African American male athletes: An examination of a conflicted sense of masculinity as a source of psychological distress

Carolyn A Spearman-Teamer, Tennessee State University


The purpose of this study is to explore the notion of masculinity and gender role expectations in African American male athletes. This includes how masculinity is a potential source of distress or conflict across the different identities or roles. African American male college students' gender role conflict has been significantly correlated with lower self esteem, higher anxiety and depression (Lily, 1999), psychological distress (Carter et al., 2005; Wester et al., 2006) and negative attitudes toward help seeking (White, 2002). Additionally, Sellers (1993) suggest that the experiences of African American male student-athletes are unique and include receiving inadequate educational preparation, experiencing racial isolation in the collegiate setting, and having difficulty with personal issues with other students, including other African American students, as well as attempting to negotiate multiple roles in the family, in the academic or workplace, on the field, in their relationships, and within their athletic environment. As it relates to the field of counseling psychology, this study's intention is to add to the current literature and increase the knowledge of how socio-cultural factors and potential gender role conflicts contribute to the psychological distress of Black male student athletes. For persons working within helping professions, this study intends to specifically address interventions and/or counseling models that will support increased sensitivity regarding the issue of masculinity, gender role conflict, and sources for distress in this population.

Subject Area

Black studies|Clinical psychology|Recreation|African American Studies

Recommended Citation

Carolyn A Spearman-Teamer, "African American male athletes: An examination of a conflicted sense of masculinity as a source of psychological distress" (2008). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3320202.