Millions of people spend their free time watching and discussing sports and not just professional sports but also recreational leagues for children, school affiliated sports through high school and collegiate level sports. Throughout the recent decades women have also been included in the athletic atmosphere. There are women’s leagues for the same sports as there are for men, except for American football. But if anybody can turn on the television to ESPN and see that the majority of sports events that are discussed are men’s. I have attended many sports events, both male and female, throughout my time at SUNY Plattsburgh and I have noticed an unfortunate trend; fewer people attend a sports event for women than they do for men. But why? Could the answer really be because of the sex or gender of the athletes?
My project will investigate the connection between the quantity of people attending a collegiate sporting event for men vs the quantity attending for women and the systemic sexism within college sports. First I want to define sexism: for the Merriam-Webster dictionary it is defined as “prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.” But for Dr. Goldberg in his article for Competitive Edge he defines sexism as “discrimination and/or hatred against people based upon their sex rather than their individual merits. It is housed in certain beliefs and attitudes held by the individual that one gender or sex is superior and/or more valuable than the other.” Dr. Goldberg’s definition is the only that I like better and will be referencing throughout my project.
Sports in Western culture are male dominated; they are characterized with male qualities such as aggression, competitiveness and strength (Paloian, 2012). How does a female fit into this framework? Evidence suggests that they do not. Male sports players are often seen as the shining examples of masculinity while female sports players are often seen as deviating from ideal femininity. When our society genders a female, we impose values that are reflective of our Western culture such as delicateness, beauty, and tenderness; essentially the opposite of males (Paloian, 2012). So understanding these socially constructed ideas of femininity, how do they affect the audiences of collegiate sports, and why are there fewer attendees for female sporting events? Finally, how, despite legal sanctions like Title IX, do female collegiate sports remain unequal/ “less than” compared to its male counterparts, and how is the systematic sexism being expressed through it? Through all of these questions, my goals are to better understand the social constructions that our female athletes at SUNY Plattsburgh,