Date of Award

Spring 1997

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Bud B Khleif


This research explores the nature and meaning of collegiate coaching as an occupation for women and the extent to which women coaches accommodate to and resist the dominant sport culture. This study includes a brief historical analysis of the roots of coaching as an occupation for women and the emergence and nature of the "female model" of sport. To further explore the nature and meaning of coaching and the extent of accommodation and resistance to the dominant sport culture, forty-six (46) in-depth interviews were conducted with women collegiate coaches currently employed at an NCAA affiliated institution. A brief survey and field observations were additional sources of data.

The findings of this research indicate that the occupational ideals of women coaches reflect the norms and values of the "female model" of sport, a model which emphasizes collegiate sport as an educational endeavor and the overall growth and welfare of student-athletes, and that their coaching practices reflect these same norms and values. This "female model" approach to coaching is conditioned, in part, by occupational socialization, gender socialization, and the nature and needs of female athletes. Findings further indicate that women both resist and accommodate to the dominant sport culture, a sport culture which reflects the influences of rationalization, capitalism, and patriarchy. Coaches in Division I, II were more likely than those in Division III to accommodate in practice to the dominant sport culture; and "new" coaches were more likely to accommodate than those in the "old" or "established" cohorts.

A cultural studies approach was used to show that in the realm of sport, hegemony is never final; subordinate groups resist dominant meanings and struggle to control their sport experiences. This approach was combined with an adaptation of Bourdieu's structural constructivism to show that while actors actively construct their social worlds, objective social structures condition and constrain practices and meanings. The objective structures of gender and work were shown here to condition and constrain the nature and meaning of coaching, and the nature and extent of women coaches' accommodation and resistance to the dominant sport culture.

In applying these theories to research findings, I conclude that the sub-culture of norms, values, and practices among women coaches functions as a form of collective resistance to the dominant sport culture. Women coaches are, in effect, social carriers of a residual sport form, the "female model" of sport. Their resistance influences the shape of, but does not transform, the dominant sport culture; and reflects the constraints imposed by patriarchy.