Essay on Masculinity, Violence, and the American Sports Culture

5114 Words 21 Pages
The sports culture produces some of the most revered and idolized figures in American society. Athletic achievements are glorified and the achievers are often elevated to an extraordinary, super-human status. The rewards, praise, honor, power, and privilege that come from exhibited athletic talent and ability can be enticing as well as addicting. Heroes emerge in our society when a line is crossed in record time, an unfathomable amount of points are scored, or beautifully placed, even lucky shots result in game-winning goals. For many athletes their sport defines them. They have participated in a sport their entire lives, modeled the moves and strategies of their predecessors in practice after practice, devoted to becoming
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The "role models" in sport, whether they be the leading scorer on a Division I collegiate team or a member of a professional sports organization sometimes exhibit behaviors that influence their admirers in negative ways. When parents wish for their sons to enjoy successes in sport, they do not hope that these boys will grow up to emulate the aggression, cheating, performance-enhancing drug use, or sexual violence that too frequently accompany a journey to prosperity and success. Parents do not desire that these traits be appropriated in their son’s identity as an athlete or as a man. Participation in athletics can nourish a boy’s development through manhood, however when sport facilitates the development of a masculine identity that is morally compromised, the supreme value of our American construct of sport is called into question.

When examining the influences of the American sports culture and athletic heroes on the lives of young boys it is important to differentiate between athletic achievement and talent and the ethics of success. Athletic aspirations and goals are healthy and beneficial in personal development of boys. If in, association with these goals, a boy learns to equate their attainment with immoral means or privilege like performance-enhancing drug use, sexual violence, aggression, hazing, academic dishonesty, the negative components of the masculine sex-role stereotypes are perpetuated. This

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