ABSTRACT

The links between sport, identity construction and gender relations has been one of the most researched topics within the relatively brief history of the sociological study of sport. The numerous researchers who have examined sport and gender tend to agree that sport has long been valued as a masculinising practice and, accordingly, it is vitally important in how males and females ‘define and differentiate the meaning and practice of masculinity’ (Rowe, 1995: 123). The relationship between sport and masculinities has, however, been a cause of concern for a number of critical sport sociologists. Concerns have been raised, for example, that sport helps to produce a dominant but problematic form of masculinity that acts to marginalise alternative masculinities and to subordinate females (e.g. Connell, 1990; Messner, 1992, 2002; Messner and Sabo, 1994; McKay et al., 2000). Previous research from multiple feminist perspectives has similarly demonstrated that the knowledge of sport as a masculinising practice has resulted in on-going struggle for legitimation and equity for sportswomen (e.g. Cahn, 1994; Cole, 1994; Duncan and Hasbrook, 1988; Hargreaves, 1994; Hall, 1996; Lenskyj, 1986; McKay, 1997; Willis, 1982). Sport, therefore, has typically been positioned as a producer of problematic identities and inequitable gender relations within sociological literature.