What's the difference between an 'athlete' and a "jock"

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Washington, June2 (ANI): Think twice before you call an "athlete" a "jock", for the two terms are poles apart, according to a researcher at the University at Buffalo.

Kathleen Miller, a research scientist at UB's Research Institute on Addictions, says that the differences between the jock identity and the athlete identity might have implications for health-risk behaviour.

"The terms 'athlete' and 'jock' are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are really descriptions of two distinct sport-related identities. 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 behaviours," said Miller.

The researcher says that Jocks might constitute a specialized and problematic subset of athletes.

In the study, researchers are 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 behaviours, such as substance use and unsafe sex.

And the findings could be used in developing ways to help sports participants generate "athlete" (rather than "jock") identities could potentially help buffer adolescents and young adults against health-compromising behaviours.

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.

The researchers observed that only 18 percent of students strongly identified with the identity of "jock", while 55 percent strongly identified with the identity of "athlete".

In fact, the students were twice as likely to reject the jock label.

It was found that self-identified athletes had the tendency to be task-oriented-they defined sport success in terms of skills development and mastery and the pursuit of personal excellence.

On the other hand, jocks were more ego-oriented and defined sport success by comparing their own performance to that of others.

Besides, the endorsement of stereotypical masculine norms in the study was also found to be stronger among jocks than among athletes.

Students who identified strongly as jocks were likely to support "masculine" attitudes about violence, sex, winning, dominance and risk-taking.

And those who identified strongly as athletes supported some of these attitudes (commitment to winning) but actively rejected others ("playboy" attitudes about sex) and were neutral on the rest (propensity for violence, dominance and risk-taking).

Both sport-related identities were stronger among men than among women.

The results have been published in the Journal of Sport Behaviour. (ANI)

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