Why Don’t You Play a Real Sport?

What do you personally consider to be a sport? Many people define sports differently and many people refuse to recognize one sport as a legitimate sport compared to another. The sport that I am focusing on, rhythmic gymnastics, faces this exact stereotype. Upon research, I realized that many of the comments left in videos of the sports as well as an article titled “Rhythmic Gymnastics Vs. Boxing” displayed people not recognizing rhythmic gymnastics as a sport. Many people claimed that it was for mere aesthetics and that it wasn’t a “serious sport.”

Here is a video example:

There is also a gender stereotype that is commonly associated with this sport, which is that it is a strictly feminine sport with female gymnasts. Although, the sport is mostly women gymnasts there are also male rhythmic gymnasts. The Olympics actually only features woman’s rhythmic gymnastics but male rhythmic gymnasts are increasing in other countries as well. The types found in rhythmic gymnastics is that it is a feminine sport that is more for aesthetic appearance than for body building or exercise. Another trait that the women who do the sport face is being very thin.

Upon research I found that women in this sport are categorized as “too thin.” My own idea about this trait of being “too thin” is that many women face the struggle to please society’s views on being a certain weight. I hear many women complain about their size whether it is because they are too thin or too “big.” Regarding the popular type of being an “ideal weight” I believe that there are times when I do conform but also challenge the idea of being thin. I challenge society’s views on being thin as the only way in being healthy by standing by the idea that there are various people with different body types that fit to their healthy lives. But, I also do conform to it at times by wanting to be more “thin” not just merely a healthy weight. This constant battle with weight is not only found in woman but also in men who want to be “bigger” or “cut.”

The stereotype of being “thin and healthy” and being aesthetically pleasing at the same time can also be dangerous as seen in magazines that portray being thin as the only kind of beauty. The sport and the stereotype that it carries brings about a very important debate on how we view body types and what we categorize as being “healthy.”

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One Response to Why Don’t You Play a Real Sport?

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    You provide a good example of how certain sports can serve to reinforce certain body ideals. This is a particularly feminized ideal, and this aspect of thinness is worth exploring more. Why and how does thinness become an ideal via particular sport representations? And how is this linked to the understanding of sports such as this not being “real” sports? Do we denigrate women’s bodies similarly to how this sport is denigrated by insisting on thinness and non-athleticism? And to what extent is this a false denigration? After all, I imagine rhythmic gymnastics in reality requires quite a bit of athleticism. And yet it is distorted in popular representations to imply that it does not. How does this correspond to dominant ideals of femininity?

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