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Title: The construction of masculinities among adolescent and emerging footballers
Author: Magrath, Rory
ISNI:       0000 0004 5971 2897
Awarding Body: University of Winchester
Current Institution: University of Winchester
Date of Award: 2015
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Association football has traditionally been an institution hostile toward sexual minorities. Boys and men in the sport have deployed high levels of homophobia for multiple reasons, including as an act to dispel homosexual suspicion. However, in interviewing 60 heterosexual male footballers from two Premier League academies and one university-based football team, I show that intolerant attitudes towards gay men are today heavily challenged. These young men – many of whom are potentially on the verge of achieving professional status – reflect the ethos of their generation more broadly, espousing inclusive attitudes towards homosexuality and intolerance of homophobia. Importantly, this was found to the case independent of whether they maintained contact with gay men. Participants strongly advocated their support for gay men coming out on their team. This support includes athletes being unconcerned with sharing rooms with gay players, changing with them in locker rooms, or relating to gay men on a social and emotional level. Few players – notably those with strong religious beliefs – held reservations about same-sex marriage, yet suggested they would still support a gay teammate. While many were concerned as to how having a gay teammate might alter homosocial banter, as they would not want to offend that individual, they were confident that this would not impinge upon their friendship. While attitudes towards homosexuality have shown to be improving in the United Kingdom, scholars have argued that such attitudes are accommodated by hegemonic conceptions of masculinity, without having a profound effect on male privilege and their associated oppressive behaviours. This research explores the extent to which improving attitudes towards homosexuality influence the masculinised behaviours of these men, showing that decreasing homophobia has positively impacted on their gendered expression – many of these participants construct and develop close emotional relationships with one another. The near-total institution of Premier League academies, however, often facilitates more conservative forms of closeness, particularly compared to the university-based football team and other contemporary research. This closed environment also permits the construction of unique forms of banter that can also include language that some might classify as homophobic. I classify these banter types as jocular and physical, and show that banter often plays a paradoxical role, as it both facilitates and potentially disrupts the friendships these men enjoy. In line with more recent research on homosexually-themed language, I also show that participants used language associated with homosexuality, while policing discourse deemed homophobic.
Supervisor: Anderson, Eric ; Cotterill, Stewart ; Tuck, Jason Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available