Is E-sports really starting to become a sport?

Over the last few years, it’s clear that video games in terms of its popularity are on the up. With video games now being the biggest form of media entertainment to date and with Grand theft auto five being the biggest product that has ever been made in terms of profit, it would hard to argue against video games being an industry that is a firm part of our culture today. However, the idea that it could be taken towards a level of competitiveness to the extent of it being a sport is something that hasn’t come easily, although as I point out in this blog, that is likely to change in the coming years. For a long time, video games were nothing more than a hobby due to its lack of physical activity involved when categorising something as a sport. The idea that sport has to be physical and tests your bodily abilities to the maximum is a traditional aspect of sport that many individuals in society firmly believe today, although that is not necessarily the case. Take the example of darts and snooker for example.

When it comes to looking at what sport actually is in terms of how to define a sport, it’s clear that the attitudes of what is and isn’t a sport changes over time. This flexible use of the term is what allows new activities to be sports, especially in today’s society. The example on BBC’s website regarding Mr Warwood and his comments of snowboarding gives a good indication of changing attitudes. The former UK champion mentioned how when he was younger snowboarding was not considered a real sport but as his passion grew for it, so did the idea of it becoming a sport and was soon a sport within the X games. However, back to the present, a new sport came into the X games, E-sports.  Mr Warwood was confused and bewildered by it because of its lack of physical activity “When I was a kid, sport was all about getting outside, getting wet, muddy, out of breath – you’re not going to get out of breath smashing your thumbs on a controller. I just think it’s a bit weird really – but maybe I’m just getting old” His mention of him “getting old” is perhaps a link towards the more common assumption of traditional sport which heavily focuses on aspects not associated with E-sports such as strength, size, physical speed, when this is not necessarily the case in sports not just today, but also in the past long before snowboarding. one example would be snooker, which has been at the centre of sport for well over one hundred years. What is also interesting is that sport is not a universal and solid concept. Certain cultures, values and places at a certain time can all determine in their own societies whether something is or isn’t a sport, this I believe is key in what makes e-sports a sport today. For example, in Switzerland recreational walking is considered a sport that can be taken very seriously whereas, in British society, that isn’t the case and is seen as a leisurely stroll by comparison. The same idea can be used for e-sports, in countries that have video games as a form of media entertainment it is more likely to be considered a sport compared to a country that does not have the same opportunities, values or interests as cultures that do use video games on a wide basis. In layman terms, anything that society (and arguably the mass media) considers a sport is a sport. There is no fixed definition of what a sport is because of constant changes in every societies tastes and preference over time.

 

image1.jpg
Can video games only ever be a hobby?

 

Focusing back to E-sports, whenever an event with e-sports takes place, it has clear conventions and iconography that are common in many other sporting spectacles such as football and boxing. Sponsorship such as “Monster energy drink”, merchandise of your favourite team, an arena packed full of fans rooting for a team/ player they feel most connected to, and a team that plays for a business such as Manchester city, Lyon, Roma just to name a few. But it isn’t just inside the areas that give it all the makings of a sport, the mass media has also played a part in which I believe has allowed society to make E-sports finally be taken seriously as a sport, this is especially the case of prize money ranging from 50K for winners of the FIFA series to millions of pounds on more popular titles such as DOTA 2 (Defence of the Ancients 2). Adding to this point, it is now easier than ever for people to watch it at home with the introduction of live coverage of E-sports on BBC 3 and Ginx TV, the first 24-hour channel fully dedicated to E-sports. Even sky sports shared the draw for the FIFA interactive world cup live on their Facebook page (for some this is enough to consider it a sport as some people consider something a sport if it is seen on sky sports. When I asked people if fishing is a sport the most common response was “it’s on sky sports so it must be!”). Another argument about why E-sports may now be considered a sport is also that you are now able to bet on who will win on bookies websites such as BET365. As a result, it gives the same feelings of passion and supporting nature of a team as betting on a football team.

When actually playing the games competitively, there are also many aspects similar to popular sports today that is similar to E-sports. Most competitions have qualifiers from all around the world whereby the finalist are invited to arena’s to participate in a tournament style competition which creates a spectacle for both those playing and watching (something that I believe is key to sports today, all sports must have a “play” and “spectacle” element). When games commence, extreme mental skill and timing is key to E-sports, with knowledge of the map, enemy traits, enemy position, opponents strengths/ weaknesses and lots of other strategies needed to even have a chance of competing (and of course, as with all sports, a bit of luck).

In this ever changing environment that we surround ourselves in, I believe it is becoming more and more evident that E-sports is joining the flexible world of “sport”. The accessibility of E-sports allows more and more people to be involved and gain interest within E-sports and as some would argue, it could be classed as a sport simply because it is now being seen on popular sports channels social media such as sky sports. (Again showing how the power of the media can shift societies attitudes…)

 

Bibliography

Mr Warwood’s opinion on E-sports- http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zygq2hv#zgqsyrd

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Are Universities mollycoddling students? An alternative to mass media’s interpretation of increasing first class degrees.

The press association surveys suggested that it is now more common for students to achieve a first class degree than it is to achieve a second class lower (2.2)

Teddy for uni 1st class

The BBC has decided to use to words of Nick Hillman- the head of the higher education policy institute to give a weighted, and in my opinion insulting, judgement as to why students are now achieving the best results at such a higher percentage than in previous years.

Mr Hillman suggests that the fact that universities can now award their own levels of degree grades means they are likely to give “as many firsts as they like” in order to make their university have a positive image and be higher on the university ladder and as a result have a higher chance of getting more funding.

Whilst this is logical to some extent, there are certainly more rational reasons to suggest this increase. Political and social changes have meant that it is now costing students around £9,250 (as of 2017) for higher education. Comparing the results of first class degrees in 1994 (seen below), it wouldn’t be wrong to argue that there could be a link between tuition fees being introduced in 1998 and escalating at a phenomenal rate in 19 years, and a number of 1st class degrees that have been on the rise since.  With the amount of stress and also the current job market situation, it means that unless you are aiming for a first and 2:1 it makes some students believe there is almost no point in getting a degree. This is even more apparent when looking for work, it’s clear that businesses are only interested in students who achieve marks at the high end of the spectrum. As a result, only those that believe they will achieve the top grades are more likely to go to university. Compared to 1994, this wouldn’t be the case, those that were unlikely to achieve would still consider university because of the opportunity of getting a degree as well as the lack of a backlash in monetary cost. (And also the maintenance grant which was basically free money for going to into higher education….imagine….a world where you basically get paid to go to university!)

The fact that the BBC has decided to take this stance and express this viewpoint is quite demeaning for students who do achieve high marks. The effort and sleepless nights making sure their dissertation is the best it could be is tarnished by the mass media claiming we are “give(n)” these degrees and not achieving them through merit and hard work. It is this type of attitude which keeps the idea of students being stereotypically seen as lazy and not having to work hard in society but instead goes into university for 8 hours per week and in the meantime, live off the taxpayer’s money. This perspective also brings up the idea of a university being a product which we pay for. If we pay this absurd money, then the university is going to be more lenient and gives us better grades, once again another institution that gives hints towards consumerism.

Another argument I would like to point out is the policies introduced regarding our age before leaving education. With age being lifted to 18, it gives young people more incentive and knowledge before going into higher education and those that necessarily didn’t want to go to university at 16 may see the benefits of such opportunity and takes the plunge into debt. As a result, more students are more likely to be ready and prepared for university life because of the increase of our leaving age from education.

1st class degree graph
Source: BBC

When I did some research into this, the number of students applying for university according to UCAS is actually decreasing. Compared to last year there has been a 5% decrease which also brings some interesting thoughts to this topic. Despite the lowering number of applications, there has been a phenomenal increase in 1st class degrees, which put two and two together, suggests that as mentioned above, only students who believe they are more capable of achieving higher grades will attend university because of the risk and debt that will face all students. Therefore it may not be the idea that students are being gifted these degrees as first mentioned in this post.

When looking at the HESA graph that was published in a BBC article last week (seen below), it does show a steady increase from 1994 to 2010- a rise of 7%. But from 2010 (when tuition fees trebled from £3K per year to £9K per year) the percentage of increase was 10%. These last seven years then have contributed to 60% of the overall increase over the past 23 years. Again, the dedication and risk that students must take and ultimately achieve are more than likely going to affect degree results and the level of applications more than just universities dishing out firsts class degrees.

Once again it seems that the mass media are trying to make darkness and what should be a light situation, especially because of the darkness university has been brought under thanks to all three of the main political parties. It isn’t simply a case of students feeling like now more than even they need to perform and those that feel they can’t won’t apply, but instead our higher education giving out basically false firsts in order for them to get a little higher on the university ladder, which I believe is hard to believe regardless. If every university is doing this then it will do nothing for their status. This is because those around them are dishing the firsts just as much as you are, meaning that both the university and the students will be affected negatively because of the value of the degree becoming useless as a result.

 

 

 

Why the excessive highlighting of health problems aren’t enough to eliminate cigarettes: A sociological look into cigarette’s part 2

Before looking at this post, I strongly recommend reading part 1 of this piece of writing. Not just because of the cliché point of the two being linked, but also because it is a much more detailed and explanatory piece of writing compared to what you’re about to see here. This part will continue on the structure of class and it determines who is more likely to smoke and the reasons for it. As mentioned in part one, people are not stupid and are clearly aware of the health implications smoking can cause, but because of our fondness to having habits and also being part of a social group (such as a group of teenagers rebelling against parent control) which can even encourage smokers further toward the spiral of nicotine addiction. At the end of this piece, there will also be an argument as to how the newest in smoking fashion, known as E-cigs, are pretty much in social terms, the same as cigarettes in terms of how they are represented in society.

However, before we look into the idea of class structure, it must be pointed out that other structures and factors such as ethnicity, gender and age can also be looked at in the same perspective of class. It is these factors which health experts seek to gain knowledge of and use as a marker for how bad cigarettes are for you when taking in different characteristics and contexts. It is precisely this reason why sociology can help to play a part in this issue. Sociology can research these different groups and determine, based on social theories and research, why different groups may choose to smoke in different numbers and frequencies. When the answer to this question is answered, health experts can then use that information to determine how lifestyles and contexts become a catalyst for how much someone smokes. And then (if all goes to plan), health experts can target all the specific groups in their own way through advertising through smoke-free campaigns in order to appeal to the smokers in a unique and collective manner which makes those social groups aware of the dangers of smoking. Or alternatively, to try and change the lifestyles and social group’s characteristics whereby smoking is not a common stress reliever and attempt to taboo the act of smoking similar to chewing Tabaco.

When looking at class more specifically, qualitative research conducted on working class smokers typically used the reasons of stress from work and childcare, the boredom and mundane feelings as a result of long term unemployment, a lack of assets and material goods for pleasure being factors that contribute to levels of smoking, which makes smoking in working class communities a normal everyday act of self-pleasure. When looking at society as a whole then, could it be argued that the decreasing working class communities (which is arguably the case in the UK currently) are just one factor as to why the levels of smokers overall have also decreased in the UK? Possibly. But this research also supports the idea of the importance of sociology. By finding out the “why” of the act of smoking in working class communities, it then allows prevention mechanisms and policies to take place to prevent smoking in the future. One prevention could be to try and make messages of the dangers of smoking more situated within working class environments.

Not only do working class communities use smoking as a self-pleasured act in order to get through the day, it is also used as a form of currency. Since the normal form of currency of money is much more limited compared to other classes, cigarettes are just one example of currency the working class can use in exchange for personal loan debts and also as forms of gifts. This use of cigarettes encourages smoking cigarettes as it is a good substitute and in some cases can have a higher value of worth compared to actual money, cutting out the middle man of actually buying the cigarettes in a shop for example. Therefore in order to reduce the numbers of smokers, another battle could be making cigarettes less valuable to working class communities and making sure money is the clear form of currency in all communities, but as you’ve probably thought, if money was the clearest form of currency in the first place and was more accessible, than cigarettes wouldn’t have such an influence. This I agree.

When looking at smoking advertisements in mainstream media, it gives the impression of smoking for working class people being a stereotype. The idea that smoking is for the uneducated and the insensitive, for example, smoking in front of children or when pregnant, ties in nicely with other characteristics that are labelled within working class communities such as being “on the dole” and being a teenage mother. All these labels make it even more difficult for working class areas to decrease levels of smoking, not because they are stupid, but because no one is going to tell them any different because it is to be expected and is part of the stereotype. For example, a “7 steps out” poster found on the internet (which won’t be posted on here due to Copyright) is located in what looks like a working class neighbourhood with a green car that certainly isn’t part of the 2017 car range. These small notices make it seem like the smoking problem is part of an identity of being working class and a problem for the working class as a result.

But it’s not just working class people that smoke. Those that are considered middle class who smoke are regularly hiding and keeping their addiction a secret since it isn’t part of what is now considered a middle-class trait. Being spotted in the act is more than likely going to produce a master label where they will then be identified as a “smoker” with links towards insensitivity and a lack of education, simply because it isn’t expected of typical middle class

PUB pic no ecigs
Recently spotted in a local pub, similar treatment to cigarettes.

But then I thought to myself, well what about the newest phenomena that have hit the streets over the past 2 years? E-cigs are arguably the 21st-century cigarettes. With being both healthier for yourself and for others around you as well as all the extravagant flavours available, some of which even I agree does have a certain smell of strawberry or sweetness about them, is it possible that these are going to be accepted, unlike cigarettes? In short, No. Smoking E-cigs are still just as stigmatised and labelled as a working class act just as much as cigarettes. The best example of this is the fact that all shops and restaurants and businesses are very unlikely going to allow them within their vicinity. Despite it not being in breach of the smoke-free legislation act 2007, it still connotes insensitivity and is more than likely going to be taken unpleasantly by customers. By doing this it means that smoking E-cigs must be done outside or within a smoking area, whereby you might as well smoke a regular cigarette. By not doing so is more than likely going to marginalise the smoker even further than usual because you aren’t smoking a traditional cigarette. These policies by businesses, as a result, give it a familiarity to smoking cigarettes and will, therefore, have the same negative social impact. As well as this the actual e-cig itself carries the same conventions of that of cigarette smoking. The technique, the shape, the smoke itself, as well as the end result of self-pleasure and feeding a nicotine addiction allows society to be able to label it the same as cigarettes and thus gives it the same taboo.

When looking at cigarettes as a whole, the decrease of cigarettes in the main has come from health warnings and advancements in technology. But despite this, the number has still not decreased to zero. As well as this the age demographic of smokers should be based on older people where smoking was frowned upon as much less than today, but as we all know this isn’t the case. The idea of social factors such as socioeconomic discussed in this blog, allows sociology to attempt to answer the gaps in smokers that scientists and smoke campaigns have failed to. By looking at sociological viewpoints, it can not only give an insight into why certain groups smoke but as a result of this perhaps gives an opportunity for social scientists,  anti-smoking campaigns and physiological scientists (biology and physiology) to work together to extinguish smoking once and for all.

Why the excessive highlighting of health problems aren’t enough to eliminate cigarettes: A sociological look into cigarette’s part 1

Throughout the 19th and early 20th century, cigarette smoking was a cheap and quick luxury that combated the stress of everyday life. The idea that it was in fact a very dangerous substance containing an addictive substance of nicotine and tar that could serious to serious health problems was not an issue back in those days. However, thanks to advancements in technology and medicine we now know the dangers and life threatening illnesses that may lead from it. Due to this there has been (as expected) a huge decline in the number of smokers which is still going down today. The dangers of smoking and policies brought in by government (such as the smoking in work spaces in 2007 and laws which highlight the dangers of smoking, such as TV and film advertisements and health warnings on packaging) have played a massive role in this decline. However, the social impacts of smoking and the stigma that is now attached to this act as a result have not been highlighted into society, this could be the killer blow in stopping smoking altogether similar to chewing Tabaco, in which Houston (1986) points out that Tabaco became socially unacceptable as a result of spitting being considered as “uncouth”.  As a result, smoking is likely to have the same manner, especially because of the high levels of butts that are littered around every street you walk on!

As mentioned before, Smoking is a simple and easy substance that is addictive and has symbolic meanings which has enhanced its popularity more so than Tobacco. This symbolic meaning can vary depending on the context and the situation. Teenagers smoking in order to show their independence against their parents, similar to getting a tattoo, is an example of such symbolism. But yet in another context, smoking can be seen as a “capper” to a great evening, a way to top of a great evening such as a meal or as seen in many television shows and films, smoking cigarettes after having sex. The symbolic meaning in these acts however, come from smoking with other people in the room, giving a symbol of pleasure or agreement to others without actually saying it. It is examples like these that have given cigarettes a much higher profile than other forms of smoking.

images of cig for article

So why is the discipline of sociology looking at cigarettes important today?

Despite the huge decline in cigarette smokers over the decades (from 51% in 1974 to 17% in 2016 according to the NOS), there is arguably still more that can be done in order to reduce numbers further as well as being able to explain why the percentage of smokers is the number it is. As well as this, sociology can also attempt to explain how the numbers have decreased from looking at how society’s attitudes towards cigarettes has shifted over the decades. In other words, we need to understand the social consequences smoking cigarettes has as well as the physiological dangers that are so heavily emphasized within smoke free campaigns and policies which try to highlight these. “Here, the case is advanced that social scientists, equipped with the theoretical and methodological resources to understand the social context and distribution of smoking are ideally placed to help advance a public health agenda.” (Marron, 2016, P1-2).

When taking a look at smoking cigarettes from this angle, it opens a new perspective on smoking that is hidden behind the physiological dangers that are implemented when any talk about cigs are mentioned in a negative way.

When having a look at how cigs got to where they are today, the First World War and world of modernity and eventually post modernity seen today played a heavy part. The fast paced and often hectic world that people live in today as well as over a decade ago, made cigarettes a vital and almost routine way of “relaxing” during the rush of the last two centuries. The anxiety and morale of soldiers during the Great War was actually highly weighed upon cigarettes which were used to prevent hunger and to escape the horrors that occurred during that time, if only briefly. This use of cigarettes are used similarly today (although nowhere near on the scale of the Great War), such as trying to fit in to a new group or social situation which can cause anxiety. These types of uses for cigarettes were very much a way of escapism and self-control instead of a luxury which was its sole purpose when being brought into production. Although these acts of using cigarettes as a coping mechanism are still seen today, it is not as well regarded as a way of coping with troubles as it was in the past. This is especially the case when comparing social class. Working class are “stereotypically” (I use this heavily!) more prone to smoking than other higher classes due to their lack of education and mentality of just getting through the day after being exploited through the capitalist system. And by smoking cigarettes this is again a coping mechanism of this, not only to destress, but to also knock off a couple of minutes in the day and to make the day go that bit quicker. It is these actions and exploitation of the working class that I believe Marron is talking about when he mentions the following. “Habit exists as a property of relationships, contexts and things rather than individuals” (Marron, 2016, P6). By this he means that the way in which society has shaped our life, it has basically led us to a path that means smoking at some point is of a much higher chance because of the social situation you’re in. For example, being in a dead end job with no future in sight means that you’re more likely to smoke as it gives you something to look forward to whilst at work and makes you just about bare work without going insane or going on an all-out revolution to overthrow the capitalist society in which we find ourselves arguably being massively exploited. (Bit over the top I admit, but it gives you an insight into my ideology I suppose!).

When looking further at cigarettes from a sociological point of view it does have similar characteristics to that of Becker’s work in marijuana use. Becker argued that the act of smoking marijuana had to be learned in order to enjoy effects. He argued that there were three key stages in order to “become” a user. First, smoking it in a way that will produce real effects, learning to recognise the effects and connect with those effects and lastly learning to enjoy those effects that have been recognised. This is similar to cigarettes and other forms of smoking, especially when those that are trying it for the first time, end up having a coughing fit as they don’t know how to enjoy or use the cigarette properly yet.

However, expanding on this point, when a smoker then knows how to embrace smoking and applies the three steps that Becker has mentioned, they are able to enjoy and use it regularly and become a member of being a “smoker” which involves smoking becoming the idea that Marron sees as a habit. The habit of smoking becomes a semi-conscious act where they smoke like it is “second nature” to them. Similar to Garfinkel (1967) in his idea of membership and competence, they now identify themselves as being a part of something (in this case a smoker) because they have learnt and enabled the act to be successfully done without having to concentrate fully on that task. An example of Garfinkel’s idea was that of learning to drive. When you drive and see yourself as a “driver”, you can recall every action you do without focusing on it. Marron describes it quite well and can be applied to driving and smoking “Embedded in daily routine, the habit may be unquestioned; yet this does not mean that individuals are unthinking. On the contrary, individuals can be called upon to give a conscious account of what they are doing” (Marron, 2016, P7). When applying it to smoking, without even thinking, they can light a cigarette and smoke it without having to think about how they correctly perform the task, in other words, similar to driving, they just do it.

So what does this have to do with stopping people to smoke? Well, by seeing cigs in this perspective it gives us an idea into how easy and quick the act of smoking is and that in order to stop people smoking in the future, it may be wise at looking at ways to break the cycle. People aren’t stupid, they obviously know that smoking is bad for your health but they do it anyway, why? Because it is an addictive (physiological) substance as well as a social habit, for example, having one before work or after a meal. How can breaking the cycle be done, I’m not entirely sure. But seeing it from this direction gives us a starting point in potentially reducing the numbers further.

I hope to release part 2 by next week so I’m looking forward to sharing that with you. It will look at class and cigarettes further and also a brief look into how e-cigs, may not be any different to normal cigs in a social perspective.

 

Bibliography

Houston. C (1986) The sociology of cigarette smoking. Houston, C. (1986). CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal = Journal De L’Association Medicale Canadienne, 134(8), 878-9.

Marron. D (2016). “Smoke gets in your eyes: What is sociological about cigarettes?” Sociological review. SAGE publications. file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/1467-954x%252E12404%20(1).pdf (Date accessed 8th July 2017)

Please have a read of both of these articles especially Marron’s which gives a much more deatield piece of writing into the Triad of smoking, the historical, structural and individual aspects of cigarette smoking in society.

 

 

BTCC (The BOYS touring car championships): The lack of women racers in the pinnacle of motorsport.

Just short of a month ago, I went on a day out to my local racing circuit (Oulton Park) to watch the British touring car championship’s (BTCC). Whilst listening to the beautiful sounds of these machines ranging from Alfa Romeo to Volvo, I decided to look in my programme and have a look at all of the drivers and their profiles that were racing on that day. However, I quickly noticed that when I got to the end of the programme, not a single women was representing a team in this prestigious event. Upon further investigation, involving flicking through a few more pages with more attention, all the racing events that were taking part in the day’s proceedings were dominated by men. It was then I thought to myself “Hold on… Why can’t I think of a single Women that has raced in a top Motorsport event?”.

During the week of Women’s sports week, I decided that the issue of the lack of Women in motorsport should be raised. The first part of my research on the matter was a quick google search regarding the world’s biggest racing competitions in Europe to see how one sided the gender gap is in motorsport.

It turns out that no women have competed in Formula 1, MotoGP and the BTCC in 2017 so far. Only 1 Women has competed in this year’s Le Mans series and only 3 women are currently racing in the WRC this year. To put some perspective on this, that’s 289 drivers (not including replacement drivers- who were all men) in total. This equates to 1.38% of drivers being women.

However, despite this shocking figure, Women are most certainly a fundamental part of any racing weekend. Paddock girls are very often seen before a race, wearing leather tight outfits and looking extravagant whereby they are doing nothing but provoking the concept of the male gaze. This idea of the male gaze (presenting women as objects for men), does not only try to cement a place for women in motorsport, but tries to prohibit women in motorsport who do try to achieve a successful career in the sport. This idea of the male gaze in motorsport is supported by another quick Google search of “Famous women racers”. Without even having to go further than the first page of Google’s search engine, the article titles of “top 10 hottest female race car drivers around the world” followed by “top 15 sexiest women in racing” are presented within the first 15 results. Therefore, it could be argued that women’s status of being a racing drivers are simply second place to the pole position of the master status of fitting into the category of being a part of the “Male gaze”. Simply put, a women’s physical features are taken with more interest than her motorsport ability.

But some argue that the lack of women in Motorsport is due to a biological reason instead of a social one that prevents women from having the same competitive drive and encouragement as men. Bernie Ecclestone is one of those people who encourages this. When interviewed on the matter, he clearly expressed a biological restriction mentioning how women would not be taken seriously and that they are “not physically” able to race a Formula one car. Although Bernie clearly ignored the fact that some women have won championships in motorsport before such as Jutta Kleinschmidt winning the WRC in 2001.

The idea that society plays a role in women’s lack of success in the pinnacle of motorsport is for me, a much more legitimate reason. The idea of the male gaze being a prevention for women is one reason, but another is linked to society as a whole, hegemonic masculinity.

Open wheel car
Supporting races at Oulton park, yet the female presence remains at the paddock.

When looking at sport and the values it presents, it is argued by academics and thinkers internationally, that sport reflects the ideology of society at that time. With sport being more and more equal compared to previous years, including motorsport, it has been a result of shifting attitudes towards gender roles. However, due to the fact that motorsport is mainly a sport which involves those from a middle class or even higher socio economic due to the financial commitment and investment that is required to compete at high levels. It could be argued that these classes are still able to implement the ideology of these gender differences in motorsport.

Now this of course is just my opinion on the matter but I believe that motorsport is arguably the most equal sport in terms of gender (where endurance and mental strength is more important than physical strength but the reason why I believe this will be explained later). The fact that there still a huge gap in the ratio of men and women competing in the pinnacle of motorsport (despite it arguably being a sport where gender isn’t an advantage or disadvantage), illustrates that society could be a reason for the prevention of a F1 champion being female.

Shredded wheat car
Just one of the many cars driven at Oulton Park, surprisingly the driver is male…

But then begs the question, is there a solution?

Promotion of Women competing in motorsport could be a key factor in trying to encourage more women that motorsport is not only a sport that women can do but is also a sport unlike any other. By this I refer to what was mentioned before regarding it being a more equal sport than most. When you enter a vehicle, your biological state is irrelevant. Sex, gender, height, age and weight (okay maybe weight is one slight factor….) will not affect your ability to drive that car any faster than any other person with a different biological state, the mental ability and your reactions are far more fundamental in being successful. If women and also men are reminded of this, then perhaps women will be encouraged by their friends, family and in a bigger picture society. The promotion of women racing has already had some effect, despite it not being world changing currently. The women’s only BWRDC (British women racers driving club) is a sporting club made for women only to give women a helping hand in the sport and for women to believe they can race just as fast as men. Initially it is a fantastic idea into getting women into the sport but once they are confident enough, I believe that they should compete in normal events in order to race with men too and to challenge the status quo.

In terms of encouraging women and moving women away from the idea of them not being “taken seriously” as Mr Ecclestone claims, the idea to promote women in motorsport in a more masculine and competitive manner should be noted. Between 2004 and 2007, ITV began showing coverage of a women’s only racing event known as Formula women. Now on first thought, you would think that it’s a good idea and in fact if you turned on ITV without knowing the programme, you’d expect that the gender wouldn’t even be mentioned or known because of helmets and racing outfits (and in some cases, they may even be mistaken for men). But in order to capture that feminine side of women’s racing (that is arguably pressurised by the media and society), the sport was showcased like a reality TV show. This took the seriousness and competitive edge out of the sport completely and ultimately made the racing second priority and the “gossip” and “bitchyness” take a front row lock out like in most reality TV of today.

In order for women to really become a foundation within motorsport racing as actual racers instead of “eye candy” for men in terms or paddock girls, the attitude and encouragement towards women racing needs to be changed drastically. When looking at women professional racers comments on the matter, they all mention the same thing which I believe needs to be implemented in all motor racing. The second you put on the helmet, it isn’t a women against a man. It’s you versus the rest of the drivers of the grid, and you should want to be beat every single last one of them, gender should not be factor.

 

“Stopping students cheating: Mission impossible?” Not if sociology has anything to say about it! A review of Paul Greatrix’s article.

Please read Paul Greatrix’s article on the issue before reading this review.

http://wonkhe.com/blogs/stopping-students-cheating-mission-impossible/?utm_term=examines&utm_content=buffer2049e&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Without even looking at the article it is clear that students feel pressures from peers and family in order to achieve in any way possible as well as pressure from themselves. Society’s opinions on education is highly focused on the binary opposition of passing or failing. When you pass it is then categorised EG A,B,C ETC. These categories in themselves create other binary oppositions of good and bad based on individual’s perception and experience of what grades are good and bad. Society puts pressure on students which therefore feel like passing an assignment is fundamental to their future and with being the case they are easily going to be more likely to cheat. The article mentions how students will go to such lengths such as a “James bond style gadget” to cheat. They feel that it is that important this it should be stolen similar to that of a robber taking jewellery.

The growing pressures of education, such as not being able to leave education till you’re 18, the fact that a master’s degree now is the equivalent of a bachelor degree in the 70’s and the fact that there is now a record of students in further education means the competition for jobs and even work experience is at an all-time high. This sadly will have a link towards higher levels of cheating because of the pressures of society’s expectations given by individuals and societies lack of opportunities.

Even in other cultures such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the students are also feeling the stress. When scrolling through my snapchat I saw images and videos of students before finals, stressing and panicking as usual. But a few snapchat images I encountered even showed pictures of the students blatantly cheating. For example, one student wrote mathematical equations all over their thigh whilst wearing shorts to hide the equations when in the exam. Regardless if this was a joke or not (I couldn’t really tell) the implying nature of cheating was there,showing that the exam cheating situation is experienced in vast amounts of societies. (Unfortunately the snapchat story has vanished otherwise I would have shown a picture to demonstrate)

My opinion of trying to tackle this “mission impossible” isn’t simply changing the forms of assessment but instead reducing the stigmas and pressures that taking exams and assignments have. How this can be done remains to be seen, but if the attitudes towards assessments in education were toned down to a certain level (of which I don’t know) then students would not feel the need to cheat, but instead focus on just giving their all. The idea that assessments are “the be all and end all” is not a new concept for students, the pressures that are shown to them only encourages student to go to either focus heavily on learning the material, or cheating which in my experience is actually easy to do, should you wise to pursue that. One experience I’m sure all students have is people (potentially fellow students) who stand outside university buildings and hand out leaflets saying how they can pay £50 for a first class essay to written. Even the most dedicated students will have looked back at that and thought “a guaranteed first without the stress of others and myself, sweet!” (Disclaimer: I wouldn’t dream of cheating). Even more so, the fact that technology has advanced has only tempted students further by using their phones, wearing earphones and listening to a recording of someone saying out loud the textbook chapters, these are just a few examples.

My whole opinion on the matter is simple. If students want to cheat they will. Therefore the only way to tackle this “mission impossible”  is not to monitor and restrict student’s chances to cheat. But instead, create an environment where they believe that assignments aren’t a “be all and end all” and therefore making students feel like they don’t want to cheat as a result.

A lower the level of seriousness towards assignments may result in lower chances of a students feeling forced to do anything possible to not be on the wrong side of the binary opposition of good vs bad grade or pass vs fail. The fact that now more people than ever have a degree of some sort and are unable to find a job in their preferred industry shows that to me that education shouldn’t be everything for students, work experience for example is fundamental in contemporary society too. But still the pressures that students are given are higher today than ever when in theory,  the pressures should be going down and focused on other opportunities to gain work.

The link to the article is below

http://wonkhe.com/blogs/stopping-students-cheating-mission-impossible/?utm_term=examines&utm_content=buffer2049e&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer