Organizing masculine bodies in rugby league football: groomed to fail

2015-02-11T15:35:46Z (GMT) by Christine Coupland
In the article I argue that a study of high contact sports, such as rugby league, can illuminate a discursive space in which the production of organized, docile, masculine, bodies, engaged in emotional labour are crafted and mobilized through disciplinary practices. Participants from a rugby league football club and their trainers have been interviewed and observed as part of a larger ethnographic study. The analysis provides a contrast to and develops understanding from studies of the organized female body, which have long argued that they are subject to disciplinary forces in the workplace (e.g. Trethewey, 1999), by illustrating how masculine bodies may also be made docile in particular organizational contexts. The article explores the organization of masculine bodies in professional sport as an example of the production of masculinity in a work environment. I conclude by suggesting that these masculine bodies are worked upon to be fit for organizational purpose in a similar way to how women’s bodies are crafted to fit in male-dominated work environments. This is not simply through an imposition of more powerful ideologies but as simultaneous products and producers of the organized body. Furthermore, despite these efforts, the bodies become no longer fit for use with the passage of time. The erosion of ability due to injury and competition from younger, fitter, bodies ensure that their working lives are brought to an abrupt close.