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The locker room has always been a highly masculine environment where aggression is encouraged — and cruelty is sometimes rewarded.
But how much does this boorish behavior among young men actually impact the players’ lives?
New research suggests it may come at a heavy price, finding teen boys who participate in school sports were twice as likely to have abused their girlfriend recently compared with other teens.
Often clouded by a chicken versus egg argument, dating violence and sports have previously been linked in earlier research, though many people have argued some personality types are more predisposed to both, independent of one another.
Study author Heather McCauley, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, said a link has been shown between dating violence and college athletics in earlier research, something she believes also exists with younger players.
“Of 1,648 athletes, 276
committed some form of abuse.”
Of the 1,648 teen athletes her research team analyzed, 276 indicated having committed some form of abuse against their girlfriend in the past three months, be it physical, sexual or emotional. That’s about three times higher than is typically seen with teenagers.
“We need to create a safe place for our youth to discuss healthy masculinity, healthy relationships and the idea that violence never equals strength,” McCauley said.
Certain sports were found to be more of a breeding ground for abuse than others, including basketball and football, while players in sports like tennis and swimming were found less likely to offend.
Additionally, those boys enrolled in both basketball and football were found to be twice as likely to abuse compared with other athletes.
“That’s in the entire sample and it’s a pretty strong association,” McCauley said. “Boys who play football and basketball were more likely to hold hypermasculine attitudes compared to their peers playing in other sports.”
More on reuters.com.