Equality – A Rugby Story

By James M.

Sport has always been a very big rock in my life. It is something I personally use for stress relief, my physical needs, social needs, and the list goes on. I’ve played so many different sports at so many different levels, but I have never engaged in a sport more inclusive than rugby. I can still recall the first time I played in middle school, we picked teams to play in a scrimmage out of a hat – gender aside – and played full contact. I was 12 at the time and thought nothing of it. Even to this day, I still practice and scrimmage with people of both genders. Clearly, as I grew up we were separated through gender as is every sport and more so by the level in which you played, but that was it. The biggest difference with rugby is there is no difference in the rules or the way the game is played based on what gender you are, if you’ve never played before or you’ve been capped by your country, and the field, ball, and equipment are all the same.

I recently read an article about an individual who would presumably agree with everything I feel and have stated, but continues to push the barriers even further. Jaye Cora is a winger for the University of Georgia who is gender neutral/trans and prefers the terms “they” and “them” instead of “he” or “she”. Jaye was actually on the verge of giving up on sports because they thought they would never be respected, until they found rugby. Even at the highest level of rugby they look to be as inclusive and fair as possible, with World Rugby`s Gender Identity Disorder (GID) and Disorders of Sexual Differentiation (DSD) Policy as well as the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2015 between World Rugby and the IGR (international Gay Rugby) . These are all ways in which rugby as a sport and culture is trying to be accepting of every human.

I wanted to share that little story because it shows you that not only is rugby gender neutral in the sense of how the game is governed, what you play on, and what you play with but it is breaking barriers past that. Rugby, I believe, is a leader for sports in the sense of equality for all. It’s funny because society tends to stereotype women as individuals that don’t enjoy aggression, that don’t like getting dirty, and rugby throws these stereotypes right out the window and I’ve seen that first hand. Society tends to paint a picture that portrays woman as someone who would rather have a nice evening in reading a book and having some wine, but if you are the kind of person that would rather be covered in mud and bruises and enjoy a few cold beverages after a hard fought game rugby says, right this way. Rugby’s not only a game but it’s a culture and until you are immersed in it it`s hard to fully understand how accepting it really is because of its hard exterior.

So if one of the toughest sports on the planet is so open to equality, what’s taking so long with all the other more mainstream sports like hockey, football, and baseball? Females at a younger age can play with boys and it can be full contact, but when they get older and it switches to all-female you take away the hitting (in hockey), or the over hand pitching. This just doesn’t make sense to me. There is a bright side – more frequently we are spreading light on these issues of inequality and asking the right questions and I believe that if we continue to do so we will see a significant change to what society considers the norm, just hopefully it will be sooner than later.

References:

World Rugby signs historic agreement with International Gay Rugby. Retrieved February 17, 2017, from http://www.worldrugby.org/news/59705?lang=en

Defabio, A. (2016, March 02). Trans Community Weighs in on USA Rugby Rules. Retrieved February 16, 2017, from http://www.goffrugbyreport.com/news/trans-community-weighs-usa-rugby-rules

Molnar, G., & Kanemasu, Y. (2016). Challenges of Exploring Women’s Resistance in Post-colonial Hegemonic Masculinity.

Fatherhood and Sport: Providing an Opportunity to Redefine Fatherhood

By Kirstin D.

To offer some diversity to the new blog posts being made, I am going to discuss fatherhood and sport. As a female, this will be done by looking at the evidence in articles since I do not have a direct experience of being a father or male. My reflection is influenced by knowledge and my indirect experience of the males in my life. The first male role model who participated in influenced my participation in sport, was my father. To provide background knowledge I grew up with three older sisters and both of my parents worked outside the home and had sport interests. The new generation of fathers are reacting to the changes in the household. Mothers are choosing to work or stay at home, and more pressure is being put on fathers to reach beyond the traditional fatherhood model. Contemporary fathers are looking for ways to connect with their children. Leisure is a tool some have used to do so, but they are not free from the pressure from the traditional fatherhood ideologies.

Now, we might think a stereotype of fatherhood is a father who coaches his child’s sports team. What if we thought of it instead as a means to be more than the breadwinner, as a way to redefine fatherhood. Kay (2007) discussed that since sports are familiar to men, which makes sport a secure and comfortable site that men can gain competence in engaging with their children. As we know men are socialized differently than women. From a young age girls are given toy babies and boys are given Tonka Trunks. The nuclear family and traditional fatherhood roles could leave new fathers feeling incompetent. Similar to sport participation, confidence and competence helps improve participation rates. Fathers who want to be more than the provider, could be using sport (a familiar role) as way to get closer with their children. Sport is a setting that is deemed appropriate for men in society. Therefore, sport provides them the opportunity to redefine fatherhood.

My experience with my father reflects this idea. Sport was a topic he could relate to and was a topic that he enjoyed. It was a way for him to be connected to us, when he felt like he was unable to otherwise. Although my father and my mother both worked and were invested in our sporting pursuits, it was different with my father. Not only is this a way for fathers to be able to connect with their children, but it is also a way for children to connect with their fathers. My oldest sister was the only one who decided to play hockey, and one of her primary reasons for doing so was to become closer with my father.

I do disagree with Kay (2007) when they write that fatherhood is universal and we all have been fathered. Perhaps this shows that the article is dated and that even in academic articles there are heteronormative assumptions made. It is true that all new born babies have biological fathers. It is, however, not true that we have all been fathered. Fathers come in various shapes and sizes, some are involved and others are not. Some of us may not have had a father and some people might have two. Although we cannot say that using sport as a means to redefine fatherhood is universal, I do believe that this is an important perspective.

If you would like to contribute to this blog post, I am interested in hearing your thoughts about fatherhood and sport – which does not have to be specifically fathers who are coaches, it could be broader leisure pursuits. My father never coached any of my sports teams, but he still had an influence and an impact on them. I still remember being on the pitch and hearing him whistle and holler as a dedicated spectator.

References

Kay, T. (2007). Fathering through Sport. World Leisure Journal, 49(2), 69-82.

Masculinity In Sport

By Stephanie W.

The idea of masculinity is everywhere, and is even more prevalent in sport. Boys are taught from a young age to grow up to be big strong men and to show their dominance as these strong beings. As they get older, these ideas begin to unfold more and in some cases, such as sport, we see these ideas become harsher and more advanced than just wanting men to be masculine. This is why I would like to look at these masculine ideas that are related to this topic of men in sport. First, is hegemonic masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity is defined by Anderson in these four simple rules that men need to abide by in sport. 1. No sissy stuff, 2. Be a big wheel, 3. Be a sturdy oak, and 4. Give ’em hell. Second is hyper-masculinity. Hyper-masculinity is characterized by an exaggeration of traditionally masculine traits or behavior (Collins Dictionary, 2017). Both of these ideas show that men are to be very strong and fearless, and not to engage in activities or play in a way that would have you being perceived as sissy, or like a girl. This post will look at these ideas in the sport context and not only how they impact men, but how they also impact society and the ideas we attach to other groups of people.

We are able to see these ideas everywhere you look in sport. One example of this is the men on the cover of magazines, shirtless and showing off their muscles and toned bodies. They want to show their strength and masculinity to the rest of the world and prove the power they have in sport. However, what If you do not follow this idea of what it means to be a man in sport? As stated by Anderson (2005), “Hegemonic masculinity not only requires that a male maintain 100 percent heterosexual desires and behaviors, but that he must continually prove that he is heterosexual.” For men who are homosexuals in sport, they often are found to hide their true identity or to go along with the ideas of the team to make sure they fit in and are part of this masculine group. One male talked about his experience in football, he stated that “My coaches try to motivate us to hit harder, crunch more, or throw farther by calling us fags all the time. And if you can’t do something, or mess it up, you get called a fag,” (Anderson, 2005).  Due to the atmosphere around the sport and his team, he found himself dating women, and even using homophobic language when around his team members to make sure he would fit into the group. His time spent with the team was not him being who he wanted to be but was conforming to norms. He did this to make sure he was not the target of the jokes or even physical abuse by team members. He wanted to be part of the sport and he felt this is what he had to do to truly be part of it.

Within the article by Hickey (2001), the idea of violence and oppression of others who do not fit the norms of the group or their masculinity is presented. Males want to gain status within the group and this means not being different than the others in any way. Due to the hyper-masculinity in many male sports, there is this idea of creating norms within the group and sticking to them if you want to fit in. Even though this is looked at from a team perspective, Hickey also presents the idea that these attitudes can come back into the school since they tend to be school sports or teams. This idea of how men or boys should act and how they should behave is seen in cases such as gym class. It is even seen the classroom or at lunch break and makes many others the victims of these ideas that they have formed within their sporting atmosphere.

From a personal perspective, I have seen how these ideas have come into the school and affected someone who competes in an individual sport.  One of my friends competes in archery competitions. When he was in high school, people used to tease him and say that it was a “gay sport” and it was not manly if he was competing in it. Due to this, he always had it in the back of his mind that it was not a manly enough sport and that people were always judging him for it. Since he was part of this sport, he was able to and still does travels all over the world to compete. However, the idea of what is seen as masculine to some other males and the impact it can have on the participation of other males is very much a problem. He could have decided to listen to people at school, but instead he went on and because of that he was able to gain so much and see many parts of the world that he would have never been able to do on his own. For many others though, they sometimes change who they are and stop doing certain activities that they love due to the ideas of others.

In conclusion, the idea of masculinity and the consequences that come with it are everywhere not only in sport, but our everyday lives. This impacts not only males who do not want to conform to these ideas, but also women, homosexual men, and people who do not fit the stereotypical idea of a manly man. Even though there are many negative examples of this in sport, it does not always mean it is present, but most people have seen examples of this in their everyday lives at least once. These are ideas that need to be changed and help everyone to feel included in sport and that they are in a safe place when joining a team, or even in everyday society.

Sources:

Anderson, E. (2005). In the game: Gay athletes and the cult of masculinity. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Hickey, C. (2008). Physical Education, Sport and Hyper-Masculinity in Schools. Sport, Education and Society, 13, 2, 147-161.

Females Show their Game Face as Competitors but Not as Coaches

By Darrion S.

Women’s’ participation in sport is becoming more prevalent than ever, yet there is still little representation of them in leadership roles. Sport can have a positive effect on developing females, however, there is a still a significant lack of opportunities for women to develop sport when they are adults. Coaching is a job market where women have not made significant progress within recent years. Salaries in sport do not compare when considering gender and the lack of professions available for women. In the USA, there is only one full-time assistant coach working in the National Basketball Association and the Women’s National Basketball Association shows that 50% of head coaches and 43% of assistant coaches are men (Berri, 2015). If much of coaches are male, then female children are less likely to consider their opportunities in sport as adults. The gender gap may suggest that discrimination against women in the work force prevents them from moving into leadership positions in organizations. “Recent studies do suggest a significant gender gap in wages, after controlling for variables like education and work experiences that is constant with the presence of wage discrimination,” (Robertson p20, 2010).

In class, we discussed how cultural representation of women is typically sexualized; this inhibits women’s choice in professional coaching. Social control exerted over women based on their sexuality is a factor that affects how they perceive their opportunities. Unfortunately, sports media caters to a large demographic of men, therefore, women have a lack of gender neutrality. When the media sexualizes female athletes, women will inherently feel objectified and possibly rejected from any authority within that sport. A lack of authoritative figures in sports, such as officials and coaches, gives the subliminal message that sports are a place for males and not females. “The lack of female leaders is exclusion from social networks or an under-investment in social capital. It is hard to engage and benefit from social networking if you are in the minority,” (Robertson, 2010, p. 21). To increase the number of female coaches, there must be a cultural change in how woman are depicted in sport. If women are made to feel important in sport, then self-esteem and self-direction are improved; this allows for women to feel that they can function more openly and equally in their sporting community.

I have never had a female coach until my eighth year in wresting when I joined Junior Team Canada and had coaches assigned to me for our trip. I have seen female wrestling coaches at tournaments, but throughout my training in multiple clubs and high school teams, I was only ever coached by men. I eventually coached my high school team which was always male dominated, although, I felt that my place as a coach allowed for girls to feel comfortable in trying the sport. When I think about the possibility of coaching as a profession, I believe I could not acquire the job without achieving a high level of success in wrestling. Coaching my teammates is very entertaining and I love the idea of being paid to coach; however, in my experience, you must earn the ability to be a female coach where men do not. There are many male coaches in wrestling who have not achieved international medals or national status, yet all well-respected women coaches have been on the Olympic team. If I ever make it past Olympic trials, I can consider a job in paid coaching, until then I will settle on the idea of being a high school coach.

 References

Berri, D. (2015, June & july). The Cost of Not Hiring Women Coaches. Retrieved February 09, 2017, from http://time.com/3896935/women-coaches/?iid=sr-link7

Robertson, S. (2010). Taking the Lead : Strategies and Solutions From Female Coaches. Edmonton: The University of Alberta Press.

 

 

“Equal pay is as much a myth as it is a minefield” – Why is equal pay in Tennis such an issue in our modern day society?

By Callum F.

Equal pay in general has been an issue for years, and it will most likely still be an ongoing debate for many more due to the current political environment. However, equal pay in sport is also a big issue that is being pushed more and more to the fore, with tennis being the ‘leading light’ in this situation.

For years, influential female tennis players such as Billy Jean King, Chris Evert and Serena Williams have made claims that women are entitled to just as much prize money as the men are, as they are playing the same sport, and doing exactly the same thing, and in the four Grand Slams at least, at the same tournament time. Therefore, equal pay surely makes perfect sense. Serena Williams is just as capable as Roger Federer at hitting a ball over a net, so why is it such an issue? 

The main problems preventing equal pay are revenue, media exposure and the inter-relationship between them and the limitations surrounding them. Godoy-Pressland and Griggs (2014) argue that; ‘The relative exclusion of women’s sport in the media serves to frame women’s sport as less important than men’s’. Media exposure and the perception that creates drives popularity which drives revenue and thus this relative exclusion then results in women’s sport’s inability to earn equal revenue, both from tickets – numbers and prices – and from sponsorships, as men’s sport and therefore pay equal amounts to the competitors. If the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) paid equal prize money as the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) across 12 months, they would be bankrupt within a couple of years, simply due to the relative lack of revenue that the WTA brings in from advertising, sponsorship and the media compared to the ATP. As well as the higher profile that the men’s game has traditionally enjoyed over the women’s, there is also a much higher level of competition at the top of the  men’s game, contesting titles and the top ranking places, than in the women’s. This also drives the level of income generated.  Sport has become more of a business than ever before, so the income/expenditure ratio is key and currently, the men’s game is far more valuable than the women’s, so higher levels of expenditure are possible meaning ultimately that the men get paid more. 

While this argument has been going since the 1960’s, it has become one of the biggest topics in tennis, even more so in the past couple of years. Raymond Moore, (former CEO of the tournament Indian Wells) was the man to instigate this recent debate, when he was quoted as saying ‘If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born because they have carried this sport.’ and how ‘the women ride off the coattails of men’ . While both remarks were wildly inappropriate and resulted in Moore’s immediate resignation, it sparked a large debate amongst the players themselves, something which hadn’t been seen since the 60’s. 

The majority of the top male players were all in agreement that the women should receive equal pay, simply because they do the same job. Sir Andy Murray was one of these, openly stating that he was a feminist and fully supported equal pay. However, his long term rival Novak Djokovic voiced that women shouldn’t be paid as much due to the revenue income. This in itself sparked another debate, why does the male’s opinion on this matter so much? Surely the women’s arguments should be heard more, as they are in fact women! 

Sherry (2015) writes that ‘Women’s sport continues to be viewed through the prism of male hegemony in various ways’. The fact that it is taking the men’s opinion on the tour to start making a difference supports Sherry strongly. Why does it still take a male opinion to cause a debate, especially in the ‘modernised society’ that we live in. It points towards a case that the male opinion in sport, and seemingly business is still more important than the women’s, but perversely it may be that very opinion that will finally get women equal pay in tennis.

To conclude, equal pay in tennis has to become a reality sooner rather than later, as there is no strong argument as to why it should not happen. Both bring in the spectators, and both bring in millions of dollars in revenue, so why shouldn’t it be shared equally? While it is realistic in theory, the reality of the situation is that equal pay will not happen unless the ‘sport’ of Tennis becomes less of a business, focusing on how much money can be made and where, and simply reverts to being a sport to entertain. Until that happens, the argument surrounding equal pay will become even more ridiculous and further out-dated. 

Sherry, E., Osborne, A., & Nicholson, M. (2015). Images of Sports Women: A Review. Sex Roles, 15.

Godoy-Pressland, A., & Griggs, G. (2014). The photographic representation of female athletes in the British print media during the London 2012 Olympic games. Sport in Society, 17, 1–16

Where are all of the Professional Female Athletes

by Danielle H.

When I was a child, I dreamt about being the next Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. They were amazing athletes. I remember my dad and I watching their games and talking about what an amazing life they must have. As a child, I never imagined that my gender would ever put a damper on that dream. As I got older, I started wondering why there was a lack of female athletes on television. It was not until my friend’s parents’ denied her the opportunity to play sports in high school that I realized what was going on in the world around me. My friend’s parents’ told her she needed to focus on her grades, and that sports got females nowhere in life. This made me think about how the only female professional athlete that I knew about was Hailey Wickenheiser, and that was only because she was promoted in New Brunswick schools when I was younger.

It occurred to me that the sporting world is dominated by males. In fact, in a recent article I read, they stated that “sport is a male-dominated institution that promotes traditional gender roles and advances male hegemony” (Hannon, Soohoo, Reel, & Ratliffe, 2009). As a society, we allow sports to be centred around males. For example, sports such as baseball and softball segregate men and women, as it is viewed as more appropriate for males to play baseball and females to play softball. Certain sports, like hockey, even have rules that state men are allow to play with contact and females are not.

In another recent article I read, it discussed the Grand Slam tournament in tennis. The Grand Slam Tournament has an equal amount of male and female athletes competing. Everyone participates in the tournament, and every athlete is paid by the same employer. However, the male athletes are still paid more than the females (Kahn, 1991).

As I mentioned before, my friend was not allowed to play sports in high school as her parents told her that her grades were more important. If I had to guess, she is definitely not the only girl who has been told that. I don’t understand how that is fair. We have multiple sporting leagues for males, and not as many for females. As a male athlete, you do not necessarily have to play professionally in order to make money. Males have opportunities to play below the professional level, and still get paid. What I am getting at is that females have a considerably smaller chance to make it to the professional level, because there are limited spots for female athletes. Also, it is known that female athletes generally make less money. With the female sport world being what it is, it is understandable why girls do not pursue sports in the same way as boys do.

References:

Hannon, J., Soohoo, S., Reel, J., & Ratliffe, T. (2009). Gender stereotyping and the influence of race in sport among adolescents. Research quarterly for exercise and sport, 80(3), 676-684.

Kahn, L. M. (1991). Discrimination in professional sports: A survey of the literature. ILR Review, 44(3), 395-418.

The Girly-Girl Doesn’t Play Sports, Youth Categorization of Girls as Preventative Sport Participation Measures

By Haley M.

The cultural meaning of the female body and how it is regulated and controlled takes on a particular meaning when discussing women‟s participation in sports because athletic endeavours require women to engage their bodies in practices that are typically associated with masculinity…sports play a powerful role in the reproduction of patriarchal gender regimes (Adams, Schmitke, Franklin, 2005, p. 19).

When I was a little girl, I was put into the “girly-girl” box. I often question what exactly it was that I did that earned me a spot in this particular box. I believe that this label was only partially earned as a result of my personality. My favorite color was pink despite having a blue and yellow room when I was little, and my sports of choice were dance, skiing, and swimming, despite having tried soccer, softball, and hockey. My parents quickly learned that I was more interested in making a bouquet of flowers than actually kicking or hitting a ball. I was far more interested in doing crafts and learning how to bake than I was going to play on the jungle gym or in the sand box.

Certainly, my personality influenced the “box” that I was categorized into. Yet, I frequently wonder what other factors came into play when placing me within this box. For example, later in junior high I wanted to try new sports including basketball, volleyball, and karate. Upon announcing this both my parents and my friends, they all looked at me in disbelief. My friends even tried to convince me that it was a bad idea. While my parents were slightly shocked, they supported the idea that I could do anything I put my mind to. Allow me to slightly fast-forward, my volleyball career ended in less than a week, karate no more than a month, and basketball lasted about two years, and I was only really a decent player when we were on defense.

Despite all of this overwhelming evidence, attributable to my personality, that indicated that I really was the girly-girl everyone perceived me to be, I wondered if there were other factors that came into play when I was placed into this category. Physically, I already had the Barbie doll look, Caucasian, petite, blonde hair, and blue eyes. Financially, my parents had enough income to support me in any activity I chose to pursue, and it was my mother’s pride and joy to dress me extremely well.

Social norms dictate the way we engage in activities. My participation in sport was influenced by the “box” I was placed into, as early as primary school. The “girly-girl” and “tomboy” classifications are socially constructed labels. This dichotomy of stereotypes comes with respective privileges and consequences. Specifically the label girly-girl has been academically defined as “emphasized femininity” (Leahy, 1994). Meaning, to conform to this particular ideal means “to be traditionally pretty, to appear conventionally fashionable, and to pay constant attention to their appearance” (Cockburn & Clarke, 2002, p. 653). Adams, Schmitke, and Franklin (2005) indicate that “on the playing field, being a girly-girl is a challenge because being sweaty and physical is not typically associated with ideal femininity” (p. 23). It is further discussed how female athletes have been pressured to conform to the traditional notions of femininity. For example, to try and preserve the femininity ideal, girls who participate in sport are encouraged by coaches, teammates, and other social influencers to have long hair, wear ribbons and makeup while playing the sport, and to be wearing revealing uniforms (Adams, Schmitke, Franklin, 2005).

On the opposite end of the label spectrum, “tomboys” are described in academia as girls who do not limit their preferences for activities along gender lines and feel comfortable playing games traditionally reserved for boys (Plumb & Cowan, 1984). The literature indicates that there is an ambiguity associated with tomboyism because of lack of clear guidelines for what is appropriate and normative behaviour for girls. Further, ambiquity arises as a result of some scholars who associate androgyny with girls who are described as “tomboys” because they are performing both masculinity and femininity (Plumb & Cowan, 1984).

What I found to be the most interesting in all of my research was one particular study that identified certain activities that would be performed by the “girly-girl,” the “tomboy”, and what the study classified as neutral. The study indicated that the girly girls participated in activities including playing a musical instrument or doing crafts (Van Volkom, 2003). The tomboys engaged in activities including basketball, baseball, soccer, and wrestling (Van Volkom, 2003). A neutral females partook in running, swimming, or tennis (Van Volkom, 2003). I compared these activities to those that I currently engage in and those I used to participate in. Currently, I run and swim, and I previously played basketball and played instruments. Although I was place in the girly-girl box when I was little, my current activities indicate more neutral interests.

The categorization of girls creates constraints. If a stereotyped “girly-girl”did not feel the social pressure to learn how to sit tall, be polite, never to burp or swear, be poised, and conform to the feminine ideal, perhaps she would discover other activities she is passionate about. Labels are society’s way of forcing youth to conform and abide by familiar normative action. Although current society is moving towards a more all encompassing gender approach to activities, constraints are still dictating the choices youth are making about their chosen sports and leisure activities.

Sources:

Adams, N., Schmitke, A., & Franklin, A. (2005). Tomboys, Dykes, and Girly girls:Interrogating the subjectivities of adolescent female athletes. Women’s Studies Quarterly, 33(1/2), 17-34.

Cockburn, C. & Clarke, G. (2002). “Everybody’s looking at you!”: Girls negotiating the femininity deficit‟ they incur in physical education. Women’s Studies International Forum, 25 (6), 651-665.

Leahy, T. (1994). Taking up a position: Discourses of femininity and adolescence in the context of Man/Girl relationships. Gender & Society, 8 (1), 48-72.

Plumb, P. & Cowan, G. (1984). A developmental study of destereotyping and androgynous activity preference of tomboys, nontomboys, and males. Sex Roles, 10, 703-712.

 

 

 

The Value of Girls/Women in School Sport

by Shayna T.

Holland and Andre (1987) suggest that there are numerous factors that influence the socialization and development of adolescents. Such factors include family, peers, schools, and the media. Even though family and peers tend to be considered as the more dominant influences, “…the opportunities and context provided by secondary schools also influences adolescent development” (Holland & Andre, 1987). “The academic perspective focuses on intellectual competence and stresses that the purpose of schools is the pursuit of academic excellence and transmission of formal knowledge” (Holland & Andre, 1987). Looking at things in this perspective creates the notion that extracurricular activities in schools provide a means of “relaxation or fun”, but are obviously deemed as “unimportant to the primary purpose of schools” (Holland & Andre, 1987).

On one note, “direct interactions with the academic curriculum in schools, such as the degree of success or failure in various subject matters and the degree of encouragement provided for academic effort, influence the self-esteem, aspirations, and values of adolescents” (Holland & Andre, 1987). On another note, it is “though the pattern of extracurricular activities schools allow or disallow, facilitate or inhibit, and the pattern of tangible and intangible rewards provided for participation in activities, schools influence personality development and socialization” (Holland & Andre, 1987).

I came across an article called “The Pasternak Case and American Gender Equity Policy: Implications for Canadian High School Athletics” and I really enjoyed reading the case as I was able to strongly relate to the problem. “In 2004 twin sisters Amy and Jesse Pasternak competed for the prospect of playing high school hockey, vying for the boys’ team rather than the girls’” (Beaubier, Gadbois, & Stick, 2011). Even though the school had a girls’ team, the Pasternak sisters believed that their skill set was much greater than that of the girls’ hockey team and that’s why they wanted to play on the boys’ team. “The sisters’ opportunities were negated by the Manitoba High School Athletic Association (MHSAA)” (Beaubier, Gadbois, & Stick, 2011).

Relating back to my experience in school sports, I have been an athlete on the basketball team since I was seven years old. I attended a small, rural school where the girls’ sports were always seen as “less” than the boys’ sports. However, because I had such a passion for the sport of basketball and became highly recognized throughout my basketball “career”. Because I knew the coaches of the teams, and my best friend was the male athlete most recognized throughout his career, I was lucky enough to continue my career with the boys, in part, and to have the chance to prove myself as an athlete to the school, to the community, to other teams, etc. It was because my skill level matched the boys’ skill level that I got to continue practicing with the boys even through high school.

The school and the girls’ coaches always put us in an exhibition league because they thought that an actual league (i.e., A) would be “too much” for us to handle. With the help from my female teammates, we were able to convince the athletic director, women’s coach, and the school that I, and the girls’ team, deserved to have a chance to prove ourselves in the A league. After being in an exhibition league since grade three, I finally had the chance to play at my level in grade eleven. All season the boys made fun of us saying we weren’t good enough (as a team) to be in a league and that we were going to get our asses handed to us. Funny enough, that was the year that we, the girls’ team, advanced to Senior Regionals and the boys did not. The next season, the boys never made fun of the girls’ team at all, but rather acted as leaders to help us be even more successful than we had been the year before.

In conclusion, I, as a former athlete and leader, as a current coach, and as a future physical education teacher, encourage all girls to fight for what they believe in. Although I agree with sports teams being segregated between boys and girls, I do not believe that just because we are “girls” that we should be given any less of an opportunity than the boys. Success depends on things such as motivation and drive, leadership, ability, skill level and understanding, and teamwork, not the fact that you’re a team of boys or a team of girls. It is because of the support I had throughout my time as an athlete and the experiences that I have encountered, that have given me a sense of life. Without this experience in my life, I wouldn’t have had good grades in school; I would not be here doing a Degree in Recreation and Sport Studies; I would not have gone back to the very school I came from to coach basketball to the next generation of kids who will be taking my place; and I would not value sport and physical activity nor would I have the desire to become a physical education teacher in a rural school to, not only teach the importance of sport and physical activity, but to help provide kids with the same opportunities that I once had. Sport, physical activity, and extracurricular activities can provide a means of purpose and sense of belonging to those who do not necessarily excel in the classroom, such as myself.

“Sport touches many aspects of Canadians’ lives – their health and well-being, their social networks, their sense of social connectedness. Organized sport can help children grow, giving them a sense of achievement while building teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, decision-making, and communications skills. Sport also enables children to channel their energy, competitiveness and aggression in socially beneficial ways” – (Bloom, Grant, & Watt, 2005).

References:

Beaubier, M., Gadbois, S.A., Stick, S.L. (2011). The Pasternak Case and American Gender Equity Policy: Implication for Canadian High School Athletics. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 120, 1-37.

Bloom, M., Grant, M., & Watt, D. (2005). Strengthening Canada – The social-economic benefits of sport participation in Canada. The Conference Board of Canada, August 2005. (p. iii). Retrieved from http://e-learningup.org.in/UploadArticlePDFFiles/2008-Stats%20Can%20Candian%20Social%20Trends%20-%20Kids%20Sports%20(3)af2f4313-a448-4c56-b860-80e6ddd6155e.pdf

Holland, A., & Andre, T. (1987). Participating in extracurricular activities in secondary school: What is known, what needs to be known? Review of Educational Research, (57)4, 437-466.

Gendered Clothing in the Sporting World

By Brittany C.

When you are growing up, something as simple as going to the store to buy clothes can be a confusing experience. You go in with your parents and they say, “Go have a look and pick something out”. So off you go through the store and you come across a bright blue t-shirt with a cool red car on the front. Your parents come around the corner and you point to the shirt with a big smile on your face, but your mother frowns and says “ Sweetie, why don’t we look for something in the girls’ section?” This isn’t a personal experience per say, but it’s something that I’m sure has happened to many young kids throughout their lives. The clothes we wear and they sections we buy them in define us. As young impressionable children who are still trying to figure out the world, we are socialized to shop in one part of the store, the men’s section or the women’s. Masculinity vs Femininity – our world today still enforces the difference between the two. This can also be found in the sporting goods stores of today. The participation of women in sport has increased from the past, and in the Olympics this year there were more women on the Canadian Olympic team than men. However, women still struggle to find what they need in a sports store without having to go to the men’s section.

I read an article about women’s rise in snowboarding which discussed female otherness and male superiority (Thorpe, 2005). This otherness and outsider feelings were caused by the media’s portrayal of the sport and the companies who supported the sport as a masculine dominant industry. When women first broke into the snowboarding scene, they had a hard time fitting in. It wasn’t until the first women’s clothing company was created that the participation of females in the sport started to increase. The author also pointed out that men created sport and for men which is 100% true. However, we have come a long way for women’s participation and success in sports. I believe a part of the participation increase was due to the fact that gear for the sport became available in the women’s section at the store. It was no longer seen as crossing the feminine line to do the sport as you could get everything you need in the women’s section. But not everything you might need for other sports can be found in the women’s section.

Attached is a picture I took recently in a sports store. It shows a rack at a store clearly labeled “Men’s” with hockey Canada jerseys hung on it.

gendered-clothing

Why is a national team jersey labeled as Men’s? There is a National Women’s hockey team and their jerseys are the exact same as the men. If we take a step back from the specifics of what the jersey actually is, we can see a different picture being painted. It’s a hockey jersey. It is something that represents a love for a sport, love for something that unites people, men and women, across our country. Hockey is a very masculine sport and women who are involved can be seen as so. If you ask most women who play hockey how they feel about the pink slim fitting jerseys that are found in the women’s section, they would tell you that they would rather not wear a jersey than wear that. Female participation in hockey has increased since I first started and we now see female hockey players as role models for younger girls. For those younger girls to get a jersey like their female role models wear, they have to venture to the other side of the store into the men’s section. Couldn’t we just have a shared sports attire section for both men and women, take the gender aspect out of it because both men and women participate in sport?

References:

Thorpe, H. (2005) Jibbing the gender order: Females in the Snowboarding Culture, Sport in Society, 8(1), 76-100.

http://olympic.ca

http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2013/pc-ch/CH24-1-2012-eng.pdf

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