2012 August 9

It’s been a summer of sport – the ab-fest of the Olympics leads seamlessly to the superhero performances of the Paralympics, and we’re all becoming athletic experts and exponents.

But there’s a downside to the love for sport – and it’s the competitive instinct. It’s not so much about wanting to be the winner of an event, as the way that sporting clothing can present opportunities for dissent and difficult relationships.

While there’s been a debate about whether the women’s beach volleyball should be played in bikinis or not (and the answer, at least as far as the players has been concerned is yes, bikinis) and the swimming suits worn in Beijing have actually been outlawed, the way that the average guy wears sporting casual clothing can lead to lots of stress for their classmates or work colleagues.

The problem is with the natural tendency of a testosterone-producing male to react to a dominance display – if the display is for a cause or club the male doesn’t support, the reaction will be negative, but if it is for a cause or club the male does support, it can still be divisive. An England T-shirt or a pair of Union Jack shorts can lead to less powerful males believing the displaying male is trying to take ownership of the team or cause – and that can lead the subservient male to withdraw cooperation because he feels he’s being pushed out anyway.

It may be subtle, but if you’re experiencing difficult relationships with formerly close mates, or feeling isolated at school, it may be worth looking at the extent to which you show your love for sport in your casual clothing and tone down the loyalty you display so that your friends can feel close to you again.