This paper critically considers the concept of fathering through sport by examining the fathering practices of men whose sons played elite junior football at a UK professional club. The paper presents data from participant observation of 33 fathers and in-depth interviews with 18 fathers. The paper outlines how hegemonic masculine discourses inherent in football encouraged various disempowering fathering practices. Fathers were able to legitimize these as being necessary for ensuring sons were tough enough to cope with the demands of adult professional football. The integration of ‘football father’ into men's gender identity construction is also considered and highlights further complexities in the fathering through sport process with some men being dependent on sons continuing to participate for their sense of selves. This is shown to bring particular pressures to the father/son relationship and can have damaging consequences for them as both men and fathers if sons' involvement in elite junior football is terminated.
Uncontrolled Keywords (separate with ;):