Shelly Lucas and Nicole Bolter, associate and assistant professors in the School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Kinesiology, presented their research at the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport annual conference on Nov. 5-8 in Portland, Ore. Their presentation, titled “Gender Matters: The Coach-Gender Effect in Teaching Sportspersonship to Young Athletes,” discussed the differences between male and female ideals of sportsmanship.
Research has shown gender differences in athletes’ sportspersonship behaviors, suggesting that male and female athletes interpret and act upon moral dilemmas in sport differently. One possible explanation for these gender differences may be the way in which males and females are socialized and specifically the coaches’ role in teaching about sportspersonship.
In their study, Lucas and Bolter interviewed six female and six male youth sport coaches who had coached both girls’ and boys’ teams at recreational and competitive levels to examine coaches’ expectations regarding sportspersonship, with a specific focus on those associated with gender.
Their analysis indicated that gender does matter, both the gender of the coach and the gender of the athlete, as represented in the four emergent categories: coach-gender effect, beliefs about gender, teaching sportspersonship, and athletes’ sportspersonship. Even when coaches acknowledged the role of socialization in their described gender differences between female and male athletes, they still felt compelled and constrained by the competitive framework of youth sport to tailor their coaching strategies to accommodate gender differences, thereby reinforcing and perpetuating gender stereotypes.