Title

Michael Sam and the NFL Locker Room: How Masculinities Theory Explains the Way We View Gay Athletes

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2014

Publication Information

Lisa A. Mazzie, Michael Sam and the NFL Locker Room: How Masculinities Theory Explains the Way We View Gay Athletes, 25 Marq. Sports L. Rev. 129 (2014)

Source Publication

25 Marquette Sports Law Review 129 (2014)

Abstract

Using masculinities theory, the article examines last year’s hullabaloo about openly gay football player Michael Sam and his prospects for playing in the National Football League. I first explain masculinities theory, focusing on how masculinity is constructed and maintained. I then explore how masculinities theory applies in sport generally and in football in particular. The article visits the football locker room—a distinct enclave of masculinity—and shows how masculinities theory explains the locker room “bonding.” Once we lay bare the implications of cultural assumptions about masculinity and about physically aggressive sports like football, we can more easily explain why an openly gay football player is a rarity. Knowing that even one openly gay player exists threatens to decimate the cultural icons we use our athletes to create.