Identity through Sports: Basketball and Black Masculinities
Akintoye-Bentola, Lawrence Suleman
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The development of black masculinities is a complex negotiation that is affected by various social constraints. While historically black males have faced significant checks on their construction of identity, their engagement with sports has been an area in which black masculinities have flourished. Specifically, participation in sports has been a cornerstone, where young adolescents have been able to develop their masculinity. This thesis looks to understand the intersection of sports and black adolescent masculinity. Through the lens of James Messerschmidt's Structured Action Theory, I have investigated how black young adults understand their masculinity through basketball and how participating in the sport shapes their understanding of self. Participants in this study are coaches and members of a Canadian university basketball team. Semi-structured interviews revealed that participants, while uniquely having their own narratives, demonstrate patterns in how they engage with the concept of black masculinity. The importance of educational advancement emerged as a key theme in their reflections on masculinity, basketball, and their futures. Findings of this study also have implications for how we think about varsity athletics and about basketball as a strategy for crime reduction.