Monday, November 12, 2012

Hyper-Masculinity


Sports today are socially constructed to accept hyper-masculinity. Hyper-masculinity is defined as an exaggeration of male stereotypical behavior, such as an emphasis on physical strength and aggression. People in society today are often more interested in sports that involve hyper-masculinity, such as football, rather than sports that do not require as much hyper-masculinity, such as golf. Also, in regards to sports like football, players like Ray Lewis, who often offers big hits and shows no fear, are applauded. On the other hand, players who suffer minor injuries and sit out of the game are “degraded” and considered not masculine or even feminine. Violence is what catches the people’s attention and hyper-masculinity often leads to violence in sports. Hyper-masculinity is socially constructed to be accepted, certain people are respected more because of the hyper-masculinity they present, and some sports draw more interest than others simply because the violence and hyper-masculinity presented.
            It is interesting why violence is socially constructed to be accepted and applauded in society. Why do people enjoy seeing nasty hits and fights? Big nasty hits and fights entertain the fans and make the game more intense. Because it elevates the attitudes of the fans, hyper-masculinity is automatically accepted in society because the way people respond to it.  According to the Bleacher Report by Rachel Cohen who is an AP sports writer, "Injuries are a detriment; concussions are a detriment. It’s good they’re trying to do some things to help the players, but fans still want to see football. Hitting is part of football. There’s no way to escape that. Do people want to see guys get concussions? No. Do they want to see all those big hits? You bet.” The well-being of the players is not the primary concern of the fans. Fans want to see the big hits even if it ends in a player being injured. Sports are a form of entertainment and the fans want to be entertained. Those big hits and fights keep the fans entertained.
In class, we watched the Old Spice commercials which feature actor Terry Crews. Crews is a rather strong male and portrays a hyper-masculine person. This attracts the attention of viewers because people are naturally attracted to hyper-masculine behaviors. Also, Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker, Ray Lewis, has been considered a hard hitter for his whole career. Players are afraid to go over the middle against him because they know he will deliver a big hit. He is one of the most feared players in the game because of how hard he hits and his aggressiveness towards people. Although he is feared, he is given much respect among players in the NFL and even with the fans because the way he utilizes his hyper-masculinity.
            Sports which require violence and hyper-masculinity often catch the attention of fans. Sports such as football and hockey offer big hits and sometimes fights. Even in basketball and baseball, even though violence is rare, fights break out at times and it amps up the fans. Sports such as golf and tennis do not offer any type of violence or hyper-masculinity. This may have something to do with why those sports are not as popular as sports like football and hockey. The fans can sometimes find themselves bored and unentertained because the lack of violence and physical contact. This is a big reason why sports which induce violence, such as football and hockey, gain much attention. Although hockey is not as popular in the United States as it is in Canada, hockey arenas everywhere always erupt when a fight breaks out or if a there is a big hit. Also, in regards to football, big hits are always applauded. ESPN used to have a segment called “Jacked Up” when the NFL analysts would show the biggest hits which occurred in that week of football. Because these big hits are celebrated, players always try to deliver the biggest hits to their opponents to gain attention and even gain respect as a “hard hitter”. Statistics have shown the Super Bowl has broken the United States top television ratings for three years in a row and it was predicted that 111.3 million people watched the 2012 Super Bowl. Football offers those violent hits and hyper-masculine display and keeps the audience entertained. Statistics have also shown interest in golf’s biggest tournaments, such as the Masters, has been declining. The Masters viewership in 2012 was the worst since 2004 and fell 22% from the previous year. Golf simply does not keep the audience entertained and the statistics are there to prove it.
            Overall, violence is a key component which is needed in sport. Hyper-masculinity plays a big role in violence in sport and it is a big reason why hyper-masculinity is socially accepted. Society is constructed to think men, athletes or not, should act like “manly” men. Athletes such as Ray Lewis are incredibly respected because of the way he acts and the aggressiveness he presents. Terry Crews, who is not an athlete, is applauded in society simply because of his masculinity. Not only are people more accepted, but sports which provide the fans with violence are more popular than sports which do not. Violence and hyper-masculinity naturally gains the attention of people which makes it socially accepted in society.
                

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