|Essay type:||Reflective essays|
|Categories:||Gender Sexes Sport Social issue|
Whether looked at in the overall presentation, it brings on sexuality and a gender-based perspective, sports always bring out a masculine vibe. It almost feels like they embody a wholesome idea of strength, physicality, competition, and winning. So much has this been exemplified in sports that any new game invented has to manifest in such bold and stern masculine features for it to be accepted. Even in an age and an era when the world is fighting hard to have some air of gender equality and a level ground for all genders to be equally accepted, respected, and allowed the opportunity to participate, masculinity still thumps its feet hard and boldly. The more masculine (aggressive, Competitive, and emphasizing brute strength) a game is, the more acceptable it gets to be.
Masculinity has been rooted so deep in sports a demonstration of any less of the expected aggression, zeal to win or competition is termed as being weak. Is it because sports were introduced as a means to enact masculinity in children? Is it because games are dominated by a significant, male population? Or is it that sports are an embodiment of masculinity in themselves? These questions draw lines of interest that push scholars to different opinion points and perspectives on the whole concept of masculinity and sports. How inseparable these two principles are is by far a phenomenon that calls for much thought, study, and analysis if the world is to get to a point where a line can be drawn between masculinity and sports.
Whether the strong sense of masculinity in sports is brought about by the gender differences in physical stature or the general aspect of sporting, there is only one way to find out. In the words of Wheaton, 2000, this embodiment has been the result of a close and consistent identification of sports with men. According to him, it is the use of sports to create and reaffirm masculine identities that have made sports such a strong signifier of masculinity. In different but close opinions, Kennedy, 2000, and Downing, 2008, point out that the emphasized masculinity is a construction of all sports are about. According to them, sportspersons have to be manly, be aggressive, physical, and zealous about winning (Downing, 2008).
The varying propositions by various authors, philosophers, and psychologists highlight the need to interview and analyze the aspect of masculinity in sports carefully. Had it been a light issue that didn't need much attention, women in sports would not have to strive as hard as they have been doing over the years to achieve a more masculine look. Instead, they work out and practice at a magnitude that brings out masculinity. It is this pedagogy and dominant ideology that prompts the problem; why masculinity in sports. To understand this, the following study will examine the prevailing dominance of masculinity and masculine ideologies in sports and how they affect women in sports. Through a critical analysis of various studies, articles, journals, and case studies, this paper documents the probable reasons for this dominance.
As previously identified, masculinity assumes a dominant role in sports, defining the extent to which various aspects of the overall sportsmanship go. So much has this dominance been that even women in various sports strive hard to bring out a particular level of masculinity. They will hit a hard tackle, make an aggressive dive, celebrate, and work out so much that the entirety of their sport demonstrates masculine attributes. The following section critically analyses literature to establish the reasons behind the prevailing dominance. The review will also seek to identify the reasons behind the vast acceptance of masculinity as the show and quantifier of sportsmanship.
History of Masculinity in Sports
The history of any particular item narrates of its origins and documents the multiple stages of development leading up to the immediate state. Masculinity in sports, like any other phenomenon, has a history traceable as far back as the genesis of sports.
Right from its beginnings, sports have had a particulate and well-defined touch of masculinity in them. Even in traditional societies, sports were a place where masculinity was learned and practiced (Grossman & Brake, 2013). Whether one considers the type of sports in the traditional European, African, or Asian sports, they all demonstrate a level of masculinity too profound to overlook. The likes of bull-riding, shooting, hunting, and wrestling illustrate just how much sports were inclined to masculinity. In American schools, sports were carved into a masculine field during the shift from an agrarian to an industrial labor force during the industrial revolution. The enactment of labor laws that banned child labor had fast put boys with their mothers rather than their fathers. Spirts was, therefore, introduced in schools to stop the boys from becoming 'too womanly' (Grossman & Brake, 2013).
Women have strived to make their mark in sports proving their ability to compete in male-dominated games. These strives have more often than not been shut with a heavy slam of the masculine requirements of any to-be acceptable game. After the First World war, for instance, women's football was fast gaining popularity in England. The English Football Association saw this as a threat and went as far as banning women's football in 1921 (Williams, 2008). The later revivals of women's football in the mid-1960s had the game return only as a participatory sport that could not explain gunner spectatorship. Even in later developments, sports have been dominantly portrayed as gender-exclusive and hyper-masculine undertakings that emphasize aggression and a fierce zeal for winning (Walker & Sartore-Baldwin, 2013).
Masculinity and The Sociology of Sports
In itself, masculinity in sports goes beyond the activity on the playground, whether in the actual games or the locker room. Every single aspect of masculinity brought out in sports has a social construct to it. When it is a question of the sociology of sports, the theoretical framework that one subscribes to comes into play. Whether one subscribes to the feminine or masculine school of thought directly influences their opinion son, the various manifestations of masculinity in various sports. Sociology in sports highlights several factors and the way they are interpreted under social constructs and ideologies.
Violence or Aggression?
Among the much-contested social issues of masculinity in sports in the level of aggression demonstrated in masculine games. Depending on where one is coming from, some term the brute aggression as violence while yet others will boldly call it aggression. Americans boldly embrace aggression as a way of embracing and affirming masculinity. Most of them would easily agree with Sigmund Freud, that 'The tendency to aggression is an innate, independent, instinctual disposition in man.' The same case applies to Russians and Bulgarians who embrace aggression and blunt beliefs of masculinity as the way of life. It might not be a question of the degree, but rather, the meanings assigned to the acts that either justify or discourage it.
The meanings given to the type of aggression portrayed in rugby or American football come in two, what the society terms them, and the meanings the athletes construct of the violence (Messner, 1990). In the first case, the society plays a critical role in assigning meaning to the various aspects of sports and sportsmanship, so much of which draws the line between that which is acceptable and that which is not. Useable is Max Weber's senile statement that 'politics' in this case, replaceable with sports can be a man's avocation or vocation' (Malcom, 2012). What this translates into is that people take part in activities relevant or related to sports. People discuss, follow, critic, hype, review, and support sports and various aspects in them. These are both on and off the field.
When a player makes a tackle so aggressive that they injure the opponent, there will be those that will scream in excitement while yet others will awe in dismay. The reactions go a long way to outline the social construct that the different people give to aggression in sports. A statement that has in many occasions been used is that "sport does not create the conditions for war, but it does maintain the possibility of those conditions, and adds its efficiency to the other forces which produce a social order in which trails of strength are seen as part of the natural course of things" (Holt, 2000) much evident in this statement is the ability of sport to facilitate both violence and aggression.
To the society and massive population of spectators, a tackle that injures the opponent to give the tackler's team, a competitive advantage is considered as aggression. In one way, society hails the aggressive nature brought out in sports, while yet in another way, it condemns it.
Players are not any different from the society; it is they that greater heave praise on aggression depending on where they stand. When opponents get hit so hard, they pass out in American football, the teammates of the tackler celebrate him. It's almost like they just handed the team the victory. In England, where football is one of the most competitive games, particular aggression by midfielders and defenders is also celebrated. The teams on the receiving end always protest the aggression but only at that instance. Next time they retaliate, they celebrate it. To most athletes, the masculine aggression kin the sport is what gives it the much-needed emp that brings excitement to the game. Like George Orwell (1950) noted, "Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence;" (Snow, 2010).
The aggression in sports prevails form a significant rate of acceptance in the society and stunning praise by both players and spectators. Even off the pitch, ring, track, or court, sportsmen and women are expected by the society to stay fit, be bold, and aggressive in their undertakings. Several WWE wrestlers, for instance, have had to star in action films as opposed to having roles in reality tv shows. The likes of Dwayne Johnson, David Bautista, and John Cena have off the ring made a name for themselves, staring in masculine films that pushed the ideas of aggression, courage, and brute confidence. Even Miz, who assumes a more reality-show role in WWE, only made it to the spotlight in acting after starring in the action-packed Marine 3. The same has been upheld when female wrestlers such as Rounda Rousy got into acting. It is almost like the society gauges athletes on a masculine scale, those showing lesser of it being perceived as weak.
Sex segregation is a key organizing structure in modern sports. The segregation has its roots with the origins of sports. They were invented to reaffirm and establish masculinity and were, therefore, for men, and not women. Because, men are not equal to women, the segregation has grown even further to become an element fostering the subordination and marginalization of women in sports (Dashper, 2012). The founders of most sports designed them to foster some sense of masculinity, channeling every single aspect of them to be competitive, focused on winning, and allowing a particular degree of aggression. Most of all, most games have a blunt cut line between results; a team or participant has to either win or lose.
This basis and the collective allusion by society tha6t games ought to be for boys gave birth to the sexual segregation so much evident in sports today. Before long, certain games were categorized as either being for men or women.
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