Deconstructing the myth of the monolithic male athlete: A qualitative study of men's participation in athletics

Andrew Schrack-Walters, Kathleen A. O'Donnell, Daniel L. Wardlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


A qualitative study using field-based methods examined motivations for participation in collegiate team sports, the psychological and emotional rewards of team membership, and the dynamics of relationships with teammates among male athletes. Previous cross-disciplinary research largely reinforces clear and consistent gender differences within communal and agentic domains. In-depth, oral bibliographic interviews with 11 varsity athletes from basketball and soccer teams were conducted at a university in the USA. Participants spoke freely about multiple dimensions of their experiences as athletes-experiences frequently dichotomized by researchers as masculine or feminine. Analyses document that male athletes rated the importance of interpersonal and emotional relationships with teammates as valuably as they did instrumental needs. Results are discussed in terms of cultural imperatives that polarize domains presumed to be highly gender based and sex-segregated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-99
Number of pages19
JournalSex Roles
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Male athletics
  • Male intimacy
  • Masculinity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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