Evans and Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson

3. ‘Is training with your children a double-edged sword?’: Motherhood and martial arts

Sarah Leberman and Jane Hurst

4. Non-motherhood and motherhood in sport: Entangled relations of care

Wendy O’Brien and Adele Pavlidis

5. Uncovering stories of motherhood and coaching with story completion

Sharon Boswell and Francesca Cavallerio

6. Materializing risk in the pregnant athlete: Using material-semiotic tools to examine black-boxed and dis-qualified ‘facts’ in the IOC evidence summaries

Shannon Jette

Part II: Mediation, technology and digital methods

7. Searching, surfing and seeking Paralympian mothers in social media spaces

Andrea Bundon

8. Beyond linear understandings of mothers’ sporting bodies: Digital self-tracking and spacetimemattering

Marianne Clark and Holly Thorpe

9. Using social media to explore elite athlete mothers and sponsorship: The potential of big data

Ann Pegoraro and Heather Kennedy

Part III: Creative analytical approaches

10. Pushing to the limits: A collaborative autoethnography of motherhood, disability, ambition and risk

Lucy Spowart and Sarah Pearson

11. Mothers at the wall: Using creative nonfiction techniques to explore climbing and motherhood

Emily Coates and Ben Clayton

12. Getting back on the track: An ethnodrama of an elite mother runner’s journey

Kerry R. McGannon

13. Navigating legacies of athlete abuse in motherhood: Creative analytical practices as a tool for uncovering post-sport embodiment and practices

Jenny McMahon

Part IV: Future directions

14. Future directions for research into sport and motherhood

Kerry R. McGannon and Lucy Spowart


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Lucy Spowart is Professor of Educational Enhancement at the University of Plymouth’s Peninsula Medical School, UK. As a competitive age-group athlete, Lucy became particularly interested in the intersection of sport and motherhood. Lucy combines her university career with a part-time profession as an endurance sports coach. She is a Level 3 triathlon coach and has supported mother-athletes at all levels, including in the build up to the European and World Paratriathlon Games. Her current research on university staff experiences of returning to work following maternity leave maintains her ongoing interest in motherhood. Lucy is a member of the Expert Advisory Group on Fellowships and Accreditation for Advance HE and Associate Editor of the journal Higher Education Research and Development.

Kerry R. McGannon is a Professor at Laurentian University, Canada. Professor McGannon’s research program has advanced critical qualitative methodologies to understand sport and physical activity behaviour. Specific streams of this work explore the socio-cultural influences on self-identity and critical interpretations of sport, physical activity and the psychological implications. Professor McGannon also studies the media as a cultural site of identity construction within the context of sport, physical activity participation and health. Within this research program, she has advanced understanding of motherhood, identity and sport participation across multiple levels of sport using qualitative methods and methodologies. She is Co-Editor of the journal Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, Associate Editor of the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology and Psychology of Sport and Exercise.