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University of Memphis Department of Sports and Leisure Mgmt. focuses lens on female student-athletes

Athlete or Diva?
Athlete or Diva?
©2010 University of Memphis

It is a rare thing in the world of sports for a deeply intellectual discussion to spring up relating to the blood, sweat and tears of sport. However, as more and more of our society pays really close attention and time to the world of sport, the more we need to understand the ramifications of sport on our culture.

Enter Dr. Sally Ross, assistant professor of sport and leisure management at the University of Memphis. She has conducted research on 52 female student-athletes with the goal of trying to understand the ways those student-athletes want to be photographed and what message they would like to convey with those images. Dr. Ross explained the reasoning behind her mode of study, "I’m especially interested in how sport fits into (and reflects) our culture and the potential for the sport context to encourage positive social change."

What remains to be seen is whether or not the mainstream understands the importance of the subject matter of women athletes. This especially true of men who are less likely to object to over-sexualized images. The 8. February 2010 cover of Sports Illustrated features Lindsey Vonn, an Olympic skier in a simulated skiing pose. There has been much controversy over the Vonn cover exposed in blogs and newspaper articles referring to Lindsey Vonn. The online reactions towards this discussion are indicative of how ill-prepared the mainstream, mostly male audience is to handle an open discussion of this topic.

Dr. Ross will present her presentation on Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 3 p.m. in Clement Hall, Room 409. Sponsored by the U of M’s Center for Research on Women, the event is free and open to the public.