Disney and Professional Athletes

Alex Apkin:

In Bordo’s Gentlemen or Beast, she speaks about the idea of sports promoting animalistic behavior and this constant push for aggression by coaches leading to wrongful behavior away from their sport. I would argue that the reason for the criminal behavior of many professional and even non-professional athletes is not the encouragement to become more animalistic but their environment away from sports. Aaron Hernandez the former tight end of the New England Patriots, arrested for murder got into trouble because of the culture and environment he was a part of outside of football not at all the sports culture that he was involved in. A major influence on how athletes behave is their background. Many of the most successful athletes grow up in impoverished areas surrounded by rough people. For many the path out is not education and they turn to athletics to gain success in the world. However when they grow up in these rough areas with bad influences or lack of positive influences along with the encouragement to become stronger, faster, and more aggressive as an athlete they have a skewed view of society. Along with their success so many athletes feel they are invincible and can conquer any endeavor and get away with any crime. In the case of the recently imprisoned Aaron Hernandez, who was convicted of murder success did not wash away the culture that was a part of him. The gangs that he was involved in were a part of his life and the things that he did seem completely irrational but for he and the thugs that he was friends with they were justified actions. Shooting someone because you were upset with them or another person to send a message was part of the culture. Even after Hernandez achieved success on the professional level of football, he could not simply distance himself from that culture that he was a part of for his entire life. He was a multi millionaire who had just signed his first big contract but he still couldn’t see the need to settle down and live a quieter life in which he focused on his career. Instead he put it all at risk because he had been told his whole life that he was the best and he had never been denied from achieving anything. He truly believed that murder was another hurdle he could jump over and that living a double life as an NFL star and a gang leader would work out just fine. So the athlete’s mindset combined with their background has the ability to create a potent mentality on what is right and wrong and what they can get away with. I think that in many cases athletes are aided by sports, because this gives them an avenue with which to escape the hardships of their childhood and achieve success. This background and mentality of invisibility is something the Bordo reading failed to discuss. Other examples that are closer to the Mike Tyson case of rape, are Kobe Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger. I see these two situations as athletes who started off arrogant and having that arrogance carried to a new level with recent success. That combined with their flawed character led to them to behave in inappropriate ways putting them in the position of being accused of sexual assault.

The story of the boy who was confused after his date showed the magnitude of the situation. He was completely lost as to how to act and this debilitated him for the end of the date. With so many messages and ideas being given to him about proper and improper interactions with girls he became completely overwhelmed and was unsure what he should have done. Bordo sums it up well when she says, “The thoughtful, intelligent, caring boy one who is least likely to behave disrespectfully with a girl may find himself paralyzed, caught between his desire to act “like a man” and fear of giving offense.” It really shows all of society’s influence upon young people coming to fruition as the boy was completely confused about how to act.

The research in the Disney reading brought up themes that I knew were present but never put much thought into. Nearly all the movies they discussed from the past 20 years explore heterosexual love and put it on a pedestal as a magical, transformative experience. This makes sense but I was surprised at how prominent the theme of love was in each of these children’s movies.

It will be interesting to see where the industry of children movies goes in the future. Will it make progress as society does to acknowledge a more diverse group of lovers and types of relationships? This is an important step for these movies to take. While they have done a good job in recent years in creating fascinating stories that can intrigue adults and children, while also providing a positive message for children through creative characters and plots. This formula is good but the overbearing theme of love seems like too much when looking back at all of the movies. I do think that the study was a little off on the idea that there are no friendships between female and male characters; for example Dory and Marlin in Finding Nemo and Jesse and Woody in Toy Story. I also wonder how great the influence of these movies is on the children who enjoy them.

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3 thoughts on “Disney and Professional Athletes

  1. Bianca Scofield

    I agree that Bordo does forget to mention a couple confounding variables in her discussion of case study examples of male athletes violence off the fields. As you mentioned, both culture and socioeconomic status do play a large part in influencing an athlete’s violent capabilities. However, I also agree with Bordo that being part of a sports culture that glorifies male aggression and violence can be hard to separate from reality. In one arena, male athletes are being told to be aggressive and to be violent, that is what it takes to be a man and win. But in another arena, the one outside of the sports world, men are chastised for actually acting on that aggression. I can see how the line between sports and reality blur for male athletes, however, by all means, these athletes still should be reprimanded for their actions. They, unfortunately, are over-socialized into this sports realm of masculinity.

  2. Sophie Furman

    If it’s culture that is a main aspect as to why people do the things they do, then the question I have is how do you separate people from the culture they live in? Or how do you change the culture itself? I think that is the struggle when trying to make a change for the better in society, the fact that it’s not a little task. In order to do so big moves need to be made, if it’s as child’s culture that’s turning him into an aggressive human being, that big cultural movements need to take place. However, it’s hard to have something like that become a universal message and get everyone on the same page. The struggle for men shouldn’t be the worry of falling too far into one category, either “acting like a man” or caving to your true feelings, they should just be able to do what comes naturally to them. Something I guess we don’t really know much about because nothing is really natural in a society thats forcing ideas and beliefs upon children as far back and we can remember.

  3. Olivia Rabbitt

    While I agree that background and culture shape an individual’s values, attitudes, and behaviors, I do not believe that this negates the argument that sports’ culture promotes a double bind for men. Yes, background shapes biases, but Alex even states that for particular demographics, sports and not education are the only path out. While the combination of background and sports culture is definitely dangerous, either on their own is dangerous. Any example of abuse or assault committed by college athletes from upper middle class backgrounds serves as an example of the dangers of sports culture.

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