Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Sport and Recreation Administration


Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management

First Advisor

Grace Yan

Second Advisor

Misa Kayama

Third Advisor

Nicholas Watanabe

Relational Format



The National Wheelchair Basketball Association consists of 14 collegiate teams (NCAA, 2013) that are represented at both the NCAA and club sport arenas. Collegiate wheelchair basketball student-athletes have been neglected within the sport discussion due to the sports emergence status in legitimacy with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) standards (Berger, 2004, 2008; Larkin, Cottingham & Pate, 2014; Shogan, 1999), and its perception of being a charity sport, where bodies that have disabilities do not play "natural body" sports (Berger, 2008). By using the collegiate environment to further study wheelchair basketball players, a deeper understanding of identity negotiation of student-athletes in wheelchairs will be added to the sport literature. The research used observation and semi-structured interviews to create an understanding of the identity negotiations of collegiate wheelchair basketball players. Symbolic interactionism served as the theoretical framework for helping to create a deeper understanding of collegiate wheelchair basketball players' identity under the creation of symbols and meanings through social interactions (Blumer, 1965; Burbank & Martins, 2010; Mandler, 1962; Shott, 1979). The attempt of such research was to determine how collegiate wheelchair basketball players negotiate between different aspects of forces found within athletic and academic and environments, as well as their own disabilities. It can be concluded that collegiate wheelchair basketball players at the University of Missouri negotiate between the identity complexities of being a student-athlete in a wheelchair through the lens of struggling for legitimacy within the sport and the organizational environment.



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