Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID 0000-0001-7707-2051

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Sports Management

Major Professor

Robin Hardin

Committee Members

Steven Waller, James Bemiller, Mitsunori Misawa, Steven Hoffman


Social work in sport is a growing subspecialty of social work practice. However, there is limited research on the training of social work students to work in a sport setting. As field education is considered the signature pedagogy of social work education, more insights are needed on social work field internships in sport organizations. To fill this gap in the literature, the purpose of this narrative inquiry was to understand social work field staff's narratives of their experiences establishing sport-specific field placements through their lived stories. The study was guided by three research questions: (1) What narratives do social work field staff have about the process of establishing field placements in sport settings?; (2) How do social work field staff negotiate power when establishing field placements in sport settings?; and (3) What strategies do social work field staff use to establish field placements in sport settings? Narrative interviews were conducted with eight social work field staff from six different universities across the United States. From a Labovian and narrative thematic analysis, four themes were constructed: (a) impact of sport culture and organizational context; (b) building social capital through relationships; (c) deconstructing misconceptions; and (d) operational negotiations. Findings can offer insights to both social work and sport management stakeholders into building long-lasting social work field partnerships. Further, the interpretation of the participants’ narratives through program planning theories can aid practitioners in contextualizing the complexities of planning internship partnerships between two professions that do not typically work together, such as social work and sport.

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