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The I in TeamSports Fandom and the Reproduction of Identity$
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Erin C. Tarver

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226469935

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226470276.001.0001

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Women on the Margins of Sports Fandom

Women on the Margins of Sports Fandom

(p.171) 7 Women on the Margins of Sports Fandom
The I in Team

Erin C. Tarver

University of Chicago Press

This chapter turns to sports fan practices that decenter masculinity to argue that sports fandom need not always reinforce existing social hierarchies. Women’s fan practices—both as fans of mainstream men’s sports, and as fans of women’s sports—show that sports culture is not exclusively the domain of men and complicate our understanding of the gendering and racializing effects of sports fandom in the contemporary United States. Some forms of women’s sports fandom work to destabilize rigid gender, racial, and sexual norms by undercutting the “homosociality” of sport and valorizing the very forms of subjectivity that are typically excluded from or denigrated by mainstream sports culture. Drawing on the work of Iris Young, this chapter examines two primary cases of women’s sports fandom, the LeBron James Grandmothers Fan Club, and lesbian fans of the WNBA, and argues that sports fandom may in some circumstances be instrumental in the production of subjects and communities that reject gender, racial, and sexual oppression. Women’s sports fandom may not be ‘typical,’ but this is precisely the point. Women fans and fans of women’s sports do fandom in ways that give us reason to hope that for sports fans, all may not yet be lost.

Keywords:   women athletes, Iris Marion Young, femininity, black femininity, women sports fans, homosociality, LeBron James, homophobia, women's basketball, queer women

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