Sae-Mi Lee

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences


Sport and Exercise Psychology

Committee Chair

Edward F Etzel

Committee Co-Chair

Malayna B Bernstein

Committee Member

Brian T Gearity

Committee Member

Clayton R Kuklick

Committee Member

Samuel J Zizzi


Despite growing research on racial microaggressions as a subtle but prevalent form of racial discrimination, research on microaggressions in sport and their effects on the psychosocial wellbeing of athletes is scarce. Moreover, some researchers question the legitimacy of microaggressions due to their subtle nature and the inconsistency among individuals in how microaggressions are experienced (Lilienfeld, 2017). The purpose of this study was to examine U.S. collegiate student-athletes-of-colors' experiences with racial microaggressions in sport through a new theoretical lens, Foucauldian poststructuralist theory. I theorized microaggressions as an example of the daily panoptic gaze that leads to self-surveillance and the production of normalized individuals (Foucault, 1995). Each of the eight student-athletes-of-color participated in two interviews: a two-person focus group interview followed by an individual interview. The interviews were first analyzed deductively using Sue's (2010) typology of microaggressions. A Foucauldian discourse analysis (Willig, 2013) was also conducted to identify the discourses that student-athletes-of-color drew upon to make sense of their microaggression experiences. The various racial microaggressions shared by the participants clearly illustrated how student-athletes-of-colors' experiences and subjectivities were racialized. However, the discourses they drew upon constituted how they made sense of their microaggression experiences. Within sport, the sport transcends race discourse was widely circulated and legitimized through various sporting practices. Within this discursive context, athletes were limited in their ability to perceive and acknowledge race and racial microaggressions. The results of this study shed light on how racial microaggressions manifest in the lives of student-athletes and how the discourses and practices that we take for granted constitute their racial subjectivities.