Date of Award

5-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Kinesiology and Sport Studies

Major Professor

Joy T. DeSensi

Committee Members

Lars Dzikus, Barbara J. Thayer-Bacon, Steven N. Waller

Abstract

Baseball is widely regarded as America’s pastime, in large part because of narratives about it being an egalitarian sport, in which every man can participate. At our current time a chorus of scholars has noted how the sport has become more exclusive to the middle class. For example, Ogden and Rose’s (2005) research cited access and rising costs as barriers to participation for some baseball players. In order to understand what is required to compete at the developmental level in baseball, the current study adopted a qualitative approach which allowed the exploration of the training background of 10 NCAA Division I baseball players at Beaston University (this is a pseudonym used throughout this research). The following research questions guided this study: (a) What is the training background of NCAA Division I baseball players, (b) How do developmental baseball players reflect on exclusivity, privilege, the unequal distribution of resources and meritocracy in baseball, and (c) How do the participants think their training has helped them become players at the intercollegiate level? A semi-structured interview protocol was used to have the participants reflect on their training background at the developmental level in baseball. A thematic analysis of the interview transcripts produced the following themes: (a) baseball is work, but it is still a game, (b) foundation, (c) diverse experiences, and (d) social location. The major finding is that developmental baseball is rife with politics, the unequal distribution of resources and class privilege, but the participants believe that hard work is enough to vault any player to the NCAA Division I level. This study adds knowledge to the fields of sport sociology, sport management and recreation and leisure studies. For sport sociology and sport management, the recommendations from this study can be implemented to make developmental baseball more inclusive. With respect to recreation and leisure studies, the findings from this dissertation demonstrate the salience of constraints and facilitators reported by the participants.

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