Recreation and Sport Studies

Studying, Experiencing and Facilitating Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport through Wellness and Physical Activity


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Constructing masculinized sportscapes: Skiing, gender and nature in BC

By. K. McIntosh

Picture a skier at the top of a mountain, all alone, surrounded by nothing but a sublime view. The skier, surrounded by trees and snow, contemplates the ideal line of descent down the tumultuous terrain. What gender did you associate with the skier?

The main takeaway from Stoddart’s (2013) article is that a combination of factors influence the gender bias however one that may not be evident is in the inscribed physical environment where these sports are performed. Of course, the more identifiable examples of gendered sportscapes are created by the media and exemplified within ski magazines, websites, and more. The demonstrated youthful, carefree, and riskiness in this media is associated (and marketed) towards a masculine audience.

It was also discussed in the article that skiers interviewed (both male and female) identified backcountry skiing as a male dominated activity. The women did not feel comfortable adventuring into the unknown without the guidance of an experienced male. However, it was noted that things are beginning to change and that women feel more empowered to get a group of women together and explore all that nature has to offer.

The feminist movement has aided in the appeal of pushing one’s boundaries and we are to recognize that this is not only limited to politics and workplace, but that it is also present in the recreational environment.

Reference:

Stoddart, M. J. C. (2013). Constructing masculinized sportscapes: Skiing, gender and nature in British Columbia, Canada. International Review for the Sociology of Sport. 46(1), 108-124.


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Can Actively Engaged Actually Create Gender Equity in Sport?

Actively Engaged: A Policy on Sport for Women and Girls is a national policy that came into effect January 1, 2009. The main objective of this policy is to “foster sport environments—from playground to podium—where women and girls, particularly as athlete participants, coaches, technical leaders and officials, and as governance leaders are provided with: quality sport experiences; and equitable support by sport organizations” (Canadian Hertiage, 2009, p. 6). The policy aims to achieve this objective through four different policy interventions: program improvement, strategic leadership, awareness, and knowledge development. I think there are more weaknesses than strengths to this policy.

Strengths:

  • Includes a monitoring and evaluation section
  • Acknowledges that there are cultural barriers to participation
  • Has become part of the Sport Funding and Accountability Framework

Weaknesses:

  • Lack of integration across the sport system
    • There was no mention of collaboration with the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity
    • The policy isn’t mentioned in or supported by the 2012 Canadian Sport Policy
  • Some language is vague and misleading
  • Lack of promotion/media attention surrounding policy’s release
  • Not enough women involved in the creation of this policy
  • Canadian sport system still prioritizes elite sport, so women and girls at the grassroots level will have a hard time seeing any benefits
  • There has been no follow up with how often it claims the policy will be evaluated

Overall, I think that this policy will not create the change it promises, and thus needs to be rewritten.

Reference

Canadian Heritage. (2009). Actively Engaged: A Policy on Sport for Women and Girls. Retrieved from http://canada.pch.gc.ca/eng/1414511367652/1414602693839


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Policy is not Enough to make Sport Gender Equitable

When one thinks about sport today, they’ll generally think about the big professional sport leagues, which are dominated by men. The age-old perception that sport is a man’s world is still prevalent in today’s society. Despite the increasing pressure and effort to make all aspects sport (athlete participation, coaching, officiating and management) gender equitable, organizations are still failing at it (for example, see the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport’s Racial and Gender Report Cards). What’s been done so far to encourage gender equity in sport?

Safai (2013) discussed the various policies and organiations that have attempted to encourage the participation of women in sport since the 1960s. Most of these policies have not succeeded, largely due to the lack of accountability of the policies. For example, the
Sport Funding and Accountability Framework (SFAF) dictates that NSOs/MSOs would get funding if they showed that their policies, programs, practices, and procedures demonstrated equity for women and other marginalized groups. However, not all NSOs/MSOs rely on government funding, and there is still lack of compliance from other NSOs/MSOs (though it is not clear if the lack of compliance is a conscious decision or stems from barriers to compliance). Many organizations, like the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport (CAAWS), turned towards a liberal feminist approach, or started receiving federal funding, swallowing them into the male-dominated Canadian sport system.

The Canadian government, while spouting their commitment to gender equity in sport, still act in contradictory ways. The 2003 Physical Activity and Sport Act discussed three strategies to reduce the barriers associated with participation in sport. One such strategy stated “Undertake initiative to increase opportunities in coaching, officiating, and volunteer leadership for women, persons with a disability Aboriginal peoples, and visible minorities” (Safai, 2013, p. 333). Why only volunteer leadership? Do women not deserve to get paid for leadership positions?

Similarly, the government didn’t stand up for women when they were trying to get women’s ski jumping included in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. When the women lost their lawsuit, the government could have made a political statement, like governments did during the anti-apartheid movement with the boycotting of South Africa from international sporting competitions. But, they didn’t, further perpetuating the marginalization of women in sport.

Even women who are advocates of gender equity in sport act in contradictory ways. Landdeck (2012) contemplated in her article why there aren’t more mothers as soccer coaches. She writes that coaching takes up a lot of time, and that “much of this cannot be easily interrupted by care for younger children, making dinner, or the hundred other things that are part of the daily life for many mothers”. Perhaps unconsciously, this statement is sorting mothers into the stereotypical gender role of the stay-at-home mom. Why doesn’t she acknowledge that many mothers have careers? That men can take on the main caregiving role?

Safai (2013) contends that better policy is still needed, and while I agree, policy is only one aspect to achieving gender equity in sport. In the 50+ years that have focused on policy, progress has been made, but not enough. You could have all of the policies in the world, but if the societal perception that sport is a man’s domain still exists, policies will not be enough to combat the glass ceiling women face in sport. Maybe CAAWS should go back to its radical feminist roots. Maybe women need to take matters into their own hands and keep fighting back against the system, like Jen Welter, Dawn Braid, and Kim Ng have. The solution is definitely not simple, but it should start with changing the perception of women in sport.

References

Landdeck, K. S. (2012). Why Aren’t More Soccer Moms Soccer Coaches? Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2012/12/why-arent-more-soccer-moms-soccer-coaches/266151/

Safai, P. (2013). Women in sport policy. In L. Thibault & J. Harvey (Eds.). Sport Policy in Canada (317-349). Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.


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Delivering A COED Program in a University Community

Hello RSS students and others of interest, thank you for attending our presentation, Colleen and I (Marcus Lees) greatly appreciate the feedback and contribution from our discussion questions. Our topic, Delivery of a COED Sport Program, was based on delivering and promoting the benefits in COED sport at University communities by interviewing participants of a COED Sport league (UNB Varsity Men’s and Women’s Soccer athletes) and Organizational leaders of sport and recreation at the UNB community. This seminar presentation was practical in reviewing the application of programming in sport and is relevant to the wellness stream by improving dimensions of wellness; this attributes to mainly social and mental wellness contributions.

At first, Colleen and I did not know where we would take COED programming at a competitive level but through our qualitative research we developed a mission:

To provide a group of athletes who wish to participate in COED Club soccer at a competitive level of competency strictly for the development of those athletes. The purpose of this program is to select athletes from a variety of backgrounds: alumni, athletes in the community entering their last year of high school, athletes that are cut from varsity selection, and Redshirts. This alternative to the varsity soccer program is to provide a grassroots developmental league to enhance player abilities of aspiring athletes to the gender specific varsity soccer team, improve the abilities and leadership skills of all participants, and to provide a shared experience in developing both genders together. This is a great way to meet people with similar interests and provide opportunities for instruction, competition and social interaction.

So what do you think? Where would a COED program exist; would it be a Club program on campus or a Varsity program?

By Colleen Daly and Marcus Lees

Research Analysis Video Link:


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Magazine Cover Case Study: Sexualization of Genders

While female participation is steadily growing in sports such as soccer and basketball, a noticeable gap between female and male sport coverage still exists (Hardin & Greer, 2009). In addition to the lack of female sports coverage, the representations and portrayals of athletes differ dramatically based on gender; reinforcing gender typing for sports and skill.

Our research explored the differences in female and male representations on North American magazine covers. To investigate this research question, a review and analysis of 3 major magazines was conducted: Sports Illustrated, SportsNet Magazine and ESPN Magazine. 238 total magazine covers were analyzed, ranging from as early as January 2013 to November 2014. Each issue was documented based on criteria, which would be used to determine how these magazines feature their athletes and whether or not they feature both female and male individuals. The four categories were: sexualized, action shot, photo shoot and other.

  MEN ESPNAction Girls UFO 

The results show that females were featured on fewer magazines than males with only 23 of the 238 magazines highlighting a female athlete on their cover. Females were sexualized in the majority of their shots (57%) and were only shown in action shots on 3 of the 23 covers (13%). The results support that female athletes are highly underrepresented on sports magazine covers and are either sexualized or portrayed in fashions that minimize their athletic accomplishments when they are featured.

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Female students in a Physical Education Setting: How Comfortable Are They in the Gym?

As a graduating undergraduate in RSS, an article I would like recommend reading is:

Couturier, L. E., Chepko, S., & Coughlin, M. (2007). Whose Gym Is It? Gendered Perspectives on Middle and Secondary School Physical Education.Physical Education,64(3), 152-158.

For a majority of RSS students and grads being involved in physical activity is something that we are all generally interested in and enjoy taking part in. Unfortunately this is not the case for all students going through school whether at a middle or high school level. This in particular is even more a problem among young girls in physical education classes. This paper focused on the differences between male and female youth participating in physical education classes in the U.S. They found their results by giving out 7000 copies of a survey they generated through trial studies.

Unlike males, as females get older they tend to become less interested in physical education. They determined that this was due to some physiological, psychological and sociological reasons. Using the survey they determined that the girls in these schools were less likely to want to participate in physical education classes because they were not comfortable changing in front of others in the lockeroom, they didn’t want to get sweaty before their next class, and they didn’t think they were good enough at the sports being offered in class therefore were less likely to have fun or participate.

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