Athletic Insight - The Online Journal of Sport Psychology

Commentary

Bryan Farran

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       Tom Ferraro's Aggression Among Athletes:  An Asian versus American Comparison (June, 1999) seeks to explore cross-cultural differences between Asian and American athletes, differences that affect the psychological mechanisms underlying aggression levels and overall ability to perform and win.  Examining differences between the two groups in terms of drive states, psychosexual development, independence issues, and self-esteem functioning, Ferraro makes several interesting and well-thought out points.  However, one is left wondering why the article limits itself to discussing Japanese athletes, and how athletes from other Asian countries would compare and contrast to their Japanese and American counterparts.
       The article's title and abstract indicate an analysis involving Asian athletes.  However, the research cited and examples mentioned refer exclusively to Japanese athletes, excluding athletes from all other Asian countries.  The sample designated as  representative of Asian athletes was actually made of 14 Japanese athletes.  Clearly then, the questionnaire data obtained from this sample cannot be generalized to other cultures other than the Japanese.  Ironically, the single instance where a non-Japanese athlete was mentioned (South Korean golfer Pearl Sinn) was used as an example of how Japanese athletes practice many hours per day.  Perhaps an example citing a Japanese athlete would have been more suitable.        
       Although a great deal can be learned from this article about the psychological processes of the Japanese athlete, the title is misleading.  Surely athletes from other Asian countries such as China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia would be similar to their Japanese counterparts, but also different in some ways.   However, the article does not specifically address Aggression Among Athletes:  Japanese versus American Comparison.  Although to some individuals this point may seem a relatively minor issue of semantics, for those who strive to increase cultural sensitivity and awareness it is an extremely important oversight to note.

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       Miguel Humara's The Relationship between Athletics, Hispanics, and Aggression (June, 1999)  examines the themes of aggression and athletics within the Hispanic population.  The author provides the reader with many valuable insights into the cultural factors and environmental determinants that underlie the Hispanic athlete's tendency towards aggression, a quality that can provide a winning advantage for Hispanics in sports ranging from boxing (current welterweight champion Felix Trinidad) to baseball (home run powerhouse Sammy Sosa) to tennis (recently #1-ranked Marcelo Rios).
       Future discussions should involve a comparison between Hispanic athletes from other countries and Hispanic-American athletes.  It seems likely that an athlete of Hispanic descent raised in the United State (for example, Keith Hernandez) would, due to the influences of both Hispanic and American cultures, differ significantly in a number of areas from a Hispanic athlete born and bred outside of the States (e.g., Sammy Sosa).   A Hispanic individual raised in the States is likely exposed to many different cultural perspectives other than the traditional Hispanic view.  A baseball team in the States may very well include African-Americans, Caucasians from many different national backgrounds, Jews, and Muslims; a baseball team in Cuba is likely to be comprised of mostly (if not all) Cubans.  
       An interesting line of questioning, therefore, involves how the environmental exposure to different cultures that most Hispanic-Americans have growing up influences their internalization of certain "typical" Hispanic concepts, such as machismo.  It seems worthy to, in future research, broaden our understanding of Hispanic athletes by comparing and contrasting Hispanics from other countries with Hispanic-Americans, in terms of aggression and other relevant constructs within the sports psychology domain.

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ISSN 1536-0431