Sports fanship habitus: An investigation of the active consumption of sport, its effects and social implications through the lives of fantasy sport enthusiasts

Date of Completion

January 2005


Sociology, Theory and Methods|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Recreation




Drawing simultaneously from the sociologies of sport, gender and knowledge, this dissertation investigates the consumption of sport among white, middle-class, and middle-aged American men. By focusing upon one specific mode of fanship, fantasy sports, this research moves deeply into the everyday experience, both past and present of those men that both consume sport and play fantasy sports. In so doing, a theory of sports fanship habitus, building on Bourdieu's conception of the interplay of structure and agency through practice, is constructed and applied in this research. At the same time, the obdurate nature of patriarchal relations, referred to, as hegemonic complicity by Connell, is foregrounded and explicated in relation to sports fanship habitus. ^ Data from participant observation, 55 in-depth interviews, an online survey of 1179 respondents, and secondary sources provides a comprehensive investigation of the phenomenon of fantasy sports, the lives of participants and facilitates both generalization to the wider population of white, middle-class, middle-aged American men and the construction and application of the theory of sports fanship habitus. ^ This research demonstrates the centrality of the consumption of sport to men in American society. By attending to one group of avid sport fans, this research identifies their social location and the degree to which that location is a function of a history that consequently fashions a set of practices in both youth and adulthood. Within this process, this dissertation points to both ways of knowing and ways of being that coincide with sport fanship. Ultimately the incorporation of social location, practices, cognitive structures yields predispositions including hegemonic complicity that impact the social landscape. ^ This dissertation tells the story of a group of men enthusiastically engaged in what seems to be a benign pastime. However, by using fantasy sports as a point of entry, this research offers insight into the construction of masculinity among one group of men, and its implication for them, their friends, family and partners as well as how their habitus or second nature may very well be changing. ^