A heartbreaker but a hero, a bully but a warrior, rude but popular, dumb and athletic.
These rash generalizations of the modern day athlete seem to be appropriate in North America today which has thus given birth to the stereotype – the “dumb-jock”. The effects that stereotyping has on an individual is often overlooked, I mean who really cares about what people think anyways right?
Wrong. But before I get into whose being affected and why, let’s talk about what it is to be a “dumb jock”.
In Western society the word “jock” is used as a form of slang more than anything else and it actually has a much different definition in the oxford dictionary. In North American the term “jock” is a way of describing an individual (usually a young-man) who is extremely enthusiastic about sport/athletics and will use this enthusiasm to empower him or herself through arrogance and physical capabilities. So essentially, a “dumb jock” matches all the qualities of a jock described above and uses them to hide his or her evident lack of intelligence.
Sounds like these so called “dumb jocks” deserve the stereotype, so why should we concern ourselves anyways?
According to new research, a considerable amount of student athletes across North America are feeling the affects of this stereotype and it is showing in their grades. This study written by Stanford University Professor Thomas Dee is one of many attempting to display the social stigma surrounding student athletes and the effects that it has on these students. According to Professor Dee’s study student-athletes who were confronted about their athletic involvement scored roughly 12 percent lower on Graduate Record Examination tests, compared to non-athlete students. When a group of individuals are being negatively affect by a specific stereotype this is known as a stereotype threat, and the stereotype threat that has generated from the “dumb jock” is very real in our North American world. Being a student in a post secondary institution is challenging in its own respect. Choosing to participate in athletics on top of schooling does not make the student athlete’s experience any less difficult than any other student.
Doesn’t sound very deserving anymore does it? Especially not to the countless number of student athletes who work relentlessly in order to pursue both their academic and athletic endeavours.
Don’t worry, this stereotype threat wasn’t created entirely because of our irrational accusations. Every stereotype has its reasoning and the “dumb jock” is no exception.
60% percent of the University of North Carolina’s football and basketball players read below the 8th grade level. Just over 2 years ago the same school openly admitted to giving out grades to student athletes who never attended class. In 2009 Florida State was found guilty for completing essays and giving answers to tests for over 61 of its student athletes. It’s no surprise, most individuals seeking a life in professional sports will ultimately put their athletics before their education. Becoming a professional athlete is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. It takes thousands of hours of training and dedication to the sport, and this can often lead to individuals neglecting other time consuming aspects of life such as education. This wouldn’t be much of an issue if every athlete aspiring to be a professional athlete would succeed in doing so however that could not be farther from the truth. Out of about 460 thousand NCAA athletes that are playing today less than 2 percent of them will become professional athletes. Those stats aren’t meant to scare any aspiring athletes from pursing their dreams, but it should encourage athletes to take advantage of the academic opportunity they have been given, even though a large number of them probably wont. To most students in North America, squandering the privilege to further ones education may be considered foolish or “dumb”.
I guess theres no surprise where the stereotype of the “dumb-jock” gets its roots. But maybe instead of passing judgement on these young individuals we should encourage their endeavours. I always thought chasing your dreams was the most important thing someone could do with their lives… maybe I was wrong?
Passing judgement on these student athletes has created a stereotype that has affected them on both a personal and academic level. We can blame the athletes for embodying the stereotype, we can blame our society for creating the stereotype, we can even blame the educational system for allowing the stereotype, but in the end of the day it doesn’t matter. The “dumb-jock” will always be around until we stop pointing fingers and come together to get rid of the issue.
Author: Amad El-houni