Masculinity and Australian Sport

Extract from my short book  – Kicking a Goal for Masculinity – by Pip Cornall

Australia is a great sporting nation and much of our national identity and pride comes from our prowess in sport. For a nation of only 20 million people, we dominate the world in many sports—a remarkable achievement! In the past our young people had numerous sporting heroes to look up to—men and women who were positive role-models. In recent decades however, an ugly side has emerged—with sledging, performance drugs, violence, sexism, sexual assault, domestic violence and racism impacting many sports including Olympic.
As a former PE teacher I’m proud of our amazing sporting prowess on the world stage. However I’m not proud of the problems that have emerged and I write this book firm in the belief that we can turn the ugliness around—in fact, even more impressively, we can use our sport to promote positive change on a local and global scale. In a time of single parent families and with few male primary school teachers remaining, it is imperative that sportsmen promote healthy models of masculinity to our boys and young men.

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I believe at the root of these problems in sport lie some outmoded concepts of masculinity. In the book we will seek to identify those unhealthy masculinities that need changing within the sporting culture—with a goal of making our sport even better than ever.
From Boys to Men:
Boys grow up into good men with good role-modelling from men—that is one of the primary themes in my book. I will be promoting this in schools and sports clubs to encourage healthier forms of masculinity. My book encourages sportsmen to explore what a healthy masculinity looks like, what “Being a Real Man in Sport” involves, and how to model that to boys and young men.
I’ve kept my writing simple to help younger readers, boys and young men, develop clear ideas about what a healthy masculinity is. With confusing concepts of the “real man” promoted in the media, video games and sport, my book aims to plant the seeds of a healthy masculinity. Healthy masculinity and integrity go hand-in-hand.

No matter what goals you achieve in life—be they in sport, commerce, art, music or education—without good integrity and ethical standards, your self-esteem will be compromised. No matter how much you pretend, or how many brave masks you put on (the tough guise), you will not like yourself on the inside. Poor self-esteem is often a root cause of drug and alcohol abuse and/or criminal behaviour. I have observed this to be true across a broad spectrum of young men I have worked with—ranging from Olympic athletes to gang kids in juvenile detention centres.