Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Sociology


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Jeffrey Jackson

Second Advisor

James M. Thomas

Third Advisor

Charles K. Ross

Relational Format



This thesis is a qualitative case study of an elite high school football program in the American Southeast. I conducted twelve interviews with former players from Lake Kolofa High School to better understand how young men are socialized into pursuing elite levels of sport. Using the society spectacle framework, this thesis extends current debates about primary sources of encouragement for participation to include the collective spectacle of sport. Here, the sporting spectacle acts as a major contributing factor in how young men come to view their chances of achieving upward social mobility through football. Other primary findings focus on the benefits and detriments of participation. Most notably, attention is given to how football serves as a racial safe space for athletes and how sport participation can provide a respite from the stresses of home life. However, similar to big-time college football, there are numerous challenges within elite levels of high school participation, including the time and physical demands that interfere with the school-sport balance. This thesis also considers how these men may participate in the reproduction of their social class through their pursuit of a professional sporting career.

Included in

Sociology Commons



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