Exploring Levels of Student-Athlete Burnout at two Canadian Universities

by Ben L.

Research done by Dubuc-Charbonneau, Durand-Bush, and Forneris (2014) was used to increase awareness and study the effects of training in a varsity sport and the effects it has on a term called “burnout” in the course of a student’s academic and athletic performance. “Burnout” is a relative term referring the ones physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress. This burnout is qualified by significant differences related to gender, sport, year of participation, academic year, and program. Being measured by administering Raedeke and Smith’s (2001) Athlete Burnout Questionnaire and it was resulted that lengths of participation, academic year, and program have no overall effects that follow, albeit type of sport and gender had major applications.

The type of sport resulted in differences between physical and mental exhaustion. Whereas some sports pertaining to physical some physical exhaustion (i.e. swimming practice is usually at 6:00 am) or mental exhaustion (i.e. dance and gymnastics) were exceptionally apparent in scores, as well as there being a major difference between men and woman. Women tend to be increasingly more exhausted due to several reasons that all seem very applicable and relevant (Kaiser, Dean. 2008).

This article really stood out due to its nature as a research paper. I myself experience an over active thyroid and create an overabundance of iron in my system. Me being energetic and enthusiastic about my surroundings for the vast majority of the day, I regularly involve myself in as many sports and recreation as possible to fit my free time. On average my body can work comfortably off of four to five hours of sleep without issues. However, recently I have become too busy and have taken steps and precautions to help my situation but have failed in some cases and sometimes experience even less sleep. In the last several months I have experienced some major cases of burnouts and have noticed a significant drop in my academic and athletic performance.

The main point to a study, especially regarding this course, is to look at the problem and aim to resolve it. That is what this course has been about thus far is to look at the big picture and to administer our progressive knowledge in solving some of the most relevant and even important arguments to date. Thus we see a problem with some of the research found as it is an appropriate study for almost any and all university students. How we can look to solve this is simple, the findings that are found are positive in incline and must be taken a step further in advancing our future as a community to truly understand what the problem is with the future generations. The need for over exertion has become prominent in the average day of a student athlete and must but taken into account when arguing about whom or what there is to blame. That is the problem in today’s culture, there is always a need for blame when a problem is brought up and cannot just be taken seriously. People need to realise that student athletes suffer in their own way.

Dubuc-Charbonneau, N., Durand-Bush, N., & Forneris, T. (2014). Exploring levels of student-athlete burnout at two Canadian universities. The Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 44(2), 135-151.

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Boycotting Hockey World Championships Draws Attention to Pay Equality

by Marie O.

The United States (US) Women’s hockey team announced recently that they would be boycotting the Hockey World Championships set to start in April hosted in Michigan. This comes after negotiation around pay have failed to meet the demands of the Women’s Hockey team. The boycott delivers direct action on an issue that is often overlooked in sports, the gender pay and opportunity gap in sport. In an article by Sportsnet, it was cited that the women’s hockey team only plays nine games a year in non-Olympic years and receives a small amount of funding, around $1000 a month for the six months before an Olympic games. The rest of the time USA hockey does not provide any funding for the women and many of the women on the team  work other jobs in addition to being elite athletes. The boycott is now one of many demonstrations, that have occurred following the election of Donald Trump, who’s presidency does not have a direct link to this issue, but does show how demonstrations that echo the era of second wave feminism have gained popularity again and sports is no exception.

The Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act is the cornerstone on which the US Women’s hockey team is forming their argument from. The Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act,  as cited by the Pat Iverson in her news article on the issues, ensures that sport organizations are required “provide equitable support and encouragement for participation by women where separate programs for male and female athletes are conducted on a national basis” (Iverson, 2017). The simple of comparison of the funding of male hockey players by USA Hockey is bleak with the men’s national team receiving $3.5 million a year (Waldron, 2017). This figure alone demonstrates the lack of equality in funding.

The lack of funding and opportunity for women’s hockey to gain momentum exemplifies what has been discussed in class. The opportunities that girls have to participate in sports, in particular high level sports is limited at best and while young boys are able to see role models and have the understanding that there is a possibility to excel and make a living playing sport, girls do not nor is this a reality for women who have become professional hockey players as many of them have careers in addition to being athletes.

When looking at this issue of equal opportunity and funding in a Canadian context, it isn’t as bleak through programs such as Own the Podium the funding available for the Women’s Hockey team is significantly more (Spencer, 2017).  While the situation in Canada is not perfect, it is better in financial term although it terms of opportunity we do not have to look far to see that opportunity is lacking. As many people, have shared in class there aren’t many opportunities for women in recreation league or in competitive leagues to participate. Does this gap exist because women’s sports aren’t as exciting? Or is it because women athletes don’t fit the traditional view of how women should act? Both probably have some truth but moving forward boycotts such as the one by the US Women’s Hockey team will hopefully change the answers to these questions.

References:

Iverson, P. (2017, March 15). USA women’s national hockey team to boycott 2017 World Championship over fair wages. SBnation. Retrieved from http://www.sbnation.com/nhl/2017/3/15/14934002/united-states-womens-national-hockey-team-boycott-2017-world-championship-equal-pay-usa-hockey

Rutherford, K. (2017, March 14). Why the U.S. women’s hockey team is boycotting the world championships. Sportsnet, Retrieved from http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/u-s-womens-hockey-team-boycotting-world-championships/

Spencer, D. (2017, March 15). U.S. women’s hockey team threatens boycott over wages. CBC. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/winter/us-women-hockey-threaten-boycott-wages-1.4025895

Waldron, T. (2017, March 15). U.S. women’s hockey team will boycott World Championship tournament over fair pay. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/women-hockey-team-fair-pay_us_58c94af7e4b09e52f55503a2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Depression: Exercise as a Treatment Option

by Kaitelynn T.

Depression is one of the most prevalent mental illnesses in Canada. Through a community survey the Public Health Agency of Canada determined that 11.3% of adults living in Canada identified symptoms that meet the criteria for depression. With such a high rate of the population being affected researchers have become increasingly interested in finding new and alternative treatments to treat or assist in treating the symptoms of depression. One of the new ways to treat depression that researchers are exploring is exercise.

Although never diagnosed with depression, I along with everyone else, have experienced a range of high and low days. Once I started university I found that the lows were becoming more frequent. In high school I always had a sport to play and therefore exercised on a daily basis. However, once in university I had little to no exercise and didn’t participate in intramural sports. About halfway through my first year I decided to try going for a run and found an immediate improvement in my mood. It became a habit to go for a run a couple times a week and I found that the lows were not so frequent anymore. Even on my bad days going for a run was a way to focus solely on breathing and moving my legs. Looking back on this I decided to look into what research had been done on the topic of exercise as a treatment option for depression. I found many articles where the data indicated that exercise did indeed have a positive effect on the symptoms of depression.

The first article I examined was, Exercise as a Treatment Option for Depression: A Meta-analysis Adjusting for Publication Bias, by Schuch et al. This article states that “Our data strongly support the claim that that exercise is an evidence based treatment for depression”. This article does specify that some types of exercise are more effective than other. For example it found that moderate aerobic activities led by a professional appeared to have a larger positive impact on individuals than other types of self-led exercise. Another article I looked at was, Exercise as a Treatment for Depression in Elders, by Carol Palmer. This study reports “Increasing physical activity markedly reduces depressive symptoms and is a safe adjunct or alternative to medication therapy”. This study goes on to state that “Physical activity should be recommended to patients of all ages”. These studies show that exercise can greatly reduce depressive symptoms and creates an alternative treatment option for those struggling with depression. It is important for people to try a range of treatments in order to find an option that is best suited for the individual. As stated by Palmer exercise can be used along with other treatments for depression.

The point of this blog is not to tell people that exercise will cure your depression or that people on medication for depression should stop taking it and simply exercise. The point of this blog is to help make people aware that exercise has a huge impact on our mental wellness and should be reinforced as an important part of staying healthy not just physically but mentally as well.

References

Pearson, Caryn, Teresa Janz and Jennifer Ali. 2013. “Mental and substance use disorders in Canada” Health at a Glance. September. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-624-X.

Schuch, F. B., Vancampfort, D., Richards, J., Rosenbaum, S., Ward, P. B., & Stubbs, B. (June 01, 2016). Exercise as a treatment for depression: A meta-analysis adjusting for publication bias. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 77, 42-51.

Palmer, C. (February 01, 2005). Exercise as a treatment for depression in elders. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 17, 2, 60-66.

 

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.

 

 

Female Rugby Players: Resisting Gender Stereotypes

by Danielle A.

Sport has always been something that has been a significant part of my life and has shaped my identification and personality in countless ways. Growing up, I played just about every sport that I could find the time for; but one sport in particular that has had my heart since I first picked up the ball is rugby. Luckily, I am still engaged in this sport by playing for the team here at UNB, as well as coaching during the high school season.

In class, we’ve discussed factors around gender inequality in sport, and during these discussions I’ve brought up multiple examples about rugby. I’ve not only brought these examples to attention because I’m a female rugby player, but I also feel that women’s rugby displays a strong example of women pushing back against the stereotypical actions and expected behaviors that surround them. These are stereotypes such as being gentle, appearing dainty, and being physically weak compared to their male counterparts. Playing rugby totally rejects these stereotypes and women are able to freely display qualities and actions that, historically speaking, would only be performed by men.

Rugby seems to be the only contact sport (that I can think of) that both men and women’s rules are gender inclusive, meaning that both sexes abide by the same rules of the game. Whereas in hockey, women are not allowed to body check while men are. But interestingly, if it so happens a woman is playing on a men’s hockey team, body checking is still allowed. I’ve recently read an article that focused on a study of university women rugby players. It stated that because men and women have the same rules to play by “it was a source of pride” for the women ruggers to be ‘equal’ to the men (Ezzel, 2009). It seemed that the women in this study felt empowered by the fact that the rules were the same, and I can absolutely agree with them as I feel also a sense of pride from this.

Another interesting point from this article that highlighted gender inequality within sport was that sports that are played by both sexes generally do not follow the same set of rules for the game/competition “male athletes, and men’s style of play, are the standard in those sports played by both men and women, good play and good athletes are defined by the men’s game” (Ezzel, 2009). I find this a little offensive, but it definitely is the truth. Most women’s sports (with the exception of rugby) have little to no physical component, and show limited aggression because ‘that isn’t how women are supposed to act’, while men’s sport are granted with the acceptance (and I also believe encouragement) of extreme physicality and aggression, to support the hegemonic masculinity image/qualities men are supposed to display. And from an entertainment perspective, the physicality and aggression is what people want to watch, which is why I think men’s ‘style of play’ is generally the standard of good play and displays the best athletes within the sport.

Although I think the concepts of gender inequality within sport, at all levels, is gathering attention from the athletes, the media, as well as scholars, I still see a large gap that exists. I am hopeful that overtime this gap will close, but in the meantime I will be participating in a sport that allows me to show my athleticism and aggression while resisting the typical female stereotypes.

Reference:

Ezzel, M. (2009). “Barbie Dolls” on the Pitch: Identity Work, Defensive Othering, and Inequality in Women’s Rugby. Social Problems, 56(1), 111-131.

Trick or Treat?: Sexualization of Halloween Costumes

by Paige N.

Halloween is an event in which people engage in leisure, offering a unique opportunity to present yourself differently from everyday life. As a child, I remember dressing up in costumes such as a witch, cat and pumpkin and as I got older (I am sure others will agree too), my peers and I were still able to dress up as those characters but with “less fabric and more of a push up bra”.

Halloween: once associated with innocent children dressing up as Ghostbusters asking for candy. Now, it seems women and adolescent girls are encouraged to dress however they want as long as the outfit is associated with the prefix “sexy” or “slutty”. Originally, “sexy Halloween costumes” were something found in fetish shop windows and today, these costumes have left the shop windows and emerged in mainstream society.

This shift from “scary to sexy” can negatively impact women in the workforce. Most Halloween costumes for women are “sexy versions” of something, for example sexy fire-fighter or sexy nurse. The portrayal of almost every single occupation in a sexual light is unlikely to contribute to women being taken seriously. Over the last fifty years, the women’s movement has been a key driver to increase the status and significance of women to promote equality. These sexually suggestive costumes defeat the purpose of the women’s movement and generally depict women as “sex symbols”.

Not only are Halloween costumes of a sexual nature present for women but younger individuals too. The implication of exposure to sexualized Halloween costumes at such a young age, can encourage an obsession with one’s body image. Numerous costumes are sending deliberate messages to teens about body image, with emphasis on being a certain “body type”. For example, many outfits designed for teenagers are “short and low cut” and made for a “thin” body type. Therefore, there is pressure to be this specific body type and unavailability to wear such outfits if you are more of a full figure.

Moreover, it has become almost customary that adolescent girls wear costumes that vaguely resemble animals or figures of authority. Commonly, there is pressure for young girls to conform to dress up in a sexy outfit to fit in. From my observation, there is a considerable amount of conformity among girl groups nowadays. Many individuals might “do the same or wear the same” as their peers, as an act of acceptance within a group to reduce judgments of being “different”.

I perceive conformity to contribute towards the development of sexualized Halloween costumes. A great example is noted in the movie Mean Girls. Lindsay Lohan’s character is unaware of the “sexy Halloween costume” rule, and shows up to a party dressed as a zombie bride, complete with ugly fake teeth and a dress which covered most of her body. She was predictably out of place and remarks ” I guess in girl world, Halloween is the one night a years when a girl can dress like a total slut, and no other girls can say anything about it”. Popular movies like Mean Girls act as a gateway and endorsement for a sexualized nature amongst women and young girls.

In addition, these kind of messages sent early to children will only further perpetuate the message that the media sends i.e. both emphasis of thinness and sexuality. Another example I found in an article by the guardian goes to show how the “sexy little girl” has become insistently present in the media. The article describes an acquaintance on Halloween with a five year old girl, wearing a tube top, miniskirt, platform shoes and eye shadow shouting “im a Bratz”. Related to the concept of sexualized clothing, this example displays how influential everyday toys directly impact younger individuals, and a “toys” contribution toward the sexual nature of Halloween Costumes.

The University of Texas have undertaken studies related to how a sexualized body image negatively effects young adolescent girls. Research suggests 10-15 year old girls with higher levels of internalized sexualization (belief to be sexually attractive), achieve lower grades at school than their peers. Related to this study, Halloween costume choices for girls may reflect a damaging preoccupation with being sexually attractive. For example, boys have multiple costume options ranging from scary, funny, nerdy and powerful, whereas girls are limited in scope and increasingly sexualized with features such a fitted bodess , short skirts and heels. Wearing a sexy costume may not negatively affect a girls development, but continued exposure to sex messages can lead to decreased self esteem, body dissatisfaction, eating disorders and depression.

These problems are serious and just because something is sold and displayed in a store, should not be perceived as the norm when it comes to body image, sexiness or fashionability. Halloween should be an opportunity for people to show off their creativity and not be a time when women feel they SHOULD wear sexy costumes but be the one night a year when women/ girls break from this.

References:

Goodin, S.M., Denburg, A.V., Mumen, S.K., & Smolak, L. (2011). Putting on sexiness: A content analysis of the presence of sexualizing characteristics in girls’ clothing. Journal of Sex Roles, 65(1-2), pp. 1-12.

The Guardian (2015). Women. Lost youth: turning young girls into sex symbols. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/sep/18/lost-youth-young-girls

The Guardian (2015). Halloween. Why are Halloween costumes so ‘slutty’? Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2014/oct/20/halloween-costumes-slutty-sexy-witch-women-creativity-boob

The University of Texas (2014). Sexualized body image has negative effect on young adolescent girls. Retrieved from http://www.utexas.edu/news/2014/10/29/body-image-adolescent-girls/
Valley (2014). The link between Halloween costumes and body image. Retrieved from http://www.valleymagazinepsu.com

Article-Buzz (n.d.).Fashion. Sexy Halloween costumes advocate healthy body image. Retrieved from http://www.article-buzz.com/Article/Sexy-Halloween-Costumes-Advocate-Healthy-Body-Image/326548#.VQcwZe9_n4h

The Body Image Therapy Center (2014). Sexualization of girls’ halloween costumes. Retrieved from http://thebodyimagecenter.com/news-blogs/body-image/sexualization-girls-halloween-costumes/

“You Throw Like a Girl:’’ The Effect Stereotypes Have on Women in Sport

by Cassie S.

From the beginning of a little girl playing peewee sports all the way to a young adult playing at a professional level, women are always stereotyped by society. They are viewed as the weaker sex and they are valued more on the physical appearance of the body and less on their actual performance. These stereotypes come from the traditional gender roles that have been created by today’s society. The stereotypes that young children are exposed to at such a young age and are raised into believing can have a huge impact on their athletic performance. Much research has been done on the correlation between stereotype threats and the under performance of female athletes.

A stereotype threat occurs when a person performs worse at a task due to extra pressure that is added because of a negative stereotype associated with their group’s performance (Hively & El-Alayli, 2014.) Women often underperform at an athletic task when thinking about gender stereotypes related to athleticism. When females begin to think about the negative stereotypes related to their gender and sport, it causes them to worry an extra amount about their performance. If they perform poorly, it would only (falsely) verify the negative stereotype associated with their group. This extra amount of worry leads to a large gain of pressure which leads to a poor performance.

These negative beliefs are preventing women from performing to their full potential in sport. Hively and El-Alaylo (2014) compared female athletes’ performance against that of male athletes under two circumstances: when a stereotype reminder was present and when the threat of a default stereotype was specifically removed. The study consisted of both male and female basketball and tennis athletes who performed at an elite level. All athletes were asked to perform two athletic tasks within their sport. At random, the participants were either told that there was a gender difference in performance or that there was no gender difference in performance on the tasks.

Results from this study determined two things: When participants were told gender affects task performance, women performed worse than men and when told there was no gender difference, women and men performed equally well. Results of this study show just how powerful these negative stereotypes associated with women and sport can be. Women have come this far in sport, yet still struggle with the stereotypes that society continues to attach to their sex. The facts are that women CAN throw and catch, kick and score goals. It is hard enough for women to breakthrough in sport without the extra pressure added to their performance due to these stereotype threats.

I believe that a great way for women to overcome the barriers that they face with stereotype threats is to look up to some of the amazing athletic female role models in sport today. For example, Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch is an amazing role model for any girl to look up to. She makes boys wish they could throw or run ‘’like a girl.’’ She is one of the best pitchers in softball history and an all around amazing softball player. You can watch the links below to see Jennie and Team USA in action!

http://larrybrownsports.com/everything-else/jennie-finch-blew-fastballs-by-adrian-peterson/235957

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPO1jWLZZrA

Although Jennie has retired from her softball career, she still continues to run camps and coach teams. She is still providing guidance, inspiration and motivation to girls of all ages to work hard to accomplish their goals and achieve their dreams. There are so many other positive female athletes in sport today that provide hundreds of examples of how strong females can be in the sport world today.

When someone tells me that I throw like a girl I don’t take it as an insult, I take it as a compliment. Throwing like a girl, to me, means throwing like Jennie Finch, which is something any female or male should be extremely proud of. Girls can perform just as well as boys in any sport, regardless of any stereotypes associated with their gender.

References:

Hively, K., & El-Alayli, A. (2014). ”You throw like a girl:” The effect of stereotype threat on women’s athletic performance and gender stereotypes. Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 15, 1, 48-55.

Why is there a stereotype that gymnastics is a “woman’s sport”?

by Desiray W.

From as long as I can remember gymnastics has always been considered a “woman’s sport”. Although there are plenty of men that participate in this sport, the majority of people that participate is woman. In most cases boys usually get teased and made fun of when they are young if they are in gymnastics. Our society today is a bit more accepting of it then they were in the past. But yet we still see stereotypes. Different aspects of gymnastics may construct as “feminine” such as the leotards, apparatus and competition style. Therefore gymnastics is considered feminine because of structure and aspects of the sport itself. Although many that do not participate in the sport do not know what it takes how much hard work and dedication you have to to put in just in order to be a competitive gymnast.

The difference that many may not know is that woman’s gymnastics and men’s gymnastics is very different. Woman’s events include balance beam, uneven bars, floor and vault. While men’s gymnastics include, High bar, pommel horse, rings, Parallel bars, floor and vault. The only events that woman and men share is floor and vault which are power tumbling apparatus. Men’s gymnastics requires a tremendous amount of muscular strength, endurance, flexibility as do woman’s gymnastics. While both men and woman require strength, men’s routines focus more on displaying his strength through various holds. Women’s routines focus more on artistry and grace. Gymnastics is the sport with the most difference between the men’s and women’s competitions rather than any other sport.

Our society has been taught to think of sorts in terms of “genderedness”. Men are encouraged and taught to participate in strenuous, aggressive, competitive teams sports while woman are commonly steered towards individual aesthetically pleasing activities such as gymnastics (Schmalz & Kerstetter, 2006). When any gender goes out of their social norm of what is expected from them they often get teased by other young people their age. While we see that woman are becoming more accepted in what they would call “masculine sports” men are not near as accepted in what they call “woman’s sport”. Many male gymnasts are bullied or looked down upon by their peers, as gymnastics is largely seen as a sport traditionally “for girls”.

Studies have even proven that gymnastics is one of the hardest sports in the world it requires a tremendous amount of physical strength, flexibility, power, agility, coordination, grace, balance and control. This gender stereotype has to stop! Everyone should be able to feel comfortable participating in whatever sport they want to without being teased and labeled.

In conclusion I believe the sport of gymnastics needs to be largely re-evaluated mainly by the portions of the sport that perpetuate stereotypes regarding the femininity of men if they are in the sport of gymnastics. Something we struggle with stereotypes not only in athletics but in everyday life as well. This blog post I have made is not only for gymnasts themselves but for coaches, peers, family and especially for parents that are too scared to put their boys in gymnastics because they think that it may cause a harder upbringing for their child being bullied for it. Remember it’s not about what others think, it’s about what you’re passionate about.

References

Schmalz, D. and Kerstetter, D. (2006). Girlie girls and manly men: Children’s stigma consciousness of gender in sports and physical activities. Journal of Leisure Research, 38(4), 536-557

The Supermom Era

By Amanda Blackmore

There is a new superhero in town and she does not wear a cape, have invisibility powers, or produce webbing out of her wrists. She does, however, perform seemingly impossible tasks without asking for any recognition. She is your mother. Women with children have reached a new level of busy and there is no end in sight. What does this mean for future generations? Will our generation’s daughters be as run-off-their-feet as our mothers are?

Generally, the percentage of women participating in the work force has increased for the past thirty years reaching 59.3% in 2008 (StatCan, 2014). In other words, our mothers are more likely to be a part of the work force now than our grandmothers were in their day. Furthermore, the employment rate of women with children under 16 who are living at home has increased from 39.1% in 1976 to 72.9% in 2009 (StatCan, 2014). It is also known that, generally, women are the primary caregivers in the family when the family includes a heterosexual couple. A generation of supermoms has appeared because women are now expected to work outside the home and continue to be the primary caregiver at home.

This seems like an unreasonable expectation. When I was growing up, my mother stayed home with me and my three siblings and she was busy enough simply taking care of all the unpaid work associated with running a household like caregiving, making meals, and cleaning. I cannot imagine how our household would have survived without her around every day if she were to have had a full time job outside the home. However, we see that employment rates for women with children are increasing. Women are now taking on the role of both caregiver and wage-earner, and thus we have the supermom.

The supermom is portrayed in commercials and television shows as the norm and the ideal parent. The media tells young women that being a good mother means being a supermom. She must be able to handle all household tasks perfectly, and she must also be able to hold down a full time job. To further express this ideal, men in commercials and some television sitcoms are portrayed as idiots who cannot adequately handle house work or caring for children, especially after coming home after a long day of work. These male characters encourage women to believe that they must do it all.

With this new supermom construct, women’s leisure time is taking a major hit. When a mother is expected to make supper, do all the housework, and put the kids to bed all after she has returned from work, how does she find any leisure time for herself? Leisure time has so many psychological and physical health benefits. It is difficult to deny that most people living in the Western culture could benefit from more leisure time. So why do we pressure women to be supermoms?

It is crucial for the wellbeing of future generations of women that we give them back their leisure time and abolish the construct of the supermom. The media is full of unrealistic expectations for women, and young women are learning that they must be completely exhausted all the time to be considered a good mother. Although we cannot always control what is displayed by the media, we can think more critically about how we expect our mothers and our female peers to behave.

Consider these YouTube videos. One has a humorous take on the demands of motherhood while the other warns of actual danger associated with being a supermom.

1. Let It Go – Mom Parody
2. Go Red for Women presents: ‘Just a Little Heart Attack’

 

 

 

Granpa doesn’t figure skate – How are we influencing the minds of our families throughout the ages?

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.

References

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.