2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture

Rhonda C. George

York University
Graduate Student
Ballin’ all the way to university: Black Canadian female athletes navigating social, educational, and athletic spaces to access post-secondary education

Scholarly research, which is dominated by the narratives of Black male student-athletes, indicates that Canadian Black students often use sports, such as basketball, to negotiate inequitable schooling environments and define athletic success as obtaining U.S. athletic scholarships.  These Black male student-athletes receive more social and economic supports and opportunities at all levels, which boosts athletic performance, but often at the cost of eventual poor social, economic, and educational outcomes.  Obscured from the narrative are the specific and gendered experiences of Black Canadian female student-athletes also engaging with sport in these ways, but with substantially less social and economic supports and opportunities than their male counterparts.  How do they navigate their athletic and academic goals? How do race, class and gender shape their social, educational and athletic experiences? Are they successful or unsuccessful in their objectives and in which ways?
    Using Critical Race Theory as a conceptual frame and drawing on 20 semi-structured interviews with Black Canadian female U.S. athletic scholarship recipients from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), this paper theorizes how these athletes operate within the racialized, gendered and classed context of competitive sport.  My findings explore the specific ways that these women define “making it”, the pathways to American institutions forged by these women, and the informal networks of support that facilitated their athletic and academic successes. I also examine how the pursuit of these U.S. athletic scholarships uncovers a lack of clear pathways to university for Black female students in GTA schools.