Analyzing the accuracy of sports stereotypes


Molly Boufford

Freshman Maggie Vickers being lifted in a cheer stunt by her teammates, junior Jackson Bogus, sophomore Isabella Zalewski and freshman Olivia Guarino.

Various sports have different stereotypes that go along with them, and although some are based in reality, others can be completely false. Some of these stereotypes can be traced back to specific causes while others have been spread by word of mouth. False impressions of athletes based on stereotypes, whether beneficial or detrimental, can affect an athlete’s reputation at any age.

To explore the reality of various sports stereotypes at large, DOI used online research and interviews of LHS athletes and coaches to reach conclusions on the validity of these stereotypes.  


Canadians are the best at hockey.  

Canadians actually do make up the majority of NHL players based on their nationalities, but 2015 was the first time in history that the percentage of Canadians dropped below 50 percent, according to Thus, there is some truth to this stereotype. While this is not overly prevalent at LHS, there is one Canadian on the Icecats hockey team: Eric Iannuzzi, a student at VHHS.


All divers are also gymnasts because it’s basically the same thing.      

While three of the team’s four divers at LHS are participating in gymnastics, this does not mean it is the same thing. Diving did help freshman Olivia Bertaud with her full on the floor, but she explained that when she dives, it hurts more when you land and you cannot create as much power because of the shortened distance divers have between the board and water. She also mentioned that the three divers started with gymnastics and then engaged in diving.

Tennis players and golfers are rich.

Tennis players and golfers  do not have to be rich in order to play the sport, but the price of continually having private and/or group lessons is expensive. According to Oxford Reference, high-class members of society often prefer individual, more expensive sports, like tennis and golf, while middle or low-class members sometimes select sports that require teams, like basketball. Varsity tennis player Maddy Jacobs said that, “while it isn’t all encompassing, there is definitely truth behind the stereotype of affluence being associated with tennis” because of the cost of clubs and lessons.


Bowling isn’t a sport.   

This is actually very hard to determine and ultimately, it really depends on which dictionary you use. Mr. Rob Sweno, the boys varsity bowling coach at LHS, shared via email that “While it is not a physical sport such as football or basketball, I like to think of it as a finesse sport similar to golf. One where precision, fundamentals, and repetition are required for success more than physicality.” Although bowlers do work on technique, they don’t do any sort of cardio or weightlifting exercises, so, according to Merriam Webster, which defines a sport as “a contest or game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other,” bowling is a sport. But according to Oxford Dictionary, a sport is  “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment,” it seems like bowling is not a sport.


Softball is easier than baseball.   

According to, a website filled with charts produced by a digital news publication, the average Major League Baseball pitch is about 90 mph. The average professional softball pitch is about 65 mph, according to The pitcher’s mound for baseball stands 60 feet and 6 inches away from home plate in contrast to the distance of 43 feet between the pitcher’s mound and home plate in softball. Due to the closer mound, the reaction time for the batter is similar in both softball and baseball. Softball uses a bigger ball to accommodate for the shorter reaction time, which is why some say it is easier, without taking the distance into account. Sarah Bennett, an LHS softball player, expressed the belief that “people underestimate the speed of softball and automatically think baseball is harder because it’s a man’s sport.”


Cheerleaders are always Homecoming queen.           

Many teen movies feature cheerleaders as the most popular girls in school, and many times, their personalities seem to channel an inner Regina George from “Mean Girls.” Naturally, the “queen” of these movie cliques tends to be crowned Homecoming queen, which may have been where this concept came from. Although one’s popularity is not entirely defined by whatever sport they do or do not participate in, two of the girls on the 2017 Homecoming Court were cheerleaders at some point in their high school career; one was still cheering at the time and the other was no longer a member of the team. Neither of these girls was crowned Homecoming queen.


Football players are dumb.   

In movies and TV shows, football players are often portrayed as the dumb jocks. This is not true whatsoever in real life. At LHS, athletes may not participate in a sport if they have a D in a class, which is below average. This disproves the idea that football players are dumb because if they had trouble in school, they would not be allowed to participate anyway. Plus, in the fall of 2016, the football team qualified for the IHSA Academic Achievement Award for having a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.


Poms girls are pampered.

Technically, poms girls do tend to receive more physical items, such as Pandora rings whenever they make State and gifts bags for every competition, so, in a sense, this is accurate. However, their families are paying for the gifts; they’re not just freely provided by the school.


You have to be tall to play basketball.

If you’re not tall, you can’t be a good basketball player. This was probably an assumption as a result of all of the incredibly tall professional basketball players televised and interviewed regularly. According to The Sportster, a website that covers entertainment and sports, the smallest player in the NBA is the Boston Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas, at 5’9”. The tallest, Kristaps Porzingis, plays for the New York Knicks, and stands at 7’3”. On Libertyville High School’s varsity boys basketball team, three of the players are 5’10”, the shortest height, and the tallest is Drew Peterson, at 6’8”. The varsity girls team has Gianna Whitney as its shortest player at 5’5” and the tallest is Maddie Spaulding, at 5’11”. Being tall may help players reach the basket better, but it’s not required in order to be a great basketball player. Mr. Brian Zyrkowski, the LHS varsity boys basketball coach, agrees: “Of course height and size can help, but it’s not the end-all-be-all. You can make up for height and size by how hard you work.” Zyrkowski thinks work ethic is the most important thing, not size or strength.


Water polo players are aggressive.

Granted, water polo is a physical sport and therefore the players can at times become aggressive. However, just because a person is aggressive in the pool, it doesn’t equate to them being aggressive in their daily lives. Mia Clark, the girls water polo varsity captain, had this to say: “The nature of the sport is violent but the people playing it typically aren’t. Usually how practices and games will go is in the water, girls will kill each other, but the second we leave the water, I don’t think you could find a nicer group of girls.”