Power at Play: Sports and the Problem of Masculinity

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Beacon Press, 1992 - Psychology - 240 pages
Why is the American male's sense of self so closely intertwined with his success, or failure, as an athlete? What are the physical and emotional costs, to individual men and society at large, of engaging in organized athletics? Are sports good for men and boys? Michael Messner addresses these questions and more in his fascinating new study of masculinity and sports. Using interviews with thirty male former athletes, Messner argues that sports, so central to the lives of millions of boys and men, play a key role in shaping our society's definition of what it means to be a man. Messner shows us that lifelong relationships with colleagues, friends, lovers, wives, and children are affected by the barriers to intimacy constructed through sports. America's jock culture equates true manhood with athletic success, driving men to view the world in terms of status, power, and privilege. The Lombardian ethic that "winning isn't everything; it's the only thing" pushes America's athletes to continue to play even when hurt, to take drugs, and to treat women and others as mere objects. Sexism, homophobia, and racism pervade the world of sports, and Messner's conversations with male athletes of different races, classes, and sexual orientations reveal their struggles to reconcile the world of sports with the reality of their private lives. America's boys and men, as well as its girls and women, can find camaraderie and pleasure on the playing field, but the rules of the game must change first. The rules will only shift, Messner convinces us, when we begin to change our definitions of what it is to be men and women.

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POWER AT PLAY: Sports and the Problem of Masculinity

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Fuzzy, argot-driven tract on men and sport. Messner (Sociology/Univ. of Southern California) introduces his feminist-inspired analysis with the premise that neither sports nor masculinity are ... Read full review

Power at play: sports and the problem of masculinity

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Messner (sociology, Univ. of Southern California) attempts to resolve the role of sports in male society. The author, who has co-edited other volumes on men's studies, examines the effects of ... Read full review


The Promise of Sport
The Meaning of Success
The Embodiment of Masculinity
Friendship Intimacy and Sexuality
Disengagement from
Life after Sport

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About the author (1992)

Michael A. Messneris associate professor of sociology at the University of Southern California.

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