A season on the Kaw: The role of sport in the lives of American Indian women

Heather I. D. Van Mullem
Dept. of ealth, Sport, and Exercise Sciences, University of Kansas
July, 2005


The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the role of sport in the lives of American Indian female collegiate student-athletes. Members of an All-American Indian university women's collegiate basketball team were observed by the researcher during practices and competitions, both at their home institution and at away games for the 2003-2004 competitive season. The members of the team were the main focus of this study, but interactions with others in the setting, including friends and family, their competitors, and members of the coaching staff were also studied. Through the use of observations, two semi-structured interviews with each participant, and the collection of newspaper accounts chronicling the season, the perceptions of American Indian female student-athletes competing on a collegiate basketball team at an all-American Indian university are told through their words and experiences. Data was analyzed using Grounded theory and reported in a narrative format. The three main themes to emerge from the data were 'for the love of the game,' 'the intersection of race, sex, and class,' and 'family.'