Sport and Physical Activity in Australian Society
Table of Contents
The Beginnings of Modern Sport in 19th Century England and Colonial Australia
- Australia’s sporting and physical activities have been strongly influenced by English culture since the 19th century.
- Many popular sports in Australia originate from England, such as cricket, football, and tennis.
- These games are also popular in other former British colonies, such as Canada, India, and New Zealand.
Links with Manliness, Patriotism, and Character
- Patriotism is an individual’s support for their country.
- Many sporting events were/are designed to establish patriotism and national pride, such as the World Cup and the Olympics.
- Additionally, in the 19th century, Muscular Christianity began to arise: the idea that in addition to leading a Christian lifestyle, men’s sporting prowess and physical fitness were markers of their closeness to God.
- This, combined with patriotism, made sport an effective recruitment mechanism for the Imperial Army.
- Women were often not allowed to participate in sport, because obviously they couldn’t handle it 🙄
- Manliness also heavily factored into the promotion of sport.
- Sport was also used as a method of maintaining a connection between colonists and mainland Britain: organised Commonwealth sporting events were used to promote both unity and competition within the Empire.
- Many of these sporting rivalries are still prevalent today (The Ashes, Border-Gavaskar, and an entire Wikipedia page for Australia-NZ sporting rivalries could be used as examples).
- Private schools and universities often heavily engaged in sporting programs in an attempt to encourage team loyalty, discipline, and sacrifice, especially in men.
- Towards the end of the 19th Century, the defence of the British Empire (military service) was considered to be the ideal job for men, with women being expected to fill roles in fields such as nursing and clerking.
Amateur versus Professional Sport
- Amateur sport is where someone participates in sport without being paid or compensated.
- Professional sport involves financial support from a sporting body, such as a team or organisation.
- Sports like cricket and tennis are divided between amateur and professional leagues.
- This originates from the 19th century idea that Amateurs were “true sportsmen”, as they were playing for enjoyment and competition rather than money.
- However, this concept was designed to only be suitable for the wealthy, who could afford the time and space required to play sports without loss of income or livelihood.
- In 1895, rugby league officially split from rugby union, becoming widespread and eventually developing into a professional sport. Rugby union remained amateur (no real pro leagues) until 1995.
- The Olympics were amateurs only until 1985, stemming from the belief that amateurs were the only “real” sportspeople.
- After 1985, the Olympics allowed professionals under 23 to compete in tennis, ice-hockey, and soccer, with more sports and ages added each year. However, the low pay of Olympic athletes stems from this idea of amateurs as the real sportspeople.
- England’s rigid class structure benefited from the amateur/professional divide.
- Sports such as athletics were controlled by amateur sporting clubs (much like modern golf). Since lower classes couldn’t afford to pay, they weren’t allowed to participate.
- Additionally, some sports such as “real tennis” can’t be played without specific courts (which require maintenance/money, which lower classes couldn’t afford). In the case of real tennis, the court is essentially designed around a palace, which explains why lower classes couldn’t compete.
- Essentially, anything that required large/specific fields or equipment (cricket, rugby, tennis, etc.) was considered an upper class sport, and was therefore never played professionally. However, soccer rapidly developed into a “people’s game” as a result of its growing popularity in the military, and became professional as competitors needed to be able to justify not working during that time.
- Colonial Australia essentially reflected the British view on sport.
- Officers, landholders, and convicts introduced so-called “blood sports” such as boxing and hunting, but other sports increased in popularity over time.
- Many sporting events coincided with holidays.
- Since Australian colonists were often quite poor, many turned to gambling as a way to increase wealth. Betting on sports has therefore been inextricably linked with professional sport in Australia.
Women in Sport
You’d think that the syllabus section about women in sport would actually discuss like… what women thought of the situation? but apparently not. We’ve added some stuff where we could find it, but if you’re wondering why most of the quotes and stuff are from men, it’s because all the resources we found (textbooks, articles, etc.) only quoted men.
We’re also planning to start an opinion series, where we don’t just discuss the content of the course, but also provide our own perspectives on things like where the syllabus can be improved, gaps in explanations, etc. This will probably go on a separate section of the site.
Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, believed that it wasn’t natural for women to appear in sport.
The usual excuse for this was that physical strain from sport would damage a women’s ability to bear children, and that muscles would scare off potential suitors.
This also links into the “delicate flower syndrome”, the idea that female reproductive organs were fragile and shouldn’t be bounced around or jostled for fear of reducing their childbearing capabilities.
Additionally, it was believed that if women participated in the same environment as men, they would develop “unfortunate thoughts” (essentially, sports make women become lesbian)
Until 1984, women were still banned from most official marathons, and even now, women’s sporting leagues are significantly underfunded and underappreciated (compare the number of male athletes you know to the number of female athletes).
41% of teenage girls participate in organised sport, compared to 61% of boys.
Only 20% of elite coaching is undertaken by girls.
8% of sponsorships and 7% of broadcast coverage focus on women’s sport (out of all sporting broadcasts in Australia), compared to 85% of broadcast coverage on male sport.
However, social media is changing this: 26% of social media posts about professional athletes were made about women (in 2013), and this number has trended upwards (36% in the 2016 Olympics, over 43% in 2018).
|How have the meanings of professional and amateur sport changed?||- The wealthy people in colonial Australia were the only sportspeople to compete as amateurs and continued to support pastimes such as tennis and golf.
- The rest of the population pursued activities such as cycling and after-dark swimming — a dangerous pastime considering many colonists were poor swimmers and sharks were more numerous in those days (eventually enclosed baths were built)
- Amateurs now → novices, less-skilled, don’t get paid, do it for fun and fitness, not committed, part time
- Professional Now → well paid, highly skilled, competitive, watchable, supreme athletes, full time job
- During 19th Century, believed that true sportsmen were amateur; playing for the love of the game
- Amateur sport only for the wealthy who had time and money to play
- Amateurism used to help keep social boundaries in place unless you could pay for entry fee, uniform, equipment and travelling expenses
- Accepting monetary rewards would risk status as amateur sportsperson
- Professional sport was for the working class; could only compete if there was some form of payment
|- Nowadays, amateur is now considered to be primarily played in schools, unis and at local sporting clubs
- Elite athletes can still be considered amateur
- Socioeconomic status still plays an important role in determining what type of sport an individual can play. For example, road cycling requires expensive equipment (bike)
|How did the meanings of sport differ between social classes?||- Tennis for the upper class, posh and own a lot of money
- Soccer class for the lower class
- Golf considered an upper class rich sport; there is a dress code where you have to wear a collared top, kit and shoes
- People of low SES can games like rugby and soccer – but sports like golf cost more money → disparities in social class
- Upper classes believed a true sportsman participated for love of the game rather than for money
- Working class saw professional sport as an opportunity to make money
- Sports such as athletics were controlled by the amateur sporting clubs, and because the lower classes could not afford to join, they were not allowed to participate.
- Sports such as cricket and rugby were considered to be thepastimes of the upper classes.
|People in higher social classes are still able to and have the choice to participate.
- Socioeconomic status still plays an important role in determining what type of sport an individual can play.
|How/Why did gender affect sport participation?||– Men seen as stronger
- History of men’s participation in sport – only in the last 40 years have women been in male dominated sports e.g. 1984 allowed women in marathons
- Different attitude towards men and women
- 19th century England sport was male dominant, women were discouraged from participating
|- Women of the Victorian era were expected to be fragile, feminine and sedentary
- Men’s participation in sport was dominated by the idea that men are faster and stronger than women
- Some myths that arose from a male dominated medical profession in regards to implications of female participation include: reproductive systems can be irrevocably damaged by strenuous activity; and unable to handle stress of competition.
- Women’s participation in sport was limited during the 19th century
- Women were discouraged from sport if they showed interest
- It was not until 1912 in the Stockholm Olympics that women were allowed to participate in two swimming events, and then only in the company of chaperones.
|- Hard core impact sports are very much male-dominated
- In most sports, the male contingent is larger e.g. skateboarding
- Women’s participation in sport is continuing to rise as the preconceived idea of women being weak and fragile begins to change.
|- Hardcore impact sports are still male-dominated.
- Most sports have a larger male contingent (e.g. skateboarding).
Women’s participation in sport is continuing to rise as the preconcieved idea of women being weak and fragile has started to change.
Sport as a Commodity
- In professional sports, athletes are treated as commodity: you can buy them, sell them, market them, create an image, etc.
- Increased professionalism has resulted in interest from big business, resulting in athletes being traded through franchise agreements and player contracts, which are then marketed by image consultants and management companies to sell the rights for their name/image to companies and events.
- For example, Stephanie Rice’s partnership with Davenport improved after her success in the Beijing Olympics
- Most professional sports teams are owned by companies or rich people.
- Athletes must avoid controversy to be more marketable, echoing the “fair and honourable” principles of 19th century sportsmanship.
The Development of Professional Sport
- Sports rapidly became about profiteering off both athletes and spectators.
- The most iconic example is the USA Basketball “Dream Team” from the 1992 Olympics, the first year where professional athletes were allowed.
- Historically, professional athletes competed in events for fame and rewards (e.g. laurel wreath in the Greek Olympics, land and money for successful Roman gladiators).
- This rapidly shifted in the 20th century as entrepreneurs realised that they could profit from spectators, and have more reliable gambling when professional athletes with consistent performance competed.
- Workers in corporations were given time off to play sports for corporate-sponsored teams, eventually becoming professional teams with full-time athletes.
- Event managers realised that regional/national rivalries could be used to promote sporting matches (e.g. State of Origin, the Ashes, Bledisloe Cup).
- Corporate sponsors began to buy teams to enhance control and profit.
- Players and athletes remained semi-professional until payments became high enough to justify leaving full-time jobs.
- This was especially important in sports such as rugby, where careers are shorter due to likelihood of injury.
- Since the 1980s, many players have been in multi-million dollar contracts, justified by their performance and shorter careers.
- Athletes can also earn money through sponsorships, prize money, exhibition matches, etc.
- Professionalism increased both the regulation and popularity of sports, as top athletes had justification for being marketed.
- For example, the US Olympic Dream Team was the first to include NBA star players, resulting in a massive increase in Olympic viewership.
- Professionals have the ability to represent their country to the world.
- Professionalism was also driven by financial need, such as the rising cost of training, travel, and accomodation.
- Heavier sports required more frequent medical attention, resulting in higher costs
- Media attention resulted in most athletes turning to professional public speaking coaches, and sponsorships necessitated the hire of agents.
Pros and Cons of Professional Sports
- PRO: sponsors cover the cost of training, medical care, travel, etc.
- PRO: allows athletes to focus on their sporting performance rather than money.
- PRO: International audiences are more common, as professional athletes are supposed to be the best at the sport.
- CON: increased media attention means that bad press coverage can destroy careers regardless of athletic performance.
- CON: sponsor pressure means that athletes which don’t perform to a high standard may not have the money to recover.
Sport and Big Business
- Fans are likely to buy sporting merchandise, tickets, and food from the venue.
- Big teams require support staff, creating jobs (e.g. physio, dietitians, coaches, PR, administration).
- In 2009-2010, Australians spent a total of 8.2 billion dollars on sporting and recreational products, 1.5% of all household expenditure.
- This is expected to increase as the popularity of sports grows.
Participation Rates and Sports Products
- The participation in sports in Australia is quite high relative to the population.
- As a result, businesses use sports stars to advertise products, even when they’re completely unrelated.
- Funding into better sporting equipment is relatively high, and businesses constantly market new products with “breakthrough designs” and technology “designed by NASA” to appeal to their audiences.
- Venues have evolved from spectators sitting around a field to dedicated structures.
- Venues often feature tiered seating, grandstands, permanent food outlets, souvenir and merch stores, etc.
- Often, there will also be permanent staff for maintenance and operation.
- Teams in major competitions are supported by fitness coaches, physiotherapists, dietitians, etc.
- While some money is recieved from local councils and governments for the upkeep of sporting facilities, the costs of club membership and tickets don’t cover all the expenses.
- The most common (and effective) solution to this is major sponsorship.
Sponsorship and Advertising in Sport
Sponsorship is when an organisation covers all or part of the costs of a competition/activity in exchange for the advertisement of their product (among other rights).
Levels of sponsorship differ based on the popularity and performance of the athletes.
Sponsorships promote the sponsor’s business to viewers, creating goodwill.
Examples include Milo - Cricket, KFC - Big Bash, Telstra - NRL.
Higher profile teams and sports typically recieve more offers, and therefore higher profits.
Small clubs usually only attract local business as sponsors.
Usually, this takes the form of shirt sponsors, newsletters, or fundraisers.
Businesses are usually approached to donate prizes rather than making offers to clubs.
Higher profile athletes and competitions require major sponsorship in order to keep up with administration and event costs.
Large companies or organisations will only provide sponsorship to sports or athletes in relation to the amount of coverage they will recieve in exchange.
Without sponsors, a competition’s potential for growth is hindered by the exponential increase in cost.
However, this means that teams and competitions with controversy will suffer financially, as sponsors will pull out to avoid association with controversy.
Examples include Colin Kaepernick, who somehow sparked controversy by saying “racism is bad”
Additionally, merchandising of products provides additional income, and increases fan retention.
Benefits of sponsorship:
Economics growth for a city/state through the drawing of an international audience
Improved administration of the sport as now jobs are able to become full-time jobs for highly skilled professionals rather than part-time
Athletes having the opportunity to compete overseas as the expenses are covered by the sponsors in return for exposurr
Greater recognition of sport through increased media coverage
Money from large sponsorship deals can be put into supporting the development of juniors
Disadvantages of sponsorship:
Media coverage tend to show the traditional male sports (high-profile)
Inappropriate sponsorship still occurs (e.g. Brewing companies sponsoring cricket)
Sponsors enforce rule changes (e.g. Need for ‘time-out’ for advertisements and the ball used in a game could carry out sponsor’s logo)
Sponsors can ignore tradition and rename events to suit themselves (e.g. 1990s Sheffield Shield changed to the Pura Cup.
Clubs likely to lose their identity as traditions are bypassed to make clubs attractive to new sponsors.
Athletes and Advertising
- Athletes require funds to cover competing costs in their sport → Secure sponsorships needed. In return, company can advertise or endorse in products
- Whilst athletes have obligations, they are also required to abide by the restrictions on the amount of advertising space allowed on their uniform
- Athletes advertise their sponsors by:
- Wearing a brand of clothing with the company logo
- Using only a particular brand of equipment
- Appearing in television commercials to promote the product or service
- Mentioning sponsors’ names during interviews
- Drinking certain brands in public (sometimes occurs with food, but extremely common for sports drinks e.g. Gatorade).
Economics of Hosting Major Sporting Events
To host any major sporting event requires considerable organisation before, during and after the event
Economic growth is achieved through attracting world media attention, infrastructure development, increased employment, investments from overseas businesses and an influx of tourists.
Cost of hosting major sporting events divided into:
Direct: Relates to expenditure for construction of venues, wages for workers, technology
Indirect: Secondary expenditures on transport systems, medical treatment, drug testing etc.
Several years before the event takes place, countries make a bid outlining overall vision, plans and budgets for staging the event.
Highly competitive with no absolute guarantees of success and a return on investment
Consequences for Spectators and Participants
|- Very skilled players earn high incomes
- Higher public profile allow some players to supplement income
- Players exposed to a higher level of competition
- Players pay for a sport that they love
- Some clubs opt to offer players the security of 4-year contracts
- Players receive bonuses for winning
- Time to train and improve skills
|- When starting, players earn very little as they are placed on short-term contracts
- Private lives are placed under great media scrutiny
- Extended playing seasons cause players to be away from families
- Players expected to continually adapt to changed conditions
- Club loyalty difficult to maintain
- Players expected to attend sponsor functions
|- Higher quality games viewed as the competition are national/international
- Changes in uniform makes the game more exciting
- Changes to game time makes sport more accessible for spectators
- More sports available for viewing through pay-for-view stations
- Merchandising allowing spectators to support their team by wearing club jerseys
- Spectators have benefited by a large array of technology e.g. replays
- Spectators also have access to latest statistics
|- Some sporting telecasts are delayed due to clashes in programming
- Spectators’ favourite players may be forced to move to other clubs because of salary caps
- Nature of game changed to suit the advertisers
- Traditional uniforms changed
- Cost of tickets precludes some spectators and family groups
- High demand for tickets/Low supply for tickets
- Cost to install pay TV and monthly charges.
Relationship Between Sport, National, and Cultural Identity
Australian sporting identity
- Australia’s sporting identity has been significant in our national identity
- Australia’s sporting achievements accompanied by its growing independence and sense of national pride.
National and regional identity through sporting achievements
- National identity based on the fact that majority of Australians love sport → Sporting success leading to increased confidence to take on the rest of the world.
- E.g. Australia’s first victory in the Ashes cricket series was important as it meant that England had been beaten by the so-called outcasts of their society.
- Medal tally at the Olympics shows us our rate of performance on the international stage → Pressure to win medals is intense.
- Media profiles prospective champions and scrutinises their pre-Games performance in the lead-up to the Olympics. E.g. Cathy Freeman won the 400m at the 2000 Olympics and because of that she was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted.
- Part of our national identity is tied up with the perception of being the ‘underdog’ → 1983: Australia competed in the America’s Cup where a 132-year-old winning streak by America was broken.
- Symbol of the nation’s fighting spirit became the boxing kangaroo which was used to encourage nationalistic feelings
Regional identity – state vs state
- Such games attract support and interest through interstate rivalries → Shown through the characterisation with a certain identity.
- E.g. In the NRL State of Origin series, NSW Blues are known as the ‘cockroaches’ and the Queensland Maroons are the ‘cane toads’.
Rural areas and regional identity
- Many regions can boast champions of their own – Athletes who have progressed from district level to higher sporting achievements.
- Sometimes entire regions associate themselves with particular sporting traditions as a means of promoting social interaction, providing entertainment and developing toughness and resilience.
- E.g. Riverina region pride itself on producing ‘tough and hardy’ footballers for the national competition.
Government funding - Politics in Sports
Politics and the Olympics
- The Olympics is considered to be the ultimate sporting event as it attracts a lot of media coverage → Extremely vulnerable to political intrusion.
- Olympics held during the Cold War, USA + USSR struggled to prove which ideological system was superior – communism or capitalism
- 1936 Berlin Olympics: Adolf Hitler tried to display the supremacy of the Aryan race to all nations through not allowing Jewish athletes to participate and black athletes being discriminated against (Not handing out medals).
- 1968 Mexico Olympics: Birthplace of the symbolic gesture for African-American athletes through raising clenched fists on the victory dais as well as turning their backs to the American flag when raised.
- 1972 Munich Olympics: Palestinian terrorists took Israeli athletes and officials hostage and killed many of them
Identify an instance when Australia has used sport for political purposes and evaluate the impact of this on the athletes and the Australian public.
- Sporting boycotts have been used to express disapproval of other nations for many years
- 1980 Moscow Olympics: USSR invaded Afghanistan, 50 countries including USA and Australia boycotted
- 1984 Los Angeles Olympics: USSR and allied nations boycotted in retaliation.
- 1970 - 1992: South Africa was subjected to a sporting boycott therefore excluded from most international sporting competitions by countries e.g. Australia.
Meaning of physical activity and sport to indigenous Australians
History reflects the high level of physical activity needed by the indigenous Australians in order to survive → Shown through nomadic way of life through daily hunting and gathering activities showed the long distances undertaken.
Modern times: Sport has become important for continued growth to Indigenous people.
Prominent indigenous athletes attract media attention → Enables them to act as role models to encourage and guide the youth as well as focus on political interests on overcoming social injustices.
Traditional activities and sports
Traditionally, games and activities are centred on skill development required for hunting and gathering on Aboriginal culture. This includes:
Sham fights for children
Spear dodging: Lines of boys standing opposite and then throwing toy spears at the people facing them
Bubberah: Game in which players take turns in throwing a boomerang to land close to a target
Boomerang dodge: Dodging a flying boomerang
Murri murri: Try and spear a bark disc from several metres away
Dancing as part of a corroboree or other symbolic occasion
Links between community and identity
Each tribe or language group had their own unique identity and customs → Many have been generally lost.
Little division between play and work as they both promoted strength, endurance and accuracy in throwing.
Aboriginal culture had games similar to European games e.g. Hide-and-seek and ducks and drakes
Rules to indigenous people’s game tended to be very broad as the reinforcement of kinship was more important than scoring.
Dance played an important part in culture as it was expected to be taught to them and performed at spontaneous celebrations
Involving a high level of physical activity, they were sometimes performed in a corroboree.
Physical activity, sport and cultural identity
- By having different values, beliefs and customs, they formed the basis for a culture’s sport and physical activities → With the varied views within cultures, the perception of health changes too.
- Some cultures: perceive competition through physical activity as vital in socialising people whilst others emphasise the importance of cooperative activities through maintaining health.
The role of competition
Western cultures: Value competition as its thought to prepare people for living and working in a capitalist system
Other cultures: Regard the arts and education as more important
E.g. Vietnamese see the value of sport for recreation, entertainment and for developing a sense of community
Croatian, Greek and Italian value competition as a means of pursuing national or regional pride
Japanese traditionally enjoyed sports involving ritual and combat that instil notions of rank and order
Links to cultural identity
- Many migrant groups have formed sporting social clubs that work to reinforce their own cultural identity and social interaction
- Traditional pastimes are played as a means of keeping the links with their home country
Relationships to health
- Western cultures + Pacific Islanders: Sport primarily as entertainment and social interaction rather than maintaining good health
- Asian cultures: Courages people to adopt activities at a young age in order to maintain good health and find spiritual fulfilment
Ways of thinking about the body
- Ancient Greeks philosophers: Believe the body should be regarded as a temple that eventually enhance physique and skill
- Asian philosophy: In order to achieve good health, balance needed between the mind, body and soul
- Western way: Regard the body with less reverence that create problems with body image → Perpetuation of unrealistic stereotypes for males + females → Seek surgical remedies and extreme weight-loss programs rather than engaging in regular physical activities.
Mass Media and Sport
Inquiry Question: How does the mass media contribute to people’s understanding, values and beliefs about sport?
Relationship between sport and the mass media
- Mass media: Describes communication directed from one source to a large percentage of the population e.g. Television, movies, radio and magazines (electronic and print media)
- Most powerful influences on people’s opinions and habits.
- Either unite or divide a country on issues
- Interdependent relationship between sport and media
- High-profile sports depend for their budgets on media coverage = Media relies on sport to attract businesses to advertise
- Without media exposure, lesser known sports find it difficult to get major sponsorship
- Media’s relationship with sport resulted in changes to games making them more suitable for television.
Representation of sport in the media
- Australia’s passion for sport reflects in sport representation in print media
- Metaphors and cliches are used to create images of players as sporting idols
- Men described as being mentally tough, fiercely competitive, driven by the passion for the game and totally focused on winning
- E.g. ‘Gladiators of League’ ‘legends of the game’
- Special articles may depict important games played between teams like battles
- E.g. ‘The battle for the Ashes’ and State of Origin rugby league matches billed as ‘‘‘mate vs. mate’
- Represented differently to male sports in both language used and amount of coverage
- Narrow range of women’s sport reported on and length of story suggests that women’s sport is considered less important
Sports and television
- Media can be responsible for growth of new sports
- Wide World of Sports: Creates interest in different sports
- Television coverage of each Olympics has introduced millions of people into new sports → Promotes growth of these sports and improves standard of international competition
- Kerry Packer instigated rebel cricket concept called ‘World Series Cricket’, designed and packaged a sport that was purpose-built for television
- Colourful uniforms, changed rules, game time changes to suit peak viewing times
- Done to attract new audience by simplifying the game or increasing scoring opportunities
- Scheduled time-outs
- Penalty shoot-out in soccer
- See-through courts in squash
How have sport and television changed?
- Programmers encouraged to use technology developments to produce innovations e.g. slow-motion replays and new sound and visual effects
- Make audience more interested in sports coverage, viewers needed to be made aware of:
- Player profiles
- Weather information
- Comparison of a performance with the world
- How the players felt post-match
Economic considerations of media coverage and sport
- The popularity of sport with television is because it is entertaining and relatively inexpensive to produce because of the yearly scheduling of games, making use of existing facilities as well as sporting associations keen on publicity.
- Media benefits with the relationship of sport:
- TV stations can get great mileage out of past footage through creating montages in the lead-up to important events like a grand final → Lead sports like AFL to seek greater control of own media rights and therefore profit more.
Deconstructing media messages, images and amount of coverage
- Demographic data gathered dictates what messages are given in mass media
- If media outlets promote stories that are entertaining, have social impact or report on dramatic events then they will generate income through selling advertising space to popular magazines/newspapers
- Australian society tends to value sporting success more than social justice issues
- E.g. Homelessness can be quickly replaced with headlines by sporting wins e.g. Australia beats Pakistan 2-0 in cricket.
Difference in coverage of sports across various print and electronic media
- Intense competition between print and electronic media → Sensationalism in stories
- Violent images and fights are often promoted (replayed) and usually overshadow the rest of the game
- Responsibilities of media:
- Provide a balanced perspective but often a viewpoint is taken and fixed stereotypes are used to satisfy public opinion
- Encourage public debate on social issues e.g. Drugs in sports
- Athletes usually conform to society’s general expectation of what is masculine and feminine
- Males: Described as ‘tough encounters’ or ‘awesome displays of strength’ that reflect admiration of the courage, determination and power involved.
- Females: Described as aesthetically pleasing movements or her overall appearance. ‘Style’ and ‘team-work’ are key words in the post-performance analysis.
The emergence of extreme sports as entertainment
- Earlier forms: Bareback horse racing, parachuting and mountaineering → Modern times: Big wave surfing, base jumping, BMX stunt jumping
- Extreme sports generally satisfies the:
- Individual’s need for expanding their skills, seeking out new challenges and releasing adrenaline because of the danger factor.
- Spectators’ need to be entertained in new and exciting ways while remaining within their own comfort zones
- TV stations receive their income through the broadcasting of these events that attract audiences for their advertisers
- Advantages: Requires fewer people to be involved → Lower production costs, can be stored for when needed and fills the gaps in traditional sport coverage
- Responsibility of both the audience and the media → Increased coverage of extreme sports to satisfy the high demand for new entertainment has made athletes to take increasingly higher risks
- Self-regulatory at best and the grey area regarding rules, safety requirements and responsibility
- Young people often try to copy their sporting heroes and risk serious injury, especially if they’re relatively inexperienced
Relationship between Sport and Gender
Inquiry Question: What are the relationships between sport, physical activity, and gender?
Sport as a traditionally male domain
- Sport was created by men for men → Emphasising competition and developing qualities that represented manliness
- When society changed, so did sport → Society considers close relationship between sport and gender and the implications for this relationship
Sport and the construction of masculinity and femininity
- Expressions like ‘boys will be boys’ is frequently used to explain particular behaviours → Positive and negative
- Both genders are taught how to behave from an early age and failure to behave as expected can have consequences
- In both the playground and on the sporting field, they are expected to exhibit certain qualities whilst playing
- In general, society gives a very narrow view on what it means to be masculine. It equates to being competitive, tough, aggressive and able to control one’s emotions
- Problems arise when society’s broad expectations are challenged: When young boys cannot play contact sports either out of interest or genetic making which could result in serious injury → Decreased self-esteem as he perceives himself to be less masculine.
- Men participating in sports like diving or dancing is perceived as not reflecting masculinity → Low level of support or promotion
- Sport and physical activities sometimes used to develop the muscular physique that resembles the stereotype
- Concept of femininity is learnt from society
- Modern society encourages women participation in sports that involve little body contact and have a greater focus on aesthetics or well-coordinated type of movement.
- Women require considerable effort to satisfy society’s views of femininity: With ‘grace’ and their appearance on par.
- E.g. Sports like netball and swimming require a narrow range of body shapes in order to succeed but sports like dancing and gymnastics don’t necessarily require a particular body shape but girls with the ‘wrong’ shape or size tend to be discouraged or excluded.
Implications for participation
- Individual’s participation is a result of many factors including:
- Past experiences, family background, genetic potential, geographical location and socioeconomic status
- But the major factor is society’s attitude to gender: This determines what types of activities are deemed suitable and how they should be played. ###Sponsorship, policy and resourcing
- As sport has traditionally been a male domain, they receive the highest profiles and level of sponsorship.
- Women’s sponsorship is steadily rising but still lags behind due to their low media profile.
- Government introduced anti-discrimination laws that have helped in achieving equality in sport
- ASC includes a Women and Sport Unit, Promoting better deals for female athletes
- NSW Department of Education and Training has policies that require girls to be given equal opportunity to develop sporting skills
- Adequate resourcing has allowed the creation of equal opportunities → Greater success in current Australian women’s teams and female athletes
- Women’s issues in sports are being addressed → Seen through training more female coaches and employing more administrators at higher levels.
The role of the media in constructing meanings around femininity and masculinity in sport
- Media satisfies consumer demands as it tends to promote socially acceptable role models that support the current constructs of femininity and masculinity
- Media’s role: Respond to construct changes as they evolve and present an unbiased perspective
- Women: Sport should be pursued for positive health benefits → Should be reassured by the media
- Men should pursue all kinds of sport as participating in sports like football does not define the person’s degree of masculinity
- Media could be used in challenging traditional ideas about gender in sport
- Language of the media should be considered carefully as they convey negatively to young people who are developing a sense of identity.
- However, the media relies on ratings to sell advertising space and rarely risks promoting lesser known sports that challenges the notion of gender.
Challenges to the male domain
- Society’s growing acceptance of women’s participating in sports over 12th century has allowed women to enter into male-dominant sports
- Women challenges the stereotypes and society’s perceptions of femininity and masculinity
- Done through strength of character and perseverance by young people in pursuing their interests that there will be continued redefining of society’s expectations.