Cockocracy: Size matters in the locker room, researcher finds

South African rowers celebrate 2012 Olympics medal - Ezra Shaw

Interviews with British athletes confirm what we all know -- guys look and compare, and the bigger the better.

Does cock size really matter in sport? In short, the answer is yes. The bigger the better, but if it's too big, there will be doubts that you can use it.

My doctoral research took me on a journey gaining insight into embodiment and masculinity in sport. As a podiatrist I undertook my research journey with a focus of understanding the experiences of athletes and their footwear. My work produced some interesting findings about footwear and sports shoes and I entitled this podolinguistics. However, to get men to think about their shoes and feet in sport, I had to dismantle the role of embodiment (how men connect with their bodies, and experience life through their bodies). This produced some significant findings, which related to muscle bulk, and more notably, penis size. This work is published in my first book 'Jockocracy: Queering Masculinity and Sport', which is peer reviewed under the publishing arm of the 'Journal of Sport and Society'.


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As a podiatrist, specializing in sports sociology, I never thought that I would spend so much time talking about penis size, the role of the penis, and how penis size can shape a sports teams understanding of masculinity.

After ethical approval was granted, the research involved interviewing eight athletes; four self-identified gay men and four self-identified straight men. The participants were recruited from professional and semi-professional sports clubs around London, and undertook a one-hour semi-structured interview at the University of East London. 

The athletes included in this study are three soccer players (all straight); one soccer and rugby player (straight); one fitness trainer (gay); one bodybuilder (gay); one squash and tennis player (gay) and one former pro gymnast (gay).

The data were analyzed utilizing Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), developed by Jonathan Smith in 1995. The methodology only requires a small number of participants due to the intensive analytical process. These interviews took over a year to analyze. (See more on the methodology below).

The research suggested that men look at each other’s cocks, as a gauge to see how big or small they are, comparing themselves to the rest of the team or men in the locker room. The activity of checking out each other occurred irrelevant of sexuality and the type of sport; all participants noted that they looked at each other’s cocks in the locker room.

This knowing of who has a large cock and who didn’t within a homosocial environment helped individual sporting males climb up a social hierarchy of importance. Those with the larger penises were revered and idolized by their teammates as a symbol of masculinity. These "large-cocked" individuals became a focus of camaraderie and team building within their sports environments. The cock became a focus on which to banter, create nicknames, and enjoy the fundamental basics of being a man. Two nicknames that were mentioned included "schlonger" and the "biggest dick in Scottish basketball."

It was particularly interesting to note that two of the gay athletes did feel more self-conscious changing in front of other straight athletes, while the straight athletes did not have the same inhibitions. The bodybuilder suggested that if gay athletes were looking, they were probably not just checking out your size, but also possibly hoping for something more. He then suggested that in changing in front of straight athletes, there was no sexual tension, so it didn’t matter. Controversially he also added, that he thought it was "unfair to change in front of heterosexual athletes, in case they felt uncomfortable." It was interesting that this "gazing by the gays" has become a more complex situation than that experienced by the straight athletes, and their locker room changing habits.

This looking and/or fear of looking became quite interesting in the shower, where some of the straight athletes suggested that they "slap their cock around a bit" so it didn’t look too small in the communal showers. The semi-erect penis in the shower became another form of banter, with laughing over the fact that "one of the other athletes might have turned you on." The gay athletes didn’t report this as something they would do; they did suggest that there was an attempt to perform in a heteronormative manner to de-emphasize queer behavior, and having an erection wasn’t a good way to go about it.

Many of the athletes noted the fact that if they had a teammate with a large cock, the nicknames and banter followed them outside of the locker room and into their social lives. It was noted that on a night out with their respective teams or teammates, cock talk and banter followed them into pubs and clubs. For example one athlete started "if schlolger was chatting to a girl, we would all jump on him, and let her know he had a massive cock," promoting him as an idol of sporting masculine prowess. The rugby player telling this particular story seemed to suggest that women weren’t really impressed with this banter; "they often just rolled their eyes," he said. It was significant that this wasn’t a one-off experience and most of the athletes engaged in such activities outside of the locker room environment.

It was interesting to note that one rugby player discussed another athlete who had a really huge cock; he felt that the only reason he was still in the team was because he had a "massive cock" and in actual fact "he wasn’t very good at rugby." It was interesting to gain insight into the fact that actually a large penis in the rugby environment was more important than sporting ability, simply because it cemented the team in unity.

In the thesis I argue that a large penis is now an essential component of hegemonic masculinity, and should be considered a new tenet of masculine capital; taking into account the significance it has on social hierarchy in the sporting environment. I have called this cock-supremacy.

There is a down side to having a large cock. If it was too large, your fellow athletes sometimes doubted that you could actually use it sexually, or that someone would allow you to use it on them. There was an understanding that as an athlete you had to be sexually active; it added significantly to masculine capital, and the qualities associated with a sporting hegemonic male. A large cock couldn’t just be a symbol of masculinity, it had to be used in the sexual context. The large-cocked athletes knew that they had to be sexually active to maintain their positioning within a masculine sporting environment. If you couldn’t deflect this potential reputation, you would become labeled "the 40-year-old virgin" who stays at home and watches TV. So having a large penis comes with responsibilities and expected duties.

It was significant to note that those with a small penis were often seen as the admirers of the large-cocked guys, but not in a homosexual, or derogatory way. It was also highlighted that those athletes who were fat, generally had a small cock. The fatter athletes were considered to be hegemonically negative in this scenario, and so was his small penis. These athletes were placed at the bottom on this social hierarchy; it was suggested that they probably had to work harder to be part of the team.

Taking all of this into account, all the athletes did discuss this fact that fear of exposing their cock for the first time in the locker room was evident. Those with the largest cock and balls were always perceived to be the most confident. However, until you could gauge your positioning to the rest of your teammates, it was a stressful experience for all regardless of cock size, sexuality or sport.  

The politics of the cock is sport, or cockocracy as I like to call it, is up for debate. Some athletes might not like to think it exists; some might embrace the concept whole-heartedly and acknowledge its truth in their own experiences. The politics of the penis, this new insight into cockocracy in sport, is an interesting and fascinating facet to the sociology of all male sporting environments. So to conclude, my work suggests that cock size does matter in sport, irrespective of sexuality, sporting discipline and age.

Dr Chris Morriss-Roberts is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Brighton, UK. He has been working in Higher Education for nearly 10 years, with a focus on teaching the psychology and sociology of health. Since finishing his doctoral thesis nearly a year ago, Chris has since been developing his research and publication career. Last year he published "Jockocracy: Queering Masculinity and Sport," focusing on the work taken from his doctoral thesis. This publication and an article in PodiatryNow, UK, on podolinguistics and athletes created a vast amount of international interest. Chris is now working on developing the sociological construct of podolinguistics further.

Methodology: To finalize, reference will be make to the volume of data represented in this study, from a qualitative research context. The data was analyzed utilizing Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), developed by Jonathan Smith in 1995. This analytical approach focuses on the phenomenological (experience), the hermeneutic (interpretation) and the idiographic (individual as part of the whole). The focus of this analytical approach is on a small number of participants, with an extensive in-depth analysis. The aim is to dismantle meaning, experience, and the usage of language to expose the experiences of the participants.

The eight recruited participants should be a very similar representation to many other athletes in western sporting communities; this is referred to as a homogenous sample. This research is therefore not suggesting that the findings from the study are representative of all athletes, in sporting homosocial communities, but there will be some homogenous similarities found in some same sex sporting communities, where athletes work in competitive environments. The principle researcher is aware that this isn’t a blanket representation of all athletes, all over the world, but the sample could be mapped to similar communities and backgrounds in the context of sports sociology research such as this.

Dr Christopher Morriss-Roberts can be contacted on christophermorriss@gmx.co.uk or tweet @DrChrisMoRo

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