Michael Sam and the NFL Locker Room: How Masculinities Theory Explains the Way We View Gay Athletes
35 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2015
Date Written: April 16, 2015
Using masculinities theory, the article examines last year’s hullabaloo about openly gay football player Michael Sam and his prospects for playing in the National Football League. I first explain masculinities theory, focusing on how masculinity is constructed and maintained. I then explore how masculinities theory applies in sport generally and in football in particular. The article visits the football locker room — a distinct enclave of masculinity — and shows how masculinities theory explains the locker room “bonding.” Once we lay bare the implications of cultural assumptions about masculinity and about physically aggressive sports like football, we can more easily explain why an openly gay football player is a rarity. Knowing that even one openly gay player exists threatens to decimate the cultural icons we use our athletes to create.
Keywords: sports, football, NFL, masculinities theory, gender, Michael Sam
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