Debate exists as to whether male athletes are more prone to commit acts of sexual violence and maintain problematic attitudes about sexual assault. To contribute to the literature on this relationship, this study posed the following research questions: (1) Do those students who participated in high school sports and those who did not differ significantly in their attitudes about sexual violence and willingness to intervene as a bystander? Do these differ among types of rape myths and bystander intervention situations? (2) Within a group of athletes, are there significant differences by gender or type of sport (contact sport vs. non-contact?) To answer these questions, surveys were analyzed with a sample of recent high school graduates the summer before entering college (N = 3,588). Results indicate that there were only minor differences between those students who participated in high school varsity sports and those who did not. Students who participated in sports had greater acceptance of three out of five types of rape myths, and less willingness to intervene with perpetrators after an assault; however, the effect sizes were small. There were no significant differences for bystander efficacy. The interaction between sport and gender was significant, but contact sport was not. The findings suggest that there may be aspects of male athletic participation in sports that needs to be addressed, yet there also exists the potential for engaging athletes as leaders who can act as prosocial bystanders.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Applied Psychology
- sexual assault
- situational factors athletics