Field Hockey!? Wow, you must be really tough.

Lucky for me, a decent amount of people in the United States has never even heard of my sport.  Now this is lucky because that means they have not been able to come up with inaccurate judgments.  However, the half of the U.S. population that has heard of it often fall victim to the stereotypes of field hockey.  The two biggest stereotypes I have heard of and encountered over my years playing surround gender and sexuality.  I would like to note, however, that these stereotypes are among U.S. popular culture, they are not transnational.  Field hockey is a very common and popular sport in other countries in Europe and also in India.  Therefore, these stereotypes tend to fade away to the truth about the sport.  Nonetheless, stateside there is an assumption that boys do not play field hockey.  The reason most stated is “because you wear skirts”.  While the females do wear skirts when playing that does not mean men do not play and moreover that they would have to wear skirts too.  I believe this stems from male hockey being extremely small in the U.S. and there being no collegiate male teams.

Here is a video of male field hockey:

This means that most people who know about the sport think it is a female sport.  However, the types of females they believe play are also very stereotypical.  Since the sport is seen as a high contact and highly dangerous sport it is assumed that the females playing are rather “manly”.  This assumption is furthered by the think legs and shoulders that many female field hockey players develop.  This “manly” mentality and broad body lead people to the conclusion that the women who play field hockey are lesbians. 


These stereotypes have always bothered me as a player because they are generally very untrue.  Boys do indeed play and I grew up playing in a co-ed league with them.  Moreover, not all the women are of homosexual orientation.  In fact, in my eight years of playing the sport I can count on one hand the females I have met and had as teammates that identified as lesbian.  The only way I conform to a stereotype about my sport is that I have a very strong body due to my thicker legs and shoulders.  Therefore I have often been called “manly” in my life.  However, while I may not look like the “girliest” girl, that is exactly what I am.   Off the field, I love shopping and make up and boys just as much as the next “girly” girl.

Overall, sometimes I love that no one has heard of my sport.  It gives me the chance to properly educate them and expose them to all the reasons why I love it.  However, since it is so unheard of stateside, my sport also falls victim to horrible stereotypes that I fear make people not interested in the sport and keep it from growing and becoming the past time it is in other countries.

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1 Response to Field Hockey!? Wow, you must be really tough.

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    I like how you qualify that the stereotypes you discuss are dominant in the U.S. but change when we consider a more global context. This is an important caveat to such a discussion. It is worth considering how and why athleticism comes to be closely tied to lesbianism, particularly when attached to particular body parts as you mention. This seems to imply that there is somehow an aesthetic to particular versions of individual sexuality. This is worth unpacking more, and relating to bodily ability. The continual use of skirts in field hockey for women has always been intriguing to me. You do not discuss this, but this aspect of dress remains one of the most interesting “popular” representations of the sport. Is this a way of compensating for the potentially muscular (and potentially masculine) bodies of the athletes and the accompanying threat around femininity and sexuality?

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