Masters of Education in Human Movement, Sport, and Leisure Studies Graduate Projects


This study uses textual analysis to examine how masculinity is conveyed through HBO’s docu-series Hard Knocks. NFL players featured on HBO’s docu-series Hard Knocks are examined to see examples of masculine behavior in the NFL. NFL football is characterized by competitiveness, strength, violence and aggression and Hard Knocks showcases it in a raw form. This study observes the framework and context of the gender order, masculinity, hegemonic masculinity, war-football comparisons, men’s relationship with sport, the physical body in the NFL, and NFL’s current issues. The specific scenes give rare glimpses of training camp in the NFL. The scenes showcase relationships between players and coaches, players and fellow teammates, a team with its opposing competition and outsiders. The scenes were transcribed, analyzed and critiqued through textual analysis to find themes about masculinity that relate to the previous research. Using textual analysis allowed me to make my best guess as to the meanings and understanding of the scenes. I found instances of males using violence/force and competition to establish their dominance. There were examples of comradery and fatherhood through teammate and coach exchanges. The information found in this critical analysis can be used as the basis for effecting social change. The benefits of the findings can also help lead to a better understanding of the masculinity of NFL football players.


Nancy Spencer

Second Reader

Sungho Cho








Sport Administration