Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sports Culture vs. Jock Culture

Steve Gilliard has an excellent post on the difference between Sports Culture and Jock Culture. Here is a portion of it:

Sports culture is the thing you see every day, it's the t-shirts, the throwback jerseys and the tailgating. It has relatively little to do with athletes. It's about group identity and socialization. The players are a footnote to the team identity. Take AC Milan. People are so passionate about that team, that they protest outside their headquarter for a new manager.

Jock culture is a very different thing. While people love to support teams, that love doesn't always follows to athletes. People like what Barry Bonds can do for the Giants, they have no use for him as a person. Bonds is the personification of what is wrong with jock culture. Arrogant, loud, abusive towards women.

Because there is a big divide between the team and the athlete. While rooting for a team is a natural part of adulthood, athletes are often men-children, who are at once possesors of the male ideal, and frighteningly unable to deal with reality. Pro sports is the one area in adult life where paternalism reigns for men. The military is the polar opposite, where young men are encouraged to be responsible, not only for their actions, but to the unit.

Most 23 year olds have responsilbities and duties, at work, within the family, in their personal life. But athletes do not. Athletes have one responsibility, which is to perform. They don't direct their own actions, they don't manage their own affairs, they can even create buffers in their personal life.

The irony is that at the high school and college level, jocks are usually disliked by most students. They are often the parental idea of the perfect child, while to their peers, they're hated. Why? Because they are allowed to terroize their surroundings while receiving praise from adults.

He goes on to talk about effect the Jock Culture has on the way male athletes treat women. I think he describes the life of an elite athlete pretty well.

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