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Challenging the Gender Binary? Male Basketball Practice Players’ Views of Female Athletes and Women’s Sports

Kane’s ‘sport as a continuum’ theory posits many women can outperform many men in a variety of athletic endeavors. However, because sports are typically sex-segregated, this athletic continuum is rarely seen but provides a potentially powerful mechanism of transformation relative to views of female athletes and women’s sport. In women’s intercollegiate basketball, it is common for teams to practice against a male scout team. We used Kane’s continuum theory to examine the effects of integrated playing experiences on male practice players’ attitudes towards female athletes and women’s sports. Data from interviews revealed divergent first-order themes (‘Acknowledgement of the Sport Continuum’ and ‘Maintenance of Traditional Gender Stereotypes’) and several related second-order themes. The divergent themes reflect the complexity of gender relations in sport as the men simultaneously experienced and articulated a gender continuum while reinforcing a gender binary, which kept their own power and privilege in sport intact.