Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

An Investigation of Constraints Restricting Urban Nigerian Women from Participating in Recreational Sport Activities

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

An Investigation of Constraints Restricting Urban Nigerian Women from Participating in Recreational Sport Activities

Article excerpt


In most rural regions in Africa, the edification of young women is mainly focused on being an obedient wife and a good mother (Silberschmidt, 2001). Women and girls are socioculturally expected to exemplify feminine behaviors, obey male dominance, and embrace a genuine ethic of care for their family (Tamale, 2005). For instance, in the Baganda tribe of Uganda, Ssenga women train young Ugandan women and girls on how to embody appropriate feminine behaviors. The Ssenga etiquette for girls is to learn the proper manners of how to sit, walk, and conduct herself in the presence of males, as well as to respect elders and take care of the family (Tamale, 2005). Females do all kinds of work, whether housework or professional responsibilities, and they have "little time to relax, recuperate, and be selfish" or participate in leisure activities, such as recreational sports (Deem, 1987, p. 424).

In conjunction with patriarchal ideologies, the development of women's recreational sport in most developing regions of Africa seems to be of low priority because of issues relating to literacy, famine, health care, domestic abuse, genital circumcisions, and local and national security (Summerfield, 2000). Further crises such as high unemployment, war, refugees, structural adjustment programs, and HIV/AIDS have likewise stunted the growth and development of women's involvement in recreational sport activities (RSAs) (Elbe, 2006).

Recreational sport activities (RSAs) are leisure activities that combine both sport and recreation. These activities fall under the rubric of play (Chalip, Schwab, & Dustin, 2010); and do not have to be competitive or require particular equipment or rules (Mobily, 1989; Parks & Quartermain, 2003). Recreational sport activities are typically conducted during leisure time and are an unstructured means of entertainment (Sivan & Stebbins, 2011). People participate in RSAs for a number of reasons, and one being for the purpose of leisure (Shaw, 1986). RSAs have important benefits, and a number of studies (e.g., Frisby, Reid, & Ponic, 2007; Godbey & Mowen, 2010) have examined the positive outcomes of the physical activity component of recreational sport. These studies have reported that physical activity enhances circulatory health, provides mental clarity, promotes successful aging, and promote social interaction. Despite these noted benefits, for some women, leisure is limited to passive relaxation (Henderson & Bialeschki, 1993).

Extant Nigerian research studies (e.g., Akindutire, 1992; Ojeme, 1989) have examined constraints to men's recreational sport participation but have yet to investigate Nigerian women's recreational sport constraints or facilitators. As a result, an exposition of how Nigeria affords men recreational sport opportunities, but limits women, is missing from the literature. Hence, the purpose of this study is to highlight the experiences of Nigerian women and their recreational sport constraints, as well as examine tactics used to facilitate participation. In this investigation we employ leisure constraint theories (Crawford & Godbey, 1987; Crawford, Jackson, & Godbey, 1991; Jackson et al., 1993; Hubbard & Mannell, 2001) to provide (a) an understanding of the recreational sport patterns of Nigerian women, (b) to identify constraints that restrict Nigerian women from participating in recreational sport activities, and (c) to identify constraint negotiation strategies Nigerian women employ so as to participate in recreational sport activities.

Literature Review

Leisure Constraint Theory

Constraints inhibit people's involvement in their desired activities (Crawford & Godbey, 1987; Crawford et al., 1991). Crawford and Godbey (1987) categorized leisure constraints as structural, interpersonal, or intrapersonal constraints. Structural constraints are external factors, such as insufficient financial resources, inclement weather, lack of time due to work, lack of access and opportunity, and inadequate machinery or facilities that intervene between leisure preferences and participation (Crawford & Godbey, 1987; Jun, Kyle & O'Leary, 2006). …

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