More Critique of American Sports Culture

2dQNkwjYesterday, I woke up thinking about sports.

It could well have been because of the amazing soccer match my girls played on Saturday, the one where we broke the will of our rival elementary school en route to a 2-0 win. Oh, and did I mention that both teams were undefeated coming into the match?!? Next up for us is a rematch versus that same school next Saturday in the championship game.

Yes, I’m a proud coach. Last week I offered two reasons why I love coaching girls soccer. Add a third one:

It’s fun to win.

And/or, it could have been because of this article from writer Marta Oti Sears. Similar in theme to my recent post on the topic, Sears offers an insightful critique of a sports culture that equates masculinity with success and femininity with weakness. Here’s a couple of excerpts, and I recommend the entire piece:

“As a coach and parent, I’ve become increasingly concerned about another form of injustice taking place in locker rooms, living rooms, and around water coolers across the country.

A frustrated middle school boys’ coach calls a time out and yells at his players, “You look like a bunch of girls out there! Come on ladies, get your heads in the game!” A dad says to his five-year-old son, “You’re throwing like a girl. Let me show you the right way to throw a baseball.” A high school football kicker misses a field goal that costs his team the game. The next day, he opens his locker and finds it full of tampons.

There’s a common message in all of these scenarios. Femaleness is equated with being weak, passive, and a loser. The accompanying message associates maleness with strength, aggression, and victory.

Sadly, kids and adults are as likely to hear this message at home and at the church picnic, as they are to hear it on the school playground or the local youth sports league. It’s the same kind of language we’ve heard for decades, kids calling each other “sissies” and men calling each other “pussies.” But in 2013, we can do better.”

And, later:

“If we want to raise boys and girls to become healthy, whole men and women who live and love like Jesus, we must release our gender stereotypes and embrace the complexity and paradox of being human. As image-bearers of God we are all strong and vulnerable; brave and fearful; aggressive and peacemaking.”

Amen.

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