Playing Out of Bounds: "Belonging" and the North American Chinese Invitational Volleyball Tournament
Playing Out of Bounds investigates the North American Chinese Invitational Volleyball Tournament (NACIVT), an annual event that began in the 1930s in the streets of Manhattan and now attracts 1200 competitors from the U.S. and Canada. Its two key features are the 9-man game, where there are nine instead of the usual six volleyball players on the court, and the fact that player eligibility is limited to "100% Chinese" and Asian players, as defined in the tournament rules. These rules that limit competitors to specific ethno-racial groups is justified by the discrimination that Chinese people faced when they were denied access to physical activity spaces, and instead played in the alleyways and streets of Chinatowns.
Drawing on interviews, participant-observation, and analysis of websites and tournament documents, Playing Out of Bounds explores how participants understand and negotiate their sense of belonging within this community of volleyball players and how membership within and the boundaries of this community are continually being (re)defined. This identity/community building occurs within a context of anti-Asian racism, growing numbers of mixed race players, and fluidity of what it means to be Canadian, American, Chinese, and Asian.