Social Role Theory

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Social Role Theory And How It Relates To Women Athleticism

The conflict and feminists believe that stereotyping athletes will increase misrepresentation of social realty. Stereotypes are unreliable generalizations about all members of a group that do not recognize individual differences within the group (Schaefer, 2006).An example of this is how many women are portrayed as baseball greats, even though women and young girls play baseball. Baseball is considered a “man’s sport.” These generalizations continue to divide America today, but are being challenged on a daily basis. More and more baseball teams that teach young children the sport are allowing girls to participate.

In high school I went to school with a girl named Marlena she was on the all guy’s wrestling team. Her ascribed status made it difficult for her to succeed in the sport. Ascribed status is assigned to a person by society without regard for the person’s unique talents or characteristics. It’s is based on gender, race and age. (Schaefer 2006). Many of the kids at school gave her non formal sanctions, such as making fun of her, alienating her from their subculture, and someone even spray painted her locker. The boys mostly picked on her, but some of their picking on could be considered sexual harassment. Her wrestling team however embraced her; she was one of the best, if not the best. Many of the competing teams refused to wrestle her, usually ending in a forfeit. When that would happen Marlena would display face-work. Face work is a term used to refer to the efforts people use to maintain the proper image and avoid public embarrassment (Schaefer 2006). She would just smile, wave her hands to the crowd and take her win. Her determination and perseverance placed her 2nd in the state competition.

In 2001 a longitudinal study of kindergarten, first and third graders demonstrated that young boys are more likely than young girls to believe that they are good at sports, that it is important to do well at sports, and that sports are a constructive activity.(Eccles & Harold). This perception of traditional gender roles still influences today’s society. Most sport related college activities are viewed as masculine or both masculine and feminine, but fewer women participate in sports than men. Most women who participate in sports find themselves experiencing significant conflict in association with their identities between being a women and an athlete. Female athletes have a hard time accepting their big muscular, fit bodies when the cultural ideal body type is small and feminine. Yet they take great pride in their bodies and athletic abilities (Colker & Widom,). Athleticism is equated with masculinity (Koivula).

In the study they were trying to find out if social role theory can explain the perceived gender role orientations of male and female athletes who participate in either stereotypically feminine or masculine sports. They were also looking to prove five hypotheses. Social role theory is normally related to sex-type division of labor, inside and outside the home.

Hypothesis 1: “Is that an athlete’s gender would not significantly influence perceptions of the community.” (Harrison 1). This study found there was no any striking difference in the community’s views between male and female athletes. Hypothesis 1 was supported.

Hypothesis 2:”That the type of sport would significantly influence the community’s views because of athletic roles.”(Harrison 1). This study found that football and basketball players were valued higher in the community than cheerleaders. Hypothesis 2 was supported.

Hypothesis 3: “That the perceptions of the community would be would be mutually influenced by athlete gender and type of sport.” (Harrison 1). This study found that males that participate in cheerleading were viewed higher in society than female cheerleaders. This hypothesis was not supported because it did not matter...
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