Masculinity and Sexuality in Sport

Author: University of Cincinnati
Published: Thursday 6th November 2014 - Updated: Monday 12th January 2015
Summary: Preliminary research is providing rare look at construction of masculinity on covers of mainstream and gay-themed sports magazines.


The research by Jodi Stooksberry and J. A. Carter, both doctoral students in the UC Department of Sociology, was presented at the 108th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York, N.Y.

Stooksberry and Carter did a comparative analysis of two sports magazines: Sports Illustrated, one of the nation's most recognized mainstream sports magazines, and Compete. Published out of Tempe, Ariz., Compete calls itself the world's first gay sports magazine.

The researchers wanted to examine similarities and differences in the construction of masculinity on the front covers of the two magazines. They say their examination found disassociation with sport and hypersexualization on the covers of the LGBT-themed magazine, a trend that has typically been portrayed among female athletes featured in mainstream magazines.

Stooksberry and Carter examined random magazine covers from 2009-2011. A total of 28 magazine issues were studied - 14 magazine covers from each publication.

The analyses reviewed:

"While Sports Illustrated clearly identified cover subjects as athletes - even identifying the sport in which they participate - subjects on the cover of Compete were largely disassociated from sport," state the authors. "In fact, many of the subjects on the cover of Compete could not be identified as athletes and their affiliation with sport was unclear."

The authors found that out of the covers they studied, Compete covers showed athletes on the field/court in 7.1 percent of its cover photos, whereas Sports Illustrated had subjects in the field/court in more than 86 percent of its photos. About a third of the analyzed Sports Illustrated covers featured athletes in motion, while none of the Compete cover photos displayed motion, but rather stationary poses.

The authors also say subjects on the cover of Sports Illustrated were easily identifiable as athletes. Ninety-two percent of the Sports Illustrated covers portrayed athletes in uniform, while 21.5 percent of subjects on Compete were dressed in uniform. Around 14 percent of the Compete covers showed athletes in bathing suits or with no visible clothing.

"Female athletes are often sexualized and feminized in a similar fashion to non-athlete women in mass media," write the authors. "Male athletes are rarely, if ever, depicted in sexualized, submissive, objectifying or non-athletic positions in sports magazines.

Therefore, the disassociation of Compete men from athletics, along with their hypersexualization and objectification, results in a queered form of masculinity."

The researchers say the analysis fills a gap in research examining masculinity within mediated sports.


Similar Topics


From our Sports section - Full List (11 Items)

Send us your coming events and LGBTQ related news stories.


Diversity in the Television Sector


LGBT Community Connectedness Differences Between LGB Republicans and LGB Democrats


Black Men and Sexual Minority Men Overrepresented in U.S. Among Commited Sex Offenders


Over Five Million LGBT Adults in the U.S. are Religious


Canada Reintroduces Legislation to Criminalize Conversion Therapy Related Conduct


No Difference in Health Outcomes for Transgender and Cisgender Parents


LGBT People 4 Times More Likely to be Victims of Violent Crime


Pathways Into Poverty for LGBTQ Adults Study



Tsara Shelton
"Storytellers are powerful and we are all storytellers," suggests Tsara Shelton, author of the book Spinning in Circles and Learning from Myself: A Collection of Stories that Slowly Grow Up..


LGBT Awareness & Events
List of important LGBT awareness dates and coming sexual diversity events.


Transgender Reporting Guide - English
Guide for those writing on transgender and LGBT community - Spanish Version.
Sexuality Definitions
List of definitions and glossary of sexual terms, abbreviations and their meanings.