Review of Literature
2:1 Participation in Physical Activity
Children both male and female are physically active from the moment they are born. Children are keen to get actively involved from an early age, this usually comes in the form of play but as children begin to develop and mature their views and opinions of physical activity are strongly linked to their experiences as a child. Weinberg and Gould (2007) suggests that “involvement in physical activity for boys and girls should be encouraged because there is a positive relation between childhood exercise and adult physical activity pattern”. Parents have an impact on whether or not boys and girls participate in P.E or any other physical activities. Gillman (2007) suggests that if a childs parents are physically active or promote the notion of physical fitness then the child will more than likely become physically active. The parents are crucial in developing their children’s views and opinions of physical activity and encouragement as to what level their child participates. Van Wersch (1997) states that parents have the potential to provide opportunities for their children to participate in physical activity and to sculpt their opinions in order to maintain participation into adult life. While parents have the ability to influence the extent of value their child places on physical activity they can also significantly influence the type of sport or physical activity that they participate in. Participation for children is found to be more enjoyable and fun when they are not being forced to express their competitive nature in order to win or succeed but encouraged to experiment with a variety of different sports or physical activities. MacPhail et al (2003) found providing children with many different types of physical activity and sport encouraged participation. From personal experience males are usually directed towards team sports such as Gaelic football, soccer and rugby which require a certain degree of strength, speed and physical fitness while females are encouraged to participate in sports that are “less aggressive” in nature such as dance. This is supported by Capel and Piotrawski (2000) who state “Primary pupils enter the education system with different experiences regarding engagement in physical activities and with strongly formed views regarding gender appropriate behaviour”. Clarke and Scully (1997) note that parents treat their children differently depending on the sex of the child; boys are spared time and provided with opportunities to develop their gross motor skills. Wright et al (2003) believes that parents are more eager to involve their sons in physical activity compared to their daughters as females are introduced to physical activity later in life. From the moment children enter the school environment the personnel within the school have the capacity and potential to promote physical activity among the children. With this control comes opportunities, dealing with gender related issues with regards to the type of activities the males and the females participate in. Lines and Stridder (2003) and Flintoff and Sration (2005) highlight that the teacher can contribute to the reinforcement of stereotypical images, attitudes and behaviours thus effecting the participation of their pupils. Penny (2002) claims that despite the best efforts of teachers who claim to promote an equal opportunity for all children, reveal that teachers teaching strategies and practices are based upon their own “common sense” as to what type of activity males and females should be participating hence sex stereotyping. Males are generally encouraged to participate in sports or activities that are “masculine” in nature such as rugby or football whereas females are drawn down the path of “feminine” sports or “gentle” activities such as gymnastics. Flintoff and Scraton (2005) cited that the disruptive and competitive nature of the males in the P.E...
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