Whose Game?

Gender and Power in Fantasy Sports

Rebecca Joyce Kissane and Sarah Winslow
Book Cover

PB: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1887-6
Publication: Apr 20

HC: $94.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1886-9
Publication: Apr 20

Ebook: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1888-3
Publication: Apr 20

242 pages
6 x 9
3 tables

How fantasy sport participants experience gendered power

Read a blog entry by the authors

Read the Introduction (pdf).


Fantasy sports have the opportunity to provide a sporting community in which gendered physical presence plays no role—a space where men and women can compete and interact on a level playing field. Whose Game? shows, however, that while many turn to this space to socialize with friends or participate in a uniquely active and competitive fandom, men who play also depend on fantasy sports to perform a boyhood vision of masculinity otherwise inaccessible to them. Authors Rebecca Kissane and Sarah Winslow draw on a rich array of survey, interview, and observational data to examine how gender, race, and class frame the experiences of everyday fantasy sports players.

This pioneering book examines gendered structures and processes, such as jock statsculinity—a nerdish form of masculine one-upmanship—and how women are often rendered as outsiders. Ultimately, Whose Game? demonstrates that fantasy sports are more than just an inconsequential leisure activity. This online world bleeds into participants’ social lives in gendered ways—forging and strengthening relationships but also taking participants’ time and attention to generate negative emotions, stress, discord, and unproductivity.


"Whose Game? offers insight into the changing face of masculinity through the lens of fantasy sports. Drawing on a rich array of data including interviews, surveys, and personal observations, Whose Game? takes readers on a compelling journey into a world driven by new media, a desire to cling to boyhood pursuits, and more.... (A) well researched and written book, Whose Game? provides a valuable contribution to the study of masculinity and sport within a U.S. context."
Contemporary Sociology

" Overall, the book is excellent. It is rich, fluidly written, provides genuine insight into a world known intimately by insiders, but not by many outsiders, and is a superb example of gender-based analysis."

“Whose Game? is well written and compelling, and the research important and timely. The authors’ sociological examinations of fantasy sports make a convincing argument that this is a unique realm of fandom. In its gender analysis, Whose Game? is a strong, valuable contribution to the literature. The breadth and depth of the data make for a rich analysis that allows us to examine and understand patterns of meaning and experience. This book will have significant appeal to those in the fantasy sport world, including participants and organizers, as well as general sports fans.”—Rachel Allison, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Mississippi State University and author of Kicking Center: Gender and the Selling of Women’s Professional Soccer

In this fascinating new study, Kissane and Winslow show us how often aging, non-athletic men can engage in fantasy sports leagues as to both secure a claim on legitimate masculinity and, importantly, to forge much needed emotional bonds with other men. Through careful research, Whose Game? documents the possibilities and perils involved in playing fantasy sports and issues an important call for thinking seriously about the way leisure and fun can reinforce existing gendered, raced, and classed inequalities.”—C.J. Pascoe, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Oregon, and author of Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School

"The masterful use of a mixed and multimethod approach that relies on quantitative and qualitative data leads Kissane and Winslow to a series of more complex and nuanced set of conclusions otherwise inaccessible to either the casual or even a seasoned participant. Of their many contributions to sociology of gender and/or the sociology of sport, the authors are able to identify the mechanisms through which gender, race, and class privileges are reflected and reproduced. The book is accessible and engaging."
Gender and Society

"Kissane and Winslow examine the ways that gender, race, and class shape the structure and experience of fantasy sports participation in ways that reproduce an intersectional array of inequalities under the guise of 'good fun.' Their central argument is that fantasy sports matter and are more than an insignificant pastime…. Whose Game? is a useful case study of these larger issues, examining important social and cultural transformations underway."
Social Forces

"In the end, the authors conclude that fantasy sports is a gendered space that ultimately reproduces the stereotypical ideologies of gender, race, and class found in traditional sports, a domain which by all accounts favors ‘white, class-privileged men.’ These findings adeptly answer the title question of who dominates and controls fantasy sports…. Summing Up: Highly recommended."

Table of Contents


1. Introduction: Fantasy Sports, Real Sports, and Gender
2. It’s All Just a Game, It’s Just a Different Game: Fantasy Sports as Personalized, Competitive, and Contested Fandom
3. Letting Men Be Men: Jock Statsculinity and Fantasy Sports
4. Playing in a Man’s World: Perceptions and Experiences of Women in Fantasy Sports
5. The Social Aspects of Fantasy Are Huge: Gendered Social Capital in Fantasy Sports
6. Going Overboard? Time, Attention, and Emotional Absorption in Fantasy Sports
7. Conclusion: Whose Game? Gender and Power in Fantasy Sports

Appendix: Additional Information on the Data and Method

About the Author(s)

Rebecca Joyce Kissane is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Lafayette College.

Sarah Winslow is Senior Associate Director of the Honors College, Director of the National Scholars Program, and Associate Professor of Sociology at Clemson University, and co-editor of Gender in the Twenty-First Century: The Stalled Revolution and the Road to Equality.


In the Series

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    As an international cultural activity for athleticism, spectatorship, and global cultural exchange, sport is unmatched by any other force on earth. And yet it remains a consistently understudied dimension of history and cultural studies. Sporting, edited by Amy Bass, aims to contribute to the study of sport by publishing works by people across a range of disciplines, by professional sportswriters, and by athletes to add substance to our still emerging notion of globalization.