||Why is the American male's sense of self so closely intertwined with his success, or failure, as an athlete? What are the physical and emotional costs, to individual men and society at large, of engaging in organized athletics? Are sports good for men and boys? Michael Messner addresses these questions and more in his fascinating new study of masculinity and sports. Using interviews with thirty male former athletes, Messner argues that sports, so central to the lives of millions of boys and men, play a key role in shaping our society's definition of what it means to be a man. Messner shows us that lifelong relationships with colleagues, friends, lovers, wives, and children are affected by the barriers to intimacy constructed through sports. America's jock culture equates true manhood with athletic success, driving men to view the world in terms of status, power, and privilege. The Lombardian ethic that "winning isn't everything; it's the only thing" pushes America's athletes to continue to play even when hurt, to take drugs, and to treat women and others as mere objects. Sexism, homophobia, and racism pervade the world of sports, and Messner's conversations with male athletes of different races, classes, and sexual orientations reveal their struggles to reconcile the world of sports with the reality of their private lives. America's boys and men, as well as its girls and women, can find camaraderie and pleasure on the playing field, but the rules of the game must change first. The rules will only shift, Messner convinces us, when we begin to change our definitions of what it is to be men and women.