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'Sports Stories' Podcast: Belonging in Sport

Why this matters

Lauren Lubin April (they/them), Luke Brenneman (he/him) and Kim Woozy (she/her) discuss how those within sport are reshaping notion of sex, gender and sexuality and open up about the moments in their athletic journeys when sport gave them a sense of belonging, and when it didn't. 

Was there a time when you felt a sense of belonging in sport? On today's episode of 'Sports Stories,' Lauren Lubin April (they/them), Luke Brenneman (he/him) and Kim Woozy (she/her) open up about moments in their athletic journeys when sport gave them a sense of belonging - and when it didn't. They also discuss how those within sport are reshaping notions of sex, gender and sexuality in society.

Lauren Lubin April, the first non-binary athlete to compete in the New York City Marathon, shares how sex, gender and sexuality in sport once played an oppositional role in their lives and even forced them to abandon a career in basketball after they faced overwhelming discrimination and abuse.

Says Lubin April: "I have found it has played the most pivotal role in establishing my entire life's work. It has really become the most powerful gift as part of my athletic journey and has taken me so much farther than my basketball skills ever could have."

For Luke Brenneman, a former Global Sport Institute post-doctoral researcher whose work examines the intersection of fans and community in sport, high school was rough. Experiencing delayed puberty in his teenage years meant that at 16, the hormones in his body had not yet developed beyond the age of 11, challenging his own perception of identity and masculinity, especially when it came to competing in sports.

Adds Brenneman: "In high school, sports determines so much more about your life than just what happens on the playing field. They determine who you're friends with, how popular you are, if you can get recruited for scholarships to college to continue playing the sports you love, even what sports you can play."

Growing up in the 1990s, Woozy, community leader and advocate in the skateboarding community, says that although she didn't see a lot of Asian American girls like herself in sport, there was always a space for her to compete and then watching the WNBA form and the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team form, there were more role models who showed her what the possibilities could be through sport.

"Breaking free of gender stereotypes allowed me to value myself," says Woozy. "As a result of being encouraged to participate and celebrated and having spaces to do that, I was just a happier and healthier kid, teen and adult."

It's through their sport journeys that have led all three to where they are today and to work they each do to create greater inclusion within sport for all athletes.

As Lubin April puts it: "The biggest message that I always want to give to my community is that I know that you exist."

You can also find 'Sports Stories' and the rest of the Global Sport Matters podcast offerings here.

Is there a moment when sport gave you a sense of belonging? Share your story here

Monthly Issue

Beyond the Binary in Sport

The spectra of sex, gender, and sexuality challenge our traditional understanding of sport and competition, but are increasingly central to the conversation around athlete and fan experience.

With legislation and organizing increasing around how these various identities intersect, sport makes a natural landscape for discourse and broadening our knowledge of these conversations. How are perspectives changing, and what can we discover by diving into the multitudes underneath these nuanced topics?