Sports When She Was in Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Unlike my mom, I grew up surrounded by sports on the media. Whereas my mom in Jamaica watched some soccer and the occasional American sporting event such as the World Series of baseball or the Super Bowl, my mother was not as inundated with media images of star athletes as I was.

My perception of sports and in particular of women in sports changed in relation to media portrayals of female athletes and female athletic events. Watching football on television was a regular event in my household. Every Monday night my relatives would come over to watch the game. We also watched basketball, baseball and hockey but usually during the playoff season only. None of the sports we watched on television, at least as a family, were female sports except some professional tennis matches. Therefore, I grew up predominantly with images of male athletes. Sports heroes were all men and I had few female athletic role models to look up to, except my mom.

When I entered junior high school, I also noticed a shift in the social perception of sports. My female friends played down the importance of athletics and many of them went out of their way to avoid physical education classes. Not participating in sports became the norm for many of my girlfriends and out of a need to fit in, I also took less of an interest in sports. My lack of participation in organized sports at school did not, however, mean that I became sedentary. On the contrary, I rode my bicycle almost every day and started to take dance classes. I also enrolled in martial arts for three years. Therefore, I remained physically active even though I did not participate in the sports that I came to view as male-dominated because of the role models I saw in school every day and on television. I did not view my decision as having to do with gender until after I graduated from high school and developed a more critical outlook on gender roles and the media.

My mother's experiences with physical activity and mine reflect the cultures in which we grew up. Whereas my mother played sports throughout her educational career, I did not. Both of us remained interested in physical activity and incorporated some form of activity into our lives. Yet both of us were constrained by our gender. The physical activities we chose to do were ones deemed acceptable for females. My mother played netball because it was "female basketball." I could have played basketball but in females were not as encouraged to play team sports in my school as they were in my mom's. Netball, or "female basketball" offered a socially acceptable athletic outlet for women that girls in my generation did not have. If I was born male I would likely have played baseball, basketball, or football too. In spite of different social norms and media portrayals of men and women in sport, athletics remain gender segregated.

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