Tag Archive for ability

“I bow down in awe of them…”: Sports awards for Paralympic athletes and Olympic athletes

by Marte Bentzen & Kristin Vindhol Evensen

Vol. 12 2021, pages 59–84
Published April 19, 2021


Paralympic athletes receive less media attention than Olympic athletes. Further, Olympic athletes are honoured for athletic achievements, whereas Paralympic athletes have been described as victims, suffering or heroic. Following researchers who have approached normativity and compulsory able-bodiedness in the light of hegemony and sub-hegemony, the current study explores whether sports media are sluggish when presenting athletes with disabilities, or if the picture is a more nuanced one. The context studied was the Norwegian Sports Awards (2001–2018). All introductions to the awards of the following categories were transcribed: Best male athlete, best female athlete, best Paralympian (2002–2012)/best male Paralympian and best female Paralympian (2013–2018). A six-step reflexive inductive thematic analysis was used to analyse the data (Braun & Clarke, 2019). The results indicated that the introduction of elite athletes with disabilities had some prominent hallmarks. Athletes with disabilities (‘they’) are different from those living without disabilities (‘us’). Athletes with disabilities are inspiring. Achievements of athletes with disabilities are placed in the shade, while disabilities are placed to the fore. An overall hegemony shows when best male and best female athlete are introduced: Female athletes are, to a large degree, described as developing and joked about in sexual manners, whereas male athletes are world-leading. This study provides the opportunity to learn from examples that balance the recognition of elite athletes with disabilities experiencing challenges in daily living with recognition of their athletic achievements. Thus, we suggest that this study adds nuance to the previous research within this context.

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About the Authors

MARTE BENTZEN is an Associate Professor at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences (NIH), Department of Teacher Education and Outdoor studies. She lectures in Sport and Health Psychology and Adapted Physical Activity. She currently heads the Adapted Physical Activity program at NIH, where her research and teaching focus on the facilitation of activities related to adapted physical activity and health psychology. Other common features in Bentzen’s research have been how contextual characteristics influence individuals’ motivation and endeavours in contexts likes school, sport, work, psychiatric treatment, and rehabilitation.

KRISTIN VINDHOL EVENSEN is an Associate Professor at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Department of Teacher Education and Outdoor studies. Her professional background is within kindergarten pedagogy and special needs education where she has specialized in intellectual disabilities. She lectures in Adapted Physical Activity and in PE teacher education. In research, Evensen has investigated subjective embodied experiences of children with severe, multiple disabilities. She has also described how recognition of the expressive body in movement can be a means when securing human rights also for persons with severe intellectual disabilities. Evensen’s work has been conducted within a phenomenological perspective as well as in a social understanding of how hierarchies emerge.

Student-athletes’ beliefs about athletic ability: A longitudinal and mixed method gender study

by Joakim Ingrell, Marie Larneby, Urban Johnson
& Susanna Hedenborg

Vol. 10 2019, pages 117–138
Published June 10, 2019


The overall aim of this paper is to study and discuss student-athletes’ beliefs about athletic ability. Specifically, the aim is to analyze and problematize athletic ability longitudinally and with a gender perspective as it is perceived, discussed, and valued by student-athletes. A three-year and six-wave study was conducted on 78 student-athletes (30 females and 48 males; Mage at T1 = 12.7, SD = 0.44) attending a compulsory school with a sport profile. Additionally, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 27 of the student-athletes (16 female and 11 male) during their second and third school year. Based on a parallel mixed-data analysis with cross-talks and meta-inferences, the two main results of this study are as follows: (1) entity beliefs increase and incremental beliefs decrease during the three-year period, and (2) gender add a further understanding of the student-athletes’ beliefs about athletic ability. 

The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for the potential influence of the socialization processes on beliefs of athletic ability, and suggestions for future research are provided.

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About the Authors

JOAKIM INGRELL is currently a PhD student at the department of sport sciences, at Malmö University, Sweden. His main research interests are: motivation, motivational climate, youth sport and competitive sport.

MARIE LARNEBY is currently a PhD student at the department of sport sciences, at Malmö University, Sweden. Larneby’s main research interests are youth sport and physical activity in school and during leisure time. Her ongoing PhD-project has a gender theoretical perspective.

URBAN JOHNSON is a Professor of psychology and sport at the center of research on welfare, health and sport, at Halmstad University, Sweden. He has foremost focused on studying psychosocial risk factors during rehabilitation of long-term injured competitive athletes. Significant keywords in his research are: intervention, prevention, psychosocial risk factors, rehabilitation, coaches and competitive sport.

SUSANNA HEDENBORG is a professor in Sport Science, Malmö University. Hedenborg has an academic background in social and economic history. In her sport research she has focused on childhood and youth studies, gender, and equestrian sports. She is the author of numerous articles and text books in sport science. Hedenborg is affiliated to the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences and president of the Swedish Research Council for Sport Science.