It pays to study a boy, to know him as he does not know himself. I admit it takes time; but he whose soul is imbued with the spirit of the Great Teacher will find time for the work(Stableton 1900: 36).
It is my very great pleasure to introduce the tenth-anniversary 2017 volume of Boyhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Over the years, the platform has invited the precariously simultaneous exploration and envisioning of a thematic and disciplinary crossroads—planologically a twin project that, happily, has remained an open invitation to cartographers from all quarters of the compass. “We have entered upon a very wide theme,” to echo an anonymous nineteenth-century boyologist (Anon. 1864: 221). This has been reflected in the range of special issues put out over the years, not excluding the present one, with the generous aid and invariably admirable dedication of guest editors. Themed issues have addressed historically divergent constructions of young masculinities; the politics of young sexualities; contemporary issues in education and schooling; cinema; and queer theoretical perspectives. Individual contributions have varied more widely from literature studies, cultural theory, and social history to ethnography, psychometrics, and media studies. Increasingly and fortuitously, contributors have engaged in dialogue between and among disciplines. Readers new to the journal are invited to browse back issues on the journal’s homepage.1
The present Spring issue is a collection of contributions about boys in global sports contexts, guest edited by Adam White, qualitative researcher at the Sport and Exercise Research Centre of the University of Winchester’s Department for Sport and Exercise Science. Adam has done an excellent job in bringing together contributions from fields as diverse as the history of sport, sport sociology, and sport psychology. The various contributions are productive and timely in entering the extended, indeed global, realm of organized sports and locating boys at this realm’s many intersections and interfaces, such as between and among gender, race/ethnicity, health/athleticism, identity, and institutional politics. Addressing diverse changing contexts, these contributions each offer valuable inroads to and recommendations for educational praxis, research methods, ethnographic understanding, and intersectional thought. Jacqueline Yeldon and Robert Pitter examine how Canadian male competitive ice hockey players aged nine to thirteen years make sense of pain, with helpful recommendations not only for assessing, monitoring, and treating injuries, but also for ensuring open dialogue among teen athletes and between emerging athletes, parents, and sports professionals. Christian Ungruhe and James Esson explore young Ghanaian footballers’ efforts to make it abroad and thus “become a somebody,” as part of a broader emergence of sport migration as a conduit of social mobility and, as Ungruhe and Esson show, a “social negotiation of hope.” The case study also allows qualification of recent conceptualizations of African youth that tend to oversimplify the complexity of young African athletes’ local, if increasingly globalist, reality. Deborah Agnew, Jennifer Fane, Murray Drummond, and Philippa Henderson studied conceptualizations of sport during the early childhood years of participants, seeking to include children’s voices in the research process, specifically as facilitated by visual participatory research. Furthermore, they report on the gendered lens through which Australian parents viewed and distinguished sports and play, with nontrivial ramifications for the physical activities in which they enroll their children. Luis Emilio Morales and Edward Caffyn-Parsons documented expressions of physical tactility, masculinity, and emotional intimacy among male high-school cross country athletes in a Californian context marked by what they call diminished homohysteria. Their study confirms important shifts in the policing of gender documented for adolescent athletes of various levels across the Anglophone world. A valid question arises about how dimensions of race play into these shifts. Engaging critical race theory, Deborwah Faulk, Robert A. Bennett, and James L. Moore zoom in on motivations of black male US adolescents to join sports early in the course of their lives, specifically arguing that sports institutions and organizations engage in strategies of social control or “racial projects.” They advise that individual and institutional parameters need to be mapped in appreciating black males’ involvement in sports activities. In her historical contribution, Alexandra Mountain provides a detailed reconstruction of the 1961 withdrawal by St. Michael’s College School’s hockey team from the semi-professional Canadian junior hockey league, the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA), a reconstruction that reveals the OHA’s heavy emphasis on athletic, at the expense of academic, success. The case study is one of the exploitation of young athletic talent—a long-term and ongoing problem, Mountain duly considers.