Locker room talk: How male athletes portray female athletic trainers

Jul 13, 2010

A college quarterback coming into the locker room with a dislocated shoulder wouldn't care whether the athletic trainer taking care of him is male or female -- or would he? A study from North Carolina State University examining male football players' perceptions of female athletic trainers - and their comfort level in being treated by females - shows that the quarterback would most likely prefer a male, unless the dislocated shoulder made him depressed.

"Previous research had shown that male and overall feel more comfortable with treatment by same-gender athletic trainers for gender-specific injuries and conditions," says Dr. Heidi Grappendorf, assistant professor of parks, recreation and tourism management at NC State. "We wanted to specifically examine football players' comfort level by same and opposite sex athletic trainers for gender and non-gender-specific injuries - while seeing if influenced opinions."

The study showed that male were more comfortable with treatment by a male athletic trainer for both gender-specific injuries - such as sports hernias - as well non-gender-specific injuries - like a dislocated shoulder. When it came to general psychological conditions, there were no significant differences between a preference for a male or female trainer. For the treatment of depression, however, there was a significant preference for female trainers. Data were collected through questionnaires given to football players in two National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I programs.

Because there is a associated with depression, the potential exists that football players could be viewed as "weak" if they divulge that information to male athletic trainers, the researchers say. Also, because of their prescribed ideas about gender rolls, football players may find more comfort in talking to female trainers about depression.

"Over half of our participants described female athletic trainers using communal terms consistent with gender roles stereotypically attributed to women - such as caring, nurturing and affectionate," says Caitlin O'Connor, who co-authored the paper while finishing her master's degree at NC State. "Clearly, we can see some prejudice based upon the gender of athletic trainers."

Researchers believe there is an incongruity between the stereotypical gender role of women and their presence in the male-dominated football environment, suggesting that there could be a backlash against women in the locker room.

"It is plausible to suggest that the football athletic training room could be viewed by football players as an 'inappropriate' place for women - regardless of their education or experience," says Grappendorf. "Additional research needs to be done to see if the presence of female athletic trainers could actually reduce the likelihood of male athletes reporting injuries."

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

More information: The study, "Division I Football Players Perceptions of Females in the Athletic Training Room: Utilizing Role Congruity Theory" was published in the July/August issue of the Journal of Athletic Training.

Related Stories

Female athletes injured more than male athletes

Jan 25, 2010

Female athletes experience dramatically higher rates of specific musculoskeletal injuries and medical conditions compared to male athletes, according to exercise physiologist Vicki Harber in the Faculty of Physical Education ...

Study asks how safe is high school football?

Aug 15, 2007

Football, one of the most popular sports in the United States, is also the leading cause of sports-related injuries. During the 2005-06 season, high school football players sustained more than half a million ...

Genetic link to gender identity

Oct 30, 2008

In the largest ever genetic study of male to female transsexuals Australian researchers have found a significant genetic link between gender identity and a gene involved in testosterone action.

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

7 hours ago

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

HealingMindN
not rated yet Jul 13, 2010
OK. When football players DO prefer female trainers, does this mean they prefer the motherly types or the ones that look like playboy models? And what if the male trainer is total flamer and the player has a gender specific injury?

More news stories

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

LinkedIn membership hits 300 million

The career-focused social network LinkedIn announced Friday it has 300 million members, with more than half the total outside the United States.

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...