Date of Award

8-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Exercise and Sport Sciences

Major Professor

Joy T. DeSensi

Committee Members

Leslee A. Fisher, Diana Moyer, Gi-Yong Koo

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of Korean players on the LPGA Tour regarding issues of social justice. More specifically, this study examined how Korean players perceived their experiences of race and gender during their athletic careers in the U. S.

The participants of the study were 11 Korean professional golfers who were enrolled as members of the LPGA in 2007. The qualitative methodology of interviewing was employed which consisted of semi-structured questions within cultural studies and feminist standpoint theory. Six semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted: three group and three individual interviews. After data collection was completed, the data was analyzed using inductive analysis method to create themes.

Consequently, this study discovered that the Korean players on the LPGA Tour had negative experiences toward the treatment they received during their careers in the U.S. In regards to the experiences related to their race, Korean players believed that racial discrimination existed in the LPGA Tour. They thought that they were singled-out, and it was easy that one Korean player‟s fault became generalized as all Korean players‟ problem. In addition, Media (e.g., Golf Channel) and the LPGA were indifferent to Korean players in terms of displaying Korean players on television and at the LPGA website. Above all, Korean players were silent to the perceived racial discrimination due to their lack of fluency in English.

Regarding the experiences related to their gender, it was revealed that, as a social institution, the LPGA had played a significant role in producing traditional gender ideologies, by emphasizing female golfers‟ femininity. In addition, as a majority of the society, white male caddies as well as male Pro-Am players sexually harassed Korean players either verbally or physically. Most importantly, sexual harassment occurring to Korean players on the LPGA Tour could be considered sexual racism due to its nature that a majority group of people (white male caddies) of the society discriminated against minority women from an Asian country.

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