No Slam Dunk: Gender, Sport, and the Unevenness of Social Change
Defamiliarizing Heavy-Contact Sports: A Critical Examination of Rugby, Discipline, and Pleasure
Pleasure can be regarded as a productive force in the constitution of the social significance of sport and desiring sport subjects. The organization and use of sport pleasure has been a relatively marginalized topic of examination. To promote and examine sport pleasure, I conducted semistructured interviews with seven passionate rugby players. Transcripts were analyzed via Foucauldian theorizing and revealed the intertwined workings of technologies of dominance and self in the constitution of rugby pleasures. As a strategy to defamiliarize and disrupt habitual and uncritical acceptance of rugby aggression, I argued that rugby pleasures were akin to sadomasochism. Rugby can be understood as a taboo-breaking game associated with transparent relations of power connected with the pleasure induced from physical domination and the fear of pain.
Inclusive Masculinity: The Changing Nature of Masculinities
No Pain Is Sane after All: A Foucauldian Analysis of Masculinities and Men’s Rugby Experiences of Fear, Pain, and Pleasure
Richard Pringle and Pirkko Markula
In this article we present research that used Foucauldian theorizing to examine the articulations between masculinities and men’s rugby union experiences of pain, fear, and pleasure. Data was collected via semistructured interviews with 14 New Zealand men of diverse rugby backgrounds. Results suggested that although rugby provided an influential discursive space for the negotiation of masculinities, these negotiations did not result in the simple (re)production of dominating discourses of masculinity. This finding supports the judgment that sport does not consistently or unambiguously produce culturally dominant conceptions of masculinities. The interview accounts revealed, nevertheless, that the games of truth surrounding rugby and masculinities were not played in an equitable manner. This finding helps justify concern about the social significance of popular heavy-contact sports and gendering processes. A strategy of resistance based on the resurrection of marginalized knowledges is discussed.
Negotiating Masculinities via the Moral Problematization of Sport
Richard G. Pringle and Christopher Hickey
Researchers have raised concerns about the construction of dangerous/problematic masculinities within sporting fratriarchies1. Yet little is known about how male sport enthusiasts—critical of hypermasculine performances—negotiate their involvement in sport. Our aim was to examine how males negotiated sporting tensions and how these negotiations shaped their (masculine) selves. We drew on Foucault (1992) to analyze how interviewees problematized their respective sport culture in relation to the sexualization of females, public drunkenness and excessive training demands. Results illustrated how the interviewees produced selves, via the moral problematization of sport, that rejected the values or moral codes of hypermasculinity in attempts to create ethical masculinities. We suggest that a proliferation of techniques of self that resist hypermasculine forms of subjection could be one form of ethical response to the documented problems surrounding masculinities and sport.
Informing Coaches’ Practices: Toward an Application of Foucault’s Ethics
Jim Denison, Richard Pringle, Tania Cassidy, and Paul Hessian
Progress and improvement in sport is often the result of some type of change. However, change for change sake is not always beneficial. Therefore, to be an effective ‘change agent’ a coach must be able to problematize his or her actions and assess why or why not a change might be needed. Accordingly, helping coaches become active problematizers is vital to the change process. Toward this end, we present in this paper our reflections as coach developers and coaches who considered how to apply Michel Foucault’s understanding of ethics to make self-change a positive force for enhancing athletes’ experiences. We then conclude by suggesting how coach developers might begin to incorporate Foucault’s work into the development of coaches capable of producing change that matters.