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Don't mistake an athlete for a 'toxic jock'
Date:6/1/2009

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A rose by any other name is still a rose, but is an athlete by another namea jock?

"The terms 'athlete' and 'jock' are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are really descriptions of two distinct sport-related identities," says University at Buffalo researcher Kathleen E. Miller, Ph.D. "In terms of goal orientations toward sports and conformity to gender norms, these two identities represent very different perspectives and may be associated with different behaviors."

Miller, a research scientist at UB's Research Institute on Addictions, explained that the differences between the jock identity and the athlete identity may have implications for health-risk behavior. To some extent at least, jocks may constitute a specialized -- and problematic -- subset of athletes. Research by Miller and others is exploring a "toxic jock" model that links involvement in high-status, high-profile sports with rigid adherence to stereotypical expectations of masculinity, a tolerance for risk and health-compromising behaviors such as substance use and unsafe sex.

The practical implications of these findings are clear: developing ways to help sports participants generate "athlete" (rather than "jock") identities could potentially help buffer adolescents and young adults against health-compromising behaviors.

Miller's Athletic Involvement Study surveyed 581 college students with histories of organized sports participation to rate how strongly they saw themselves (or believed others saw them) as athletes or as jocks. Only 18 percent of students strongly identified with the identity of "jock," while 55 percent strongly identified with the identity of "athlete." In fact, students were twice as likely to reject the jock label.

Self-identified athletes tended to be task-oriented; they defined sport success in terms of skills development and mastery and the pursuit of personal excellence, Miller found. Jocks were more ego-oriented; they defi
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Contact: Kathleen Weaver
weaver@ria.buffalo.edu
716-887-2585
University at Buffalo
Source:Eurekalert

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