Creating and Implementing an Equity Strategy

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“Sports equality is about fairness in sport, equality of access, recognising inequalities and taking steps to address them. It is about changing the culture and structure of sport to ensure that it becomes equally accessible to everyone in society.” (Active Lancashire, 2018). Equity in sport and physical activity is of high demand in our current society and in sporting culture. Barriers and enablers that different people possess are the main factors that affect the equity of different sports and different levels within those sports. Barriers and enablers can fall within the category of social, cultural or personal factors. During a lunchtime AFL game, the equity strategy of girls who align with the social construction of gender thinking the game is too rough, was implemented to decrease the barrier identified and enhance the participation of female grade 12 students, by providing equal access to all possible participants was proven to be an unsuccessful strategy. Discussion topics of this essay will include, the devising of an equity strategy and a justification of why it is likely to be effective, which will lead into an evaluation and analysis of the strategy’s actual effectiveness and finally a justification of the maintenance and modification of the strategy.

Devising An Equity Strategy

An equity issue identified I class is that girls who align to the social construction of gender are unlikely to want to participate in the game if they think it’s too rough. The social construction of gender acts as a barrier to most girls who align with it as it is limiting their motivation to participate. A female icon who contests the social construction of gender is Serena Williams. Displayed on many media outlets is the treatment she received from journal writers and from the general public, where they have labelled her muscular physique ‘manly’ (Hede, Russell, Weatherby, & Williams, 2018). These media outlets are the main platform where young females learn about the social construction of gender. When they are taught this, it can make them feel pressured by society to align with it. Therefore, it can affect aspects of their life including their participation in sport. In 2018, Hede, Russell, Weatherby, & Williams (2018) wrote that “gender tends to be a barrier to participating in a physical activity where there is a misalignment between a person’s gender, gender expression and the stereotypes surrounding their chosen activities.” This displays how the alignment to the social construction of gender can affect the involvement of females from grade 12 in the lunchtime AFL game. During a class AFL game, I did not feel as if tackle AFL was barrier to my participation and I did not feel scared when playing the boys like some females do. As I felt confident playing, my attitude of the game was affected in a positive way as it was fun and aggressive. My attitudes and beliefs then became an enabler to my participation as I felt motivated to play as I do not align with the social construction of gender. However, during one of the final games in class I jumped into a tackle for the ball with a boy who is almost double my size and he landed on me as I did not get to the ball and I felt his weight on top of me. This then made me feel uncomfortable at the time being as aggressive and going into tackles and shifted my attitudes towards tackle AFL and made me feel unmotivated to play at the time. This was an eye opener to me as to why females who align with the social construction of gender feel a barrier to participation in masculine sports. Therefore, having that personal experience made me understand the way most females in society feel. As such, when the class was creating an equity strategy it was assumed that females at Cavindish Road State High School (Cav) did share the same views as majority of society, we implemented at strategy to make females at Cav feel more motivation to participate in the lunchtime AFL game. When advertising the game, it was advertised as a “two hand touch” game. The strategy was used so the equity issue for majority of females was eliminated so that they can still align with the social construction of gender while playing the game as they are not required to demonstrate masculine qualities of strength and aggression. In 2019, Andrea Paloian stated that “women who play AFL require a more masculine build with bulky muscles and an aggressive attitude, so they are capable of playing to the highest of their abilities. As such, this masculine requirement acts as a barrier and it discourages females to participate in the sport.” When the game was advertised as two-handed touch, the girls will feel comfortable playing as the game does not contest the social construction of gender, an enabler is created and will boost female engagement.

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Analysis Of Results

When the AFL game was held at lunchtime for the grade 12’s, the equity strategy surrounding the lack of participation from girls who align with the social construction of gender thinking it’s too rough was applied to increase involvement by providing equal access to all possible participants. However, this strategy proved to be unsuccessful as the survey results showed that didn’t just fail to increase participation, it decreased participation. These survey results showed that the strategy implemented was not effective as only 20% (as seen in appendix 3) of the participating girls said they played because it was non-contact. As seen in appendix 1, 15 girls were surveyed in the participants category which means that 20% is only three people. Therefore, this strategy only made the AFL game more equitable for 3 girls who align with the social construction of gender. As only 20% of girls said they played as a result of the game being non-contact, it is evident that 80% of the girls would still have played regardless of it being contact or not. Consequently, a clear outcome is that our equity strategy was not solving any issues. Another piece of supporting evidence of the strategy not working is that 20% of the non-participating females (as seen in appendix 6) identified their reason for lack of participation was that the game was non-contact and they felt that non-contact was not as fun. This can be identified as a change in societies views on female participation in aggressive sports (Mitchell, 2019). When the devising the equity strategy the aim was to increase participation, however, as seen in appendix 7, 50% of the non-participating males identified their reason for not participation was that the game was non-contact. Therefor this equity strategy not only failed at increasing female participation, it decreased male participation. as this equity strategy failed the survey results were looked at in attempt to find the leading reason for non-participation over all. As seen in appendix 7, it was identified to be a tie between the game being non-contact and the students having no previous experience. As the equity strategy for female participation was a complete failure, it is evident that it needs maintenance. As social boundaries may have appeared to dissuade females from participating in sports with a masculine appearance, they now appear as though they are becoming more popular among young female athletes and the women are starting to change the way the social construction of gender affects their engagement in masculine sports (Paloian, 2019). As this change in the way females participate in sport becomes evident in society, it shows reasoning as to why our equity strategy was not effective having only 20% of the girls who played say they played because it was non-contact.


Considering that the equity strategy was unsuccessful, and masculine sports are becoming more popular to young females, it can be inferred that the low success rate of our equity strategy can be justified by the fact that females at Cav do not tend to align with the social construction of gender in relation to sport. This directly corelates to how society is adjusting to females in sport. The traditional views of masculinity and femineity being complete opposite concepts, caused people to distinctly identify as masculine or feminine, with no in-between. However, as the decades passed the attitudes and beliefs of people in society changed, resulting in a change in the way society views how people can identify. Instead of viewing masculinity and femineity as two separate concepts, it is now viewed on a spectrum, “such that an individual, regardless of his or her gender, can exhibit varying degrees of both gender categories” (Paloian, 2019). The outcome of this is that the view point adapted into society permits female athletes to “retain their femininity even if they are ‘masculinized’ by participation in competitive sports” (Alley, 2005). As such, the implications of the equity strategy show that these findings assist the assumption that the girls at Cav feel confident being masculinized in sport while still feeling feminine. This is the main reason our strategy failed to increase female participation. As this strategy was ineffective, there were limitations present. A strong limitation that is evident at the end of this investigation was that the survey results of the non-participating females showed that a select group of girls did not want to participate because of our equity strategy we put in place. This shows how these females do not align with the social construction of gender. Another limitation is the tieing for the leading reason of participation was that the game was non-contact. As a result of this failure, modification of the equity strategy would be necessary to increase the female participation. A modification that would increase female participation is to advertise the game as tackle AFL but for safety purposes have females only tackle females and males only tackle males. This would minimise the equity issue as the majority of females feel comfortable playing tackle AFL, however they are not motivated to play if it is not tackle. This is evident because the “differences in muscle mass, innate strength, testosterone levels and socially constructed gender differences” (Mitchell, 2019) cause females a significant disadvantage when competing against males.

Physical Performance

The quality of movement of a person is tied to how the body moves. This concept relates to a variety of qualities demonstrated in a sporting performance. In my AFL performance I possess the ability to apply these concepts when performing a selection of different skills or movement sequence. In the video, it is evident that I demonstrate speed and force when I am stopping forwards from marking the ball and scoring by hitting the ball away, tackling (two-hand touch), hand balling, handling the ball and kicking. I also apply the concept of body awareness to my performance at a proficient level, as I am aware of the way I use my arms to balance myself when changing directions and kicking. These concepts are especially important in when pressuring the ball carrier to try to regain possession, delaying the attack while my teammates move towards the goal and organise the defence and defending away from the ball by positioning to cover vital spaces.

A frequent outcome of my performances was success when applying pressure to the ball carrier this meant that when I tackled (two hand touch) the opposition, I then applied pressure to the ball carrier and they would often either drop the ball or have an inaccurate hand ball or kick, which resulted in myself or one of my teammates regaining possession of the ball. When the ball is in play and is about to be kicked, I effectively defend away from the ball by positioning to cover vital spaces and players with speed. As when the opposition attempts to lead into space to mark the ball, I effectively use my speed to follow them, so the ball isn’t played to them. Another requirement of successful players that I met was using my balance to change direction quickly while delaying the attack so my team can set up in their positions by using.

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