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Sports shaped by stereotypes

Sports shaped by stereotypes

Stereotypes in sports

When we think of sports we think of a predominately male dominated industry. In a world fighting for equality there is still a prevalent inequality in the way males and females are treated and stereotyped in the sports industry. It goes back to the standard thinking of emphasized femininity and emphasized masculinity when a boy or girl is born. Stereotypes continue to pair the color blue with boys for masculinity and the color pink with females for femininity. Society continues to expect men to grow up, become strong, and protect women. While women are continued to be expected to cook, clean, and be shy or meek.

While sex plays a big role in the way society perceives sports, so does gender, sexuality and race. Gender refers to the way someone chooses to define themselves. Until recently we were not able to choose our sex. We are born a certain way and that is out of our control. However someone who was born a female can choose to identify as a male. Within that category they can also choose if they are heterosexual or homosexual.

Will women always be weak?

Who is to say that women always need protection? Why is it a male’s job to keep a female safe, instead of giving her the necessary tools to protect herself? There is a constant decline in the amount of women who are participating in sports. Due to media coverage’s continuation to make sports a male focused interest, women do not feel as if sports really relate to them on a personal level.

Everyone known when the NBA draft is occurring. It can be found on every sports broadcast across the nation. However can we say the say about the WNBA (Woman’s National Basketball Association)?. How can we expect women to feel accomplished, when we don’t try and support them athletically the same way we do male athletic sports. The WNBA only averages 413,000 views per game. While the NBA greatly exceeds this number with 1.4 million viewers per game.

Since as far as history goes back, woman have always been thought of as the less superior to men. When women are constantly told that they are weak and incapable of achieving high athletic standards, they will believe it. If society does not start to build young girls up and give them a positive outlook and believe in them, then we will continue to see a decline in the amount of girls and women who participate in athletic activities.

Stereotypes in sports

Little did we know that our extracurricular activities that we chose and fell in love with as children would become processors to what society and media would stereotype us as. Growing up children all watched movies about the popular blonde cheerleader who dated the popular quarterback. Soccer girls were always athletic, cross country runners were weird, and video gamer’s were geeks. We allowed movies and media to shape the sports we choose and what we expect from those who chose that sport.

In an article written by complex they discuss the stereotypes that are involved with playing and enjoying particular sports. What was interesting about this article was the way they wrote the first couple lines. The article stated “All black athletes want to be rappers and all rappers want to be athletes.” “All female sports are inferior to men’s sports.” This line defines the way society has perceived sports and the stereotypes that surround it. We assume that the majority of black men who have made it to the professional level grew up in inner cities and were a part of a gang. Society assumes that the only thing a black athlete could want in their life is to be a rapper or vice versa. Based on movies and the stories that are found in newspapers they always highlight the successes of those who came from nothing. While it is important to show case these stories to keep children dreaming and believing, it is also important for society to know where majority of these players come from. Just because an African American athlete goes to college on a scholarship does not means its the only thing they want to do with their lives. That same athlete could want to enlist in the military or become the next Ben Carson.

In a 200m race, given the choice between betting on a Caucasian male or African American male, who would you choose? Nine times out of ten someone would choose the African American male because that is who throughout history has been stereotyped as a fast individual. When society creates these stereotypes it raises expectations for young children. When expectations are raised, and they are not met that is when we see a rise in depression and children going down the wrong path.

Changing the face of women in sports

What does it mean to do something like a girl? The time old saying that is used to make fun of someone, because they are not capable of performing a task at an expected ability, is actually an insult to women everywhere. To imply that you do something like a girl is any different than doing something like a man is absurd.

In a campaign by Always called #LikeAGirl they interview various men and women performing tasks “like a girl would”. We can see people pretending to run daintily, punching without any real effort, and throwing like a baseball would hurt them. The sad part about these impersonations is they are supposed to depict the first thing they think of when they hear “do this like a girl”.

The first group of people were also adults who have been molded to endorse these stereotypes. Then the film flips to asking young girls to complete these tasks. It is easy to see the difference in intensity and desire to demonstrate these tasks. The young girls don’t show themselves as any less capable of what we would expect from a man. The video ends with asking the participants questions about how they feel about the saying and if they think its offensive. Each participant answered yes and why it is so important to promote young girls confidence and show them that they are capable of anything. 

Nike leading the way in ending stereotypes

In the past many well-known athletic brands did not cater to female athletes. Women have always had to fight for their right to heard, and have the same equalities. In order to help end the stereotypes that surround sports one of the biggest manufactures of sports products changed the way their customers would view their company.

2013 campaign

Nike released two advertisements that encouraged and supported female athletes. The first advertisement was released in 2013. It begins with older women talking about how when they were growing up girls didn’t participate in sports, or boys didn’t accept their athletic ability. It continues to show images of younger girls, but the voices still coming from the older women. These younger girls are supposed to represent who they were when they were younger. The dialogue changes from a negative tone to a positive mindset. The women are talking about what they are capable of and if someone is going to be the best at something, then why it can’t be them. They talk about their passion and determination and how they will never give up. Before the video ends it cuts to women talking in a large microphone about what it means to be an athlete. They acknowledge that men are bigger and stronger, but that its not the only skills someone needs to be an athlete. The end with women saying that the equipment they use doesn’t care if it’s a male or female using it. Being an athlete isn’t about being a boy or girl. It is about putting your heart and soul into something to be the best you can be.

2019 campaign

The second advertisement was released in 2019. Six years later, and the focus of the commercials are still to showcase women’s talents and all that they offer to sports. The commercials are powerful and enlightening to young female athletes. However I have a problem with the fact that we are still trying to prove the same lesson. Nike is still trying to show others that females are just as capable as any male, and that they have all of the necessary tools to succeed at the high level we expect of males. The first line of the advertisement is “If we show emotions we are dramatic” while showing women in sports being emotional. They show women who have made major impacts in their respective sports and continue with stereotypes and expectations of women.

When women choose to show a certain emotion of anger, joy, hard work, and dedication, it can be thought of differently than if a man was showing these same emotions in his respective sport. The video continues to if we do these then we are crazy. In many aspects of women’s life they are referred to as crazy for having any type of emotion. The video turns the word crazy from a negative connotation to isn’t it crazy that a women boxed, slam dunked, or scored in the Olympics. It continues to show the crazy achievements that women have made. Ending with one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Serena Williams is not only pictured, but the one narrating the entire video. A women who has fought her way to the top and against all odds show women that they might be crazy, but their achievements in sports are even crazier.

Conversation is nonexistent for transgender

Females are beginning to receive the recognition they deserve in the sports industry. However like many other aspects in life, society is still trying to figure out how those who identify as transgender fit into the sports world. If someone identifies as transgender it means that the sex they identify as is not the one they were born as. The problem that those who identify as transgender face is that if they were born a male and transition to a female, they still have the same testosterone levels as before. The reason that males are faster, and quicker than females is because of these testosterone levels. If we allow male transgender to participate in female sports is it fair to the other athletes? Sometimes equal isn’t always fair, the question still being decided is who should it be fair for.

About The Author

Nikola Marijan

My name is Nikola Marijan and I am currently a senior at the University of Tampa. I am graduating in May with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. I am originally from Serbia, coming to the United States 5 years ago. I was previously a NCAA basetball player for Division 1 and 2. I want to work in sports communication after I graduate. Sports have always been my passion and I look forward to having a career oriented around them.

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