Opportunities for Whom?: Reading triathlon inclusivity as neoliberal strategy

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


In triathlon vernacular, the sport is frequently described as gender inclusive and unique because elites and amateurs often compete in the same events. Both narratives tend to reflect the aspirations of triathlon enthusiasts involved in the sport as administrators, officials, and athletes. Advocates of gender equality point to the high regard for elite women athletes and strong track record of female leadership of the sport as evidence of the success of their campaigns, to the participation of individuals from developing countries as evidence of the sport’s inclusivity, and age group Ironman and World Triathlon world championships as a sign of the egalitarian nature of the sport. Yet, in each instance, the sport’s apparent inclusivity can also be understood in terms of neoliberal objectives. Numerous sociologists have paid attention to the relationship between sport and neoliberalism in a variety of contexts. This paper historicizes the proposed relationship between sport and neoliberalism by examining three case studies in the sport of triathlon. It draws on oral history, and triathlon ephemera including event publications, newsletters, and magazines to demonstrate the value placed on participation by women, athletes in developing countries and weekend warriors.
Period27 May 2023
Event titleAnnual Convention of the North American Society for Sport History 2023
Event typeConference
Conference number51st
LocationWashington DC, United States, District of ColumbiaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational