Gendered athletes: The social construction of gender, sexuality, and emotion among college athletes

Date of Completion

January 2004


Psychology, Social|Education, Physical|Sociology, Social Structure and Development|Recreation




Sport is one of the most popular activities and cultural practices in the U.S. It is also a highly gendered social institution and a primary social site for the definition, creation, and maintenance of hegemonic masculinity. In this study, I explore the confluences and conflicts between the gender identities and the athlete identities of college athletes. I also look at the different ways women and men negotiate the gendered (masculine) structure of sport. I used data gathered from interviews with 47 college athletes and four years of observation to show how my participants simultaneously challenge and reinforce the hegemonic gender order and sexuality in society and the gender regime specific to sport. ^ I consider the specific topics of gender, sexuality, emotion, and relationships with significant others to demonstrate how many athletes experience a “bifurcated consciousness” and how they identify and negotiate the gendered double standards evident in sport. Using these themes, I show athletes' conscious and unconscious attempts to render gender invisible in sport, i.e., I show how many athletes construct sport as “genderless” at the same time that their experiences are highly gendered. ^