Gender Matter in Sports There Research Paper

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234). Culturally, trainers may simply be paying more attention to girls' injuries due to our culture's tendency to protect females more than males (Tierney, et al., 2005, p. 278) and/or boys may simply under-report concussions due to "macho" tendencies to play through pain in order to continue playing (Covassin, et al., 2012, p. 926). Hormones may contribute to the greater incidence of concussions among female high school athletes because researchers have found that estrogen protects male rats from brain trauma but actually makes female rats more vulnerable to brain trauma (Makdissi, et al., 2013, p. 319). Whether caused anatomically, culturally, hormonally or for some other reason, the fact remains that girls are reportedly highly more likely to sustain concussions in sports such as soccer and basketball. Consequently, gender matters in the sports injury of concussion.

3. Conclusion

Development of a masculine identity is psychologically fundamental for males and particularly for males within society. The actual content of this identity comes from choices the individual makes across a number of areas, including but not limited to gender, culture, vocation and religion. In the Western world, male identity or "masculinity" includes such characteristics as strength, toughness, competitiveness, aggression and the ability to endure pain. Developed over time, these characteristics are useful, enduring and sometimes inconsistent. Traditionally, these characteristics are also associated with violence and sports. Young males are steeped in violent images closely tied to ideal male characteristics, such as courage and heroism, from an early age, particularly by the media. These violent images condition young males toward violent male stereotypes from a very early age. Sports are logically connected with Western "masculine" characteristics because sports connect the individual with self-identity forms and societal acceptance. The Western concepts of "masculinity," bolstered by youth sports since the late 19th Century, directly conflict with traditional "feminine" characteristics. Prior to the 1960's female participation in sports were chiefly limited to "refined" sports such as tennis, focusing on beauty and form, and male-centered notions of winning and individual achievement were openly rejected for female athletics. Title IX's passage in 1972 opened the door for female participation in more competitive sports. Nevertheless, "masculine" vs. "feminine" characteristics have persisted in Western culture. Consequently, an individual's decision to participate in amateur or professional sports often hinges on that individual's self-assessment according to traditionally "masculine" traits. As a result, gender inequality in sports is reinforced and even encouraged.

Some individuals have consciously countered the traditional Western "masculine" and "feminine" stereotypes in sports and elsewhere. These individuals borrow heavily from the work of a French philosopher/historian named Michel Foucault. Foucault challenged traditional assumptions about the body, revolutionizing the sociology of the body. Foucault argued that power is everywhere and that power and knowledge depended on each other. He also developed theories about: discipline to control and benefit the body; governmentality to conduct; carceral archipelago to compel individuals to self-control; and confessional selves to constantly produce truth. Stemming from Foucault's concepts, modern thinkers readily applied his theories to "the sporting body." Using Foucault's revolutionary ideas about power and knowledge, these thinkers are determined to overthrow traditionally male-centered notions of the body, power and knowledge, using their muscles to fight male-centered oppression.

Another manner in which gender matters in sports is the phenomenon of sports injury, specifically concussions. Researchers have found that among high school athletes, girls are twice as likely to suffer concussions while playing soccer and 1.7 times as likely to sustain concussions while playing basketball. The initial findings were puzzling but researchers have offered a couple of possible reasons for the differences in the rates of concussions. Anatomically, the relatively small size of girls' heads and relative weakness of their neck muscles may make them less able to absorb sports-related impacts without sustaining concussions; also, the greater cerebral blood flow among females may result in more obvious signs of concussion when the blood flow is reduced by impact. In addition, there may be cultural reasons for the greater incidence of female concussions simply because boys are less likely to report concussions, due to "macho" tendencies and the desire to continue playing. Finally, females may be hormonally predisposed to brain trauma from sports-related impacts. In any event, the fact remains that girls reportedly sustain more concussions in high school soccer and basketball, which is another way in which gender matters in sports.


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