”Shit, I can make it too!”
Gender, Disability and Sporting Bodies

Elisabet Apelmo
Dept. of Sociology, Lund University

The issue of this article is how disability and gender intersect when physically disabled children and youth choose to take long-term part in sports. The data has been derived from participant observations on a sport camp for youth with disabilities, and open-ended interviews with five physically disabled youngster, between 10 and 15 years old, and two table tennis coaches, 19 and 31 years old. The positive effects of sports, which have been established in previous research, are confirmed. However, the normalizing function of physical educational classes seems to depend on the active interest of the teachers, and their knowledge about disability. The autonomy of young people with disability is discussed. The question whether autonomy is at all desirable is posed. The positive social spirit within the sport for disabled is taken up, as well as its influence on the dominating sporting and masculine discourse. Finally the internalized negative expectations of the physical ability of the disabled is dealt with, and the capacity of sports to change these.

Copyright © Elisabet Apelmo 2007.