From Ancient Greece to the present day, male sporting idols have been held up as figureheads of manliness, but our ideas of what constitutes the ‘ideal man’ have slowly shifted over time.
Take the ultimate football icon, David Beckham; our panelist, the sociologist Ellis Cashmore, argues that Beckham has transformed the way in which many men perceive ideals of masculinity – aggressive competitor on the pitch, loving husband, doting father and fashion model off it – and has helped to give men a healthy role model.
Despite this, unsettling stories of homophobia and sexism abound in the sporting world. It remains a stark fact that the only professional footballer in the UK to come out as gay, Justin Fashanu, tragically took his own life in 1998. So does sport still have a problem in accepting different versions of masculinity?
Two novelists whose work addresses the complexity of men’s lives, David Park and Ross Raisin, join Ellis Cashmore and chair Iain Bloomfield to discuss masculinity in sport and to ask the crucial question: how can we make it better for future generations of sporting stars?