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Gamed by the System

Exploring Black Male Youths’ Motivation to Participate in Sports

Deborwah Faulk, Robert A. Bennett III, and James L. Moore III

ABSTRACT

Previous research contributes to our knowledge about young people’s motivation to participate in sports and athletic programs. In particular, scholarship has identified significant others (such as parents and peers) and internal drivers (for example, physical ability and skill, the desire to succeed, love of competition, etc.) as some of the forces that shape the involvement of young men in sports. The role of institutions and structures in influencing the decisions of young males to join sports, however, is neglected to some extent in the current literature. Given the history of race and gender marginalization relative to sports in the US, distinguishing an additional layer that influences motivations are important. Young black males face additional social pressures in society and in schools, in particular. In this article we suggest that schools use sports to control the behaviors and aid the character development of young black men.

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“I Love You, Guys”

A Study of Inclusive Masculinities among High School Cross-Country Runners

Luis Morales and Edward Caffyn-Parsons

ABSTRACT

This empirical study examines sixteen- to seventeen-year-old heterosexual male cross-country athletes from a diverse, middle-class high school in California and how they express physical tactility and emotional intimacy in a culture of diminished homohysteria. Using participative and non-participative observations of the team, coupled with ten in-depth interviews, we find acceptance of gay men, and note a range of homosocial behaviors including bed-sharing, cuddling, hand holding, hugging, and emotional intimacy. We discuss the ways in which heterosexual boundaries and identities are maintained, and the process by which normalizing heterosexuality as the assumed sexual orientation contributes to heterosexism. Despite the reproduction of heterosexism, the relationships these high school athletes form with each other are not predicated on homophobia or hypermasculinity. Finally, we discuss adolescent expressions of masculinity in the transition to manhood and in the face of diminishing homohysteria.

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“I Will Make You Understand”

Using Pictures to Explore Young Boys’ Sport Experiences

Deborah Agnew, Jennifer Fane, Murray Drummond, and Philippa Henderson

ABSTRACT

This qualitative project explores the meanings young boys ascribe to sport experiences and how understandings and perspectives of sport differ between parent(s) and child. Thirteen five-year-old boys and their parent(s) (n = 17) took part in semi-structured interviews focusing on meanings associated with their sport and physical activity experiences. The boys undertook a drawing exercise as part of the interview to elicit their experiences as distinct from those of their parent(s). The seventeen parents were interviewed about their motivation for encouraging their sons to be active. The results indicated that the parents’ and boys’ constructions and understandings of the boys’ sport experienced differed in two important ways; the gendering of the sport experience, and the way in which the sport experience is conceptualized.

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Making Sense of Pain in Boys’ Competitive Minor Ice Hockey

Jacqueline Yeldon and Robert Pitter

ABSTRACT

The study on which this article is built identifies psychosocial factors that come into play when boys experience pain and, more specifically, how these particular boys attribute meaning to such experience. Twelve male competitive ice hockey players aged nine to thirteen years participated in small focus-group sessions. Pain from exertion/fatigue, acute pain, chronic pain, and pain from a head injury were examined. The older boys had a more advanced understanding of pain but all the boys engaged in sense-making strategies to play through pain. They were all well informed about concussions and many exercised a greater level of caution towards symptoms of a head injury compared to chronic pain or discomfort from exertion. Educating young athletes and adults about the implications of pain and injury both in and beyond the sport itself may help deconstruct the false sense of invulnerability associated with being a competitive athlete.

Open access

A Social Negotiation of Hope

Male West African Youth, ‘Waithood’ and the Pursuit of Social Becoming through Football

Christian Ungruhe and James Esson

ABSTRACT

This article examines the present-day perception among boys and young men in West Africa that migration through football offers a way of achieving social standing and improving their life chances. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among footballers in urban southern Ghana between 2010 and 2016, we argue that young people’s efforts to make it abroad and “become a somebody” through football is not merely an individual fantasy; it is rather a social negotiation of hope to overcome widespread social immobility in the region. It is this collective practice among a large cohort of young males—realistic or not—which qualifies conceptualizations of youth transitions such as waithood that dominate academic understanding of African youth today.

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The Biologically Vulnerable Boy

Framing Sex Differences in Childhood Infectious Disease Mortality

Heather T. Battles

ABSTRACT

Demographers have noticed longer adult female life expectancies and higher rates of male infant mortality in Europe as early as the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. During the Western demographic and epidemiologic transition of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, infant and childhood mortality rates became increasingly male-skewed. I examine the changing awareness and understanding of sex differentials in childhood infectious disease mortality and the discourse surrounding them in the medical and epidemiological literature, with particular focus on discussions surrounding diphtheria. I identify the emergence of the concept of males as the weaker sex (the “biological hypothesis”) and the framing of boys as biologically vulnerable, and argue that these are products of this historical period, linked not only to observed epidemiological patterns but also to changing ideas of children and childhood and the shift in science and medicine toward the laboratory as the source of knowledge.

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Boys, Inclusive Masculinities and Injury

Some Research Perspectives

Adam White and Stefan Robinson

ABSTRACT

The social function of sport has traditionally been to develop an economically efficient workforce and to prevent young men from becoming effeminate, and by extension homosexual. However, since the 1980s both the social positioning of homosexuality has changed, as has the economic requirements of the Anglo-American workforce. As such, the social function of contemporary sport is negated. With modern athletes now opting for softer masculine presentations, we start the debate on the intersection of sport, health, and inclusive masculinities, an area lacking scholarly attention so far. Through exploring masculinity-challenging discourses, participation rates and athletes’ self-withdrawal from sport when injured, we begin to theorize how modern athletes may view potentially risky and injurious sporting activities, suggesting that boys today are less inclined to engage in injurious activities, and, when they do, opting for softer and safer strategies.

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The Development and Validation of the Gender Role Conflict Scale for Irish Adolescent Boys

Cormac Ó Beaglaoich, Mark Kiss, Clíodhna Ní Bheaglaoich, and Todd G. Morrison

ABSTRACT

Ó Beaglaoich and associates (2013, 2015a, 2015b) report that the Gender Role Conflict Scale for Adolescents (GRCS-A, Blazina et al. 2005) may not be suitable for use with Irish boys. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to develop a culturally appropriate measure of gender role conflict (GRC). The resultant 26-item scale was entitled the Gender Role Conflict Scale for Irish Adolescents (GRCS-IA). It had satisfactory scale score reliability and a unidimensional factor structure. Evidence of convergent validity was adduced through statistically significant correlations between participants’ gender role conflict and indices of psychological functioning (i.e., self-esteem and state as well as trait anxiety). The divergent validity of the GRCS-IA also was demonstrated (i.e., participants’ gender role conflict did not correlate significantly with their endorsement of masculine norms). Limitations of the current study are outlined and directions for future research are discussed.

Free access

Editorial

Diederik F. Janssen

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The Erotics of Adolescent Male Altruism

Jay Mechling

ABSTRACT

Close bonding in male friendship groups in adolescence (ages 12–28) provides the foundation for altruistic behavior in the group, from routine selflessness to the ultimate sacrifice of life for the others. This article draws on ethnographic evidence from two settings—troops of Boy Scouts in California and US military units living and fighting together in the Middle East. In both settings, close bonding of the male adolescents has significant homoerotic elements, which suggests that there are significant erotic elements in male adolescent altruism, including the eroticization of pain and suffering (non-pathological masochism). If these links prove true, this has policy implications for the integration of adolescent girls and young women into previously all-male organizations, such as the Boy Scouts and the military.