“Model Policies” for Whom?: Cluster Criticism of NCAA Pregnancy and Parental Discourse



Crocker, Jada

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Little, if any, research has been conducted on the topics of parenting and pregnancy in the student-athlete population. However, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has produced a Pregnant and Parenting Student-Athletes Resources and Model Policies manual with the intention of “provid[ing] information and resources to member institutions and their student-athletes to effectively meet the needs of student-athletes dealing with a pregnancy” (Hogshead-Makar & Sorensen, 2008, p. 5). Although the information included in the manual is quite informative, it is also important to note that majority of the discourse is directed towards female student-athletes, even though “male student-athletes are also affected by pregnancy” (p. 8). A close textual analysis via rhetorical cluster criticism (Foss, 1996, 2004) was performed on the NCAA document. The analysis set out to answer the following two questions: 1) In what ways does the recurring discourse reference parenting student-athletes and 2) How does the language used in the NCAA’s Pregnant and Parenting Student-Athletes Resources and Model Policies document refer to male student-athletes. Despite the title of the document suggesting equal focus on pregnancy and parenting resources, an examination of the discourse reveals that the document is pregnancy-centric and focuses little on parenting. Due to a heavy pregnancy focus, the Manual may be interpreted as a document that places greater emphasis on female student-athletes and their related lived experiences. Further, through the analysis of the document’s discourse and visual imagery, the following themes emerged: the secrecy narrative surrounding pregnancy, pregnancy and parenting as sole gender issues, and de-emphasis on parenting.



Rhetorical cluster criticism, Pregnancy and parental discourse, Student-athletes, Pregnancy, Gender, Title IX