Skip to main content

The Experiences of Black Participants in Organized Tennis Leagues

Abstract

Although the leisure research discusses how feelings of being unwelcome dissuade racial and ethnic groups from participating in recreational activities, less attention has been placed on what elements allow a sense of belonging to be developed among minorities. This study examined Black adults’ experiences in recreational tennis leagues. Specifically, the research questions addressed: (1) the elements influencing Black adults’ decision to start and continue playing in tennis leagues, and (2) the role of tennis leagues in creating a sense of belonging for Black players. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with thirteen Black tennis players participating in tennis leagues in Columbia, SC. The data analysis revealed several themes related to the process of joining a tennis league, the benefits of playing in a league, and a sense of belonging. Elements that were crucial in drawing new players and retaining existing players were identified. Findings from this study should assist tennis organizations and professionals in recruiting Black adults to recreational tennis.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Abelmann, N. (2009). The intimate university: Korean American students and the problems of segregation. Duke University Press.

  2. Allison, M. T., & Hibbler, D. K. (2004). Organizational barriers to inclusion: Perspectives from the recreation professional. Leisure Sciences, 26(3), 261–280.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Ashe, A. (1988a). A hard road to glory: A history of the African-American athlete, 1619–1918. Warner Books.

  4. Ashe, A. (1988b). A hard road to glory: A history of the African-American athlete, 1919–1945. Warner Books.

  5. Bailey, M., & McLaren, S. (2005). Physical activity alone and with others as predictors of sense of belonging and mental health in retirees. Aging & Mental Health, 9(1), 82–90.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Baker, A. (2011, November 4). Greenview community celebrates rich history. Columbia Star. Retrieved from http://www.thecolumbiastar.com/news/2011-11-04/Government_|_Neighborhood/Greenview_community_celebrates_rich_history.html.

  7. Baltzell, E. D. (1995). Sporting gentlemen: Men's tennis from the Golden age of amateurism to the cult of the superstar. New York, NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 497.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Bopp, M., Lattimore, D., Wilcox, S., Laken, M., McClorin, L., Swinton, R., et al. (2006). Understanding physical activity participation in members of an African American church: A qualitative study. Health Education Research, 22(6), 815–826.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Creswell, J. W., & Miller, D. L. (2000). Determining validity in qualitative inquiry. Theory Into Practice, 39(3), 124–130.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Djata, S. A. (2006). Blacks at the net: Black achievement in the history of tennis (Vol. 1). Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Donnelly, P., & Young, K. (1988). The construction and confirmation of identity in sport subcultures. Sociology of Sport Journal, 5(3), 223–240.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Douglas, D. D. (2005). Venus, Serena, and the Women’s tennis association: When and where “race” enters. Sociology of Sport Journal, 22(3), 255–281.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Dwyer, J. F., & Gobster, P. H. (1992). Black/white outdoor recreation preferences and participation: Illinois state parks. In Proceedings of the 1991 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium (pp. 20-24).

  15. Eime, R. M., Young, J. A., Harvey, J. T., Charity, M. J., & Payne, W. R. (2013). A systematic review of the psychological and social benefits of participation in sport for adults: Informing development of a conceptual model of health through sport. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 10(1), 135.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Erickson, B., Johnson, C. W., & Kivel, B. D. (2009). Rocky Mountain National Park: History and culture as factors in African-American park visitation. Journal of Leisure Research, 41(4), 529–545.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Falk, J. H. (1995). Factors influencing black American leisure time utilization of museums. Journal of Leisure Research, 27(1), 41–60.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Feuerhahn, N., Sonnentag, S., & Woll, A. (2014). Exercise after work, psychological mediators, and affect: A day-level study. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 23(1), 62–79.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Frey, W. H., & Myers, D. (2012). Segregation: Neighborhood Exposure by Race. Retrieved from http://www.censusscope.org/us/m1760/chart_exposure.html.

  20. Glover, T. D. (2007). Ugly on the diamonds: An examination of white privilege in youth baseball. Leisure Sciences, 29(2), 195–208.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Gobster, P. H., & Delgado, A. (1993). Ethnicity and recreation use in Chicago’s Lincoln Park: In-park user survey findings. Managing Urban and High-use Recreation Settings, 163, 75–81.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Green, B. C. (2005). Building sport programs to optimize athlete recruitment, retention, and transition: Toward a normative theory of sport development. Journal of Sport Management, 19(3), 233–253.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Hagerty, B. M., Lynch-Sauer, J., Patusky, K. L., Bouwsema, M., & Collier, P. (1992). Sense of belonging: A vital mental health concept. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 6(3), 172–177.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Harris, C., & Kyle-DeBose, L. (2007). Charging the net: A history of blacks in tennis from Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe to the Williams sisters. Ivan R Dee.

  25. Haskell, W. L., Lee, I. M., Pate, R. R., Powell, K. E., Blair, S. N., Franklin, B. A., et al. (2007). Physical activity and public health: Updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Circulation, 116(9), 1081.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. James, C. L. R. (2013). Beyond a boundary. Durham: Duke University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  27. Lake, R. J. (Ed.). (2019). Routledge handbook of tennis: History. Culture and Politics: Routledge.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  28. Lawrence, N. (Ed.). (2014). Documenting the black experience: Essays on African American history, culture and identity in nonfiction films. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Le, Y., & Holmes, N. C. (2012). Barriers to a backyard National Park: Case study of African American communities in Columbia, SC. Journal of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research, 7(1).

  30. Legg, E., Wells, M., Newland, A., & Tanner, P. (2017). Exploring sense of community in adult recreational tennis. World Leisure Journal, 59(1), 39–53.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. McCammack, B. (2017). Landscapes of Hope: Nature and the great migration in Chicago. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  32. McLaren, S., & Challis, C. (2009). Resilience among men farmers: The protective roles of social support and sense of belonging in the depression-suicidal ideation relation. Death Studies, 33(3), 262–276.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Moore, J. H. (1993). Columbia and Richland County: A South Carolina community, 1740–1990. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Philipp, S. F. (1999). Are we welcome? African American racial acceptance in leisure activities and the importance given to children's leisure. Journal of Leisure Research, 31(4), 385–403.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Robinson, T. T., & Carron, A. V. (1982). Personal and situational factors associated with dropping out versus maintaining participation in competitive sport. Journal of Sport Psychology, 4(4), 364–378.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Seidman, I. (2013). Interviewing as qualitative research: A guide for researchers in education and the social sciences. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Spaaij, R. (2008). Men like us, boys like them: Violence, masculinity, and collective identity in football hooliganism. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 32(4), 369–392.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Spencer, N. E. (2004). Sister act VI: Venus and Serena Williams at Indian Wells: “Sincere fictions” and white racism. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 28(2), 115–135.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. M. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, Inc..

    Google Scholar 

  40. Taylor, D. E. (1989). Blacks and the environment: Toward an explanation of the concern and action gap between blacks and whites. Environment and Behavior, 21(2), 175–205.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. USTA African American Engagement Guide (2017). Retrieved from https://www.usta.com/content/dam/usta/pdfs/20171205_African_American_Engagement_Guide.pdf

  42. Van Sterkenburg, J., & Knoppers, A. (2004). Dominant discourses about race/ethnicity and gender in sport practice and performance. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 39(3), 301–321.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Walseth, K. (2006). Sport and belonging. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 41(3–4), 447–464.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Wann, D. L. (2006). Understanding the positive social psychological benefits of sport team identification: The team identification-social psychological health model. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 10(4), 272–296.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Washburne, R. F. (1978). Black under-participation in wildland recreation: Alternative explanations. Leisure Sciences, 1(2), 175–189.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. West, P. C. (1989). Urban region parks and black minorities: Subculture, marginality, and interracial relations in park use in the Detroit metropolitan area. Leisure Sciences, 11(1), 11–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Wiggins, D. (2004). African Americans in sports. Armonk, N.Y: Sharpe Reference.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Woodard, M. D. (1988). Class, regionality, and leisure among urban black Americans: The post-civil rights era. Journal of Leisure Research, 20(2), 87–105.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. United States Census Bureau (Census) (2012). Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012 Attendance/Participation in Various Leisure Activities: 2008. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2011/compendia/statab/131ed/arts-recreation-travel.html

  50. United States Census Bureau (Census). (2015). Quick facts: Richland County. Race and Hispanic Origin: South Carolina Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/RHI125215/45079,45045,45

  51. United States Census Bureau (Census). (2016). Quickfacts: Columbia City, South Carolina. Income and Poverty. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/columbiacitysouthcarolina/PST045217

  52. Holland, J. W. (2002). Black recreation: A historical perspective. Chicago: Rowman & Littlefield.

  53. Wiese, A. (2005). Places of their own: African American suburbanization in the Twentieth Century. University of Chicago Press.

  54. Cunningham, H. (1980). Leisure in the Industrial Revolution: C. 1780-c. 1880. London: Routledge.

  55. LaDue, T. (2015). History of USTA league – a 35-year success story in adult tennis. Retrieved from https://atombash.com/history-of-usta-league-a-35-year-success-story-in-adult-tennis/

  56. Harrison, L., Jr. (2001) Perceived Physical Ability as a Function of Race and Racial Comparison. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 72 (2):196-200

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Allison, K. R., Dwyer, J. J., Goldenberg, E., & Fein, A. (2005). Male adolescents’ reasons for participating in physical activity, barriers to participation, and suggestions for increasing participation. Adolescence, 40(157), 155.

  58. Jee-Lyn García, J., & Sharif, M. Z. (2015). Black lives matter: A commentary on racism and public health. American Journal of Public Health, 105(8), e27-e30.

  59. Tignor, S. (2016). American Dream. Retrieved from http://www.americantennisassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/ATA.pdf

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to James P. Gremillion.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Gremillion, J.P., Fernandez, M., Ramshaw, G. et al. The Experiences of Black Participants in Organized Tennis Leagues. Int J Sociol Leis 3, 115–133 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41978-019-00051-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • African Americans
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Sports