Complicating the Phenomenological Conversation of Basketball as an En-gendered Life Course
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This hermeneutic phenomenological study explores the lived experience of basketball in the lives of collegiate women who claim to be scholar-athletes. The scholar-athletes were invited to unpack their scholastic and athletic life stories, not just as a mode of relevance for communicating with others, but more significantly, as a way of transacting what is embedded within their memories via the written narrative form. Through the corporeal, temporal, spatial, and relational moments in basketball the meaning of the lived experience is illuminated. The question that compels my study is: What is the lived experience of basketball in the lives of collegiate women who claim to be scholar-athletes? The philosophic works of Heidegger, Gadamer, and Merleau-Ponty provide the foundation for this lived experience study. The "grounding" that each of these philosophers impart is used to penetrate the hermeneutic nature of basketball as "play" via autobiographical application. Furthermore, van Manen's phenomenological process provides a platform of engagement and writing through the reflective practice of Pinar's <italic>currere</italic> method as a mode for slowing down the lived experience of play. A group of eight former women basketball players who identified themselves as scholar-athletes were the participants in this study through a 15-week course entitled EDPS 488B: <italic>Complicating the Conversation of Basketball as a Life Course</italic>. By analyzing their lived accounts of basketball through a variety of literary means, each scholar-athlete was able to gradually build her own autobiographical written narrative of basketball in relation to the social, political, and intellectual contexts of curriculum as lived. In this process, I develop a philosophical approach to examining the significance of sport though a revalidation of seasoned becoming, a transformation of athletic feat into scholarly thought, a deliberation of unrehearsed narrative, and a recognition of never-ending sanctity. Setting a scholarly life course into athletic motion suggests themes encompassing the challenge of bringing the body and mind into an even playing field, the return to a moment when identities were merely playful and time simply stood still, the value of the sporting space on the athlete's sense of community development, and the enlightenment of the self through the other via the discipline of heart and mind. Drawing from the insights I gained from my participants, I suggest that the praxis of sports as a life course is reliant upon curricular transformation and not the isolation of academics from athletics. The notion of irrelevance has trapped our mindset into the anxiety of wanting to be accepted. For scholar-athletes and a multitude of other hyphenated forms of human existence, anxiety hovers over an ever-changing becoming, almost fooling the being out of existence and into an artificial realm of acceptance. Scholar-athletes can serve as powerful role models within society, and hence, their lived experience is consistently challenged by their actions. The <italic>currere</italic> process not only tells the scholarly story of athletic lives, but it allows others in the broader community to engage in the practice of complicated conversations from a variety of perspectives, both within and beyond the boundaries of the sporting space.