Dunning and Sheard’s seminal work, Barbarians, Gentleman and Players, illustrates the importance of adopting a sociological approach to understanding the development of modern sport. Their specific analysis of the role of football in public schools and peer and pupil-master relations offered an important perspective on changing relations between these social groups. Since then, research on PE from a figurational viewpoint has focused more on teachers’ perspectives and experiences, with fewer articles concerning pupils’ thoughts. In this article, we revisit power relations within male physical education by drawing upon data from a recent ethnographic study in the North East of England. We locate contemporary perspectives and experiences of bullying along long-term shifts in people's attitudes towards violence and conflict resolution. In particular, we consider how the social processes involved in bullying illustrate the nuanced relationships and behaviours young people must navigate and negotiate within increasingly complex contemporary societies. In competitive single-sex PE environments, we demonstrate how young males are required to exhibit heightened levels of control over their emotional and behavioural expression.