Women, Sport, and Film Course

Cosponsored by Athletics and Physical Education at Bryn Mawr College and the Exercise and Sports Studies Department at Smith College, with support from the Center for Science In Society at Bryn Mawr College and the Serendip website.

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Name:  Amy Campbell
Username:  acampbel@brynmawr.edu
Date:  2002-02-14 12:58:18
Message Id:  986
Forum question for the second week of the Women and Sport in Film Course.
Professor Shelton will also post a question. Please respond to one of the three.

1) What are the boundaries or issues that prevent us from having an in depth discussion about race/class in sport or other fields where the field represents different values, stigmas, or is otherwise overshadowed by an historic culture of limited access.

2) How does a person's social origins (race/ethnicity, class, gender etc.) affect their orientation towards sport?

Name:  Lelani
Username:  lsanchez@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  week 2
Date:  2002-02-14 15:38:01
Message Id:  992
I am always hesitant to comment on things that I really don't know that much about. So that might be the boundary that prevents *me* from discussing the big issues in sports since I've had very little first hand exposure to it.

But I think that there *are* sterotypes of which people (in terms of race, gender, class etc) are better in particular sports. Is it true that white men can't jump? Is polo only played by rich people with British accents? Do all Spanish people play soccer--or is it football?

In terms of class, I think that a lot of it has to do with what is available. I know that I think golf has a certain country club feel to it--the only courses where I live are secured by big gates. I've never been to a country club. So I guess golf has a "for the rich, white class" tag on it in my minds eye.

I'd be more inclined to run or play something that doesn't involve renting equipment or joining a club. My family isn't very wealthy so we always had to make do. We could play some semblance of baseball or football in the back yard, shoot hoops in our neighbors driveway, or run...and even then we'd be playing with raggedy balls and old left handed mits. But things that required buying or renting something expensive were always out of the picture: horseback riding, golfing etc...

Name:  Dasen Woitkowski
Username:  dwoitkow@email.smith.edu
Subject:  Forum Question #2
Date:  2002-02-15 13:42:06
Message Id:  999
A person's social origin affects their orientation towards sport in many ways. First off, gender is a big issue as we have been discussing in class. There are some sports that I'm sure girls would love to participate in, but because of their gender and some sort of discrimination, they won't. Some females are afraid of ruining their reputation by joining "masculine" sports.
With the ethnicity/race aspect, there are people who shy away from partcipation because a particular sport doesn't represent their backgroud that much. In the NHL, it is predominantly white and someone of another race/ethnicity might back away from the opportunity to play because they might feel they will be discrimated against or that their race might become a barrier to them or maybe others (ie playing time, salary, etc).
Class can be a barrier as well for shying away participants in some sports because of the money that one needs to pay for equipment or to belong to a club in order just to play. Sometimes it could just come down to the shoes one wears playing basketball. At a young age, kids want to have the "coolest" shoes (usually most expensive) and if they don't, they might feel left out or not good enough. I hate to see it come down to who has the most money that can be the ones to play. I understand there are some things that money needs to pay for, but money shouldn't be the object that keeps people from participating and having fun (competing).
Overall, all three aspects that I've discussed have big affects towards the orientation of sports, but none of them should be. The affect that should push people away from sports is not having the heart to play, not money, gender or race. It should be based on what's inside and not on the outside.
Name:  Katie Lefebvre
Username:  klefebvr@smith.edu
Subject:  response to forum 2
Date:  2002-02-17 12:40:08
Message Id:  1008
1) Regarding race/class in sport, I think it is hard for us to have an in depth discussion because we all come different backgrounds--different ethnicities, different neighborhoods, different financial situations. I feel that, to make a broad generalization, sports such as hockey, gymnastics, golf, and figure skating, exclude many minorities and many people coming from low income situations. All of these sports require a lot of money and a lot of time devoted solely to the practice of the sport. It is not as if you can work on your skating skills at home in your bedroom. For someone who may have to work to help support their family, the monetary and time sacrifice would be too much.
In many of the sports where the race barriers have not been breached, I believe race very much becomes an issue, resulting in strain when people of varying races sit down to discuss sports. Not everyone has had an opportunity to try everything that they may have wanted. I know, at least at my high school, the hockey team consisted almost entirely of rich white boys who drove to practice (five feet away from the high school, mind you) in their Beamers. It was just taken for granted that no minorities played hockey there-they were excluded to track and basketball.
I believe that it is exactly this type of exclusion early on that makes it hard for us to have discussions as adults about race/class in sport

2) Sort of in conjunction with my first answer, I feel as though someone coming out of a lower income neighborhood or from a minority family may be pushed into only a few select sports. If they do not excel at those things, they may be forced not to play, rather than try something different. Also, I feel that, using the NBA as a good example, many young minorities are given the opportunity to go professional at a very early age. They, a lot of the time, have no other option, since the money they will be bringing in will help not only themselves, but their family as well. The public will then complain about the immaturity of the athletes and such, but, in actuality, the players are just boys. I feel that we have defined many athletes in terms of their social origins. African Americans are "good at basketball", Spanish people are good at soccer, the Poles are good at hockey...I feel that race/ethnicity, class, and gender are the BIGGEST factors playing into what sport an athlete chooses and, commonly, how successful they become.

Name:  Sarah Johnson
Username:  swjohnso@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  forum question #2
Date:  2002-02-17 17:04:04
Message Id:  1014
1. I think one of the major boundaries that prevents people from talking openly about the role that social origins play on sports teams could be something as simple as the fact that there is a tendency for people to tread on eggshells. As a result, things go unsaid which could benefit team dynamics and even participation in sports on a larger level. However, this is certainly not to say that this phenomenon is something that is easy to overcome.

2. Social origins play a really important role in a person's orientation towards sport. Although, I don't think that it necessarily has to be limited to "orientation." In many cases, social origins (class in particular) affect your access to a sport. Schools with little funding and resources are less likely to offer 4 different sports each semester. For example, basketball at the bare minimum only requires two hoops and a ball, whereas hockey requires sticks, pucks, goals, and protective equipment. That is to say, I think it's important to keep in mind that people may be more oriented to a sport simply because they have access to it.

Name:  Brooke Leonard
Username:  bleonard@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Week 2
Date:  2002-02-18 14:18:52
Message Id:  1031
1) People are so sensitive about issues about race and class now that it’s difficult to discuss the topic for the fear of offending someone. There was an incident in hockey a few years ago where several players in separate incidents were suspended by the league for making discriminatory comments to black players. It was an extremely sensitive subject, because this “trash-talking” is so common in hockey - and the comments made were not race-specific, although they could have possibly been misconstrued that way. Several other players stood up for the suspended players, saying that those comments are commonly made to the league’s enforcers (fighters) and had nothing to do with the race of the players. But in general the media and the fans supported the decision to suspend these players. Even now, I find myself trying to avoid explicitly stating WHAT was said, because although I personally do not find this specific comment offensive (it actually just sounds like second-grade name calling to me), I don’t know how other people will interpret it and I obviously do not want to offend anyone.

2) Question #2 is a tough one – I think the easiest answer is to say that social origins have a big effect on sports orientation, but I’m not sure if that’s always true. Someone mentioned that in sports like hockey, only the wealthy kids can play because they’re the only ones who can afford the equipment. But if you look in the NHL today, the VAST majority of players are guys who grew up on little farms in Canada or in poor industrial cities in Russia. A lot of players learned to play on homemade rinks in the backyards of their houses. They’re guys who just loved the game, and that’s how they made it to the big league. This also takes into consideration the subject of nationality/ethnicity because countries like this have very strong histories in that particular sport. It’s safe to say that if you had the same situation over in Israel with a kid who loved hockey, he probably would not go this far.

Name:  Kelley Duran
Username:  kduran@email.smith.edu
Subject:  week 2
Date:  2002-02-18 19:39:51
Message Id:  1041
1. I think one major boundary that prevents us from having an in depth discussion about race and class in sports is the fear of offending people of another group. Also the fear of not knowing that much about these issues prevents us from having an in depth discussion.

2. I know that class plays a big role in sports. An good example would be skiing. I know from skiing so many years that it costs a lot of money to buy skis, poles, helmets, jackets, etc. To be a good racer means that you must not only have skill but also have top of the line ski equipment, such as newer skis with the latest technology and developments that allow the skier to get to the bottom of the hill with the fastest time. Many ski racers are from rich families who can afford to buy ski equipment. My brother uses other resources such as sponserships and schlarships for the funding of his ski racing. I also think where you live also would have an impact on some sports. If we think about basketball and soccer as well as some other sports, they can be played almost anywhere. But for skiing you must live in cold places. Because I am from Vermont, there are many skiers because there is snow avaiable. But I would not expect many people from Florida to ski becuase there is no snow there. Where we are from does have an impact on our orientation towards sports.

Name:  Jenny
Username:  jrsimon@mtholyoke.edu
Subject:  Week 2
Date:  2002-02-18 22:31:34
Message Id:  1055
Hi everyone!

I strongly believe that in an ideal world, athletics could act as an arena where class and racial boundaries could be broken down. Young athletes compete side by side on the same teams and have to learn to work with and trust one another regardless of race or class. Unfortunately, however, stereotypes and other forms of racism and classism exist on the playing field as they do elsewhere in society.

Certain athletes have access to certain sports while other potential athletes do not. In sports such as crew, riding, and skiing, there is a lot of money involved. The equipment and the travel can be very expensive and will often result in a significant selection bias as to who can participate. I think that access is one of the biggest issues with these sports.

During my summers in college, I was involved in a program called Rowing Strong, Rowing Together that was designed to teach teen mothers from Holyoke to row. This group was almost exclusively Puerto Rican. It was an incredible experience to be able to help these women gain access to a sport that had been predominantly monopolized by elite colleges and universities. Through this experience and several others, it has become increasingly clear to me the importance of creating these types of programs for all sports that target populations and communities who may otherwise not have access to these athletic opportunities.

Very disturbingly, I can count on one hand the number of elite national team rowers of color. I think that with little representation at the elite level, it is often hard to recruit young rowers of color to a sport where there are little to no role models who look like them. I think that so much of athletics has to do with goal setting and mirroring of those athletes above us. So many of us aspire to be as good as the national team athletes and I think that it can be very difficult to be a athlete of color in a sport where there is no one who looks like you to look up to.

Name:  mk sagaria
Username:  msagaria
Subject:  response #2
Date:  2002-02-19 02:51:40
Message Id:  1071
2. I know that I am a product of my own surroundings and I believe that is the same for my orientation to sport. I believe that sport has the ability to cut class, race, gender, and ethnicity but more often than not sport is a product of your own class, race, gender, and ethnicity. I grew up in a primairly white, middle class area and attended a school with those same qualities. This ment that we had the space and money to have multiple athletic fields, unlike disadvantaged inner city schools that are unable to provide for athletes. This ment that only the wealthy schools in the city played field hockey and lacrosse, because the schools that did not have the money could not support as many feld sports. This example is not to say that some of these kids could have learned sports on their own that thier schools did not play, yet that lieklyhood was small. I think sport is more liekly a product of our background than we would like to admit. Is it the privilage, or is it inequality...probably inequality.
Name:  kate hoy
Username:  katesuperstar@hotmail.com
Subject:  kate's comment
Date:  2002-02-19 18:51:31
Message Id:  1080
#1. recalling my experience last week in class after watching the film "girlfight" it's hard to accurately convey why i think it's so hard to talk about orientation to sports based on race/class/gender etc. we were asked to discuss in small groups how race and class prevent and/or guide certain groups to certain sports. Although naturally we were all of different social and cultural origins that were immediately indistinguishable from one another, i (embarrassingly) found myself investigating the appearance of my group members to discern what i perhaps i should or should not say so as to avoid being considered arrogant, or worse, ignorant which ultimately i think i obviously am. jesus. i don't know. yikes.
i dig that this class makes us talk about orientation to sports, but it's hard to really start a dialogue when we don't really have much more than four weeks. the movie, though perhaps a bit obvious, was a thought provoking experience for me that really led me to think more seriously about women in sports, and how popular notions of feminity are challenged when someone pushes the limits even a little bit. would the movie have been anywhere as interesting if the lead character had been a typically pretty, white, rich girl from the suburbs? hmmm
Name:  Peilin Chen
Username:  p2chen@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Social origins
Date:  2002-02-19 22:18:12
Message Id:  1086
I think that social origins have a profound affect on one¡¯s orientation towards sport. Class plays a large role because those in the upper classes can afford the equipment, the practice space, the enrollment fees, and the club time. Without these things, it isn't to say that one can¡¯t play a sport, but it makes access a lot harder. As for race/ethnicity I think society starts to assume that certain ethnicities play certain sports. Just because the majority of players on professional basketball and football are African-American, society encourages those children of color to explore only those professional sports. Compare how many kids think about being a professional baseball, basketball, or football player and how many wish to play tennis or golf. (However recently with athletes like Serena and Venus Williams, and Tiger Woods, younger athletes of color may be more willing to try a sport that is typically dominated by another race, i.e. golf)
Username:  ssmith
Subject:  Week 2
Date:  2002-02-19 23:12:54
Message Id:  1088
I hate coming in late and only being able basically to add "Yeah, what she said," but I feel pretty much the same way as Sarah and several others posting after her: that we're so hyperaware of our possible prejudices (but often not of our real prejudices!), and of how any racial content of our comments might be construed that we end up avoiding talking about racial differences in sport and access to it.
Name:  Faye McGrath
Username:  fmcgrath@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Question #2
Date:  2002-02-19 23:13:56
Message Id:  1089
2) How does a person's social origins (race/ethnicity, class, gender etc.) affect their orientation towards sport?

A person's social origins affect the orientation towards sports in a number of ways. Gender will affect which sport one chooses to play. If it didn't, then there wouldn't already be typically "feminine" or "masculine" sports. A person's race may have some bearing on their choice, but not that much. Class, however, does have a great deal of influence on what sport someone plays.

Social class is often the determining factor between one sport or another. It opens doors, and slams them shut on opportunities. Class means money, and if you don't have enough to play a certain sport, then you aren't participating in it. It determines money, availability, and time, all things that you need to play, no matter what sport it is.

Name:  Susannah E. Smith
Username:  ssmith@brynmawr.edu
Date:  2002-02-19 23:14:42
Message Id:  1090
^ Forgot to put my name in there. Susannah Smith.
Name:  Geeti Das
Username:  gdas@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Women and self-defence
Date:  2002-02-20 00:09:44
Message Id:  1092
How do a person's social origins (race/ethnicity, class, gender etc.) affect their orientation towards sport?
When I watched "Girlfight" in class the other day, I was struck by an interesting dichotomy: the girl's father wanted his son to learn how to box because he felt that he would be in situations where he would need to defend himself, but he didn't seem to think his daughter might need the same ability to defend herself physically, even though, the way I see it, a girl living in a high-crime area faces as many as, if not more than, the physical threats that a boy has to face, because with women there's the added risk of rape or sexual assault. Now I find myself wondering why it is that we're not expected or allowed to have the skill to defend ourselves. Where I grew up, a girl cannot walk around alone even in the middle of the day in her own neighbourhood without being catcalled or sexually harassed in some way. I used to go for a walk every evening with 2 of my girlfriends and within a month we had a stalker. Instead of considering any kind of self-defence, we stopped going out. I and all the girls I grew up with faced this every day, but what now seems to me to be the most obvious means of protecting yourself--equipping yourself with basic self-defence skills--never occured to any of us then. Why is that?
Posting removed by request
Name:  Nicole
Username:  n2smith@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Week 2
Date:  2002-02-20 12:21:08
Message Id:  1096
Hi Group 5!
Has anyone been watching the Olympics? I think we can see how race/ethnicity and class play a role in sport from the past 15 days of competition.
The first gold medal to an African-American for a winter event was awarded yesterday. This is the 16th Olympic Winter games.
Certain countries dominate certain sports, year after year. I think that the value a culture places on a sport will influence how successful people of that culture are in the sport. If you think about cultures for whites, people of color, suburban, and urban -- the value that sub-culture places on the sport will affect access (but this is just 1 factor).
The 2nd team for the US women's 2 woman bobsled won the gold. There was a lot of hyoe about the "soap-opera" that surrounded who would be driving, and who would be pushing each sled. This "swapping" of partners happens all of the time with the men involved in bobsledding. However, many people in the media assumed that the women would "play nice" and not drop their friends to win a gold medal. The media was shocked when the woman acted like the men. The 1st team, who did not medal, chose to keep their team together, even though the woman who was pushing had a sore hamstring. Many sports announcers criticized this decision, sayin it cost the driver the gold medal.Apparently in the media, women are criticized either way. I may be wrong, but I recall hearing this dialogue surrounding the male athletes.
Name:  Erin Murphy
Username:  emurphy@email.smith.edu
Date:  2002-02-20 14:54:20
Message Id:  1099
1)I would like to reaffirm what has already been said in the other postings. I think that the biggest reason why people don’t have in depth conversations about race/class in sports is because society has created such a PC environment so most people don’t say anything in fear that they might offend someone. I believe that sports in general would benefit greatly if people were allowed to say what they had to say about race/class in sports, if done so in a respectful manner. I also believe that it is hard for people to have an in dept discussion because not everyone has come from the same background or has had the opportunity to play every sport that they wanted. I think that our society has gotten into the habit of labeling someone to one sport. People would rather if you picked one sport and really dedicated your time to it, as opposed to trying your hand at everything. This also brings up the issue of role models in sports. I think that many minorities have been short changed because they have been under represented in many sports. And why would a child play a sport when they couldn’t look up to and relate to someone in that sport.
2)In regards to the social origin question, one of the major issues that I see is women not joining predominately “masculine” sports out of fear about what would be said about them. I think that this is a major problem in our society because people are being denied the opportunity to do something that they love as a result of some sort of discrimination.