Sports Bras and Everyday Sexism

In the fall of 2018, Rowan University’s women’s track and field team was training around the track as the Head Football Coach was leading a practice for the football team. Head Coach Jay Accorsi, began yelling at the track and field Coach that “you don’t belong here.” It was stated that he was concerned about the sight of women running around in sports bras to be too distracting for his players.

How was Accorsi supposed to get 18-year-old boys to concentrate on X’s and O’s when their eyes were going “back and forth” at the sight of “girls running out here with sports bras”

Derick Adamson, Head Coach of the Women’s Track and Field Team

While the football team did have the right to hold a private practice at the time that this occurred, this issue goes deeper than one team taking up another’s space. The football coach’s concerns about sports bras sparked anger in many female athletes, reminding them about the still-present objectification of female bodies and everyday sexism.

While the women practicing on the track could have argued that the football players practicing in tight pants could have been distracting, they made no such comment, as they believed that, while at practice, their focus was directed towards their workouts. Comparatively, investigators found evidence that there was a football player making remarks such as “They’re asking for it”. Remarks such as these further demonstrate that during the #Metoo era, women in sport are still sexualized rather than celebrated for their athletic excellence. It is both disappointing yet unsurprising that still, in today’s society, it is believed that it is women’s responsibility to prevent men from being distracted. This issue has been extremely influenced by media covering women’s sports and must be changed in order to provide new perspective to viewers.

The media has long held the power to influence gender ideologies in sport. While sport should be looked at as a way to celebrate athleticism and healthy living, female athletes have been socialized differently than men, placing emphasis on physical beauty and sexual worth. For example, while most photographs in magazines such as Sports Illustrated, present action shot images of male athletes playing their specific sport, there are fewer pictures of female athletes to begin with. When women are featured, there are many photographs depicting women posing in seductive ways, wearing outfits that are impractical and do not correlate with their sport at all. This evidence supports the theory that media has been an influencer in shaping gender ideologies in sport, placing an emphasis on viewers to sexualize women, focusing on their physicality rather than athletic efforts.

The media’s sexualization of women in sport, has been used greatly in the past in order to increase viewing numbers of women’s sports. The gender ideologies this has created in sport has led to coaches, such as Accorsi, to objectify women, labeling them as a distraction, as opposed to hard working athletes, who wish to exercise in whatever sport attire is most comfortable.

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