Deviance and the Athlete: Causes in Sports Society
Due Date: 18th December 2008
Word Count: 2578
2. Theories Behind Deviance in Sport
Conflict and Critical theories
3. Causes of Deviance
Education System, Overconformity & Gambling
4. Sport Ethic
Underconformity, Positive Deviance, Varsity Blues & Mary Decker Slaney
5. Drug Use
Banned Substances, Tom Simpson & Information Network
Deviance and the Athlete: Causes in Sports Society
The forms and causes of deviance in sport are so diverse that no single theory can explain all of them (Blackshaw and Crabbe, 2004). What is accepted in sports as the norm may be seen as deviant in other spheres of society and what is seen as the norm in society can largely be seen as deviant in sports. Only on a racing track can you drive at speeds over 200 miles per hour at high risk of collision, outside the racing track it would be seen as a criminal offence. The social vacuum that has been created around sports is significantly proven to be different from the society we live in day by day. Deviance in sport can be argued, involves unquestioned acceptance of what is termed as the norms, when a social world accepts actions performed as routine and normal. Actions as such in a sporting society may involve hatred and physical contact as means of motivation, treatment by coaches and actions from spectators that would be rejected as the norm in another social world. Athletes usually commit to accept advice from important people in their lives without questioning them, and it is overconforming to these norms that can result in an athlete being too committed to the goals and norms of sport usually leading to extreme actions. Throughout their whole careers athletes hear again and again the need to keep setting new targets, and for them to reach their targets they need to do whatever it takes and by whatever means possible (Atkinson and Young, 2008). Historically, deviance in sport has changed shapes. Links to gambling, throwing a game or match, unsporting behavior, fighting, taking performance enhancing drugs and a general lack of respect for rules have always been ubiquitous. New rules and regulations are always introduced, usually from television and media pressures, and usually result in tougher punishment for deviant actions. Rio Ferdinand was banned for 8 months and fined £50,000 after being found guilty of missing a drugs test in 2003, although 2 days later he tested negative, the pressures put on authorities for tougher measures set out to make an example of a guiltless athlete. Although Ferdinand was guilty of missing a test, if the same applied in normal society a person would not be vilified in the same way. Blaming television and media may not have justification as these have not always been as prevalent in the past (Houlihan, 2003). The emergence of rule changes in any sport is often met with initial hostility. The rules sometimes discriminate against athletes who conform to deviate, journalist Paula Parrish stated in 2002:
‘Where do acceptable practices end and cheating begin? Why is it okay for a cyclist to sleep in an oxygen tent but not okay to inject EPO?’ (Coakley, 1991: 150)
To deviate away from the dominant norms of any society or sport takes courage and conviction and is often the key part of the process of change as stated in the conflict theory. From this sense deviance may be viewed as behavior that transgresses commonly held norms in any culture or society but it need not be viewed in a negative way (Joovie, 2006). Causes of sporting deviance carry many arguments, some show early signs of preferential treatment in high school, making future deviant actions...
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