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Beauty and the Beast: Perception of Beauty for the Female Athlete

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Chapter 9
Beauty and the Beast: Perception of Beauty for
the Female Athlete
Sharon K. Stoll, Heather VanMullem,
Nicole Ballestero and Lisa Brown
Additional information is available at the end of the chapter
Provisional chapter
© 2016 The Author(s). Licensee InTech. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons
Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution,
and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.68946
Beauty and the Beast: Perception of Beauty for
theFemale Athlete
Sharon K. Stoll, Heather VanMullem,
NicoleBallestero and Lisa Brown
Additional information is available at the end of the chapter
This chapter is a discussion and reection of how beauty is perceived through the lens of
four dierent athletes over four dierent decades. Two basketball players, a gymnast and
a skater, reect on the language of their sport and how beauty is perceived and manipu-
lated through language and coaching techniques. The experiences aect athletes over a
lifetime, both positively and negatively.
Keywords: women, athletics, beauty
1. Introduction
When contacted about writing a chapter for the Perception of Beauty, I rst thought that as a
Sport Ethicist I probably had lile to oer. But on further consideration, I realized that as a
former athlete, there is much that needs to be said about how athletes perceive themselves
as women and measure themselves by societal beauty standards in light of athletic participa-
tion. I was an athlete, albeit years ago, involved in sports in which “beauty” was sacrosanct.
If an athlete was unaractive or did not appear beautiful, the athlete suered and suered
much and often. I ice skated. I was a big girl—not just larger than most. A big girl as dened
by being over 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighing over 150 pounds. All of my peers were pix-
ies—but I soldiered on because I loved the sport. Almost daily some comment was made
about my size—the usual retorts were something like, “Man you are big for an ice skater?”
Aren’t you in the wrong sport, you should be playing ice hockey.” “You’re really prey, but
wow are you big, don’t you feel embarrassed being on the ice?” “Your thighs are huge—aren’t
you self-conscious? Maybe you should lose some weight.” “How can you skate and do all the
© 2017 The Author(s). Licensee InTech. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons
Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use,
distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
jumps and turns being so big?” “An excellent skater but your body aesthetics detract from the
The remarks came from various sources: other skaters, children skaters, parents of children
skaters, coaches, instructors, and judges. Why did I stay in the sport? I was and continue to
be an aggressive personality who is not easily swayed by words. The best reason though in
staying with the sport was because I was a strong skater and the power of being a “strong
skater” gives one not only physical strength but psychological strength. That to me was the
real beauty of the sport. The perception of acceptable body size and physical beauty in my
sport, however, overshadows everything that occurs within the sport and apparently lasts
a lifetime.
Just last month, I was speaking at a regional sports conference, when a young woman
researcher approached me. When I say young, I mean in her early thirties. Understand I am
in my early seventies, so we are four decades apart but perhaps not so far apart after all. She
had heard that one of the speakers had a former athletic career in skating. She said she knew
who I was as soon as she saw me. Her direct quote, “Skaters all have the same look—the hair,
the makeup, the nails, the carriage, you know, THE LOOK.”
I know exactly what she meant—we do have THE LOOK. Unfortunately, THE LOOK prob-
ably is not the healthiest way to be. We, with THE LOOK, have paid dearly for THE LOOK—
weekly weigh-ins, constant criticism of makeup, costume, body type, and then the aesthetics
of the sporting experience as it is dissected and analyzed by judges. That experience has been
with me for a lifetime—it is a memory lled with the tension between two realities: the love
of the sport, the beauty of the sport, juxta positioned with the beast of the sport—the constant
worry, criticism, and evaluation concerning “THE LOOK.” When rened, this problem is
greater than what occurs in my sport of gure skating—it is a problem that exists across the
realm of women in sport and athletics.
For over 30 years, many academic and feminist writers have wrien of the perceived impor-
tance of female athlete beauty and the hegemonic practices to manipulate women to be beau-
tiful [1–7]. That research is not an enjoyable read because of the oppressive subjugation of
female athletes. Other research has argued that perhaps the former lines of research were
mistaken or more importantly missed the true mark. Rather, it is argued, athletes are unlike
other female populations and are not as aected by the need to be beautiful or see themselves
as a “girlie girl.” Adams et al. [8] found that high school athletes saw sports as “…the main
vehicle by which they … aained condence, independence, assertiveness, and joy in the
physicality of the body”
I believe that both arguments have validity. I see and hear the rst line often. As a college
professor who aends female athletic contests, I often hear male derogatory catcalls directed
toward women participants. “Hey 18, What a dog, do you eat bones to keep you from
being prey?” “Nice ass, 21″. “Number 8, bend over again—I have something to give you?”
Interestingly, no security personnel ever reprimand the behavior. And fans are cruel—unbe-
lievably cruel and words do have to mean [9]. I do not recall any of these remarks as positive
about how these athletes look. Hegemony does still exist and is alive and well.
Perception of Beauty160
Because I teach sports ethics, gender equity is a subject that my classes continually discuss
and study. I have spent a lifetime arguing, supporting, and writing about the rights of
women to participate in sport [10, 11]. I have also studied the negative eect of competition
in the sport on moral development and moral reasoning of both men and women [1215].
Many times I have wondered if the day to day struggles concerning beauty, weight con-
trol, and participation of women involved in athletics are worth it. It seems to me that the
strange tension between the beauty of the sport and the beast would aect athletes daily.
With that being said, I wondered what other women athletes would say on this subject.
Thus, I have asked three athletes of dierent age groups and dierent sports to share their
Four former athletes from many dierent levels of competition, age groups, and sports
experiences wanted their voices heard concerning the struggle of the female athlete and the
beauty and the beast. However, as we moved forward on the project, I oered each of them
authorship of this chapter. They agreed to authorship; they wanted their stories told, and
they wanted to share their experience with the beauty and the beast. Hopefully, our captured
perceptions give a vivid picture of “beauty” as an athlete sees herself as well as her depiction
of the struggle with the beast within her sport. I knew that each of these women had a story to
share, but did not realize the magnitude of the “beast’s” eect on them as people and women.
Because of the nature of my and their reections, they are co-authors for this chapter—they
wanted their stories told.
2. Athlete of the current times
Nicole is a graduate student working as support sta with a women’s Division I basketball
program. A 4-year collegiate athlete, she began playing basketball at the age of seven in the
second grade and soon joined several AAU competitive leagues. She is a vibrant 24-year old
who loves the game.
2.1. Nicole
When I played at USD, there was always an unspoken understanding that we as players
were supposed to look a certain way. I remember hearing stories from the seniors my fresh-
man year about how one of them stuck a weight down her pants during a weigh in because
she knew she was not going to weigh enough. One of the seniors talked about how she had
gained and lost so much weight she didn’t know what was normal for her body anymore.
As basketball players, we needed to be muscular and “strong” so that we did not get shoved
around, but we also couldn’t be too big because we needed to be able to get up and down
the court. I never thought I would fall into this cycle but my sophomore year I fell into a
weight obsession.
After an unsuccessful freshman year, I decided in my sophomore year to do whatever “it
took” to play on the team. I was immediately told that to be considered as a viable player,
Beauty and the Beast: Perception of Beauty for the Female Athlete
I would need to lose weight. I was put on a diet and specic workout regimen; I stuck to it
because I wanted to play. After about 4 months of unhealthy eating paerns (skipping meals,
drinking only weight loss shakes) combined with working out 3–4 times a day, I reached
my goal. I was praised for all the hard work I had done and told how good I looked by my
coaches, teammates, and even family. I associated the weight loss with beauty and success
because that is the feedback I received from those around me. I also received more aention
from men because of my new form and I thought this was the only way that I was going to
receive this aention again. Unfortunately, my “hard work” did not translate into playing
time. The criticism I received for being “overweight”, however, has stuck with me. I now
only associate beauty with being t and “in shape”- the supposed ideal I acquired during
my sophomore year of college. My coaches instilled that in me because they were the ones to
point out to me, the only way to be successful was to lose weight.
I have worked hard since those 2 years to change my perception of beauty and to see that
starving myself and pushing my body past those limits, is not true beauty. However, it has
been a long process and I still nd myself comparing my current self to the way I was then.
3. Athlete of three decades ago
The second athlete is credentialed as a high school principal and participated in athletics
during the 1980s. Her sport was both gymnastics and track and eld. These two sports are at
polar ends of the aesthetic perception of competition. Gymnastics, like ice skating, is a sport
highly aected by the perceived beauty of the athlete and the aesthetic experience. The track,
however, is based in being eet of foot. Less weight is important because it is assumed one
will run faster, but an athlete is not subjectively measured in track and eld for beauty, but
she is in gymnastics. In this case, Lisa is a petite women and a very beautiful woman as mea-
sured by general beauty standards. However, apparently, she too suered from the struggles
with the perception of beauty.
3.1. Lisa
As a young girl, growing up and having an athletic build was a blessing and a challenge. I
began taking gymnastics lessons at the age of 8 years old. I ran into trouble in high school
when it became painfully clear that my appearance was very dierent than the majority of my
female classmates. I had strong, muscular legs which, to my peers, appeared not to be femi-
nine. I remember going clothes shopping as a freshman in high school and nding it dicult
to nd jeans that t my small 5′ 2″ athletic frame- small waist and muscular thighs and strong
powerful boom. This trouble of nding aering clothes was only one of several social snags
as a female athlete.
The other girls in high school gave me grief for not looking feminine. When I wore a dress
my muscular calves stuck out below the hem and the calves, to them, were reminiscent of an
adolescent boy. I overheard girls whispering in class about how big my thighs were and how
“gross” they were to look at. Being in high school in the 80′s did not lend itself to embracing
Perception of Beauty162
Beauty and the Beast: Perception of Beauty for the Female Athlete
Completely embarrassed by this awkward conversation and just wanting it to end, I let out a
sigh, shrugged my shoulders, and said, “Fine … now check the damn ball.”
Being the object of someone’s gaze, whether a man’s or a woman’s, was a part of my experience
as a competitive athlete. The competitive athlete relies on her body to excel, much like a con-
struction worker relies on his/her tools to build quality materials. For me, as a basketball player,
I needed to be strong, lean, and quick. In order to perform, I needed the right combination of
tools at the right time. This required careful aention to nutrition and physical tness. Hours
lifting in the weight room, seemingly endless sprints on the track, bounding up ights and
ights of stairs, engaging in dribbling drills repetitively until my ngers ached, and puing up
hundreds of shots a day were essential to being well prepared for successful competition. This
devotion to eective preparation resulted in me being connected with my body—with how it
moved, how it felt, and knowing what it was capable of. I was proud of the eort and the result.
Though I viewed my body as an instrument capable of hiing jump shots, breaking a press,
and pulling down rebounds, there were others who viewed it much dierently. Some men
seemingly felt free to comment on the curve of my ass or my muscular calf muscles while I
struggled to squat, clean, and snatch weights next to them on the platform. I was wearing
baggy shorts just like the guy next to me, but I was too busy trying to push the weight and
too focused on completing a successful lift to notice his “form.” My motivation was stronger
muscles, but his catcalls revealed his motivation was sex.
The gaze of others wasn’t limited to men. My female coaches and teammates referred to me
jokingly as “Butch.” I had short hair, wore sweats daily, and spent more time with a basket-
ball than I did with male companions. These choices were purposeful. Short hair was easier
to take care of. Sweats were more comfortable and easy to take on and o in preparation for
practice. As a college athlete, my motivation was to excel on the court and in the classroom.
I wasn’t there to land a mate. I was there to become a beer shooting guard and to prepare for
successful entry into graduate school. Not everyone shared my vision.
Name calling (“butch” or “dyke”) was common and served a purpose. It reinforced tradi-
tional ideologies about how women should look and act. Women were expected to appear
feminine. Long hair, painted nails, makeup, and dressing in feminine clothing reinforced tra-
ditional gender norms. Such behavior was expected and reinforced. When women didn’t t
this heterosexual norm, their behavior and sexuality were called into question. Name calling
served to remind us all of what was expected and acceptable. Those names carried meaning
and fear of backlash because they challenged traditional gender ideology and the accepted
heterosexual norm. As a result, my teammates and I, whether gay or straight, felt pressure
to t into these norms. Hair length is an important marker. It was often a joke that female
athletes must have a “ponytail gene” because ponytails are so prevalent in women’s athlet-
ics. It was also a common occurrence for my teammates and me to discuss dating men and
wanting children, whether they were actually dating men or had any interest in having kids.
An example of how these expectations can impact experience occurred during one-holiday
break. All students who resided in the dorms had to move out while the campus was closed
for the holiday break. I was displaced from the dorms with no place to stay but had to remain
on campus for practice and games. One teammate invited me to stay at her apartment since
Perception of Beauty164
her roommate was headed home for the break. Thankful for the oer, I took her up on the
opportunity. Not until I arrived did I learn that she was gay and had invited her girlfriend
to stay as well. One night, after they both had too much alcohol to drink, they applied con-
siderable pressure on me to join them sexually. After I turned them down, my teammate’s
girlfriend said, “But I thought you said she was butch.”
The next day at practice I shared with a male assistant coach that I thought I might need to
nd a new place to stay. He responded with surprise and questioned how I didn’t know my
teammate was gay. He then with consternation asked why I hadn’t taken greater care and
made a stronger eort to make it clear that although I looked “butch,” I was heterosexual.
The pressure to navigate these challenges was signicant and ever-present. A competitive
athlete will do just about anything to be involved in her sport. We are trained not to ques-
tion, but to do as we’re expected and as we’re told. To challenge this expected norm would
mean to threaten our opportunity to play. The play is key and an athlete’s most valuable
commodity. Athletes’ bodies are powerful, yet we don’t have power. To participate we are
required to concede our power to those who coach and administrate us. If we are blessed to
play for people who create a safe and positive participatory environment, this concession can
be empowering. However, if we play for people who abuse their power and choose actions
based on immoral motivations, the results can be scarring.
An athlete wants to please. If she pleases those who evaluate, she earns the opportunity to
play. She can please by working harder, pushing herself to the point of physical exhaustion.
She can please by working longer hours, opening the gym in the morning and turning the
lights o at night. She can please by tapping into the unknown source of physical, psychologi-
cal, and emotional reserves only the subjective can explain. An athlete begins to accept these
sacrices as the norm. Soon they are not sacrices, just another day in the pursuit of excel-
lence. The bar continues to move and always in the direction navigated by those in power.
Powerful bodies command a presence. Powerful bodies take up space. What happens when
the power inherent in an athlete’s body, one nely tuned through hours of physical exertion,
is diminished by the person in power who chooses to take away such space?
How I saw and experienced my body was dierent than how others did. I, the athlete, viewed
my body as a tool for physical prociency. While it could be manipulated through drills and
physical activity, others viewed it as an object for their gaze, and as something that could be
manipulated for their pleasure.
5. Suggestions for change
As I read the above vignees, to me it is painfully obviously that women athletes appear to
have much in common with the perception of beauty and the beast of application. Each of
these women tells a tale of manipulation by peers, coaches, and even other participants. Their
comments also reect what has been wrien on the subject of hegemony and misogamy [1, 2,
5, 8]. Most researchers argue for a re-education of society to address the issues. I reached out
to each of these former athletes and asked her to oer her perspective.
Beauty and the Beast: Perception of Beauty for the Female Athlete
5.1. Nicole
Even when I played basketball in Denmark I was around athletes who were professionals
and they were worried about their physical appearance and body type. When I was walking
around in the town that I lived in I was constantly told that I looked like a basketball player.
How do I look like a basketball player when I am walking around town while wearing jeans,
boots, and a winter coat? I always wondered what made people label me as a basketball
player? Similarly, in high school walking around in airports as a team, we were constantly
asked if we were a volleyball team or a swim team. Why never a cheer team or a dance team?
I can only assume that it was because of the “the look” that we had.
As a coach at both the NAIA level and the NCAA D-1 level I have seen rst-hand how wom-
en’s basketball players have a perception of beauty that is shaped by numerous factors. They
want to be strong and seen as a threat within the sport but don’t want to be “too big” when it
comes to lifting weights and having muscles. They are aected by each other, and peer feed-
back is a huge factor in how they see beauty. They do not necessarily have a sense of modesty
when it comes to being in the locker room, but they are constantly critiquing their own bodies
as if they are begging for a compliment from their teammates. They compare themselves to
other girls who are not athletes, who are “skinny” and don’t have to worry about being able
to lift a certain amount or being stronger than an opponent. I have heard so many times “well
I’m self-conscious” or “if I didn’t have these basketball legs” while girls talk in the locker
room. Their distorted views of their bodies come from society, the sport itself, spectators,
and unspoken pressure from coaches. The sad reality is that so many young women their age
would love to have the bodies these athletes do.
Both my experiences and seeing how the athletes I coach are aected by outside factors have
aected my view of beauty. Because of the sport, I played and the criticism I received as
a player I see a certain body type as the “perfect body” and this view is only solidied by
validation from others. I will coach much dierently than how I was coached—I will see and
support women to be powerful and beautiful as they are.
Upon further reection of the experience I had at USD, I was even more concerned with my
experience as a player in regard to how I was treated with my weight because I had a female
coach. It struck me as so insensitive and concerning that a female in a position of power and
leadership would be comfortable treating an athlete that they are coaching and supposedly
mentoring in this manner. She had no concern for my overall well-being or how her com-
ments about my weight would aect me mentally, either in the long or short term. The other
concerning thing is that I was only one of many players that were treated like this. My team-
mates who were seniors had been treated like this and had their weight yo-yo anywhere
between 150 and 180 lbs. for some of them. The way that we were treated was not right by any
means, and even worse was the way that we were somehow rewarded for this behavior with
praise, compliments, and in some cases, more playing time.
Comparing this situation to the situation, I am witnessing now as a graduate assistant coach
is drastically dierent. The male coach that I work under now does not ever mention the girls’
weight or physical appearance. He had never talked about puing them on a diet, nor has he
Perception of Beauty166
put any restrictions on what they eat when we are on road trips. The girls are not monitored
as closely as I was when I played, however, the team is aware of what they should and should
not be eating. While meal preference diers from player to player, it is interesting to see how
some of the freshmen have changed their eating habits since arriving in August. Have they
changed their habits based on necessity and the new physical demands their bodies are going
through? Or are they just modeling their eating habits after the upper classman because that
is what they feel is expected? These questions always cross my mind and I often compare the
situation I am witnessing now to the experience that I had as a player.
With these two extreme approaches in mind, I feel that there must be some sort of middle
ground that can be reached when it comes to how female athletes should be treated and
approached when it comes to weight, which is already a sensitive issue within itself. The rst
suggestion that I would make is that a head coach should not be the one to have a conversa-
tion with a player in regards to any weight issues. A head coach is already in a position of
power that can be seen as intimidating for players, and players are already under enough
stress to perform. The head coach should not be responsible for weight management or dis-
cussing these issues with a player. If at all possible, a certied nutritionist should be available
to consult. This nutritionist can serve as a liaison between coach and player to discuss any
maers that are concerning to a coach as far as health, weight, and diet is concerned.
Another way to prevent negative experiences for players as far as weight is concerned is to
educate the players and take more preventative measures, instead of being strictly reactive.
The team nutritionist could have weekly meetings with players and team meetings to educate
players on how to properly fuel their bodies based on the amount of energy they are expend-
ing. This would give players a safe outlet outside of their coaching sta to talk about nutrition
concerns or body image issues. Furthermore, the players would have at least some knowledge
as to what food they should be consuming so they do not resort to habits or diets that could
lead to eating disorders or further body image issues.
As a former player and current coach, I see now more than ever the importance of building
healthy habits and a positive body image for female athletes. The media and other outlets
already do a poor enough job at educating women in this eld, and this problem does not
need to be compounded by more negativity from coaches or other inuencing parties within
each athlete’s athletic circle.
5.2. Lisa
The problems of beauty I experienced were based on clothing styles and comments people
made about me or those in the sport of gymnastics. For me, I was not that concerned with the
latest styles because I was the most comfortable in my athletic clothing. I did not see the point
in geing too wrapped up in the fashion world when I had bigger goals to meet in my sport.
I did not concern myself too much with what others said about me or about my body and the
sport of gymnastics. I was so connected to gymnastics. It brought me such a feeling of accom-
plishment and through the years it had become a big part of my identity. If others thought my
body looked unfeminine then they did not understand the satisfaction, through strength and
Beauty and the Beast: Perception of Beauty for the Female Athlete
power that I had with my body. And I successfully demonstrated that for years. Also, whether
I was too big or small, I had a great deal of success in other sports I played because of my
gymnastics background whether it was medaling at state track or playing on a championship
softball team. When the time came to leave gymnastics, I knew I would be able to pick up
another sport as a strong competitor.
Gymnastics made me feel beautiful, condent, strong, and successful. Even when the time
came to let it go and move on, I knew I would always carry it with me. To this day, it still
contributes to my feelings of self-worth and my desire to push through dicult challenges
in life.
5.3. Heather
Athletes have powerful bodies, but do we, as beings, have power? How one comes to
understand her own beauty is heavily inuenced by perceptions of others. Those whose
opinions maer are often people who are in a position of power. If the opportunity to play
exists in a safe and positive space, the benets to engagement in sport are numerous and
well documented. But if the play experience exists in a negative and harmful environ-
ment, the impact of the experience can be devastating. If a person in a position of power
(e.g., a coach, an athletic director, a judge, etc.) believes that perceived beauty is a reec-
tion of personal worth, this message can be detrimental and damaging to a young woman
still seeking to nd herself. The need to please in the pursuit of playing time can mean
athletes may adopt unhealthy behaviors to reach an imposed end goal related to weight
or appearance.
Athletes must be change agents in creating, supporting, and facilitating safe and positive
participatory spaces. The culture of athletics has long been argued as a heteronormative,
hyper-masculine environment. The truth is athletes are athletes, regardless of their sex or
gender. Athletes, male and female, must demand change. No longer can it be acceptable for
the use of language that demeans, beliles, and strips power. No longer can it be acceptable
for people to take space that isn’t theirs to claim. Athletes must hold themselves, each other,
and their coaches and administrators responsible for their choices.
They do this through solidarity in numbers. For example, it is common practice for teams to
set goals at the beginning of every season. Goals should include intentional eorts to create
safe and healthy playing environments where athletes and coaches agree to support, rather
than belile, one another. Additionally, team members must commit to holding each other
accountable to safe and healthy interactions. If teammates begin to police one another’s word
choices and actions, the participatory culture will change to be supportive.
An additional consideration is utilizing the services of a sport psychologist. Doing so will
allow players and coaches access to a trained professional whose focus is on building a cohe-
sive and supportive competitive unit. Additionally, a sport psychologist can work with indi-
vidual team members on strategies to improve self-concept and self-esteem. If an athlete nds
herself struggling with issues related to image or weight, a trained professional can help an
athlete get the help she needs to make healthy decisions.
Perception of Beauty168
Beauty and the Beast: Perception of Beauty for the Female Athlete
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Beauty and the Beast: Perception of Beauty for the Female Athlete
... Coaches can impact their athletes' view of their bodies and either inadvertently or on purpose push athletes towards negative weight control behaviors. The authors in [36] describe not only comments made to them that indicated the views and assessments of their bodies by coaches and those in power but also the objectification by others. I have worked with many young women who were encouraged to lose weight so they could be more competitive, could run faster, would look better, etc. Mary Cain in a NYTimes editorial described how she was influenced by her coaches to get thinner and thinner until her body broke down. ...
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It has been well documented that individuals struggling with eating disorders don’t have clear perceptions of their own bodies. Yet they overly rely on their body image as their sense of self. Even the criteria of certain eating disorders recognize that individuals are strongly affected by their body weight and shape, which is often seen through a distorted lens. Individuals with eating disorders, particularly anorexia nervosa, struggle not only with recognizing their external beauty but also their internal positive qualities. Their perfectionism and critical sense of self leads them to have negative views of their beauty and self-worth. This chapter will look at some of the reasons individuals with eating disorders struggle to appreciate their own beauty, internally as well as externally, and will offer some tools to help with these struggles. Many individuals, even those without disordered eating, struggle with critical self-perception. Perhaps this chapter can help us all become more compassionate to ourselves as we consider our external and internal aspects of beauty.
... Also, sexiness (for both men and women) is used as a signifier for marketability of the output produced or co-produced by the athlete. Fans follow sports due to aesthetic factors (Smith 1988) 2 . 1 See also Dion, Berscheid, and Walster 1972;Eagly et al. 1991;Etcoff 1999;Kanazawa and Still 2018;Langlois et al 2000;Li, Zhang, Laroche 2019;Meier and Konjer 2015;Rosenblatt 2008;Ryall 2016;Stephan and Langlois 1984;Lorenzo et al. 2010, Stoll, VanMullem, Ballestero andBrown 2017;Varian 2006. In sports, Hoegele, Schmidt, andTorgler (2016) find that beauty has an influence on how fans perceive football players (assigning higher scores to personality, behaviour, and skills to more attractive players). ...
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Beauty has been used as a fast and frugal heuristic, and therefore an important determinant of choice, as highlighted in research by Hamermesh. In a world of asymmetric information, beauty represents a proxy for objective characteristics or an object of desire, according to an individual’s preferences. A correlate of beauty, sexiness, has been used in sports to choose trainers or even to select the athletes expected to perform best, with people paying a premium for this beauty or sexiness. We argue that beauty can be a good or bad heuristic depending on the objective relationship between beauty and what it proxies. When it is a bad heuristic, it generates sub-optimal outcomes for sports organizations. We discuss the conditions under which the beauty or sexiness heuristic generates sub-optimal outcomes, why rational agents choose such a heuristic, and the conditions under which bad heuristics are sustainable. We also discuss this heuristic and the beauty premium in the context of Becker’s economic theory of discrimination, wherein rational decision-makers trade-off material considerations for the utility gained by contracting beautiful and sexy individuals. The latter has implications for the economic sustainability of an organization.
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A revised and expanded version of this bibliography may be downloaded here:
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A revised and expanded version of this bibliography may be downloaded here:
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A revised and expanded version of this bibliography may be downloaded here:
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Fan abuse continues to be a serious problem in American college athletics. However, despite the magnitude of this problem, fan abuse has not received the same level of concern (i.e., promotion of sportsmanship and fair play) as “winning-at-all-costs” perpetrated by athletic participants. In response, the author argues that perhaps many in the sport milieu do not consider fan behavior as a moral issue (i.e., actions that are harmful to others) and therefore unworthy of more serious consideration. As a result, the purpose of this study was to explore the types of spectator abuse inflicted upon college athletes as well as assessing the emotional impact. The results of this study showed that college athletes do indeed experience a variety of insults and harassment. However, findings also indicated that athletes are generally emotionally unaffected by the abuse. The contradictory nature of this finding is discussed
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This investigation explored the role of critical comments about weight and body shape and disordered eating symptoms of female athletes (N = 157) and sport participants (N = 63). Results revealed that both athletes and sport participants who recalled critical comments, compared with those who did not, and those who recalled more severe critical comments, reported greater disordered eating (controlling for depression). Although greater degree of athletic involvement was associated with greater frequency of recalled critical comments, athletes and sport participants did not differ on disordered eating. Consistent with objectification theory, those who recalled critical comments had more intense negative emotions (shame, anxiety) than positive emotions associated with the recalled comment; but not more so for athletes than sports participants.
The purpose of this study was to analyze cognitive moral reasoning of high school student athletes and their nonathlete peers (n = 1,330). Students were evaluated with the Hahm-Beller Values Choice Inventory in the Sport Milieu. Nonathletes (NA) scored significantly higher (M = 67.75, SEM = 0.39) compared to team sport (TS) athletes (M = 62.10, SEM = 0.40). Females scored significantly higher (M = 68.78, SEM = 0.34) than males (M = 60.97, SEM = 0.38). Female NA (M = 69.54, SEM = 0.33) and female TS athletes (M = 67.50, SEM = 0.35) scored significantly different compared to male TS athletes (M = 59.21, SEM = 0.42). This study supports cognitive research data of collegiate athlete populations. Interscholastic athletes reason from a less consistent, impartial, and reflective moral reasoning than do nonathletes.
This study examines the relationship between sport participation and perceptions of body size and weight-loss strategies among adolescent girls. Using a sample of 7,214 girls, ages 12-18 years, from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we find that girls who participate in stereotypically feminine sports are more likely to report feeling overweight, attempt to lose weight, and use multiple weight-loss strategies compared with nonathletes. We also find that the associations for weight loss, but not overweight perception, are generally weaker for non-White girls. These findings suggest that participation in stereotypically feminine sports, particularly for White girls, might exacerbate body image and dieting problems associated with dominant gender roles, but participation in stereotypically masculine sports does not.
This paper explores the historical and ideological meanings of organized sports for the politics of gender relations. After outlining a theory for building a historically grounded understanding of sport, culture, and ideology, the paper argues that organized sports have come to serve as a primary institutional means for bolstering a challenged and faltering ideology of male superiority in the 20th century. Increasing female athleticism represents a genuine quest by women for equality, control of their own bodies, and self-definition, and as such represents a challenge to the ideological basis of male domination. Yet this quest for equality is not without contradictions and ambiguities. The socially constructed meanings surrounding physiological differences between the sexes, the present “male” structure of organized sports, and the media framing of the female athlete all threaten to subvert any counter-hegemonic potential posed by female athletes. In short, the female athlete—and her body—has become a con...
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The purpose of this article is to discuss a coach’s perspective of the good that sport should do. The author argues that the relationships developed through the coaching experience are powerful, formative, and exceptional. She discusses the important moral values of sharing and caring and how these are important in the moral development of the athlete.