Title page for ETD etd-10242012-131234

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Slattery, Claudia Carla Olga
Email claudia@cnccoaching.co.za
URN etd-10242012-131234
Document Title Termination of sporting careers among South African sportswomen
Degree Master of Arts
Department Biokinetics, Sport and Leisure Sciences
Advisor Name Title
Prof B J M Steyn Supervisor
  • elite sportswomen
  • the media
  • gender stereotyping
  • terminate sporting careers
Date 2012-04-11
Availability unrestricted
Sport can have a profoundly positive impact on the world. It can unite diversity, extracts youthful communities from poverty and inject flaking nations with relentless spirit. Sport transcends barriers and mends people with tumultuous personal histories. Within this context, we examine the ability that sport has to direct the lives of women from an early age. Effectively operating beyond the limitations of a classroom, sport can teach essential life lessons. Women who compete in sport from a young age have the opportunity to actualise their innate potential, develop their intelligence, grow in confidence, fine-tune leadership skills and establish a sense of presence.

The aim of this investigation was four fold: (1) to explore the reasons why women who compete at an intense level in sport terminate their careers prior to reaching their full potential. (2) To identify the essential factors that impact heavily on women in sport: stereotypes, the media, teaching methods, and other factors identified during the research. (3) To establish the similarities and/or differences between women who have terminated their careers and women who still compete at intense level, and (4) to identify coping strategies that may assist women to overcome the obstacles and persevere in their sporting careers.

A qualitative approach was adopted: 64 women filled out the questionnaires. They had all competed in first teams at provincial, national or international levels. Some had terminated their sporting careers; others were still competing. Through analysis of data, women in this study terminated sport participation because of decreased motivation and interest in sport, coach dynamics, academic pressure, development of injury and politics in the administration of sport. The latter may be unique to South Africa following the demand for sport to be more representative of all population groups.

This study endeavoured to identify eco-factors that would possibly appear to play a key role in whether women continue in or terminate their sporting careers. Men’s sports dominate the media in South Africa. There seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of coverage given to sportswomen and the number of women actively competing in sport. The media is an incredibly powerful tool and has the “potential to create and achieve an environment that promotes and supports the principles of equity.” (Goslin, 2008: 300) Until the media makes a concerted effort to modify the imbalance, not much will change for women in the sporting world. Stereotypes continue to prevail. Society and media conform to portraits of women as mother, wife, sex symbol or career seeker. One of few sports brands to reverse this affliction is Nike: “Somebody will give her a doll. And somebody will give her a ball. And then somebody will give her a chance" (Nike "There is a Girl in America”, 1996). The advertisement was never released in South Africa.

The media, however, can only be responsible for so much. Ultimately, parents have to take responsibility for their child’s upbringing. During this study, differences in parenting styles and how these styles influence the longevity of participation were identified. The issue of how far to push a child to do something she/he does not want to do emerged as a regular theme. Results showed that within the group who were still competing; only 17% had parents who pushed them. Within the group who terminated their careers, 62% of them were driven beyond their will. Perceived peer acceptance was also identified as an influence contributing to the prediction of enjoyment and perceived competence in the sporting arena. Our coaches, their coaching methods and how they handle contemporary females also proved to have a profound impact on the termination or continuation of sport. Coaches provide encouragement, motivation and preparedness.

There appears to be little published research to substantiate why women continue sport at a tertiary level. From this research, however, it appears that an athlete who has a growth mindset and is focused on task orientation is more likely to continue sport over someone who has a fixed mindset and is more ego-orient.

© 2012 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Slattery CCO 2012, Termination of sporting careers among South African sportswomen , MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-10242012-131234/ >


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