In Search of a Five-Star: The Centrality of Body Discourses in the Scouting of High School Football Players

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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This study explores how high school football athletes’ bodies are constructed within the context of contemporary scouting regimes. Deploying a quantitative approach, we analyze 6600 scouting reports on a total of 1650 high school football athletes available online from four high-profile media outlets which offer ‘expert’ analyses of athletes’ body characteristics, performance, and estimated potential. The findings indicate that subjective measurements of the athlete’s body are the best predictors of hierarchical classification. The findings also indicate that objective measurements do not seem to predict the subjective assessment of those very athletic bodies. We argue that the evaluation of high school football athletes by so-called expert analysts is remarkably arbitrary, and thus call into question the very practice of football scouting that has become so dominant and influential. ‘Scouts’ promote a system of scrutiny that contributes the reification of hegemonic relations between the observers and the observed.

Silva is with the Department of Sociology, King’s University College at Western University, London, Ontario, Canada. Bower is with the Department of Mathematics, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH. Cipolli is with the Department of Mathematics, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY.

Address author correspondence to Derek M.D. Silva at dsilva28@uwo.ca.
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