Power at Play / Edition 1

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Based on interviews with a diverse group of former high school, college, and professional athletes, Power at Play examines the important role sports play in defining masculinity for American men.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An examination of the heartland of masculinity. . . Power at Play tells us about [sport's] compelling allure, its ability to bestow self-confidence and social status. . . but also [about] the dark side of the athletic subculture. A work of clarity and insight." —Gender and Society

"An eye opener about sport and its meaning. . . Loaded with valuable insights." —San Francisco Chronicle

"The first examination of American jock culture that makes sense to me . . . Parents of young kids may find it especially interesting." —Whole Earth Review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This provocative study by a sociology professor at the University of Southern California is based on interviews he conducted in the mid-1980s with 30 male former athletes (some of whom disliked being called ``former'') whose involvement with organized sport occurred in either high school, college or professional leagues. Examining ``the relationship between the development of masculine identities and the structure of sport as a social institution,'' Messner observes that the increased participation of women in sports--which, he notes, prompted his book--and a growing acceptance of gay athletes pose a powerful challenge to traditional notions of games as macho (and sexist and homophobic) activities. Among other striking observations in this well-documented analysis, Messner suggests that the feminist revolution of the 1960s and '70s may have stimulated a burgeoning interest in pro football, the most violent of major American sports, on the part of ``threatened'' males. With graceful prose and a broad scope, the book offers a feast of ideas. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Messner (sociology, Univ. of Southern California) attempts to resolve the role of sports in male society. The author, who has co-edited other volumes on men's studies, examines the effects of athletics on male development from boyhood through midlife. In search of common bonds, he interviews 30 former athletes. By analyzing early experiences, careers, and post-sports lives, Messner identifies how each male athlete's identity was molded and how each used his participation to attain goals. Appendixes offer details of each athlete's careers and backgrounds (racial, social, and economic) and a synopsis of the interview process. This engrossing volume will appeal more to sociologists than sports fans.-- Jeffrey Gay, Bridgewater P.L., Mass.
Messner interviews former professional and amateur athletes to explore how their sports experiences defined their views of themselves as men, paying particular attention to the racism, sexism, and homophobia that seem to pervade the world of organized sports. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807041055
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 4/28/1995
  • Edition description: REISSUE
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

 Michael A. Messneris associate professor of sociology at the University of Southern California.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Sport, Men, and Gender 7
2 Boyhood: The Promise of Sport 24
3 The Meaning of Success 42
4 The Embodiment of Masculinity 61
5 Friendship, Intimacy, and Sexuality 85
6 Out of the Limelight: Disengagement from the Athletic Career 108
7 Life after Sport 129
8 Sport and Gender Relations: Continuity, Contradiction, and Change 149
Appendix 1: Individual Data on Interviewees 174
Appendix 2: Interviewing Male Former Athletes 177
Appendix 3: Social Class and Race of Interviewees 182
Notes 187
Bibliography 217
Index 235
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