By Devan F.
For the most part, all of our thoughts on gender and sport come from our parents at a young age. This can be both direct and indirect – from seeing our parents taking part in a certain activity to comments such as “you throw like a girl”. They may not be aware of what they are imprinting into our minds, or even how those ideas were imprinted into their own. Until this past century or two, most people were still in the mindset of the difference between boys sports and girls sports. Now these walls have been broken down for the most part around the world, but there are still those who discriminate against individuals in a sport that is usually occupied by the opposite gender. So how did our grandparents’ view of gender and sport affect our parents, and in turn affect us?
I think the ideas of one generation spill over into the next, whether we like it or not. From observing the actions of those we see as role models, there is an imprint in our mind of what it takes to be more like them (Rowe, 1994). Two good examples of this are my great grandparents. My great grandfather was in world war two and worked on the railroads, two professions that require the individual to be strong and tough. My great grandmother on the other hand, made quilts and worked at the local soup kitchen. So for their children, the father of the house was big and rugged with a dangerous job where he could get hurt, and the mother of the house was delicate, precise with her quilting and helped others who couldn’t help themselves. That trend travelled through the family tree. My grandmother (one of their daughters) lived on a farm where she milked the cows and collected eggs, while my grandfather moved the bales of hay and collected the meat from the animals. Their sons and daughters followed suit according to their gender.
The thought that a certain sport is meant for girls or boys was fabricated through the demands of the sport. Any activity that requires an individual to be gentle and graceful must be for women because they are the ones that have grown up with women knitting and milking cows, while the rough sports must be for men because we’ve been raised to shoot guns and do all the heavy lifting. Similar to mannerisms and basic human behaviours that we pick up on from our parents as an infant, ideas about how we should behave towards certain situations are developed through observation (Pound, 2011). Until this idea is altered or removed, it will always be there in the back of our minds, affecting our every action. This preconceived idea of how we are supposed to act from our parents/grandparents combined with the social norms we are exposed to in our everyday lives will always work for or against our participation in an activity.
Pound, L. (2011). Influencing early childhood education: Key figures, philosophies and ideas. Berkshire, England: Open University Press.
Rowe, D. C. (1994). The limits of family influence: Genes, experience, and behavior. New York: Guilford Press.