Tackling Stereotypes

When i was six years old my parents made a courageous decision and signed me up to play football. From that day till now i have not skipped one season of playing the game i fell in love with. The butterflies before every game, the competitiveness against my opponents and also my teammates. The crazy family members and fans cheering, also to the point where the cheering leads to fights with the other teams which was one of my favorite moments. While growing up my dad taught me to play with a mindset, a mindset that would allow me to play this game with no fear or hesitation but with some aggression and heart. Most of all the brotherhood that you gain each year you play and just simply having fun with them was my favorite part. Gaining strong bonds between teammates you played with from mighty might all the way through to the midget level. Then after that those bonds between teammates may end or carry on through high school. Whether it may be competing on the same team or against them. Most of my good football memories came during my highschool years of playing football but in high school i never really listened to how us football players are portrayed on the media until i reached and played at the college level. Now a days while watching how football student athletes on television are portrayed as a wrong image to the world was shocking. We are portrayed as jocks that are unintelligent, self-centered and physically abusive to women. The media does not accurately reflect the true lifestyle of a student athlete this is a problem because audiences begin to believe these exaggerated stereotypes and athletes may internalize them.

A movie where stereotypical football student athletes are portrayed as unintelligent student athletes was a movie called “Varsity Blues”. Where a young athlete was portrayed as a fat, ugly and unintelligent player who couldn’t comprehend or answer any question given in class. This player would fall asleep everyday in class with no inspiration or desire to learn. This portrayal has negative effects to student athletes because at some point they may actually believe internally that they are unintelligent jocks. According to research, when athletes watch tapes of athletes portrayed as unintelligent they are more likely to underperform on their academic performances (Danso,2006).The study was titled “ Stereotype Threats Impact College Athletes Academic Performance”. This was a study on male college athletes who were given an intellectual test (diagnostic and non-diagnostic) and a questionnaire. The intellectual test resulted as an under performance and the questionnaire ( about the negative stereotypes) resulted to multiple athletes stating that their athletic ability got them into college (Danso,2006).

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Portraying student athletes as selfish/self-centered is not true. Of course researchers have shown that dramatic dances in the end zone shows not only liberation from physical domination over his opponents but also celebration of physical superiority as well (Bryson,1987). This clearly shows how much passion we have for the game with all the celebrations in the end zone. Also the celebrations are simply just leaving your mark on how you want to be remembered. Yes, we do trash talk while playing this game but it is just pure competitiveness between athletes, plus we are not the only sport that talks trash. Playing at the collegiate you would witness football student athletes who are fathers and as being fathers they take it upon themselves to take care of their child or children.With such responsibility gives them tremendous drive to be successful in life to provide whether it would be going to the NFL or getting a college degree and getting a job. Some players have backgrounds where their fathers have abandoned them when they were young but the players take it upon themselves to be a better father than their own. So portraying us football student athletes as selfish/self-centered is not right.

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The sexual assault/abuse stereotype on football student athletes is some what true but the media seems to exaggerate such portrayal. For example a media show called “Blue Mountain State” is simply a fantasy life style of football student athletes. It shows multiple parties being thrown everyday and multiple women coming in and out of the goathouse (party house). As well as “Varsity Blues” where student athletes get away with stealing cop cars with naked women (intoxicated). Portraying that football players just have sexual intercose with multiple women with no remorse of their feeling or anything is monstrous.The show portrays as well football student athletes having no self control nor responsibility with such recognition as being a student athlete and that everything is simply given to them.Research has shown evidence stating that professional football players who are scorers (running back, wide receivers)  are overrepresented in violent crimes (sexual assault,domestic violence) as compared to other players at their position (Welch,M 1997).Yes football is a physical sport but that does not mean we football student athletes are bound to act with physical aggression in everything we do. My head coach emphasizes to us as a team to stay out of trouble and out of the paper or news. Whether it would be at a party with women that are intoxicated or behind the wheel under the influence. Basically he doesn’t want us to misrepresent our team and ourselves.

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On one of our class materials we had to decide which story was newsworthy and why. The paragraphs where it explained about football student athletes partaking in sexual assaults is something that is definitely newsworthy because it shows significance on how many people may be affected and how it may portray us student athletes. I learned from this material that such news as sexual assault can change a man’s life forever (student athlete or not) , a student athlete can lose his scholarship or better yet end up in prison. This is important because the way the media portrays us football student athletes can make us a bigger target than normal students or people.Through our material you asked us about news. Why is it important or where do we get it from? The news is something that emphasizes their time on student athletes especially ones that are at a high status (Heisman candidate). For example the Heisman winner James Winston simply saying something inappropriate out loud in public at school made him one of the top news on ESPN. It is imperative to all football student athletes to watch what they say or do because news travels fast now a days and people tend to take things and exaggerate them to make the top news.

Reference:
Bryson, L. (1987). Sport and the maintenance of masculine hegemony. Women’s Studies International Forum, 10, 349-360

Welch, M. (1997). VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN BY PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYERS A Gender Analysis of Hypermasculinity, Positional Status, Narcissism, and Entitlement. Journal of Sport & Social Issues, 21(4), 392-411.

Jameson, M., Diehl, R., & Danso, H. (2007). STEREOTYPE THREAT IMPACTS COLLEGE ATHLETES’ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE. Current Research in Social Psychology, 12(5), 68-76.

Friday night lights [Motion picture]. (2004). Universal.

Blue Mountain State [Motion picture]. (2010). Lions Gate Television.

Varsity blues [Motion picture]. (1999). Paramount Pictures.

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