Racism and racialization in sport



Place: Norges idrettshøgskole

Formal title

Sport, race and gender: The experiences of black Norwegian athletes


The purpose of this study was to examine how Norwegian black athletes experience racism and exclusion in Norwegian sport.


The project was conducted through the in-depth interviews with 9 female and 8 male Norwegian black athletes in the period be 2007-2009. In addition, I conducted unstructured interviews with 5 sport leaders.


The results from this study indicate that although sport is a potential inclusive arena, racism and marginalization practices in sport are common. Black athletes in this study reported to experience both direct and indirect racial discrimination in sport. These involved both overtly racially loaded violence actions against black athletes such as spectator racism, but also hidden and institutionalized forms of racism such as the stereotypes such the 'naturally talented black athletes' on certain sports or positions. On the other hand, institutionalized racism involved the normalized practices in Norwegian sport that contribute to the marginalization of the black individuals in sports. This was expressed to be reflected by the underrepresentation of black minority athletes in the higer level (A) teams, in leadership and managerial positions even in sports or clubs where participation rate of racial minorities proved to be high.

The study also revealed that, it was not common for black female athletes to experience direct racist discrimination in sport. However, this does not mean that black female athletes are less likely to be discriminated against given their race. The study's findings rather showed that, it was more complex for female athletes to pinpoint the everyday exclusion experiences as racist because they were more hidden and mainly institutionalized. This is due to the fact that, most of the time racism in sport was mainly referred to as the violent racist acts or spectator racism, where the perpetrators and the victims were mainly males. This way of defining racism underestimate the everyday non-violent racialized practices such as racially related stereotypes, that assign different expectations for different groups of athletes within minority groups. More about the results from this study can be read in the following publications. 

 1.         The International Review of Sociology of Sport Journal and can be traced via the following link: http://irs.sagepub.com/content/45/2/147.short

2.         European Journal for Sport and Society  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/16138171.2014.11687971

Two more articles are under review.

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