Violence in Sports – A Gender Thing?

Sports traditionally considered masculine (e.g., ice hockey) are perceived to be related to violence (Koivula, 2011). But is violence a gender thing? Actually, to be precise, let’s distinguish between sex (biological and physiological characteristics) and gender (socially constructed role expectations).

Are men more likely to be violent due to, let’s say, higher testosterone levels? Or maybe because they are expected to be because it is ‘masculine’? How big a role does a social, cultural and sports context play here? If violence in sport is tolerated and even celebrated does it make a player more inclined to act accordingly? Is it simply the question of personal values and attitudes? What role does a mob mentality play here? Is violence socially constructed? Is there place for violence in sports at all?

This was my train of thought in relation to the video bellow. Many questions, no answers. What is your opinion?

Koivula, N. (2001). Perceived Characteristics of Sports Categorized as Gender-Neutral, Feminine and Masculine. Journal of Sport Behavior, 24(4), 377-393.

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2 Comments

  1. I don’t generally follow sports much myself, but in general I believe violence is socially constructed. I think Barbara Rogoff touches on this a little bit when she states, “Differences between boys and girls in social relations, such as aggression and nurturance, reflect a clear relationship to the roles expected of men and women in many cultural communities…. In groups where women have had a central role in gathering food, such as among the !Kung or Aka foragers, both genders maintain a peaceful demeanor” [from Rogoff, B. (2003). The Cultural Nature of Human Development. New York: Oxford University Press.]

    In my experience as a preschool teacher, the culture of the classroom has an enormous impact on children’s aggression and violence. When the lead teacher is strict and speaks harshly to the children, the children tend to be more aggressive than in classrooms where the lead teacher tends to be warm and forgiving.

    1. Thank you for your comment! The quote made me think that gender roles depend on the needs of a society. Today’s world clearly needs a more balanced approach to masculinity and femininity, and yet why so many people keep reinforcing the old-fashioned model?

      I agree that significant others (teachers, coaches, parents) play a key role in our understandings of the social world. Too bad they sometimes lack the sense of how big an impact they have on the development of children’s world view.

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