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Play & Competition: An Ideological Dilemma Ch. 3 by Jan Rintala Pres. NAGWS In Women In Sport by Greta Cohen, Ed., Notes by N. Bailey.

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Presentation on theme: "Play & Competition: An Ideological Dilemma Ch. 3 by Jan Rintala Pres. NAGWS In Women In Sport by Greta Cohen, Ed., Notes by N. Bailey."— Presentation transcript:

1 Play & Competition: An Ideological Dilemma Ch. 3 by Jan Rintala Pres. NAGWS In Women In Sport by Greta Cohen, Ed., Notes by N. Bailey

2 Personal Context  Jan is a competitor. Loves to compete.  Doctoral studies evoked cognitive dissonance for her  Feminist theoretical underpinnings v. elitism of competitive social structure – not just in athletics, but in most of our social organizations and institutions

3 Feminist Analysis  Approach to knowledge includes:  Critique of value-neutrality  Recognizing context  Question the reality of objectivity  Assume there is a relationship between the knower and the phenomena of inquiry

4 Factors Influencing the Author’s Presentation  Race, ethnicity, gender, social class, disability, sexual orientation, age, religion, & other social or experiential Characteristics  Reporting may be balanced, but there remains bias or reflected subjective experience

5 2 nd Point in Feminist Theory Used by Rintala  Those at the top get to name the dominant ideas of a society.  By virtue of their control of the major institutions, the values and perspectives of the top dogs are filtered directly into society.  Those ideas are interpreted as the dominant cultural ideas

6 Sport & Competition Defined for Now Sport: Institutionalized competitive activities Vigorous physical exertion Use of complex physical skills Participation motivated by combination of personal enjoyment and external rewards

7 Competition: A Zero Sum Game  If one individual or group attains the goal, the goal or the reward is no longer available to others  Many sports excluded from Rintala’s definition: scuba, biking, climbing, shooting the rapids, etc.  Definitions are for the purpose of this discussion only.

8 Historical Context  Factors influencing support for or against women’s sport: social class, race, ethnicity, religious tenets, proscriptions by the medical profession & wars  Cursory examination only. We could do an entire course on this topic alone

9 Extent of Sport Competition  Colonial period: Minimal  1824: Catherine Beecher founded the Hartford Female Seminary; calisthenics stressed posture exercises, light chest weights, wand drills, & archery, swimming, horseback riding for beauty, health & increase the lifespan.

10 Early Wave of Feminism  Women demanded equal access to education for upper class  Mostly recreational activities  1860’s: tennis, archery, and golf tournaments  In colleges prior to 1900: bowling, swimming, baseball, badminton, ice hockey, track and field, field hockey, BB, & VB

11 Women Physical Educators Controlled  Men’s sports controlled by students  Women “protected” female students  Ladylike behavior  Exercise that was not too vigorous  Protected from the negative effects of aggressive competition  Stanford v. Berkeley BB, 1896

12 BB Ignited Change  Senda Berenson, 1892, introduced BB for women. Intercollegiate competition  Women get the vote in 1920, etc.  Exercise now thought to be healthful for women, except during menstruation  Women’s concern also for excesses and abuses occurring in men’s intercollegiate sport

13 Abuses and Excesses  Corrupt practices in recruitment  Violation of amateurism rules  Some student athletes ignored their studies  Aggression and violence lead to serious injuries especially in football  Men organized rules governance; women outlawed intercollegiate athletics

14 Ambivalence re: Forms of Competition  Two surveys: 1923 & 1930 – Mabel Lee compared the contentious results  Pro arguments: healthful habits, social skills, teach values related to winning and losing, develop greater skill, vigor, coordination, mental activity, opportunity to play against other good players, learn competition for life

15 Disadvantages of Varsity Sport  Physical straining rather than training  Emotional strain; girls too high strung  May play during menstrual periods  May neglect academics and other social aspects of college life  Winning at all costs may lead to rowdyism  Newspaper publicity may expose

16 Industry Sponsored Sport by 1920’s to 60’s  Tennis, bowling, basketball, volleyball, baseball, hockey, softball.  10,000 women in bowling tournaments  AAU Championships  Sport organization championships  Arguments, both pro and con continued & AIAW was formed 1971 to 1982. Avoided abuses

17 Feminist Position on Sport  Mostly silent  Economic and social class issues brand of feminism: Something Fundamentally Wrong With Competition no matter where it is:  Means of male dominance, class and race dominance, some won lion’s share of communal-social resources and others only crumbs.

18 Competition Criticized  Generic: unethical and unhealthy when outcomes emphasized too much;  Aggression and violence  Unsporting behavior: trash talking, performance enhancing drugs, cheating, playing while injured, lack of fun; children negatively impacted if less skilled; loyalty has disappeared

19 No Contest: The Case Against Competition  Alfie Kohn, (1986): fails to build character, poisons our relationships with others, leads to aggression.  The solution: elevate cooperative ventures and work toward a non- cooperative society

20 Three Schools of Thought  Dualist Essentialist’s arguments  Psychoanalytic arguments  Behaviorist or social learning clearly superior arguments  Can you spot the bias?

21 Dualistic Essentialism  All reality is in a dualistic structure, “Either,or” al else doesn’t exist  Ideas – objects;  Mind – body;  Reason – perception;  Nature – nurture; Self – Other;  Masculine – Feminine, etc.

22 Outcome of Dualism?  If one accepts this perspective, women would experience conflict over competition  Competition would be contradictory to the nature of women

23 Psychoanalytic Theory  Task of development is to see herself as separate from her mother  Because they share the same gender identity, women may feel lifelong struggle to establish separate identity  Not the case for boys  Women search for self in connection with others & not distinguishing self from others.

24 Outcome of Psychoanalytic Theory  For women, differentiation can feel like a threat to self-identity, and competition is an exercise in differentiation.  For men, competition is in the service of self as it helps men to self discovery via differentiation

25 Behaviorist Analysis  Behavior is learned via socialization  Competitive behavior is learned  In relation to sport, boys and girls are socialized differently: girls not helped to develop skill and movement competence as much as boys are

26 Behaviorist Outcome?  If girl has been socialized to believe that competition is not ladylike or is concerned that she may hurt someone’s feelings, it would be logical for her to experience conflict in a competitive setting.

27 Arguments Continue  Mariah Burton Nelson, Embracing Victory: Life Lessons in Competition and Compassion  Questionnaire, interview, anecdotal data show same questions today (N=1030)  Athletes said: they were competitive, expected to win,

28 More Nelson findings  Compared their achievements favorably  Were comfortable with competition  52% of non-athletes were uncomfortable with competition while only 7% of athletes were uncomfortable

29 Dilemma Resolvable?  Nelson’s data show many women feeling no dilemma  Where you see a contradiction, make a distinction (N. Bailey via ?)  There are actually multiple goals, not just the goal of winning. So, both winners and losers may achieve  Focus on process & outcome

30 Solutions?  To cheat is not to compete.  Call cheating a “not competitive” behavior, thus those cheating in competition are not actually competing.  So, cheating isn’t actually an abuse found in competition. (p. 49) What???

31 Support for the argument  There is nothing inherent in sport that requires dehumanizing the competition  There need not be blatant disregard for human civility in sport  Value the process of competition: optimal experience or peak experience or Flow; Risk taking; friendships; self competence;

32 Are We Winning Yet?  Nelson’s “How Women are Changing Sport and Sports are Changing Women”  Partnership model: vale process, inclusion, and consideration for others involved in the process.  Deals with someone rather than against. Champion v. Conqueror

33 Jay Coakley: Two Models  Power and Performance Model vs.Pleasure and Participation Model  Outcome, dominance, body as machine, hierarchical authority structures, enemy competitor vs.  People connections, personal expression ethic, mutual concern, support teammates and opponents, empowerment, body as source of pleasure, accommodate differences in skill levels, with and not against others

34 To Escape A Dilemma?  Emphasize the one that seems most important at the “moment”  When competing in the Olympics, for example, emphasize for the moment, the outcome of the contest.  At other times the process may become more important


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