Jock (stereotype)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The term jock is a classic North American stereotype of a male athlete. The etymology of the term jock is derived from the word jockstrap, which is an athletic support garment worn by men who engage in physical sports. The jock stereotype is attributed mostly to high school and college athletics participants who form a significant youth subculture. In sociology, the jock is thought to be included within the socialite subculture, which also contains the preppies and Ivy-Leaguers. As a blanket term the jock is considered synonymous with an athlete.

Other words that may mean the same as "jock" include meathead, musclebrain and the similar term musclehead. These terms are to most often refer to the conceit and selfishness that develops with the stereotype.

The jock stereotype is used often in the mass media to portray a relatively unintelligent and unenlightened, but nonetheless physically and socially well endowed character. Examples of this include the high school quarterback Kevin Thompson in the MTV cartoon Daria, the popular athlete love interest Tommy Ross in Carrie, the spoiled bullying antagonist Luke Ward in the first season of The O.C., and Kim's wealthy athlete boyfriend Jim in Edward Scissorhands.

Jocks as antagonists are stock characters shown as lacking compassion for the protagonist and are generally flat and static characters. Heathers' "Kurt" and "Ram" roles, the Spider-Man character Flash Thompson and Jean Grey's first boyfriend Duncan Matthews in X-Men: Evolution are such examples.

Often, in comedy where the main characters aren't popular, the jock is the chief antagonist and cruel to the main characters. He hates nerds and homosexuals, is dim-witted, worshipped by the other students despite his cruelty, is obsessed with pretty girls, and is unable to recognize the ugly girl's beauty until she has a makeover. He is despised by the nerds, and usually has an unfortunate ending. Examples of this are the popular 1980s movies Revenge of the Nerds and Heathers.

As a protagonist the jock will often be a dynamic character who through an epiphany or new understanding will lead to a change in the values of the jock. This change often means a cessation of athletics and/or some other equivalent social sacrifice which leads to the character no longer being considered a jock. Examples include Randall "Pink" Floyd in Dazed and Confused and Andrew Clark in The Breakfast Club, as well Highway to Heaven episodes "Friends" and "Code Name: Freak".


The jock image has also become an icon in both erotica and marketing, such as that used by Abercrombie and Fitch, or the erotic photography of Bruce Weber, Steven Underhill, and others, who photographed jock archetypes like the Brewer twins (Keith & Derek), the Hall twins (Bruce & Seth), Peter Johnson, and "Marky Mark" Wahlberg.

List of stereotypical characteristics

  • Very attractive girlfriend (usually a cheerleader, but shows signs of disrespect toward women (abuse, crude sexual jokes, etc.)
  • Muscular/athletic, but conversely not considered intelligent
  • Often perceived as getting preferential treatment solely due to athletic ability (e.g., passing grades undeserved, bad conduct overlooked)
  • Popular among classmates or students similar to his own clique
  • Homophobic
  • Generally popular with the girls, but is often despised by non-jock boys
  • Competitive
  • Bullying, cruel and mean, in extreme cases antisocial or psychopathic personality structure with tendencies to violent crime

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Jock (stereotype)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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