Rituals in Australian Women’s Veteran’s Field Hockey

By Chelsea Litchfield and Rylee A. Dionigi.

Published by The Sport Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The emergence of Masters and Veteran’s sports over the last three decades has provided a platform for women to participate in sport as they age. Although Masters and Veteran’s sporting events can be highly competitive, these events are typically framed in participatory discourses which emphasise fun and friendship on and off the field. This study examined the experiences of women (aged 45 years and over) competing in a State Veteran’s Hockey tournament in New South Wales, Australia. In-depth interviews and field observations were undertaken at both the hockey fields and the tournament’s championship dinner. Ritual was a key theme to emerge from data analysis. This notion of ritual had two broad and interacting dimensions: recurrence and cultural norms. The tournament itself was a special event that these women planned for and returned to year after year. The championship dinner was a recurring highlight of the tournament that always included a dress-up theme, alcohol consumption and dancing. Other off the field cultural norms included practical jokes, comedic team mascots and uniforms, and ensuring alcohol was available at the grounds. Overall, these rituals in women’s veteran’s hockey allowed for team bonding, social connections, enjoyment and feelings of empowerment that extended beyond just playing the sport. Focusing on the stories and lived experiences of older sportswomen offers alternative meanings of ageing, sport and gender.

Keywords: Alcohol, Cultural Norms, Event, Gender, Sport

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.171-189. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 831.824KB).

Dr. Chelsea Litchfield

Lecturer, School of Human Movement Studies, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia

Chelsea Litchfield is a lecturer with the School of Human Movement Studies at Charles Sturt University. Chelsea teaches in the areas of sport sociology, sports media and sport ethics, and her research interests lie in sport and gender, sport and sexuality and the relationship between sport and media. Chelsea holds a Bachelor of Applied Science - Physical Education (Honours) degree, and a PhD in sport sociology through Victoria University. Her thesis explores the culture of and finding safe and affirming spaces in women's team sports in Melbourne.

Dr. Rylee A. Dionigi

Senior Lecturer, Associate Head of School, School of Human Movement Studies, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, NSW, Australia

Rylee Dionigi is a senior lecturer and associate head of the School of Human Movement Studies at Charles Sturt University, Australia. She has published in the fields of sport sociology, aging and physical activity, exercise psychology and leisure studies. Dr. Dionigi has expertise in qualitative research methods and extensive knowledge on the older athlete. Her book, Competing for life: Older people, sport and ageing (2008), is the first published research monograph to present extensive empirical qualitative data on the personal and cultural meanings of competitive sports participation in later life.