Inclusive Masculinities in American High School Athletics: An Ethnography

  • Luis Emilio Morales


This chapter explores the proliferation of softer, gay-friendly, and diverse masculinities, as demonstrated in this case study of 16- to 17-year-old heterosexual male cross-country athletes from a diverse, middle-class high school in California. This research contributes to a growing number of academic studies that indicate an increase of young male athletes—particularly from team-sports—displaying physical tactility and emotional intimacy, in a culture of diminished homohysteria. Utilizing participative and non-participative observations on the team, coupled with 10 in-depth interviews, this research finds unanimous acceptance of gay men. Further, a range of homosocial behaviors were observed to be common, including; cuddling, hand-holding, and hugging. The analysis of this data primarily concerns the way heterosexual boundaries and identities are maintained, and the process by which normalizing heterosexuality as the assumed sexual orientation contributes to heterosexism. Despite the reproduction of heterosexism, the relationships these high school athletes form with each other are not predicated on homophobia or hypermasculinity. In continuing to weave together a patchwork of rigorous, qualitative research—in this case, ethnography—sport sociologists, coaches, and all other stakeholders alike may better understand the changing tide of masculinity in adolescent athletes in the transition to manhood.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis Emilio Morales
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WinchesterWinchesterUK

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