When I play basketball, I always feel embarrassed by the fact that I’m playing a game that’s a lot more intended for guys, as they say. The guys would usually let me out of their way, or call me names like I’m a huge tomboy for playing basketball. I’ve been going through that for awhile and when I challenge them to a game and I win at the end, their reactions would be so embarrassed because someone like me, a girl, can beat them.
After all those experiences while playing my favorite sport, gender stereotyping in sports is a very prevalent issue in status quo. It creates a negative impact to the society, most especially to the female athletes in the first place.
Simply put, Gender Stereotyping is basically putting down someone because of their gender or not believing they are capable to do something because they are either male or female. One example of Gender Stereotyping in sport is the statement “Boys are better at soccer than girls”. There is a stigma in society that male individuals joining in a sport activity is a normal thing but when female individuals engage themselves on sports, people would always have something to say like women should be just inside their houses doing chores and just playing jump rope, jackstone etc. Most male individuals also see sports only for themselves and not open for other gender. Furthermore, male individuals see themselves to have more abilities in terms of sports and treat females inferiorly even without looking at their capabilities first. Some people always expect that female individuals can’t play a sport because they assume that women are not strong enough like men. This means that in currently patriarchal society, people will associate sports to men only. This is because people don’t usually see women in sports because they don’t get the same media coverage as men do. But even if they do see women in sports, it will most likely create backlash.
The concept of gender roles is also a big factor. According to Guillet, Sarrazin and Fontayne in 2000, Sports participation is further influenced by whether the activity characteristics are considered socially acceptable for one’s gender. Women are expected to display feminine behaviors while also participating in “masculine activities” often face a conflicting set of roles, stated in 2009 by Hannon. Given my first point, in this society, where standards are set for women to look modest, proper and aesthetically pleasing, joining a sport activity defined as a “masculine activity” gives rise to conflict on gender roles. The fact that a sport activity is seen by the society as a “masculine activity and “feminine activity” it just shows that a lot of people label individuals. Because of the commoness of gender dynamics in sport, individuals who ignore social rules characterized to the gender are exposed to gender stigmas. For example, when a girl plays basketball, she is easily tagged as “tomboy” because people view basketball only for boys and they assume that they are the ones that is only capable or has the skills to play the said sport and girls cannot join because it is considered as “masculine activity”. Meanwhile, if boys join volleyball, they would be tagged as “gay” because some people assume that this sport is usually for girls only.
Even though gender stereotyping in sports exists, some women strive to break this barrier. Throughout the history of sports, gender roles of men and women have greatly evolved in our society. Female athletes are now given the attention that they deserve, they are starting to gain equal representation, media coverage, in comparison to the past that women are behind the cameras during sport activities with little or no exposure. But, us women have now broken the stereotypes, surpassed the labelling, overcome the stigma and break cultural barriers to the history of sports according to Starr. One great example of this is Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias. According to her wikipedia article, Didrikson was an American athlete who excelled in golf, basketball and track and field. She won two gold medals in track and field at the 1932 Summer Olympics, before turning to professional golf and winning 10 LGPA major championships. She is widely regarded as one of the greatest female athletes of all time.
To conclude, gender stereotyping is almost always incorrect or inappropriate. It influences sports in a bad way that it lead to discrimination of one gender to another. It creates discrimination by saying things that are popular notion but not necessarily accurate. And I believe that the mindset of every people should be change. That there shouldn’t be gender stereotyping in sports because I know every person should have the freedom to choose the sport they want to play. There is no superior or inferior gender in any sport. There should be no one to dictate what the person should play because of what they think is appropriate for his or her gender. Guys, it’s already 2019. Let’s respect them, let us let them be and mind our own business.