QUOTE, regarding the "role strain" felt by young males who are nonathletic and have to contend with the athletic-dominated society:"The role of the nonathlete is rife with role strain. The child who is weaker and not well coordinated is chosen less and less often and begins to accept the definition of nonathlete. This development occurs throughout the early and middle grade-school years when his personality is being shaped. he experiences more and more role strain as his emerging personality does not fit the role of boy-athlete, terms which are closely linked in that age group. The men who did not play ball as children reported that the process of self definition as a nonathlete was gradual but definite. There was an initial casting of roles (athletes and nonathletes) which became more rigidly defined with each sports contest. Less skillfull boys became labelled as nonathletes by the other children.
Once labelled, these boys found it difficult to break away from the role and the cycle of the self-fulfilling prophesy began. The nonathletes reported that they were typically late to games, did not bring their sneakers, and in many cases did not ask to be 'chosen in.' [One respondent] reported that, in summer camp, part of his team actually started to beat him up in right field after he lost the game by not knowing where to throw the ball.
The nonathlete develops a negative set of attitudes towards the role of the athlete. In his view, athletes are dumb, uninteresting, and callous bullies. In this way, he distances himself from others and provides a rationale for his lack of accomplishment. However, this attempt to redefine social reality lacks the support of others, and in its absence the nonathlete continues to feel role strain. Much of this conflict is turned inward and results in self-hatred. 'The world of the boy who is always picked last in sports is very different from the world of the other boys . . . It is a terrifying subterranean netherworld, full of hatred and violence which is expressed mostly against the self.' [Quoting another writer, Pleck, J.] Pleck articulates the feelings many of our nonathletes had difficulty expressing: