Representations in Media: Male College Athletes

Representations in Media: Male College Athletes

In today’s world, many different demographic groups exist, and all of these different groups are represented differently in the media. Sports play a huge role in society and the lives of many people. A very large demographic group that is associated with sports is male college athletes. In general, the male college athlete is represented in media as a loud, dumb, and obnoxious jock who gets into trouble and does nothing but drink, party, and lift weights all day and every day. “It has created jocks, often regarded as egotistical, unintelligent male athletes who typically are womanizers” (Musakawa). This is a very common stereotype in today’s society and is used constantly in the media. For the most part, this representation of this group is negative and misleading to the public and has hurt the image of the male college athlete.

If you watch any movie or television program that takes place in a college setting, there’s a good chance that you are going to come across a male athlete. When you do come across this character, chances are that he won’t be studying for his next exam or writing a paper for class. He’s probably going to be shown either playing his designated sport, lifting weights, or drinking at a frat party. Although this isn’t necessarily a very accurate depiction of what the true male college athlete is, it’s definitely the most popular tactic of representing this demographic group. "Athletes, in general, are cocky ... Football players tend to be dumb jocks and very aggressive ... Lacrosse guys: super fratty” (Welsh-Huggins). One of the ways that media portrays the male college athlete is by making him seem like a person who didn’t have to work hard to get into a good college, as if everything were handed to him on a silver platter. This tactic is utilized by emphasizing scholarship offers and “full rides” for any exceptional athlete so that they can go to a prestigious university rather than work hard in the classroom to receive the proper grades to get into that school. This also goes hand-in-hand with another familiar way that the male college athlete is portrayed. The male college athlete is also made out to be a dumb and illiterate person who feeds off the hard work of those around him to succeed. To begin with, a common stereotype confronted by football players is that they are, to quote one student, "dumb as nails" (Welsh-Huggins). Athletes in media are often shown paying or bullying smarter students into doing their work for them so that they don’t have to do it. Male college athletes are also notorious for getting into trouble with police. “Seven percent of the players in the College Football preseason Top 25 -- 204 in all (1 of every 14) -- had been charged with or cited for a crime, including dozens of players with multiple arrests” (Benedict).

Another popular stereotype that goes with the demographic group of the male college athlete is that they are all frat-boys who love to party all the time. Athletes in movies and television are constantly shown at parties where alcohol is present and are notorious for being party animals. Another thing that male college athletes are popular for, and this is especially for football players, is being meat-heads who are constantly lifting weights. Athletes are often shown lifting weights as opposed to being productive and doing schoolwork. All of these different tactics and ways of representing the male college athlete tie into how this group is represented in the media, and have created a popular, yet unique stereotype.

In today’s media world, the male college athlete is often portrayed negatively and this often misleads the public about the typical athlete in society. This stereotype is a very typical and popular one in media, but one might wonder why these male college athletes have received this negative representation. Unfortunately, based on the actions of some male college athletes, the entire demographic group has had to suffer and be placed into this negative category. When people talk about specific examples of male college athletes who have added fuel to the fire in terms of the representation of athletes is the Duke Lacrosse Sexual Assault Case. “This case consisted of under-age drinking as well as strippers and accused sexual assault. Although the accusations made against the lacrosse team were false, the one bad decision they made to have a party with strippers and under aged drinking negatively impacted the team as well as any other male college athlete. Especially other college lacrosse players all across the country” (Duke). Crime also played a factor in the lives of many college football players on some of the top teams in the country in 2010. “In the 2010 Pre-Season College Football Top 25, there was a combined 204 players that were found to have police records, and a good number of those arrests had occurred during the player’s college career” (Benedict). Although these numbers seem to come in large quantities, it doesn’t even compare to the total number of male college athletes all over the country and even the world. It’s definitely unfortunate that so many innocent individuals have to suffer and fall under a negative stereotype just because people who fall in the same demographic group have made mistakes that make everyone else look bad. This is one of the most important factors that play into the reason why male college athletes are represented in the media the way they are, and is very important to the status of this demographic group.

In the media of today’s society, every demographic group is represented differently based on the actions of certain people who fall into certain groups. Whether those actions are positive, negative or neutral, they will all have an effect on the way their group is portrayed in pop culture and the media. In terms of the demographic group of male college athletes, the actions of certain male college athletes have resulted in the representation of their group as loud, dumb, and obnoxious jocks who get into trouble and do nothing but drink, party, and lift weights all day and every day. Although this stereotype isn’t completely true in terms of the entire demographic group, it is the way that these athletes are represented in the media. In my opinion, I think this is a very difficult stereotype to undo or reverse because it has become such a typical representation in society. Although it is possible that their representation could change over time, I believe that the representation of male college athletes in the media will remain consistent for quite some time.

Works Cited:
Benedict, Jeff and Keteyian, Armen. “College Football and Crime.” Sports Illustrated. Web. 5 May 2011.

“Duke Lacrosse Sexual Assault Case.” New York Times. 20 June 2007. Web. 5 May 2011.

Musakawa, Tendai. “Stereotyping of male athletes as jocks unwarranted.” Vassar College News. 12 April 2007. Web. 5 May 2011.

Welsh-Huggins, Sarah. “Athlete Stereotypes at Lafayette.” The Lafayette: Online Edition. 5 May 2011. Web. 5 May 2011.