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The Rites of Men

The Rites of Men: Manhood, Politics, and the Culture of Sport

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 528
  • Book Info
    The Rites of Men
    Book Description:

    It gathers more spectators on a global basis than any other activity today. More than just a game, sport has profound political and social consequences, promoting a super-aggressive ideal of manhood and political culture.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8221-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Michael Kaufman and Michael Messner

    They are our heroes. They are eulogized as modern-day warriors. Whether in Olympic or professional team sports, they have a worldwide audience, command enormous respect, and, often, enormous salaries. They smile, they scowl, and they sell products. Virtually every boy wants to grow up to be just like them. They are our athletes. Their world may be the arena, the court, the track, and the playing field, but their performances fuel vast institutions where media and industry come together in a powerful and profitable embrace with local, national, and international politics. This world is, in Varda Burstyn’s phrase, the sport...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-2)
    Varda Burstyn
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    The rituals of sport engage more people in a shared experience than any other institution or cultural activity today. World Cup soccer gathers upwards of a billion electronic spectators on a global basis. According to generally accepted estimates, between two billion and three billion people – close to half of the humans on this planet – followed the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games on television or radio.¹ According to theToronto Star,Edson Arantes do Nascimento, the Brazilian soccer superstar better known as ‘Pele,’ was ‘the most recognizable face in the world in 1994.’²Sports Illustratedinsisted in the same year that this...

  6. 1 Societies, Bodies, and Ideologies: Terms and Approaches
    (pp. 13-44)

    Kids calling to each other on a baseball diamond in summer. A cheering crowd in a football stadium amid the glories of the northeastern autumn. The sounds of a puck being slapped back and forth across a frozen pond on a sparkling, frosty winter day. The swift moves, shouts, and patter of inner-city basketball courts on a spring evening. All these sights, sounds, and sensations are woven into the fabric of North American culture, and mark both the closing of the work (or school) day and the passing of the seasons. Those who play these games reap the pleasure of...

  7. 2 ‘To Raise the Wolf in a Man’s Heart’: Sport and Men’s Culture in the Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 45-75)

    During the nineteenth century, adult males left the family household en masse and abandoned their traditional roles in socializing children to take up duties in far-away places. Sport emerged as an institution of social fatherhood to provide training in manly pursuits – war, commerce, and government – and a stepping stone out of the family of women and into the world of men. Today’s major sports were elaborated, codified, organized, and institutionally consolidated over the course of the nineteenth century. They were part of a dynamic cultural response to the changes and challenges of industrialization, urbanization, nation-building, imperialism, and gender order flux.¹...

  8. 3 ‘Taming the Beast’: Sport, Masculinity, and Sexuality in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
    (pp. 76-102)

    The athleticization of nineteenth-century society was part of a larger movement of material secularization in which science and medicine displaced theology as the most authoritative accounts of the cosmos and nature, virtue, and sin. The popularity of sport expressed this shift from belief in a pregiven, mysterious, and immaterial world of God and spirit, to the man-made, knowable, and material world of human endeavour and the body. In providing a symbolic cosmology of quantifiable, perfectible, physical achievement, sport brilliantly animated the values of maturing capitalism in Anglo-American societies and, increasingly, throughout Europe and the colonial world. Indeed, sport provided an...

  9. 4 Delivering the Male: Sport Culture, the Mass Media, and the Masculinity Market
    (pp. 103-131)

    In 1993,Sports Illustrateddedicated a special issue to the forty individuals its editors judged to be most important to sport since the magazine began publishing.¹ Of these, four were women athletes who, as tennis players, figure skaters, and gymnasts, were practitioners of ‘gender-neutral’ and ‘feminine’ sports. The thirty-six men selected for honours were a more varied group. Eight were media innovators, sports medicine pioneers, and athletes’ agents. Seven were auto racers, golfers, tennis players, and cyclists. Twenty-one individuals came from the six key sports – football, baseball, basketball, hockey, boxing, and track and field – the sports that constitute the practical,...

  10. 5 Spectacle, Commerce, and Bodies: Three Facets of Hypergender in the Sport Nexus
    (pp. 132-162)

    From 1981 to 1996, I lived in an economically, ethnically, and racially diverse Toronto neighbourhood, through which I developed several jogging and walking routes. As I tended to take my exercise at the same time as school let out (three to four o’clock in the afternoon), I was able to make my own informal survey of gender participation in unsupervised play in my neighbourhood’s public school grounds. At the public schools serving the lower-middle- and working-class components of the neighbourhood, only boys played sports on school property after-hours and on weekends. Sometimes the boys grouped themselves along ethnic-racial lines, in...

  11. 6 ‘Hit, Crunch, and Burn’: Organized Violence and Men’s Sport
    (pp. 163-191)

    On the afternoon of 17 June 1994, former football hero, sometime actor, and frozen-orange-juice advertising icon O.J. Simpson went for his last touchdown. As he made his way across Los Angeles freeways, a heroic procession of Los Angeles police, cheered on by crowds of spectators, followed behind. The live media coverage of the event rivalled that of the 1969 moon shot. For almost a year afterwards the media force-fed the O.J. Simpson trial to North Americans. From January to October 1995 alone, coverage of the trial accounted for more minutes on ABC, CBS, and NBC prime-time news than Bosnia and...

  12. 7 ‘Hooligans, Studs, and Queers’: Three Studies in the Reproduction of Hypermasculinity
    (pp. 192-220)

    Hypermasculinity – the belief that ideal manhood lies in the exercise of force to dominate others – is the prevalent ideology of manhood in contemporary society. While many of the distinctive characteristics of hypermasculinity (notably those related to warrior culture) pre-date our own century, ideal hypermasculinity is not static. Rather, it maintains its contemporary appeal by co-opting ideals and styles of minority and even oppositional men’s subcultures and mutating in appearance accordingly. In the 19808, for example, newspaper and television images of British ‘soccer hooligans’ conducting gang warfare in European capitals publicized the activities of a small group of British men to...

  13. 8 High Performance: Drugs, Politics, and Profit in Sport
    (pp. 221-251)

    When Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson defeated U.S. champion Carl Lewis in the 100-metre race at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988, cheers rang out around the world. David had felled Goliath. Two days later, Johnson had to forfeit his medal because traces of anabolic steroids were found in his urine, and the ‘fastest man on earth’ fell from grace in a fiery plunge. The Johnson scandal created a crisis of confidence in Olympic sport, and sent shock waves through the media, governments, and sponsoring industries. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) later admitted that, based on post-game urine analysis, traces of...

  14. 9 Re-creating Recreation: Sport and Social Change
    (pp. 252-276)

    Family, fatherhood, nation, state, race, class, gender, sexuality, commerce, and communications – I have tried to show how the culture of sport co-evolved with, through, and because of these institutions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I have argued that the hypermasculine heroic ideal that is the dominant social and gender ideal of capitalist culture has been modelled and moulded by sport culture. Sport culture is highly variegated in class, racial, ethnic, national, and civic terms. But it has also had a singular purpose and effect that has cut across these differences: the culture of sport has supported the greater power...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 277-338)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 339-378)
  17. Index
    (pp. 379-388)