The mismeasure of masculinity: the male body, 'race' and power in the enumerative discourses of the NFL Draft

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Abstract:

The athletic male body has long been idealized in western culture, and its dimensions are a key aspect of its iconic status. Oates and Durham examine the discourses of the athletic male body as it is presented in media discourses surrounding the NFL Draft. They focus specifically on the enumerative strategies used to define and delimit the racialized bodies of football draftees. Through a close textual analysis of publications that deal with the Draft, they uncover three main themes in the discursive construction of the athletes' bodies: the delineation of the body in terms of its dimensions; the assessment of the body's performance; and the body's productivity in terms of mastery of the sport. In characterizing the athletic body strictly in terms of its relationship to physical space, the discourses invoke aspects of hegemonic masculinity related to size, strength and the successful use of force. In addition, in the deployment of quantification by white team-owners and managers in the evaluation of mainly non-white players of a lower class position, the numeric logics of the Draft reinscribe power hierarchies of 'race' and class.

Keywords: NFL Draft; corporeal theory; eugenics; football; gender; ideology; masculinity; media; power; race; sport

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0031322042000250475

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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