Jennifer Ellison Brown: Trends and social issues in sport
Women have traditionally been associated with the arts in general and dance in particular, but many sporting and adventurous activities have traditionally been seen as male pursuits. This is a part of the traditional view of the women in society as housewives. Their lack of financial independence, the lack of childcare facilities and their supposed unsuitability for certain types of competitive sport have all worked together to restrict participation. These cultural barriers are deeply rooted and also affect the coverage of females in sports by the media, potential commercial sponsorship opportunities and opportunities for female participation and progression.
Even though unmarried women had their separate Olympic Games in ancient Greece, the modern Games were based on male competition, with Pierre de Coubertin stating that the role of women should be restricted to that of an admiring spectator. Therefore, they were not allowed to participate in the 1896 Games and were only allowed to participate in golf and tennis at the Games in 1900s.
Gradually, the number of events in which they could participate increased. They were allowed in swimming in 1912, athletics in 1928, marathon in 1984, 10,000 metres in 1988, and judo events in 1992. At the 1968 Games in Mexico, a woman, Enriquetta Basilio, lit the Olympic flame, a first for a woman at the Games.
Today, it is possible for women to take part in almost any sport. Social changes have gradually given women more opportunities to control their own lives. The gender stereotyping, is gradually being broken down, and female participation has increased in all areas of sport. This could be as a result of the following:
n The recognition that exercise is good for health
• Greater economic freedom
• Efforts by governments and sport authorities to promote sports for everyone
• An increase in the number of activities which appeal to women.
• More role models for women
• Increased media coverage
• More childcare facilities at leisure centres
Although the gap is closing, some people still believe that some sport is a man's world, and being competitive and muscular is not appropriate for women. Media still gives more coverage to male than female sport, it is much harder to attract sponsors for female sport, there is still inequality of opportunity and the gap in prize money can be very wide.
Women are under-represented in management and coaching and most sport administrators are still men. In male sports, very few women take part in these roles, but even in women's sport men often get these positions. An example is netball, which is dominated by male coaches and umpires.
Men are in control of most sports at every level. Women are given opportunities as coaches, organisers, umpires and referees. However, fewer women are seen in management and administrative roles.
Violence is quite common in some sports, team sports in particular. It is often the strong desire to win that leads to violence. If the opposition's best player is injured, they can no longer play a full role in the game.
Violence can also be caused by pent-up frustration. When the match is not going their way, players may get angry and vent their aggression at opponents or officials. These same pressures and frustrations can affect spectators as well. Spectators are very passionate, and fans often experience extreme emotions when supporting their team especially at key matches.
Football is a typical example of sport that attracts the biggest crowd and gives rise to problems of verbal and racial abuse directed at players and officials. The problem of football hooliganism has received a lot of attention.
It became a major problem in the 1960s and developed into the 1970s, resulting in disastrous events at the Heysel stadium in Belgium and the Hillsborough stadium in the 1980s, which resulted in commissioned investigations into spectator behaviour and the safety aspects of football grounds leading to the implementation of safety measures resulting from the findings of the ' Taylor Report'.
Violence in the form of terrorism also affects sports. Terrorists occasionally target sporting events to publicise their cause. They usually target high profile games for such attacks, for example the Munich Olympics in 1972; Sri Lankan cricketers in 2009, and the Boston marathon in 2013.
The events usually continue despite the grief and devastation, sending a message that sport will not be beaten.
Security checks on fans, video surveillance and the use of intelligence information are used to ensure safety.
NEXT WEEK: Drugs in sport