Female Image in Sport

by Mackenzie M.

The image women display in sport is often considered negative by fans, society, and other athletes. Women in general face sexism, lack of opportunity, stereotypes, and social expectations. Women in sport face all the same issues with the addition of a constant internal battle regarding what they are willing to sacrifice and compromise in order to further their competitive career. It is well known that female athletes tend to pose in magazines for campaigns or products in order to receive adequate financial compensation in their athletic profession; however, this leaves them open to sexual objectification and shifts the focus from their chosen sport to their physical appearance. Unlike men, women are rarely pictured in a manner that involves the sport they compete in. In the few photos women are featured in a sport context, the pictures are highly sexualized with the intention of making the athlete sexy and appealing.

Many would argue that if women wanted to be taken seriously in sport, they would not subject themselves to this kind of publicity; however, sports leagues do not pay women a tenth of what they pay their male athletes. This leads to women looking for other compensation options, which involves posing nude or in minimal clothing a majority of the time. One study declared “when sportswomen were given a choice regarding self-representation, they emphasized their physical power, strength, and athleticism” (Kane, LaVoie, & Fink, 2013, p.273). Some of the ways women modify their appearance involves maintaining a feminine appearance, avoiding aggressive behaviour, and establishing a heterosexual reputation (Davis-Delano, Polock, and Vose, 2009). Female athletes are aware that these elements can further their career, lead to endorsements, and increase their publicity; therefore, they expose themselves in this way. Anna Kournikova and Danica Patrick are two talented athletes that have benefitted from their physical appearance. Being physically appealing has garnered them more public support and more attention. Other female athletes are criticized for their overly muscular physique and displaying more masculine behaviour. Women are considered either too muscular for a female athlete or too thin to play competitively.

Sexuality also plays a role in the image female athletes portray to the world. Many women feel they must act especially feminine in order to avoid being called butch or gay. As a society, we make assumptions regarding the sexuality of individuals based on their body or image and female athletes are no strangers to these presumptions. Female athletes are more captivating to the public when they exhibit heterosexual actions. One opinion is that negative outcomes for women can be minimized if women adhere to hegemonic femininity (Butler, 1990). This version consists of “submissiveness, dependency, concern over physical appearance and emotional ability” (Hardy, 2015, p.155). It is also stated that in sports with a male majority, women have a higher chance of being labelled with masculine attributes. Simply participating in sport regardless of physique automatically subjects women’s image to evaluation. Despite their objectives to become great athletes, their task also includes looking desirable to the audience, in particular men, in order to be relevant in sport discussion. The need to focus so much time and attention on femininity becomes a deterrence for many female athletes; therefore, their desire to participate decreases. Unfortunately, our society is so obsessed with image, and as a result it has directly affected female participation in sport.

Sport in its purest form encompasses athletic ability, skill, and performance; however, as a society we have corrupted it and altered its primary focus to appearance whether on or off the field. In today’s sport, the trend consists of the most popular and successful athletes being the most attractive; however, in men’s sport appearance is rarely correlated with the success of their career. For women, success in sport is not only dependent on the hours they commit to training or the skills they develop, but on how the world sees them. Their careers can often be at the mercy of public opinion. This also sends a negative message to young girls who often look up to female athletes. They are left with the concept that beauty is necessary to be successful in sport and that athleticism, talent, and hard work come second. Women in sport should have the opportunity be seen as strong, capable, talented athletes while also being allowed to display a feminine or masculine image. “Samantha, a basketball player, chose to be photographed in a dress while standing in the gym as a way to combine her athletic and female identities” (Kane et al., p.273).

Image should be irrelevant in sport. As someone who played competitive hockey growing up, I quickly became a fan of watching the sport on TV and going to live games. The enjoyment I received from the sport was from witnessing teams go head to head to outperform one another in aggressive competition. My interest in hockey was not contingent on the attractiveness of the male athletes on either team, it was based on the amazing skill they possessed. Women are also fierce athletes who unfortunately have to deal with their skills being constantly overshadowed by their physical appearance. Attention does not always get paid to the best hockey, soccer, or rugby player, it is often directed to the athlete with the complete package. The athletes with a certain image that can sell merchandise or promote companies are the ones consistently talked about and supported. While playing girls hockey, I also witnessed the assumptions girls made about other girls in regard to their appearance. They would judge players on other teams based on how long their hair was, the clothes they wore, and how aggressive they were. Unfortunately, men are not the only ones who use image to attribute certain characteristics to individuals, women are also guilty of this. As athlete’s women endure endless scrutiny and face stereotypes; therefore, they must support each other and the decisions they make in their athletic career in order to break down the image barriers they face and redirect the focus of female sport.


Davis, L.R., Pollock, A., Vose, J.E. (2009). Apologetic behavior among female athletes: A new questionnaire and initial results. International Review for the Sociology of Sport. 44(2-3), 131-150. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690209335524

Hardy, E. (2015) The female ‘apologetic’ behaviour within Canadian women’s rugby: Athlete perceptions and media influences. Sport in Society,18(2), 155-167. DOI: 10.1080/17430437.2013.854515

Kane, M.J., LaVoi, N.M., Fink, J.S. (2013) Exploring elite female athletes’ interpretations of sport media images: A window into the construction of social identity and “selling sex” in women’s sports. Communication & Sport, 1(3), 269-298. DOI: 10.1177/2167479512473585


Model or Role Model

By Kendra U.

In the book Women, Media and Sport (1994), there is a section that focuses solely on reflecting gender values. Pamela Creedon’s purpose throughout this chapter is to expand insights on how the playing fields in sports (rinks, fields, courts) serve as a metaphor for gender values. She states that “at the most fundamental level, gender influences which games or activities are defined as ‘real’ sports” (Creedon, 1994).  The media will choose which sporting events they want broadcasted for the world to see. A majority of the time it is men documented and they are the ones categorized as ‘real’ athletes performing in ‘real’ sports. Media can make or break a sport or an athlete and I believe this statement is highly influenced by one’s gender in the sport environment.

Being a male is a privilege in the sport setting; they get opportunities that women do not. Women are not granted access to play professional sports that are broadcasted on television such as football, baseball, or hockey in the elite-level leagues that men do. This is most likely due to the fact that society perceives women as less qualified, powerful or physical than men (Creedon, 1994). Don’t get me wrong, women do have access to sports. Most of the time they have a place to play any sport that a woman chooses to pursue, however, not to the extent that men do. Since the beginning of organized sport, it was designed by and for white, middle class men. Still today, a sport must be appealing to men for it to be effective. It is assumed that male sports have mostly male spectators; while most women’s sports must be attractive for men and women spectators in order to be successful (Dworkin & Messner, 2002).

Male athletes get paid a significant amount to play sports on television, regardless of how good they are, or how often they play. Cristiano Ronaldo is a professional soccer player who has a salary of $58 million with an endorsement income of $35 million, meaning he has a total income of $93 million. Jason Spezza is a third line National Hockey League player for the Dallas Stars, meaning he does not play as often as most players and his salary income is $7.5 million. Keeping those salaries in mind, let’s looks at Serena Williams, an American professional tennis player who was the highest paid female athlete in 2017. Her salary was $8 million with $19 million coming from endorsements adding to a total income of $27 million. She was ranked number one in singles on eight separate occasions and her salary is a seventh of the ‘best’ male athlete. Thinking about these statistics is insane!

Most women athletes get paid much more from participating in commercials, posing in magazines or partaking in advertisements than just earning a salary from playing their sport. In short, you could say that female athletes must be a part time model aside from their great athletic abilities to survive in a sport career. With that being said, would a less attractive female athlete be able to make a living from sport? Most likely no, because they would not be chosen to be in those magazines and advertisements. If you are a professional male athlete, there is a high chance that you are very well known in the public eye.  If you are a professional women athlete you have to be very well known by the public; women need media to be a successful athlete and make a living out of their sport.

So, let’s get this straight, men are able to play professional sports that get broadcasted on television daily, do not have to worry about their appearance to succeed, while getting paid an outstanding amount that can provide for their families and much more. Women, on the other hand, can be excellent at their chosen sport, train and play as much as men do, while they are rewarded with little to no television broadcasting, extremely low salary compared to male athletes, cannot survive financially to support their family and must have part time jobs on the side. Women need to put way more effort and plea into their sport to get half of the benefits men do.

After gaining all of this knowledge, what can society do to improve these limitations that women athletes suffer? Firstly, from a young age, we can teach and inform children on gender equality. Parents could show no difference in toys or games that their kids play with at home. Coaches, recreational leaders or teachers in gym class should also do the same as they interact with children growing up. Along with teaching children, school systems should also provide the same opportunities for boys and girl; offer the same sports, uniforms, travel money, practice facilities and scholarships that boys have usually received much more than girls in the previous generations.  If children grow up believing that girls and boys deserve the same opportunities, there should be no surprises when it actually does happen in the future.

Lastly, I believe society and the media, needs to put more superiority and pride on women’s sport. People make such a big deal over men’s sport which is why they are the ones get broadcasted all of the time. If the public puts more focus and attention towards women’s sport it could be more successful, leading to women striving financially, solely through their athletic abilities regardless of all the other factors that currently make a woman a successful athlete. This could be done by perhaps having a women’s Stanley cup to fight for each year, or offering a Vince Lombardi trophy for women who play football. Having these big events for women would draw much more attention to female sports and ultimately lead to the media wanting to document it. If women can get more awareness, praise and commendation on their sports, they too, just like men, can be a role model rather than a model to succeed in sport.


Creedon, P. J. (1994). Women, Media and Sport: Challenging Gender Values. Sage. Retrieved from:https://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=kn85DQAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=media+sport+and+gender&ots=hrlSiPBkGQ&sig=5bCSPHubmtbBGUtVXA6Yq7B7J1k#v=onepage&q&f=false

Scraton, S., & Flintoff, A. (2002). Gender and Sport: A Reader. Routledge. Retrieved from: https://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=pGHK4I09ioAC&oi=fnd&pg=PA17&dq=media+sport+and+gender&ots=PSI9-CN_4z&sig=XxhttFD_z5UZqL2utvpJI8p9-LY#v=onepage&q&f=false


Media’s Negative Portrayal of Women in Sport

By Ryan L.

“Despite the tremendous increase in female participation, many have argued that sport as an institution continues to perpetuate male dominance in society” (Darvin & Sagas, 2017, p.178). Although much progress has been made over the last century in portraying women as legitimate athletes in a variety of sports, there are still many ways in which we continue to marginalize them. The sports media industry, in particular, plays a significant role in the continued negative portrayal of female athletes. Whether it be through objectification, the use of sexist language, or even through the hiring of woman for sports television networks, the media continues to emphasize the masculinity of sport as a whole, while preserving the femininity of female athletes.

It is a well-known fact that men’s sport receives significantly more media coverage than their female counterparts; what often falls under the radar, however, is the difference in the quality of media coverage between males and females. “An investigation of the production–reception relationship for women’s events found that these broadcasts contained fewer camera angles, fewer special effects, and fewer shot types than comparable men’s events” (Darvin & Sagas, 2017, p.181). Due to the lack of effort to provide quality coverage of female sport in the media, viewers may be less likely to find female sports as exciting as male sports, which may contribute to the large gender differences in media coverage. In addition to this, female athletes often receive more media attention for their physical appearance, rather than for their physical abilities. Regardless of how far woman may deviate from the typical gender stereotypes in sport, they continue to be objectified. Take former UFC champion Ronda Rousey, for example. As a mixed martial artist, she possesses a number of “masculine” characteristics that are opposite of what society expects a female athlete to possess: aggressive, strong, powerful, and muscular. Despite her “manliness”, she can still be seen posing in a bikini on the cover of the popular Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. This type of objectification of female athletes in the media tends to mislead society into believing that in order for a female to succeed in the sports world, they must not only perform at a high level, but also look good while doing so. Along with the quality and type of media coverage that female athletes receive, the use of gendered language has also led society to portray sport as a male-dominated domain.

Although it may seem to be a minor detail when looking at the various factors contributing to media’s negative portrayal of women in sport, the language used in sports media can significantly impact the way we see sport. Fink (2015) used the term “gender marking” when reviewing the differences in media coverage between males and females; this refers to the “verbal and visual presentation of male athletes and men’s sport as being the norm, while rendering female athletes and women’s competitions secondary status” (p.333). Much of the language seen in today’s sports is gender marked; for example, the use of the word “Women’s” tends to be included for female sports leagues, while the word “Men’s” is often omitted in male sports (e.g., Woman’s National Basketball Association vs. National Basketball Association). Although it may go unnoticed, this type of language assumes that men’s leagues are the standard, while woman’s leagues come second. The use of gender-marked language can also be seen in sports commentary, where we often hear the term “female athlete” as opposed to “athlete”. Weiller and Higgs (1999) observed gender differences in media coverage of a men’s and a woman’s golf event, and found that gendered language was used 36 times in the woman’s event as opposed to just 8 times in the men’s event. As long as the media continues to imply that sport is a male domain through the language that they use, woman will continue to be limited in their opportunities to be respected as athletes. When looking at sports television networks specifically, female sportscasters generally play different roles than their male colleagues, which can also contribute to the negative portrayal of woman in the sport’s world.

As an avid sports watcher, I can recall very few times where I have seen a woman as a sports analyst; instead, they are usually responsible for recapping sporting events or interviewing athletes. Rather than being hired for their knowledge of sports and their ability to dissect different sports plays, females seem to be hired for their physical appearance and their ability to present news stories. Questioning the credibility of woman in the sports broadcasting field could potentially carry over to the actual sports setting, where woman may feel as though they are not as capable as men to excel in sports. Based on recent studies, evidence suggests that women are actually just as capable, if not more capable than men in their ability to present and dissect sporting events. Harris (2012) explored females’ credibility when commenting on male and female sporting events, specifically basketball; results found that both men and woman categorized as high sports watchers gave the female sportscaster higher dynamism and qualification ratings than the male sportscaster. If sports television networks can move towards a more equal distribution of male and female sportscasters, then viewers may begin to see that females are just as knowledgeable in the area of sports as men are, and may therefore shift society’s perception of sport as being more for males.

In order to continue to work towards gender equality across the sports spectrum, several adjustments need to be made in the way media portrays women’s role in sport. Media outlets need to emphasize the athletic qualities of female athletes, rather than objectifying them and persuading viewers to admire their physical attractiveness instead. Sports organizations and commentators need to be aware of sexist language, and work towards using more gender-neutral language in order to move away from the notion that males are the dominant gender when it comes to sport. Females working for sports media networks need to be recognized more for their ability to analyze sport rather than their ability to simply present sports news. With media being one of, if not the largest influencer on society’s perception of sport, major changes in this domain are crucial in order to provide an equal opportunity for woman participating in sport.



Darvin, L., & Sagas, M. (2017). Objectification in Sport Media: Influences on a Future Woman’s Sporting Event. International Journal Of Sport Communication, 10(2), 178-195.

Fink, J. S. (2015). Female athletes, women’s sport, and the sport media commercial complex: Have we really “come a long way, baby”? Sport Management Review (Elsevier Science), 18(3), 331-342.

Harris, K. (2012). Gender Stereotypes, Gender Segregation, and Credibility: Crossing the Lines in Sports Media. International Journal Of Sport & Society, 3(2), 137-159.

Weiller, K., & Higgs, C. (1999). Television coverage of professional golf: a focus on gender. Women In Sport & Physical Activity Journal, 8(1), 83-100.


Athletes and Androgen: Developments in the establishment of eligibility for women to compete in competition based on hormone levels.

by Jacob W.

The aim of this blog post is to educate stakeholders within all sport and recreation communities by bringing attention to the oppression of female athletes with androgen levels higher than what is deemed to be acceptable by governing agencies of sport, specifically the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). The IAAF have, until recently, not allowed female athletes to compete as a woman if their body contained greater than the conventional amount of androgen hormones found in a woman’s body. In the interest of becoming knowledgeable to the plight of these athletes that have been oppressed, the following points will be discussed in this blog post. Firstly, a layman’s explanation of the function of the androgen hormones in the human body will be provided to the reader; secondly, the logic behind IAAF decisions will be elucidated; lastly, the process of changing the IAAF practice of exclusivity will be explored. In the concluding paragraph, the implications for stakeholders in the sport and recreation communities caused by these evolutions in the oppression of certain women will be expanded upon.

The two most prevalent types of the androgen gene are testosterone and androstenedione, which are linked to the male reproductive system and associations to having contained biological characteristics that are commonly associated to the stereotypical traits that have been used to identify the male gender (Simon, n.d.). For that reason, men have traditionally had much higher levels of the androgen hormones produced by their bodies than women. The hormones are naturally produced by a woman’s body as well, but the hormones typically play a different function in a woman’s body in comparison to within a man’s body. One of the principal roles that the androgen hormones plays for a woman’s body is to be processed into estrogen, which is commonly associated to having stereotypical traits that are commonly used to identify the female gender (Simon, n.d.).

The logic behind the IAAF decision to exclude women with high levels of androgen hormones from participation in competition was that the presence of greater than normal levels of these hormones in the female body provides the athlete with an unfair advantage compared to women with normal levels. Although the hormones can be naturally produced at higher amounts than what has been established as normal for the female body, in some instances athletes look to enhance their body’s production of androgens with illicit substances to increase their athletic performance (Devine, 2018). The IAAF claims that the intention behind their decision is to provide athletes with what they consider to be a fair and competitive environment, and to discourage athletes from taking and abusing banned substances that unnaturally enhance the body’s productions of androgens (Bermon, Vilain, Fénichel, & Ritzén, 2015). Even if the intentions of the IAAF are not to demonize athletes, this is effectively the outcome of their quest to fulfill their “responsibility to create a level playing field in female sport and … to protect the sport… carefully.” (Press Association, 2018).

Until recently, The IAAF had banned female athletes who were found to naturally have levels of androgen that are higher than a predetermined threshold from being eligible to compete in sport as a woman (Macur, 2017). This practice of oppressing certain women by not allowing them to compete in the IAAF based on the presence of androgens in their body has since been overruled by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in 2015, after an appeal to the hormone regulations for eligibility was granted for the interim. The CAS allowed the IAAF a two-year window to provide scientific documentation that supports the restoration of the ruling to ban female athletes with high androgen levels from participation (Kessel, 2018). The two-year period ended in the summer of 2017, and the CAS allowed for a two-month extension for the IAAF to submit their basis for the justification of reinstating the ban. After the additional allotted time the IAAF submitted documents to the CAS to have the appeal decision reversed, in the documents they stated that there is reason to assert the belief that abnormally high levels of the hormones in question increases athletic performance (Bermon, 2017). Despite the attempt to provide the CAS with sufficient evidence that elevated levels of androgen hormones in women can be attributed to an increase in sport performance, the IAAF could only provide proof of a 1 to 3 % increase in competitive advantage among female athletes whose bodies naturally have additional amounts of the androgen hormones (Bermon, 2017). Critics of the stance taken by the IAAF have noted that this documentation of the supposed advantage of a 1 to 3 % increase in athletic performance is negligible and that the recording of the increase in competitive advantage do not take in account other relevant variables that may impact the reported increase (Sőnksen, et al. 2018). The IAFF acknowledged this possibility as well in the documents that were submitted to the CAS, and ultimately could not deliver proof of the existence of a competitive advantage comparable of the difference between men and women which has been previously established as 10 to 12 % being present in women who have more than the typical number of androgens present in their body to those that do not (Sőnksen, et al. 2018). However, the new findings presented by the IAFF to the CAS were sufficient enough to once again prolong the official decision on a ruling by another six months beginning in January 2018 (Press Association, 2018).

The implications for stakeholders in the sport and recreation communities caused by these evolutions in the handling of this oppressed group of women are of a large scale. Decisions on eligibility that are made by CAS, which acts as the international authority for litigation, mediation and arbitration for sport tend to trickle down and in turn imposes itself upon sport and recreation communities. Stakeholders of these communities must educate themselves on not only the developments related to judgments rendered on the matter, but the makeup of the components involved as well, so that they can think critically, and make decisions that they come up with on their own. Most importantly, progressing to the establishment of an ultimate and inclusive environment for all people to participate in sport regardless of their hormonal output is in the best interest of humanity as implementing practices of inclusivity can lead to the widespread acceptance of people who have once been marginalized and oppressed in the past.


Bermon, S., Vilain, E., Fénichel, P., & Ritzén, M. (2015). Women With Hyperandrogenism in Elite Sports: Scientific and Ethical Rationales for Regulating. The Journal Of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 100(3), 828-830. http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jc.2014-3603

Bermon, S. (2017). Androgens and athletic performance of elite female athletes. Current Opinion In Endocrinology & Diabetes And Obesity, 24(3), 246-251. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/med.0000000000000335

Devine, J. (2018). Gender, Steroids, and Fairness in Sport. Sport, Ethics And Philosophy, 1-9. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17511321.2017.1404627

Kessel, A. (2018). The unequal battle: privilege, genes, gender and power. The Guardian. Retrieved 20 February 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/18/the-unequal-battle-privilege-genes-gender-and-power

Macur, J. (2017). What Qualifies a Woman to Compete as a Woman? An Ugly Fight Resumes. The New York Times. Retrieved 20 February 2018, from https://nyti.ms/2hsYvfW

Press Association (2018). CAS suspends controversial IAAF hyperandrogenism rule for six more months. Daily Mail. Retrieved 20 February 2018, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-5289497/CAS-suspends-controversial-IAAF-hyperandrogenism-rule-six-months.html

Simon, J. (n.d.). Diseases & Conditions > Androgen. Healthy women. Retrieved 20 February 2018, from http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/androgen

Sőnksen, P., Bavington, L., Boehning, T., Cowan, D., Guha, N., & Holt, R. et al. (2018). Hyperandrogenism controversy in elite women’s sport: an examination and critique of recent evidence. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Retrieved 20 February 2018, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2017-098446


Women’s Oppression in Sport

By Brandon B.

In class we have discussed that women are seen as the weaker sex, that it is their responsibility to take care of a child because they are more nurturing then males are. That the way women and men are represented in western civilization are sex symbols, stay-at-home moms, and that they are supposed to be subservient to men, and males are supposed to be seen as the money maker, the overall supplier, and this masculine emotionless being. Because of old traditions being placed on women to be confined to the house and keep it clean, they have no time to have leisure time when they are oppressed.

“Women in sport. These words mean different things to different people. For some they are a contradiction in terms. For others they are evidence and cause for celebration of women’s achievements in a progressive and equitable age” (Dewar, 1991). This quote seems like the perfect example of how both sides of the continuum are seen. Traditionally, men do not synonymize women and sport. It is usually men that are seen with the word sport, mainly because there are so many male dominant sports that the most popular.

In the NHL (National Hockey League), one of the most popular professional leagues, Manon Rheaume was the only female to play in a traditionally male dominant sport (Rutherford, 2017). She only got to play one period in one pre-season game for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992 and was invited back the next pre-season, but did not make the team. She put the stamp on the NHL that it is not just a men’s game.

Fast forward to 2014, and Shannon Szabados is suiting up for the Edmonton Oilers for a practice (Mertz, n.d.). Shannon was welcomed by players and fans alike with even Twitter wanting her to join the team if Oilers goaltender Viktor Fasth could not make it to the next game. Global News reported that within 30 minutes that request for Szabados to play was retweeted 444 times. Unfortunately, Szabados did not get to play and instead Edmonton had a University of Alberta Golden Bears goalie be the back-up for their next game. In these instances, why are women not given the opportunity to compete against men. Both female goaltenders have played for team Canada, Szabados received a gold, and Rheaume received a silver. The opportunities are there. However, these teams are doing everything in their power to play hard and promote the game at the same time. Their view is most likely one that is saying women might get hurt in the process. These tend to be older white males, that do not want to see the sport differ from what they have seen and what they are seeing now.

In Dewar’s (1991) article, she speaks about the problem of letting the facts speak for themselves, which she disagrees with, because the “facts” are apparently all you need to know about a person, which is untrue. There are adversities and issues that must be overcome to be the person everyone is today, but in female athlete’s cases, is that ever spoken about? No. What is shared or cover is how much hard work they put into training or their family and support networks. These are the feel-good moments for the media.

Media oppresses women by determining what questions to ask and the odd requests that they make. For example, when Roger Federer won the Australian open on January 28th all the websites featuring the Australian open only displayed Roger Federer, and very limited material on the female singles winner, Caroline Wozniacki. Sport is a male dominated event, where the only places/sports females will be featured in are ones which are graceful or beautiful such as gymnastics or figure skating. Those sports, however, come the issue that what they wear is highly sexualized and leaves little for the stereotypical male mind to think about. This may be one of the reason why viewings of Olympic beach volleyball are so high. The camera angles the media chooses – for example, to show viewers of backsides of players in what is essentially bikini bottoms – exploits women. Any attempt to change uniform in the highest sporting stage will result in a fine. In our current world, where we are trying to be as inclusive, supportive, and understanding, we instead place limitations, barriers, and other obstacles in order to keep things the exact same year after year.

Unfortunately, unless there is change in a managerial position, places like the NHL, or the IOC (International Olympic Committee), will continue their simplistic ways to keep women engaging in a sport in a strictly feminine way. Women should be able to play in the same league as men and get paid the exact same amount as their male counterparts. In an instance where both men and women compete in the same stage, women should be allowed to compete in the same events as men. For example, women are not allowed to compete in Nordic Combined, which is Ski jumping and Cross-country skiing together in the same event. Yet, women are allowed to compete in the individual events. For some reason women have not been permitted to compete in one event that has two separate programs.

Women in today’s world face enough scrutiny from not getting career opportunities, not being paid equally, or under-utilized and that does not make it fair, it would not be fair if the genders were swapped and males were in that position. Women need to be given opportunities to grow, be able to support their family to their extent, and not have to be singled out as inferior in a social setting. Once women are included as much as men are, real progress will be made, and issues will become a thing of the past. Women’s input is just as important if not more important than men’s.


Dewar, A. (1991). Incorporation of Resistance? Towards an Analysis of Women’s Responses to Sexual Oppression in Sport. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 26(1), 15–23.

Mertz, E. (2014, March 5). Olympian Shannon Szabados practices with Oilers. Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/1189619/olympian-shannon-szabados-practices-with-oilers/

Rutherford, K. (2017, September 23). Manon Rheaume realizes her NHL debut was ‘not just another game.’ Retrieved from http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/manon-rheaume-realizes-nhl-debut-not-just-another-game/


US Women’s Hockey – Aiming for Gold

By Cole M.

Almost a year after the United States Women’s Ice Hockey team won their case for annual salaries against Hockey USA with the threat of a boycott at the World Championships, they are search for a gold medal in PyeongChang. The Women’s national team also received parity with the men’s team on travel stipends, accommodations, per diems and disability insurance. Prior to the new settlement with USA Hockey, the women were awarded $6000 annually every Olympiad (4 years) along with travel expenses. USA Women’s National Team members will now receive close to 70,000$ annually along with all the same benefits and insurance as the men’s team (Angell & Raphael, 2017).

The next generation of Women’s Team USA can thank the current members of the team for the headway they made and road they paved. Not only will they benefit from annual salaries, allowing them to train full time without the distraction of employment or financial burden, they have also created an optimal training and developmental pathway. The new gender equity deal also aims at more publicity and marketing for the women’s program along with developmental camps and teams for women starting at younger ages, similar to men’s programs (Larkin, 2015).

With annual salaries, a bigger travel budget, better marketing and publicity what barriers are there to stop this juggernaut from capturing gold at PyeongChang? With three straight gold medals at the ¾ Nations Cup and four straight gold’s World Championships, the only gold drought the American’s are in, is at the Olympics.

Since their inception in 2008 the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) and the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) have been the home for most Canadian and American Olympians with the exception of some of the younger players still playing NCAA Division 1 in he United States. As a relatively new league, the NWHL it has had its ups and downs and in 2015 raised the league salary cap to $270,000 per team. This equals out to an average of $15 000 per player on an 18-player roster (Larkin, 2015). Facing financial difficulties in 2017, the NWHL was forced to reduce salaries, while the CWHL finally implemented pay to their players with a salary cap of $100,000 per team which equals out to $2000-10,000 per player (Sportsnet,2017).

While the top players (NWHL), which tend to be Olympians, have salaries up to $25 000 this is still not a sustainable living salary, especially to those training for the Olympics. But in perspective, the women who play on the American National Olympic Team will earn $70,000 from Hockey USA along with their salaries from their NWHL which would leave most players earning in the range of $80,000 to $100,000 before endorsements and royalties from jersey sales (Larkin, 2015).

While an Olympic Gold is about the only International medal these American women don’t have in their trophy case at this moment, the wait shouldn’t be long. With their only real competition coming from the Canadians north of the boarder that have fended off four straight Olympic Gold medals, the new annual salaries may be the key to defeating the Canadians. What these annual salaries have done for the American women is allowed them to focus all their time needed to train and practice for competition while eliminating the previous barriers of cost and employment.

Their status of being on the National team is considered their employment and allowed them to focus all their time needed on hockey or training for national events including the Olympics. While the Canadian women still hold on to their four consecutive Olympic Gold medals, those who play in the CWHL are not given respectable annual salaries and have to find employment elsewhere in order to put a roof over their heads, feed their families and all the while still trying to find the time needed to train and keep their status as an Olympic athlete.

This pay gap between the American and Canadian women has pushed the American’s into a professional athlete culture similar to the National Hockey League (NHL) and it’s players. While there is still a large monetary gap between NHL and the American women, their training routines, specialized programs, training facilities have allowed them to commit or dedicate all the necessary time needed to prepare for international competition while removing the previous barriers.

Almost a year after the American women have received annual salaries, many Americans are looking for and expecting a gold medal from their nation’s women. With the gold medal game set for February 22nd, the US Women’s team has set their goal of hearing their National anthem sung that day with a gold medal around their necks.


Larkin, Matt, (September, 2015). And The Highest Payed Player In Women’s Hockey Is. The Hockey News. Retrieved from http://www.thehockeynews.com/news/article/and-the-highest-paid-player-in-womens-hockey-is.

Sportsnet Staff, (September, 2017). CWHL Announces It Will Pay It’s Players In 2017-18. Sportsnet. Retrieved From http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/cwhl-announces-will-pay-players-2017-18.

Angell, I, & Raphael, T.J. (March, 2017). The US National Women’s Team Went After Equal Pay And Fair Treatment – And Won. PRI Sports. Retrieved from https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-03-30/us-womens-national-hockey-team-went-after-equal-pay-and-fair-treatment-and-won.


Training Behind Enemy Lines: Canada’s Elite Female Hockey Players Choosing NCAA Over U-Sport

By Alex E.

Historically, women’s professional hockey has been a clash of the Titans between the United States and Canada, the two powerhouse countries in the sport. Virtually every Olympic and World Championship final since the commencement of international play has featured these two teams with each besting the other on multiple occasions. Furthermore, it is a rarity for these programs to experience defeat by any other country.  With this type of rivalry, one would assume that members of these organizations would want nothing to do with the opposing country’s program. Surprisingly, this is false, as we are experiencing an ongoing epidemic of players crossing the border according to a study by Locke and Karlis (2014). Since 2014, there has been an exodus of Canada’s best and brightest up and coming hockey players to College and University programs south of the border. The decision to enter the United States is influenced by the funding of the programs themselves, the financial aid these schools provide, and the elitism of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA; The Globe and Mail, 2017). An exodus, defined as a departure or immigration of a large number of people by Merriam-Webster, is not an exaggeration as the number of Canadian female players who left the country was approximately 400 in 2014, and that number has been growing every year since. With several arguments placing the birth of ice hockey in this great nation, and with Canada known internationally as THE hockey nation, it seems very strange that our players are required to leave the country to further their hockey careers (Locke & Karlis, 2015).

It should be noted that as of 2016, around 30% of the NCAA Division 1 men’s hockey players were Canadian, but this is due to personal choice and not lack of opportunity (CBC Sports, 2018). There are a plethora of opportunities for male hockey players to take them on the path to professional hockey. Elite leagues start at a young age and are available to the players until they are of the age to join professional associations if they are skilled enough to do so. In most cases, male university hockey players have come up through these leagues and have made the conscious decision to delay an education for a couple of years with the possibility of becoming a professional. When this does not occur, they enrol in an institution that allows them to continue playing while they earn a degree.  The female experience is very different from the male experience. Although the elite leagues at younger ages are open to both males and females, there comes the point in time, usually near the end of high school, where these leagues are no longer a viable option, and the female players are left without an elite league to play in. Consequently, female hockey players join university hockey programs straight out of high school, being comparable to men’s Major Junior or even a semi-professional league. This can also be said of several other Collegiate sports, as National programs hand pick athletes directly from NCAA and U-Sport teams. If university hockey serves as their ticket to the Canadian National Program, it would be expected that these athletes would choose the program or school that would give them the best chance of success. Unfortunately, the NCAA appears to be the avenue for success for these women. To demonstrate the difference between men’s and women’s avenues, the rosters for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics for both men’s and women’s hockey were analyzed to see where players resided before becoming professionals. Of the 23-player roster for the men’s team, only four players were from NCAA programs; the rest were spread out across Canada in the QMJHL, OHL and WHL before being drafted to the NHL (IOC, 2010). The women’s team however only had 3 of 19 players who were not playing in the NCAA. Furthermore, 6 of the top 10 scorers in the tournament were Canadians playing in the NCAA (Locke and Karlis, 2015). This is just another example of how little women have compared to men in the Canadian sporting context at not only the elite level but at every level.

The relevance of all of this has increased in the past year, especially here at the University of New Brunswick for a couple of reasons. First, it is an Olympic year, meaning that all the issues that come with women’s hockey, not only in Canada, are put in the spotlight more so than in non-Olympic years. Second, our university is in preparation for the return of our women’s varsity hockey program, raising the question of if we will be able to be competitive and even increase the level of competition in Canada. Increasing competition is a critical concept as raising the level of play in the country is essential for keeping our best players north of the order which creates massive benefits for the nation, as outlined by Locke and Karlis (2005). First and foremost, operation budgets for university programs are comprised of both funds from the university, but also from alumni donations. If our best players are alumni of American schools, their contributions will be to another country and not our own. An exodus of players also eliminates role models for the younger players as instead of being able to watch them play every weekend like what occurs with Canada’s best male players; there is no opportunity to view the best female players. Finally, there is nationalism and enhancement of the sport lost. Now it is clear that the problem is systematic, and there is no easy fix, but something must be done. It does not seem just that our male players can thrive in the country that they grew up in and represent on the international and Olympic stage, but our female players are not given the same resources and opportunity. Even with this vast difference in development within the country, excellence and gold medals are expected of both the men’s and women’s programs. It will be interesting to see how the UNB women’s hockey team does in upcoming years as well as U-Sport women’s hockey as a collective.



Canadians in Frozen Four happy to have chosen U.S. for hockey | CBC Sports. (2018). CBC. Retrieved from

Canadian universities have a game plan for wooing top athletes. (2017). The Globe and Mail. Retrieved
from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/canadian-university-report/canadian-universities-have-a-game-plan-for-wooing-top-athletes/article36634827/

Exodus. (2018). Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from

IOC (2010) Men’s Ice Hockey: Team Canada Tournament Standings and Statistics.

Locke, M., & Karlis, G. (2015). Canadian Women’s Hockey: Concerns and Concerns. The Sport Journal.


Gender Identity and Participation in Rural Community Based Leisure

By Tamsin F.

Think back to the prominent leisure activities individuals engaged in within your home community. If you lived in a rural setting, it is likely that the choices that were available in terms of leisure activities were a lot more limited than what would be offered in an urban setting. Within those choices, you could probably identify certain activities that were deemed more suitable for you to participate in than other activities, based on a few key factors.

In my rural hometown, population 2,327, not only were certain activities gendered, but they were also socially classed (Statistics Canada, 2017). If an individual was from a more affluent family, it was almost a given that they would participate in hockey and/or dance, beginning from a young age. It was in these two activities that peer groups were formed, and individuals gained their sense of identity within the community. In terms of gender, hockey was played majorly by males or ‘tom-girls’, and dance was dominated by female participants. As individuals grew older, there were some shared activities between genders, but team sports were always segregated by gender. If a child’s family could afford the time and extra costs of accessing the recreation services in the urban center a half hour drive away, they had increased exposure to more diverse leisure experiences; in the types of activities participated in, and the increased range of participants. This leisure privilege, however, made an individual stand out over their rural peers who did not have the same opportunities. Within the rural community, there was limited flexibility on what was available for individuals who did not fit in the traditional gender identities.

The stereotypical image of a rural community being close knit is not an exaggeration. Within small communities, pressures to conform and fit in are often extreme. Rates of substance use among youth, which can increase the risk of developing mental illness, is experienced at a higher incidence within rural settings than in urban settings (Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, 2015). Fear and perceived risk of going against the gender norm and facing exclusion from the community as a consequence, is a very real concern for many individuals who reside in rural communities. This anxiety may translate to participation in leisure activities that is very limited in diversity and range. A serious outcome of this mentality is the negative impact it could have on children’s and youth’s experiences within sport and recreation activities. Exposure to physical activity opportunities that occur in a caring environment, where the athlete feels supported by their coach and teammates, is considered to be highly influential in the likelihood of the athlete’s continued participation and commitment to the sport (Fry and Gano-Overway, 2010). Thus, it is crucial that programs and community members, adjust their messaging and attitudes around available programs to attract new participants who may not fit the traditional ‘ideal’ participant identity.

While it is easy to focus on the negatives and simply state that there is a problem within rural community recreation structures, advocates for wellness can identify strengths and opportunities for growth within the challenges a community may face. Parents, teachers, and community leaders can all be active role models and facilitators of leisure programs that are welcoming to all individuals, regardless of how they identify their gender. Having mixed gender leagues can be one way to encourage fair play, respect, and cooperation among children and youth in a community. Another strategy used with positive results, is the inclusion of quality physical education programming within the school day so that children have a barrier free opportunity to increase their physical literacy skills that they can then transfer to activities beyond the classroom (Stevens-Smith, 2016). By shifting the attitudes of the youth in a rural community, sustainable changes can be experienced. Additionally, a collaborative approach by community members is a necessity in creating more inclusive and supportive recreation environments for all individuals who live within this setting.


Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. (2015). Urban and rural student substance use (report at a glance). Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. Retrieved from http://www.ccsa.ca/Resource%20Library/CCSA-Urban-Rural-Student-Substance-Use-Report-at-a-Glance-2015-en.pdf.pdf

Fry, M. D., and Gano-Overway, L.A. (2010). Exploring the contribution of the caring climate to the youth sport experience. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 22(3), 294-304, DOI: 10.1080/10413201003776352

Statistics Canada. (2017). Beaverlodge [population centre], alberta and manitoba [province] (table): Census profile. 2016 Census. Catalogue no. 98-316-X2016001. Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada.

Stevens-Smith, D. A. (2016) Physical literacy: Getting kids active for life. Strategies, 29(5), 3-9. DOI: 10.1080/08924562.2016.1205536


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.


“Sorry, Not Sorry”: Analyzing Female Apologetic Behaviour in Women’s Sport

by Megan C.

Femininity can be defined as a socially constructed concept that states how women should look, act, and what they should value (Hardy, 2015). Hegemonic femininity is the sociologically “correct” version of women, which includes white, heterosexual, and middle-to-high class women. Additionally, hegemonic femininity is defined by traits such as “submissiveness, dependency, concern over physical appearance and emotional ability” (Hardy, 2015, p. 155).

“The social construction of sport [is] a space where hegemonic masculinity is defined, … and sport participation [is] associated with masculine traits, such as aggression, strength, power, dominance, and violence” (Hardy, 2015, p. 155). Therefore, women who participate in sport, specifically male-dominated sport, are often labelled with masculine traits and their sexuality is questioned. Female apologetic behaviour, in sport, exists to combat the masculine and lesbian stereotypes associated with female sport participation. Female apologetic behaviour is when female athletes ‘apologize’ for participating in sport by overemphasizing their femininity through clothing choice, physical appearance, self-expression, and style of athletic play.

The media plays an important role in continuing the trend of female apologetic behaviour in sport, specifically elite level sport, because increased media exposure and sponsorships are given to female athletes who conform to society’s idealized version of hegemonic femininity. “Emphasizing femininity reinforces females’ inferior status to males’ … and ensures that they remain desirable to men” (Hardy, 2015, p. 156). This is demonstrated through the media’s portrayal and sexualisation of female Olympic beach volleyball athletes. The women’s Olympic beach volleyball uniform and television coverage of the sport places a priority on the sexualisation and physical appeal of the athletes and the sport, over the comfort and skill level of the athletes, by focusing on the athletes’ body and not the sport. This demonstrates that being stereotypically ‘attractive’ should be more important to athletes than excelling in their sport, because that is the focal point of the broadcasting.

Female athletes “are always framed by their status as both athletes and women” (Hardy, 2015, p. 156). Furthermore, men can succeed and be publicly recognized as ‘just an athlete’, while women cannot solely have an athletic identity, it must be overshadowed by either their physical appearance or caregiving abilities. For example, the Olympic gold medalist curler, Jennifer Jones’, is the skip, a dominant and authoritative position within the sport of curling. However, when portrayed by the media and in commercials the focus is directed towards her nurturing and providing roles as a wife and a mother, not her success as an athlete, which gives the illusion her athletic accomplishments are not valid and not good enough. This may be harmful, particularly to young females, as it demonstrates that girl’s/women’s athletic dreams and ambitions do not matter, because being a wife and a mom should be the primary focus in your life, your main role, and what you will be known for.

These examples demonstrate that “women are still confined to two acceptable roles, sex object or mother, both of which trivialize their athletic abilities and inherent value” (Hardy, 2015, p. 157). Advancing women’s sport today proves to be a vicious cycle; increasing media exposure, sponsorships, and viewers seems to only be possible when female athletes degrade themselves and their sport, and focus on their sexuality and the physical appeal of their sport. Thus, the importance of female athletes such as Serena Williams who pushes boundaries and demonstrates that women do not need to limit themselves to be ‘approved’ by society; women can be strong, muscular, beautiful, and successful, all at once. And Lanni Marchant who is advocating for female body image in sport, by combatting the issue that female athletes’ appearance and uniforms attract more attention than their performances.

Female apologetic behaviour is more visible in elite level sport because of commercialization and media portrayal. However, this behaviour exists in all levels of sport. Therefore, it is important for coaches and parents to emphasize the importance of physical performance and not physical appearance in young athletes. This can be achieved by selecting athletes based on their talent and not physical appearance, which is particularly important in aesthetic sports. Furthermore, coaches should allow athletes complete control over their body’s and their choice of uniform (when possible), providing it fits within the guidelines and regulations of the sport.

We cannot alter the focal point ‘sex sells’ portrayed by the media industry, however, we can choose where our money goes. We select what products we buy and what we watch both live and on television. It is important to think critically and use your voice as a consumer, to give hope for upcoming generations of female athletes that their dreams are valid, and that talent and hard work is enough to be successful.


Hardy, E. (2015). The female ‘apologetic’ behavior within Canadian women’s rugby: athlete perceptions and media influences. Sport in Society, 18(2), 155-167. doi: 10.1080/17430437.2013.854515