Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Member

Sandra Sarkela

Committee Member

Michael Hutchinson


Sports & sports fandom, especially football, is a "historically male cutural practice" and has recently experiences an increase in women's participation (Gosling, 2007, p. 250), with 45% of NFL fans identified as women (Jessop, 2012). However, even with the recent increase in participation, women remain marginalized. Further, women are traditionally restricted to their roles as mothers and wives due to the hegemonic masculinity ideologies of sport. In addition, this marginalization causes women's sport fandon to be called into question based on the simple fact that they are women.Although women are denied membership in the group of "sports fans" (Markovits & Albertson, 2012), the NFL recognized the power of women as consumers. Women purchase 46% of official NFL merchaddise, spend 80% of all sport apparel dollars, control 60% of all money spent on men's clothing, and comprise almost one-third of ESPN's audience. Thus, the NFL started tailoring commercials to women as the primary purchaser and developed NFL apparel just for women (Jessop, 2012). In addition to the participation as consumers, women found another avenue for participation in football - fantasy sports.Over the course of the 2013 fall football season, I interviewed 28 highly intelligent, very media savvy women who play fantasy football and consider themselves to be authentic NFL fans. Data collection took place in the form of online, semi-structured interviews. I conducted a grounded theory analysis within a critical discourse studies framework of the interview data, and found three common themes. First, these interviewees argued that they felt excluded by the NFL, but felt that they were able to overcome this exclusion through their participation in fantasy football; arguing that fantasy football is inclusive. Second, these interviewees suggested that the competitive nature of fantasy football is empowering and that they found fantasy football to be a safe place for competition, as opposed to the backlash that participants described that they encounter when they are competitive in their workplaces. Ultimately, I found that through participation in fantasy football, these women are resisting the hegemonic masculinity of American football on multiple levels, all while simultaneously reinforcing hegemonic masculinity within American culture.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.