Animal Blood Sport: A Ritual Display of Masculinity and Sexual Virility

in Sociology of Sport Journal

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Linda KalofMichigan State University

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Blood sport—the practice of pitting animals against each other (or against humans) in bloody combat to the death—is a tragic form of human entertainment that has been resilient since antiquity. While animal blood sport is a form of human driven sport related violence that involves the abuse and suffering of other animals (Young 2012), it also provides an “identity prop” (Dunning 1999): all male competitive sports and games provide men with a way to demonstrate masculinity by feminizing opponents (Dundes 1997). This theoretical argument has not been systematically analyzed in the sociology of sport, and my essay is an attempt to fill that gap. I examine animal blood sport with a focus on its connection to the validation of masculinity and heterosexuality.

Kalof is with the Department of Sociology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

Address author correspondence to Linda Kalof at
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