Rylee Dionigi, PhD, is associate head of the School of Human Movement Studies at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia. She is the author of 2008’s Competing for Life: Older People, Sport and Ageing, the first published research monograph to present extensive empirical qualitative data on the personal and cultural meanings of competitive sports participation in later life. The book offers insights to health promotion experts, sports organisers, and older athletes themselves. Dionigi has also published research on the perceived benefits of resistance training for older adults.
Why did you select a career in movement studies?
I have always enjoyed participating in sport, so now I enjoy trying to make sense of why people compete in sport, from an individual and a sociological perspective!
You wrote 2008’s Competing for Life: Older People, Sport and Ageing, the first published research monograph to present extensive empirical qualitative data on the personal and cultural meanings of competitive sports participation in later life. What has been the response to the book?
Positive. Since the publication of the book, I have been invited to contribute chapters to edited books on sport and ageing (from a sociological, a psychological and a leisure perspective), and I am also receiving more requests to peer review articles on ageing and/or sport or exercise from varying journal editors. I have also spoken on local radio about my book and have been asked to be interviewed in a documentary about older athletes.
What research are you conducting now?
I am involved in a few projects, but the main one that is about to commence, which follows on from my book, is entitled Sport for All: Are the International Masters Games Association (IMGA) Reaching out to Seniors? I am conducting this research in collaboration with Dr. Joseph Baker (York University) and Dr. Sean Horton (University of Windsor).
This project aims to understand the views, practices and experiences of seniors (50 years +) who participate regularly in sport, as well as those who do not. In regard to seniors who do not participate in sport, we aim to determine their awareness of, access to and feelings toward older masters athletes and multi-sports events like the Masters Games. Therefore, the project will determine how effective the IMGA are in achieving their ultimate goal of ’sport for all’, particularly in regard to reaching out to seniors.
This project will produce recommendations that the International Masters Games Association (IMGA), Masters event organisers, seniors’ organisations, health education and policy experts, and government bodies can use to develop effective strategies to promote positive ageing attitudes and increase participation rates in sport and physical activity among seniors.
What has been the most rewarding experience of your career?
Meeting so many interesting and positive people through my research (for example, the people I interview about their experiences and the colleagues I work/write with) and being paid to read, teach and write! My career allows me to enjoy life with my family and friends.