A discursive analysis of children's recreational adult-organized sport : when do children get to play?
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Adult-organized children's sport attracts millions of participants in Canada and the United States each year. Though there is a great deal of research that considers children's sport, little of it focuses on recreational or house league sport and less of it offers a deep examination of children's experience of their participation. Using observations, interviews, and focus groups involving ten participants in mixed-gender recreational basketball, this qualitative research project examined their experiences. With Foucault's concepts of correct training and the panoptic gaze in mind, I used discourse and deconstruction analyses to consider the children's descriptions along with my observations of their basketball experience. I was particularly looking for prevalent discourses on sport, childhood, and gender and how they affected their experiences. Despite the league's discursive emphasis on fun, participation, fairness, and respect, that was not necessarily what the children experienced. While most stated they enjoyed their season many also expressed serious disappointments. Size and particularly skill very much determined who was most involved in the action and thus actually played baskethaW. Gender also played a significant role in their sport experiences. My findings invite questions about what genuine sport participation actually is and how it might be alternatively imagined.