Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Leslee A. Fisher

Committee Members

Rebecca A. Zakrajsek, Lars Dzikus


Anshel (1990) examined the feelings and perceptions of African American intercollegiate football players about racial issues and the implications they had for the field of sport psychology. However, the experiences of African American female athletes have not been explored. Therefore, the main purpose of this study was to examine how African American Division I female athletes experience racism. A second purpose of this thesis was to assist coaches and sport psychology consultants in understanding African American Division I female athletes so they can help them reach their full personal and performance potential. A semi-structured interview guide was developed using a modified version of Gilligan’s (1989) Moral Conflict and Choice Interview. Data analysis of seven participant interviews revealed four major themes regarding experiences of racism and whether or not these athletes decided to utilize their voice: (a) “speaking out” depends on the relationship; (b) being the “only one” in multiple life domains; (c) stereotypes and racist assumptions; and (d) Speaking up could reinforce stereotypes. It appeared that African American Division I female athletes wrestled with racism both in and out of sport. In addition, the racism they faced came in many forms; it was verbal and nonverbal, overt and covert. Not only did they report struggling with general stress, they also struggled with stress that came from racism within sport competition. It is imperative for sport psychology consultants to understand how racism affects African American female athletes at this level. Also, suggestions are given for Sport Psychology consultants who interact with African American female athletes.

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