It is time to say no to the macho culture

To read the original text in Swedish click here

Several events lately have made me reflect on the macho culture within sports. Each thought leads me to the same answer – we all have to take responsibility of working against it. That culture is preventing the sport from moving forward in the right direction, and in some ways it drags us even further back in time. 

In many cultures sport is something that is exercised by men for men. Football has long been a male-dominated sport, both on and off the field, even if the gap between how many men and women there are in the sport is decreasing. The macho culture is something that has been seen for a long time in football and sports in general. Josh Cavallo´s official statement of coming out as gay,  the first active male football player to do so, is one sign of an unhealthy culture; tough men with limited feelings, who should act and live a certain way based on how it was back in time. That is the current reality for many male football players, to stick to the old norms and expectations of how a man in the sport should behave, even if they do not agree. Poor people and truly a sad world.

I read a good article written by a Swedish journalist (Jennifer Wegerup) recently. She discussed the problems created in male sport. She questioned what is wrong with men in a groups and specifically touched on the topic of initiation in teams. In Sweden there has been a couple of mentioned events where ice hockey teams have been having absurd initiation rituals, where they have forced new team members to do certain things and humiliated them in order to create “a real man”. Is this something that is done with real conscious thought or is it just another autopilot action based on the macho culture that we sadly see too often in sports? Regardless,  it is time for it to stop. We all need to take action, women as well as men, and start working against this type of culture. 

I find football is a huge role model for our society and it is a great tool to use to reach out to people. The parents of an athlete who think about how they raise their child at home, the team leader who is aware of their role as role models for their players or the captain’s way of speaking in the changing room. Roles within the sport that are crucial in the work towards change, with the purpose of slowly eradicating the macho culture. Create this picture in your head; where the macho cultures is being exchanged for a more healthy culture. Where the fear of not being allowed to be who you truly are, to be forced to behave in a certain way is not present anymore. Instead, we are allowed to be who want to be, without a need to humiliate others to demonstrate power, and we can love, feel and act freely. Only then we will be able to reach a new level in football – a level that will certainly transfer to the rest of society. 

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