via Inside Higher Education: “Research links identification with college football and basketball teams and higher levels of homophobia and sexism.”
Higher education has an image of being among the more tolerant and progressive parts of American society with regard to gender and sexual orientation. Colleges pledge to combat sexism and homophobia — and take pride in a variety of polices and programs that reflect this commitment.
Big-time athletics may be a little different. Even on campuses with large gay student groups, for example, openly gay male athletes are a rarity — and pretty much unheard of in football and basketball. Fans at universities that take pride in their inclusive campus environments think little of taunting Duke University basketball players with anti-gay slurs. At the University of Virginia, students debate why many of them feel obliged to assert their heterosexuality with a cheer at a key point when the song that follows Cavalier touchdowns makes a reference to “gay” (not in the sexual orientation way).
Research presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association suggests a possible reason: College students who are serious about their identification with their institution’s football and men’s basketball teams are more likely than other students to have homophobic and sexist attitudes.
Here’s the abstract from the AERA Annual Meeting presentation:
College athletics, particularly football and men’s basketball, plays a large role in the experiences of students and the cultures of many institutions. A long line of research and theory suggests that athletics is the domain of hypermasculinity, sexism, and homophobia, and this study examines how those values manifest themselves in fans of college athletics. From a sample of 454 college students, identification with the athletic teams at their institutions predicted higher levels of both sexism and homophobia in the students. Implications for practice and further research are discussed.