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Sport in Society: Issues & Controversies

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Presentation on theme: "Sport in Society: Issues & Controversies"— Presentation transcript:

1 Sport in Society: Issues & Controversies
Sports and Children: Are Organized Programs Worth the Effort?

2 Origins of Organized Youth Sports
Organized youth sports emerged in the 20th Century The first programs focused on “masculinizing” boys Organized youth sports grew rapidly in many industrialized countries after World War II Programs in the U.S. emphasized competition as preparation for future occupational success Girls’ interests generally were ignored

3 Social Changes Related to the Growth of Organized Youth Sports
Increase in working families New definitions of “good parent” Growing belief that informal activities lead to trouble for kids Growing belief that the world is dangerous for children Increased visibility of high-performance and professional sports in society


5 Major Trends in Youth Sports Today
Organized programs have become increasingly privatized Organized programs increasingly emphasize the “performance ethic” An increase in “elite training” facilities Increased participation in “alternative sports”

6 Youth Sports: Types of Sponsors
Public, tax-supported community recreation programs Public non-profit community organizations Private nonprofit sport organizations Private commercial clubs

7 Privatized Youth Sport Programs
Growth is associated with the decline in publicly funded programs Most common in middle- and upper-middle income areas May reproduce economic and ethnic inequalities in society May not be committed to gender equity Private programs are not accountable in the same way as public programs

8 The “Performance Ethic”
Refers to emphasizing measured outcomes as indicators of the quality of sport experiences Fun = becoming better Emphasized in private programs Related to parental notions of investing in their children’s future

9 Elite Sport Training Programs
Most common in private, commercial programs Emphasize the potential for children to gain material rewards through sports Children often “work” long hours and become like “laborers,” but programs are not governed by child labor laws Raise ethical issues about adult-child relationships


11 New Interests in Alternative Sports
A response to highly structured, adult-controlled organized programs Revolve around desires to be expressive and spontaneous May have high injury rates and patterns of exclusion related to gender and social class Are being appropriated by large corporations for advertising purposes

12 Different Experiences
Formal Sports Emphasize: Formal rules Set positions Systematic guidance by adults Status and outcomes Informal Sports Emphasize: Action Personal involvement Challenging experiences Reaffirming friendships

13 Different Outcomes Formal Sports Emphasize: Informal Sports Emphasize:
Relationships with authority figures Learning rules and strategies Rule-governed teamwork & achievement Informal Sports Emphasize: Interpersonal & decision-making skills Cooperation Improvisation Problem solving


15 When Are Children Ready to Play Organized, Competitive Sports?
Prior to age 12, children don’t have the ability to fully understand competitive team sports They play “beehive soccer” Children must lean how to cooperate before they can learn how to compete Team sports require the use of a “third party perspective” Role Taking Ability Game Stage Developmental level

16 What Are the Dynamics of Family Relationships in Youth Sports?
Sports have the potential to bring families together Being together does not always mean that close communication occurs Children may feel pressure from parents Parent labor in youth sports often reproduces gendered logic ideas work family

17 How Do Social Factors Influence Youth Sport Experiences?
Participation opportunities vary by social class Encouragement often varies by gender and ability/disability Self perceptions and the social consequences of participation vary by: social class sex race/ethnicity ability/disability sexuality

18 Recommendations for Changing Informal & Alternative Sports
Make play spaces more safe and accessible to as many children as possible Be sensitive to class and sex Provide indirect guidance without being controlling Treat sport as a worthwhile site for facing challenges developing competence

19 Recommendations for Changing Organized Sports
Increase action Increase personal involvement Facilitate close scores and realistic challenges Facilitate friendship formation and maintenance

20 Recommendations for Changing High-performance Programs
Establish policies, procedures, and rules to account for: the rights of children participants the interests of children participants Create less controlling environments to promote growth to promote development to promote empowerment

21 Prospects for Change Often subverted when priority is given to efficiency and organization over age-based developmental concerns May be subverted by national organizations concerned with standardizing programs May be subverted by adult administrators with vested interests in the status quo

22 Coaching Education Programs
Are useful when they provide coaches with information on Dealing with children safely and responsibly Organizing practices and teaching skills Are problematic when they foster a “techno-science” approach to controlling children Creating “sports efficiency experts” should not be the goal

23 Deviance in Sports: Is It Out of Control?

24 Problems Faced When Studying Deviance in Sports
Forms & causes of deviance are diverse No single theory can explain all Sports behavior may be deviant in other settings (All Star Wrestling) Sports often involves unquestioned acceptance of norms rarely the rejection of norms Training & performance have become medicalized


26 Using Functionalist Theory to Define Deviance
Deviance involves a rejecting of accepted goals Or rejecting the means of achieving goals in society Conformity is equated with morality Deviance is caused by faulty socialization By inconsistencies in the social system Deviance is controlled by getting tough By enforcing more rules more strictly

27 Using Conflict Theory to Define Deviance
Deviance involves behavior that interferes with the interests of those with economic power The behavior of those who lack power is more likely to be labeled as deviant Those who deviate often are victims of exploitation in a system characterized by inequalities The problem of deviance will be minimal when power is equally distributed in society

28 Using Interactionist & Critical Theories to Define Deviance
Most deviance in sports is not due to the moral bankruptcy of athletes Much deviance in sports involves over conformity to established norms in sports Sport deviance must be understood in terms of the normative context of sport cultures and the emphasis on “the sport ethic”

29 Normally Accepted Range of Behavior
Deviant Under- Conformity Normally Accepted Range of Behavior Deviant Over- Conformity Deviance based on unquestioned acceptance of norms Deviance based on ignoring or rejecting norms

30 The Sport Ethic A cluster of norms that represent the accepted criteria for defining what it means to be an athlete.

31 Four Norms of the Sport Ethic
An athlete makes sacrifices for “the game” An athlete strives for distinction An athlete accepts risks and plays through pain An athlete accepts no limits in the pursuit of possibilities

32 Why Do Athletes Engage in Deviant Over- Conformity?
Two reasons for over-conformity: Sports are so exhilarating and thrilling that athletes want to play, and they will do almost anything to continue to do so Being selected by coaches and managers is more likely when athletes over conform to the sport ethic

33 Athletes Most Likely to Over- Conform to the Sport Ethic
Those who have low self-esteem Eager to be accepted by their peers Willing to sacrifices what they think others want them to Those who see achievements in sport as their only way to get ahead make a name become important in the world

34 Deviant Over-Conformity and Group Dynamics
Following the Norms of the Sport Ethic Special Bonds Among Athletes Hubris (arrogance)

35 Social Processes in Elite Power & Performance Sports
Bond athletes in ways that normalize over conformity to the sport ethic Separate athletes from the rest to inspire awe and admiration among community members Lead athletes to develop HUBRIS (a sense of arrogance, separateness, and superiority)

36 Hypotheses About Deviance Among Athletes
Deviance becomes more likely when Social bonds normalize risk taking Athletes are separated from the rest of the community Athletes develop extreme degrees of hubris When people in the community see athletes as being special

37 Controlling Deviant Over-Conformity in Sports
Four ways to control deviant over-conformity: Learn to identify the forms and dynamics of over-conformity among athletes Raise critical questions about the meaning, organization, and purpose of sports Create norms in sports that discourage over- conformity to the sport ethic Help athletes to learn to strike a balance between accepting and questioning rules and norms in their sports

38 Research on Deviance Among Athletes
On the Field Deviance Cheating, dirty play, fighting, & violence are less common today than in the past This historical finding contradicts popular perceptions. Many people think deviance is more common today More rules than ever before Expectations for conformity are greater.

39 Research on Deviance Among Athletes
Off the Field Deviance Athletes do not have higher delinquency rates Data on academic cheating is inconclusive Athletes have higher rates of alcohol use Felony rates among adult athletes do not seem to be out of control BUT they do constitute a problem (see Ch. 7)

40 Is Sport Participation a Cure for Deviant Behavior?
Research suggests that organized sport might reduce deviance if: A philosophy of nonviolence Respect for self and others The importance of fitness and control over self Confidence in physical skills A sense of responsibility

41 DON’T FORGET Coaches Parents Spectators Administrators Team owners
Athletes are not the only ones in sports who engage in deviant behavior. Think of other examples involving: Coaches Parents Spectators Administrators Team owners Agents

42 Using Performance Enhancing Substances in Sports
The use of performance enhancing substances occurs regularly in high performance sports Many cases of usage constitute a form of deviant over conformity Such substances will be used as long as athletes believe they will enhance performance


44 Defining and Banning Performance Enhancing Substances
Defining what constitutes a “performance enhancing substance” is difficult Defining what is natural or artificial is difficult Defining what is fair when it comes to the use of science, medicine, & technology in sports is difficult Determining what is dangerous to health is difficult Studying and testing for substances is constrained by ethical and legal factors

45 Eight Reasons Why Substance Use So Prevalent Today?
The high stakes in sports have fueled research and development of substances Fascination with the use of technology to push human limits The rationalization of the body Heavy emphasis on self-medication Changing sexual relations

46 Why Is Substance Use So Prevalent Today?
The organization of power and performance sports (must win to continue to play) Coaches, sponsors, administrators, and fans clearly encourage most forms of deviant over-conformity The social structure of elite sports (control over body and conformity to demands of coaches)

47 Arguments Against Testing
Testing will never be able to identify all substances athletes use to enhance performance Athletes and substance manufacturers can stay one step ahead of the testers Mandatory testing, testing without cause, and using blood and tissue violates ideas about rights to privacy in many cultures

48 Arguments for Testing To be meaningful, sport performances must involve natural abilities Drug use destroys the basis for competition by subverting fairness Drug use threatens the health and well-being of athletes Drug use is immoral and must be stopped

49 Controlling Substance Use: Where to Start (I)
Critically examine the hypocrisy in elite sports Establish rules indicating that risks to health are undesirable and unnecessary in sports Establish rules stating that injured athletes must be independently certified as “well” before they may play Educate young athletes to define courage and discipline in ways that promote health

50 Controlling Substance Use: Where to Start (II)
Establish a code of ethics for sport scientists Make drug education part of deviance and health education Create norms regulating use of technology Critically examine values and norms in sports Redefine meaning of achievement Teach athletes to think critically Provide accurate and current information to parents, coaches, and athletes

51 Violence in Sports: How Does It Affect Our Lives?

52 Definition of Violence
The use of excessive force that causes or has the potential to cause harm or destruction Violence is not always illegal or disapproved It may be praised and lauded as necessary When violence involves widespread rejection of norms, it may signal anarchy When violence involves extreme over-conformity to norms, it may signal fascism

53 Definition of Aggression
Verbal or physical behavior grounded in an intent to dominate, control, or do harm to another person Aggression is not the same as assertiveness, competitiveness, or trying hard Intimidation refers to words, gestures, and actions that threaten violence or aggression

54 Violence in Sports History
Figurational research shows that violence was more severe in the past On the field & off the field Rates of sports violence have not automatically increased over time Violence in sports remains a crucial social issue today Sports violence can serve to reproduce an ideology of male privilege

55 Types of On-the-field Violence
Brutal body contact Hits, Tackles, Blocks, or any forceful body contact Borderline violence Brush Back Pitch, Elbow, the Bump in running, Fight in hockey, or any force with the intent to cause bodily harm Quasi-criminal violence Cheap Shot, Late Hits, or any use of force that violates the rules Criminal violence Physical Assault that usually brings criminal charges

56 Violence As Deviant Over Conformity to the Sport Ethic (I)
Coaches may expect players to use violence Violence often attracts media attention Players may not like violence, even though most accept it as part of the game Quasi and criminal violence are routinely rejected by athletes and spectators

57 Violence As Deviant Over- Conformity to the Sport Ethic (II)
Violence may be related to insecurities in high performance sports Expressions of violence are related to gender, but not limited to men Physicality creates drama and excitement, strong emotions, and special bonds among all athletes, male and female

58 Commercialization and Violence
Some athletes are paid to do violence Commercialization and money expand the visibility of violence in sports, and violent discourse in and about sports Violence is not caused by TV and money – it existed long before TV coverage and big salaries

59 Violence and Masculinity
Violence is grounded in general cultural norms Violence in sports is not limited to men Playing power and performance sports often are ways to prove masculinity

60 Violence, Masculinity, Social Class, & Race
Among men from low-income backgrounds, violence may be a tool to bring respect Black men may use violence to exploit white stereotypes

61 Violence Is Institutionalized in Some Sports
In non-contact sports, violence is usually limited to using violent images in talk In contact men’s sports, players learn to use violence as a strategy Enforcers & goons are paid to do violence In women’s contact sports, violence may be used as a strategy, but not to prove femininity

62 Pain and Injury As the Price of Violence
A popular paradox in today’s sports: People accept violence while being concerned about injuries caused by violence Disabling injuries caused by violence in some sports are serious problems Dominant ideas about masculinity are related to high injury rates in men’s sports

63 Controlling On-the-field Violence
Brutal body contact is the most difficult form of violence to control Most injuries occur on “legal hits” The most effective strategies might involve: Suspensions for players Fines for team owners

64 Off-the-field Violence
Carryover data are inconclusive Assault and sexual assault rates among male, heterosexual athletes are a serious problem These behaviors are a serious problem in society as a whole Debates about whether rates are higher among athletes distract attention from the problem of violence in culture

65 Hypotheses About Male Athletes’ Violence Against Women
Violence is related to Support from fellow athletes for using physical force as a strategy Perceived cultural support for domination as a basis for status & identity among men Deviant over-conformity to the norms of the sport ethic

66 Hypotheses About Male Athletes’ Violence Against Women
Violence is related to Support for the belief that women constitute “groupies” in sport worlds Collective HUBRIS and the notion that outsiders do not deserve respect Institutional support for elite athletes regardless of behavior Institutional failures to hold athletes accountable for deviance

67 Learning to Control Violence in Sports
Control may be learned if The social world formed around a sport promotes a mindset & norms emphasizing: Non-violence Self-control Respect for self and others Physical fitness Patience

68 Violence Is Most Likely When:
Sports are organized in ways that Produce HUBRIS Separate athletes from the community Encourage athletes to think that others do not deserve their respect

69 Violence in Sports & Gender Ideology
Doing violence in sports reproduces the belief that “men are superior to women” Power & performance sports, when they encourage violence, emphasize difference between men and women Sports violence reproduces an ideology of male entitlement

70 Violence Among Spectators
No data on how watching sports may influence violence in everyday relationships Spectators at non-contact sports have low rates of violence Spectators at contact sports have rates of violence that constitute a problem in need of analysis and control Rates today are lower than rates in the past

71 Celebratory Violence This form of violence has not been studied systematically by scholars in the sociology of sport


73 General Factors Related to Violence at Sport Events
Action in the sport event itself Crowd dynamics & the situation in which spectators watch the event Historical, social economic, & political context in which the event is planned and played

74 Crowd Dynamics & Situational Factors
Crowd size Composition of crowd Meaning and importance of event History of relationship between teams Crowd control strategies at event Alcohol consumption by spectators Location of event Motivations for attending the event Importance of teams as sources of identity for spectators

75 Controlling Crowd Violence
Be aware of the following factors: Perceived violence on the field is positively related to crowd violence Crowd dynamics and conditions Historical, social, & political issues underlying spectator orientations

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