Gender roles and traditional attitude

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Since most sports are physically challenging and combative, sports have been viewed as a preserve for men. This narrative has turned sports into occasions for furthering the construct of male masculinity. Women are discouraged from participating in athletics because they would desecrate and pervert the nature of the ritual (Messner 635). A report from ESPN Sports Magazine was addressed to explain the degree to which the idea remains rooted in contemporary culture.
The sports magazine report shows how men have dominated the basketball industry in the United States, both as players and as agents. In specific, there is only one female agent by the name of Sharon Creer mentioned in the entire article. The rest of the agents such as C. Smith, Fletcher Smith, Peter Schaffer, Andre Farr, and Bill Duffy are men (Tanber).

The magazine article is focused on the professional challenges besetting African American male agents as they strive to work with African American male football players who happen not to be interested in working with agents from their race. Instead, they prefer to work with white male agents. A case in point, Braylon Edwards terminated the contract of his agent, Smith, to work with Creative Arts Agency (Tanber). In spite of the fact that the agent had helped the player to get one of the best football contracts in 2005.

The trend in which African American male players are not comfortable working with African American agents cuts across the divide. For instance, in the 2007 National Football League, all of the fifteen players chosen in the first round were men. Besides, all the male players were represented by male agents who happened to be white except one player (Fletcher Smith) who was represented by an African American agent. According to the All Pro Sports and Entertainment, where Smith C. Lamont Smith works, their main concern is that most of the African American Players are more interested in working with white agents or white dominated talent agencies. Nonetheless, no one is interested or concerned with the fact that there is no gender representation in the sport. In light of the events described in the article, it can be observed that the lack of female representation is a non-issue to the agents and the talent agencies as well. This indicates that the society is blind to the fact that there is a need for women representation in sports.

The issue of race relations among African Americans seems to have taken center stage to the extent that the head of the Black Sports Agent Association weighed in on the debate as to why African American male players are showing aversion towards African American agents. According to the BSAA head, self-discrimination among African Americans is the main reason why the there is so much contempt and mistrust for African Americans. The mistrust transcends sports to other areas such as business and career growth (Tanber).

In another case, BDA Sports Management – a talent agency for basketball players managed to sign close to a dozen of the best male players in the drafts. All the selected basketball players were men; this underscores the extent to which the male gender is given priority in both football and basketball while female participation in such sports is considered insignificant because women do not have the masculine physique required to excel in such sports. According to societal ideals, masculinity is a primary requirement for individual participation in sports. Since women do not have a masculine physique, they are considered to diminish the essence of sports from an activity where the best effortlessly compete for trophies into basic physical activity. Additionally, the society seems to idolize those individuals who can achieve excellence in sports or academic domains with little effort while those individuals who seem to strain to achieve in the academic or sports spheres are considered to be unfit and are subsequently bullied (Jackson and Dempster 342).

Therefore, both academic and sports achievements need to appear to be effortlessly achieved so that one may earn societal approval and appreciation (Jackson and Dempster 342). The construct of effortless achievement has gained currency in the society because the ability to achieve success effortlessly is considered as the crest of success, which holds an appealing sense of beauty.

Back to the male dominated sports, African Americans constitute 70% of the National Basket Ball Association players while 60% of the players in the National Football League are African Americans and are supervised by white or African American Agents from male dominated talent agencies. Considering that both NBA and NFL are national sports teams the absence of female representation and the subsequent outlaw of female representation in male sports is a clear indicator of the extent to which women are perceived to be the weaker gender. Therefore, they cannot favorably compete with male players. The continued consideration of women as the weaker gender has been perpetuated by male chauvinists. Despite the immense benefits brought by civilization, democracy and civil rights women remain alienated in all leading sports.

Some may argue that women have their version of NBA and NFL known as WNBA and WFL; but in reality, the women leagues pale in comparison to the male leagues regarding viewership, commercialization, and rewards from the sector and societal acceptance. The societally assigned roles among genders have adversely affected men in as much as it has glorified them. A case in point, most men have sustained life long injuries in the course of their participation in sporting activities. Besides, men participating in football and rugby among other physically challenging sports are more exposed to lifelong disabilities. This is despite the fact that the male body has often proven itself an object of conquest both at war and in the playing field. A case in point, between 1997 and 2007 over 50 players passed on due to injuries sustained in the playground (New York Times). Therefore, men are also victims of societal attitudes towards gender roles.

It has been argued that men and boys are inclined to participate in sports because sports offer an opportunity for them to relate to their male counter parts (Messner 637). However, this innocent desire is transformed into a lifelong commitment to sports, and their life constantly becomes dependent on societal approval and public success. Men are appreciated as “men” when they outperform their peers in sports. Therefore, their former relationships with their peers become tied to their public performance in sports activities. That is the happiness of men who are engaged in sports activities is dependent on public approval, and thus their relationships with friends and family are affected.

The differentiation of gender roles has created a scenario where men are objectified as objects whose sole purpose is to win or lose while women are perceived as sexual objects that need to be manipulated sexually or otherwise. Therefore, both gender is victims of the society’s attitude towards gender roles. This observation may help to explain why most players in the NFL were more interested in signing up with white agents. This is because they associated white agents with success and the ability to secure elusive corporate endorsements and associated riches that often do not materialize (Messner 637). When players are not able to attain heights of greatness that are often demanded by the society, they tend to experience higher ambivalence and insecurities which lower their ability to sustain meaningful social relations (Messner 637).

This may explain why the only female agent mentioned in the article only works with women in playing in the Women’s NBA. Her ability to work as an agent has placed more roles on her such as being a motivator and big sister to the players because such roles are in line with what the society expects of women. According to gender roles, women should be persons that one can confide in and count on for emotional support but not masculine power.

Therefore, from the literature reviewed, it can be observed that sports activities have become a battlefield; and since the battlefield is for the physically healthy, women have been edged out and placed in the periphery of all sports. Women are regularly informed that according to the prevailing societal gender roles, they belong to the periphery (Henley and Freeman). In brief, there is a need to address this form of gender discrimination in sports because women have equal abilities as men.

Works Cited

Henley, Nancy, and Jo Freeman. “The Sexual Politics of Interpersonal Behavior.” Jo Freeman. 1995. http://jofreeman.com/womensociety/personal.htm. Accessed 19 July 2017.

Jackson, Carolyn, and Steven Dempster. “‘I Sat Back on My Computer with a Bottle of Whisky next to Me’: Constructing ‘Cool’ Masculinity through ‘Effortless’ Achievement in Secondary and Higher Education.” Journal of Gender Studies no. 18, 2009, pp 341–356.

Messner, Michael A. “Power at Play: Sport and Gender Relations.” Signs of Life in the USA. Ed. Sonia Maasik and Jack Solomon. 6th ed. Boston: Bedford, 2009. 635–645.

New York Times. “Young Players, Serious Injuries.” NewYork Times. 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2007/09/16/sports/20070916_CONCUSSION_GRAPHIC.html. Accessed 19 July 2017.

Tanber, George J. “African-American Sports Agents Address Challenges in the Business.” ESPN. 2008. https://www.espn.com/espn/blackhistory2008/news/story?id=3268714. Accessed 19 July 2017.

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