Sport Influence in Hispanic Women
California State University of Bakersfield
October 28, 2018
Title IX gave women of different race and backgrounds the opportunity to participate in athletic teams. With this opportunity women could become self-determined and provided them with a sense of identity in the world of sports. However, it is difficult for women of Hispanic descent to pursue their love of sports due to interior and exterior factors. The sports experience of Hispanic athletes is affected by many circumstances, such as; culture, socioeconomic status, and social stigmas among Hispanic women. These circumstances greatly influence the low percentage of Hispanic women participating in sports.
Culture plays a significant role in the life of a Hispanic woman. Hispanic culture varies, but they are known to be family oriented. It is common for Hispanic women to oversee the household and take care of children. In the article, “Hispanic Women in Sports,” Vivian R. Acosta (1999) confirms that, “There is a strong Hispanic tradition that a female’s place is in the home (44).” Thus, family traditions can deter Hispanic female athletes from pursuing a career in sports or physical education. Their cultures have different views of what is socially accepted for Hispanic women. Which may influence their decision to participate in a sport or become a member of a sport team.
Being a female athlete in a Hispanic culture is a betrayal for most families. Involvement in sports may mean that they are spending less time doing family structured activities. Not following family tradition is viewed as disrespectful, especially to generations that are older and have several set customs and believes. Jamieson (2003) claims that Latinas in sports are subject to shaping their own identity and deviating from their cultural backgrounds. Further, there may be a language barrier between team members and it may discourage self-confidence and desire of physical activity. Hence, these cultural barriers have a significant effect on Hispanic Women’s personal experience with sport related activities.
Under several studies, Hispanic women tend to have a socioeconomic disadvantage. Women are already considered a socioeconomic minority and belonging to a Hispanic culture tends to raise many barriers for women that fall under this category. In the article, “Correlations of Physical Activity Among Women from Diverse Racial/Ethnic Groups,” it states that, “Low-income is perceived to be a barrier to physical activity (2002).” Most Hispanic families live in rural areas and struggle to make ends meet. Most families do not have the income to provide their children with expensive sport wear and other necessities. Then, not being able to pay college tuition can influence the involvement of sports in Hispanic women. Therefore, it is essential to note that there is a lack of financial and emotional support. However, this may also influence Latina athletes to work hard and gain independence. Bearing children may also deter Hispanic women from participating in physical activity or sports because their priorities change. Also, having children is expensive and may cause financial instability. Hence, sports and physical activity are put aside to save money or spend quality time with their children.
To influence the involvement of sports in Hispanic women, it is important that their communities have access to athletic activities. There may be a lack of resources provided for Hispanic athlete women, especially if they are from rural locations where there is no community involvement. Not having access to sports involvement in their area can be a detrimental factor. For example, after school programs that allow children to participate in sports and physical activity. There could be a safety concern to why these programs are not highly accessible to minorities. Although, this can also influence Hispanic women from a young age to have no knowledge of sports. Note that resources available to children at a young age can impede the young from being involved in deviant behavior, such as, substance abuse.
Neighborhoods in rural locations tend to have a higher rate of crime involvement in young girls. In the article, “The Impact of Sport Participation on Female Gang Involvement and Delinquency,” informs that, “Minority girls, through their lack of involvement, are less likely to be exposed to the beneficial outcomes and protective features associated with sports participation (2016).” These environments can cause a shift in their views about sport involvement. Sports could possibly lead them to a better life style and less involvement in gang affiliation. In the article, “The Impact of Sport Participation on Female Gang Involvement and Delinquency,” it mentions that Hispanics where highly within gangs and other delinquencies due to the location in which they resided (2016). Therefore, this research supports that Hispanic women are likely to be exposed to deviant behavior and temptation due to their community atmosphere and cultural circumstances.
Hispanic women are also influenced by interior factors such as their own thoughts about themselves. If they do not have support from their family members, then they are prone to have no relationship with others. Hispanic women have a lack of support from their immediate family (Acosta,1999). This may affect their self-perceptions of themselves as athletes. Which can also affect their mental health and confidence. Therefore, it is important for athletes to have the support from their family to be in a good mind set. With lack of support from their families they may have to rely on their exterior factors. For example, school counselors or teachers. These individuals may have a positive impact on their decision to join and be a part of a team. They may not have their families support, but school staff can influence Hispanic women who are interested in physical activity.
Society may also influence the experience of sports in Hispanic women. Societal expectations can affect the decisions of female athletes who are Hispanic. Such as, participating in a predominantly white sport may put some social stigmas on the athlete. Especially if they are the only ones whom represent their race. In the article, “The wide world of sports reporting: the influence of gender and race-based expectations on evaluations of sports reporters,” indicates that, “Women and racial/ethnic groups are substantially underrepresented in terms of both coverage and reporting in sports (2012).” This shows how minority women like Hispanics tend to go more unnoticed through the media. Which, can influence their desire to participate in teams. If they feel neglected and pushed away for their ethnic background, then they are less likely to want to do physical activities.
Other factors that pertain to society would be lack of Hispanic role models in the sports’ environment. If Hispanic women do not have someone that looks like them in the sports’ industry, then they may feel less represented. In the article, “Occupying a middle space: toward a mestiza sport studies,” reports that, “Latinas are too often reduced to a universal, essentialized group leaving no room for recognition of diversity within this group (2003).” This may force Hispanic athlete women to fit in with the higher social class and depart from their culture. Jamieson (2003) adds that Latina athletes must embrace several identities to perform with other athletes of different ethnicity. Which can be a culture shock to most Hispanic athletes since they must adjust appropriately to the higher social class point of views. Hispanic women are limited in sports and therefore subject to withdrawal from identities that once described them.
The involvement of sport in women has been a significant factor that has helped shaped many professional athletes lives. Before title IX gave women the opportunity to participate in sports, women were ridiculed and labeled as disobedient to society. However, till this day there is still similar prejudice. Mainly focused on race and ethnicity and upbringing. Therefore, it is important to know what circumstances can influence women’s experiences to participate in sports. Research was done on Hispanic women and how interior and exterior factors influence their experiences. Hispanic women in sports are prone to be less physical and involved in sports due to their customs. These types of influences can be circumstances, such as; cultural beliefs, socioeconomic status, social stigmas, and their support systems. All, can shape and affect the decision making and thought process of Hispanic women in sports. Further attention to the Hispanic women cultural and societal conditions may help increase their participation in the sport arena.
Acosta, R. V. (1999). Hispanic women in sport. JOPERD: The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 70(4), 44. Retrieved from http://falcon.lib.csub.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=1833007&site=ehost-liveEyler, A. E., Wilcox, S., Matson-Koffman, D., Evenson, K. R., Sanderson, B., Thompson, J., … Rohm-Young, D. (2002). Correlates of Physical Activity among Women from Diverse Racial/Ethnic Groups. Journal of Women’s Health & Gender-Based Medicine, 11(3), 239–253. https://doi.org/10.1089/152460902753668448Jamieson, K. M. (2003). Occupying a Middle Space: Toward A Mestiza Sport Studies. Sociology of Sport Journal, 20(1), 1–16. Retrieved from http://falcon.lib.csub.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=9326664&site=ehost-liveMastro, D., Seate, A. A., Blecha, E., & Gallegos, M. (2012). The Wide World of Sports Reporting: The Influence of Gender- and Race-Based Expectations on Evaluations of Sports Reporters. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 89(3), 458–474. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699012447922Taylor, M. J., Nanney, J. T., Welch, D. Z., & Wamser-Nanney, R. A. (2016). The Impact of Sports Participation on Female Gang Involvement and Delinquency. Journal of Sport Behavior, 39(3), 317–343. Retrieved from http://falcon.lib.csub.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=117141284&site=ehost-live