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In modern societies, boys and young men continue to outnumber girls and young women involved in sports competition, but the gender gap has narrowed considerably.
Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work!Depending on the values of the socializing agents, sports can encourage young people to play fairly or to cheat.The evidence suggests that the propensity to cheat increases with age and the level of competition.Pregame “butterflies in the stomach” are as familiar to an athlete as stage fright is to an actor.Other feelings occur during and after the performance.The effects of sports socialization, however, are not always what the socializers expect. From the mid-19th to the early 21st century, sports were alleged to train young athletes in self-discipline, teamwork, leadership, and other highly prized traits and behaviours.Empirical research has shown that involvement in sports can also inculcate a socially destructive desire to win at all costs.They develop a reflexive conception of the self and its position in relation to others, and they learn to see themselves as others see them.Through socialization with “significant others” and with the “generalized other,” children develop their sense of identity and self. In most premodern societies, boys were encouraged by their families to compete in sports, which were presumed to prepare them for their adult roles as warriors and workers, while girls were encouraged to continue to play noncompetitive games that prepared them for motherhood.In these phases a person’s sense of self, social identity, and relationships with others are shaped.contests, and sports have crucial and quite specific roles in the general socialization process.The sense of self is not natural; it develops through childhood socialization as a result of role-playing.