Masculinity and Sports Media

Sports media also contribute to the construction of masculinity in contemporary society.

A study conducted by the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles reports that 98 per cent of American boys between the ages of 8 and 17 consume sports media. [1] Since professional sports are virtually dominated by men—from the athletes and coaches to the commentators and reporters—sports media have the potential to transmit powerful ideas about manliness and masculinity.

Studies on gender and sports media find that sports commentary reinforces perceptions of “violent masculinity.” By praising athletes who continue to play while injured, and by using language of conflict and war to describe action, sports commentary reinforces violence and aggression as exciting and rewarding behaviour.

Sports broadcasts focus heavily on violence in professional sports, often replaying and over-analyzing footage of graphic injuries, accidents and fights. A 1999 Children Now study points out that conflict between players of opposing teams is often created or inflated to promote upcoming games. [2]

The studies conclude that this focus on personal rivalry, conflict, and fierce competition reinforces the social attitude that violence and aggression are normal and natural expressions of masculine identity. However, there are encouraging signs that sport culture is beginning to change, such as the You Can Play project, which has enlisted NHL teams, sports broadcasters and hockey stars to fight homophobia in hockey. [3]

 


[1] Wilson, Wayne. Children and Sports Media. Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles, 1999.
[2] Messner, Mike et al. Boys to Men: Sports Media. Children Now, 1999.
[3] Johnston, Chris. NHL stars back Patrick Burke’s push to eliminate homophobia in hockey. Canadian Press, March 4 2012.