Shmackem: Toxic masculinity’s negative play in sports

Jah-Tosh Baruti

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Since the age of time men have dominated sports with emotionless ferocity, however, this type of toxic masculinity is actually toxic to sports.

According to Macmillan Dictionary, toxic masculinity can be defined as the “adherence to traditional male gender roles that expect boys and men to show few emotions and assert their dominance.”

Toxic masculinity is a phrase that has been popularized recently throughout various media. Although the affects of this in relation to sports is not talked about nearly enough.

Most people only see the Sports Center highlight plays, upsets and championship wins, but the dark side of sports where male athletes are actually bullied by other male athletes doesn’t end up in the top 10 or on a convenient two minute YouTube clip.

It’s not a coincidence that male athletes, especially in the NFL are accused of domestic violence nearly every season. This is due to the high levels of toxic masculinity in football, it’s a high contact sport, so players are taught not to show emotions on the field or they’ll be labeled soft.

In the 2010 movie The Karate Kid, Jaden Smith’s character Dre Parker is bullied by Zhenwei Wang’s character Cheng throughout the movie. In a karate match towards the end of the movie Cheng is instructed by his trainer to intentionally break Dre’s leg, which he does.

That’s what toxic masculinity does, it forces boys and men to be overtly aggressive in sports, often times to the detriment of their opponents. Also, that the need to win is more important than what is ethical.

This outdated rhetoric needs to be rewritten like as of yesterday. It’s harmful and unfair to the young boys and girls coming up, who feel like they have to put on a tough persona just to fit in their respective sport.

Boys will be boys was the common phrase growing up when playing physical with other boys. When do the boundary lines get crossed?

The problem is there are no boundaries. Boys will boys will be boys until they’re men—and then they’ll be men who only know how to be boys.

The toxicity of toxic masculinity is a plague that has to be stopped. It’s going to take more professional athletes speaking out about this topic for change to be made.

In a world riddled with Conner McGregor’s in every sport, you know the typical cocky wise-cracking egotistical male, who tries to make other men feel inferior—we need more Stephen Curry’s, men who are willing to show emotions, who check in their egos at the door, in the midst of testosterone driven competition.

Sports invite a wide range of emotions in, it should be said that it’s okay for men to feel those emotions and actively express them in competition. Put the bravado and make machismo aside, the kids are watching.

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