The Phallus of Football

What’s up class! My name is Greg Valdivia and Im a 4th year double-major in Ethnic Studies and Communication. At the very young age of 3 years old, I was ran over by an electric bike and I broke my femur (the thigh bone) in half. The doctors told my family that I would most likely have difficulties using my left leg in everyday activities such as walking and running. There was even a slight chance that I would be paralyzed in my left leg.  However, my therapy went well and I was later able to join a kids under-6yrs soccer team and I loved it. Becoming an athlete was a revolutionary act for my family to witness, and they encouraged that I pursue my highest athletic ability.

I played soccer year-round until I was 15 years old and decided to leave the competitive sport behind during my freshman year of high school, and instead I joined both the Cross Country and Track & Field team. I would’ve never expected, but I realized that I was a very talented runner. Sometimes I still wonder how my broken femur has contributed to this situation….. However, I was able to come to UCSD to run on the Track and Field team. Entering collegiate athletics was one of my biggest accomplishments ever because I exceeded all the expectations of my failure.

Coming to UCSD was not a pleasant experience, though. As a college freshman I was becoming more aware that my homosexuality was something I could no longer hide. Many cannot imagine what a homosexual athlete must go through in order to feel competent among their heterosexual counterparts, and this was especially true for me. My teammates made homophobic jokes DAILY. To add to the fire, the men’s team was extremely misogynistic and racist. I believed I could ignore it, since I had been ignoring it all my life, but it reached a point in which I could no longer find a passion to walk onto the track. Literally and metaphorically, I had to walk away from the track because I was simply unwanted, and clearly unfit to be a normal athlete.

My emotions from leaving the track team compelled me to explore the topics of sexuality, masculinity, and gender performance in American sports. I quickly found an interest in looking at football, because it is a hypermasculine arena that promotes the essentialized male/masculine body into cultural discourse. I started questioning: Are there gay football players? Do they feel what I felt? What expectations make them feel inferior? How do they ignore their feelings? These questions still circulate in my mind, and this is why I am taking this class. I am choosing to study football because it is an American sport and it has immense influence on discourse of gender within and beyond the sport and media sport. Still to this day, not ONE football player currently in the professional field has come out while they were playing. And I want to find out why not……


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2 Responses to The Phallus of Football

  1. Andre T says:

    ahahah you have funny header pics :p

  2. Sarah McCullough says:

    Thank you for sharing your personal history with sport, which is crucial to your critical framework. It saddens me to hear about your experience (both with the femur and the track team), though it is clear that you have the strength to remain true to yourself.

    Football will be an excellent site to examine these questions. The intersection of masculinity and sexuality, particularly around sport performance bears significant unpacking and understanding. I’m really excited to see how your project evolves!

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