Gender-Specific Aspects of Football Expertise: Implications of Two Prospective Observation Studies

Article excerpt

Abstract:

Women and men differ in many aspects of life; among these, their view of sport activities differ considerably. Thus, football (soccer) and the prediction of football results are recurrent sources of stress. Despite this, until now no study has investigated the parameters affecting football expertise in detail. We performed two prospective observation studies in health care employees to investigate whether football expertise, as a parameter combining behavioural, social, and physical aspects of life, is related to gender or anthropometric parameters.

The first study was performed in 2004 during the UEFA European Cup in Portugal. In order to confirm the results of the initial study, a second study was performed during the FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany. A total of 307 persons were included in the studies. All volunteers had to predict the results of the preliminary round of the respective tournament. An evaluation of the results was done by scores, which were given for correct tendency and correct numbers of goals for each team.

In the first study, a significant difference between male and female participants was found (46.7 [+ or -] 1.3 pts, n=41 f: 42.7 [+ or -] 1.4 pts, n=42; p = 0.03). This was confirmed in the second study, which had a total of 224 participants. Here, male participants scored significantly higher than female participants (m: 113.9 [+ or -] 1.0 pts; f: 108.7 [+ or -] 1.3pts; p = 0.004). This difference remained significant in both studies after adjustment for age, profession, and BMI. Despite the fact that the majority of "couch potatoes" are supposed to be outstanding football experts, no relation between BMI and the ability to predict football results was found.

We demonstrated that men perform better in predicting football results than women. This finding was confirmed in a second independent cohort. The consequences of this apparent discrepancy between these gender specific realities on men's health and the question of whether advertisement and television increasingly favour promoting women as football experts remain to be determined.

Introduction:

Football (soccer) expertise depends on psychological, social, and physiological factors. Despite the apparent impact of this topic on daily life, no study has investigated the parameters affecting football expertise in detail until now. In particular, the question of whether gender is important for individual football expertise is recurrent, due to a lack of valid studies and often irrational debate. Initially, football was dominated on and beside the football field by males. The classical roles were described; the male was the football expert, who rarely played football himself, watched football on TV, and liked to analyse previous games. On the other hand, women tried to avoid watching football games if possible and judged it simply as a sport with twenty-two men running for one ball. Therefore, discussions between males and females about this topic have been often dominated by males.

In recent years, this picture has changed remarkably. Apart from a considerable number of female football players and increasing interest by the media for professional female football, an increasing number of female football supporters have been registered (Member Statistics 2005 German Football Association). This has resulted in changes in the typical behavioural roles in relation to football. Indeed, football discussions often result in quarrels. These discussions are often passionate and lack rational bases. Taking all this together, there is certainly a considerable chauvinism in terms of supposed football expertise. Whether this is justified is completely unclear.

Therefore, we performed the first study to investigate whether football expertise, as a parameter combining behavioural, social, and physical aspects of life, is related to gender. Since men and women are apparently different in aspects potentially influencing football expertise, among them anthropometry and social status, we included these parameters in our multivariate analysis. …