The Dark Side of Sports
The Dark Side of Sports
Athletes' Exhibitionism, Deviant Masturbation, and Bodily Discharges
Hearing words like male exhibitionism, deviant masturbation and bodily discharges stirs up thoughts of sinister older men with mental health issues who appear in dark alleys wearing long overcoats. Now ask yourself if such reactions would be the same if these behaviors occurred among a highly regarded group of young men who also happened to be elite-level athletes? People may laugh with disbelief or question the source, but it is true: Male athletic environments offer a unique and protective safe haven where young men are relatively free to speak and act in whatever way they please. This enables profanity-filled stories highlighting sexual exploits, bravado, deviancy, and/or aggression to flourish because virtually no one monitors athletes but themselves while they remain within sheltered strongholds including locker rooms. 1 Moreover, the same holds true when it comes to behavior because some athletes choose to differentiate themselves by engaging in bizarre and often repulsive behaviors which reward them with special identities and status while simultaneously revealing a darker, hidden side of sports. 2 Athletes' desire for entertainment, bragging rights, and one-upmanship often motivate an array of outrageous behaviors which raise both questions and eye-brows even when they remain confined to all-male athletic environments. At the same time, a variety of deviant practices can and do make their way into the public domain, which dramatically increases the potential risks and negative impact for everyone involved. It will become apparent that all-male sports environments encourage bizarre and outrageous behaviors even though some are harmful, demeaning, and have the potential to create all kinds of problems and consequences.
SEXUAL ANTICS OR HOMOEROTICISM?
Athletes spend tremendous amounts of time training, socializing, and living together which results in deep histories and friendships within certain teams. This is particularly true at the collegiate level where players can spend four or five years together on a team. As a result of their bonding, many athletes feel very safe and comfortable with their teammates, and this is reflected in players' language as well as their behaviors. 3 Since the locker room is the predominant safe haven where athletes spend extensive time together, it is logical to assume that some uninhibited displays and clowning will involve sexual behaviors in this secluded environment. For example, a wrestler and a collegiate baseball and hockey player described a variety of sexual antics and nudity among collegiate teammates in this way:
I mean in a shower you did all kinds of stupid things, you know, put hot water in your mouth and hold your dick and put it on like you spit it out, as if you're peeing on him, stupid stuff like that...I mean, you know, when there were a bunch of guys sitting there talking in a room about the girl they laid and some guy's grabbing himself and wanting to expose himself and show him that he's got a hard on, that's about extent of [it] you know, [and] everybody saying you know, "Get the hell out of here, what are you doing?" yea we had a couple of guys that just wanted to show off I think at times.
I remember there was one sick guy [laughs] on the fucking baseball team...he wasn't circumcised and in the shower...as a practical joke...he was always messing with [it], he'd fill up his fucking...dick...the extra skin with water and walk over to him and fucking spray him, which is probably one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen [laughs] in my life. And he'd do it on a regular occasion, but other than that man, nothing crazy.
...in the showers, people are