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The Anatomy of the Sports Scandal Play the Game Paper Submitted

The Anatomy of the Sports Scandal Play the Game Paper Submitted

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Published by Daniel Drepper
The Anatomy of the sports scandal - a model by Rasmus K. Storm of idan.dk
The Anatomy of the sports scandal - a model by Rasmus K. Storm of idan.dk

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Published by: Daniel Drepper on Oct 04, 2011
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1
The Anatomy of the Sports Scandal: Outset, Development and Effect
Senior Academic Researcher & PhD Scholar Rasmus K. StormDanish Institute for Sports StudiesKanonbådsvej 12aDK-1437 København K, DenmarkE-mail: rasmus.storm@idan.dkwww.idan.dkAssistant Professor, PhD Ulrik WagnerDepartment of Leadership and Corporate StrategyUniversity of Southern DenmarkSdr. Stationsvej 28DK-4200 Slagelse, DenmarkE-mail: uw@sdu.dk
 Paper presented at Play the Game 2011, Cologne, Germany,3-6 October 2011
Pleas
e don’t quote or circulate,
comments are welcome!Abstract
Sports scandals are often discussed in the media and the research literature without any deeperreflections on their specificities or development. As the economic and political significance of sportseems to grow in correspondence to the development of globalization, the call for a sociologicalunderstanding of the downsides of sport becomes imperative. By deploying a communication-theoreticalframework (Luhmann) combined with insights from discourse theory (Laclau, Laclau & Mouffe) andthe understanding of ideal types (provided by Weber), this article aims to develop a theoretical model othe sports scandal, its outset, development and effects.Our work presents a five-step model encompassing: initial steps of transgression (1), followed by apublicly observed dislocation destabilizing the social order (2), which subsequently results in moralcommunication (3), environmental pressure for appropriate action (4), and, finally, an institutionalsolution (5).The scope of the model is tested in the analysis of two cases. Finally three workinghypotheses are outlined for future research.
Key words
: Scandals, Systems Theory, Discourse Theory, Communication, Expectations, Dislocation
 
2
Introduction
The development of professional sport in modern society and the growing focus on international elitesporting events such as the Olympics have enhanced the frequencies and scope of sports scandals andhighlighted their various moral aspects. From the Ben Johnson affair in 1988 and the doping scandalsfollowing the 1998 Tour de France, to the accusations of corruption in big international sportsorganizations such as FIFA, to the present enormous financial difficulties in European professionalfootball, and to the recent Tiger Woods affair
 – 
all these incidents have triggered public debates overmoral concerns and even, in some cases, political intervention. As the economic and politicalsignificance of sport seems to be growing in relation to the development of globalization, the call for asociological understanding of the downsides of sport has become imperative. So far, scholars have
 pointed to „sports scandals‟, but have not provided a
thorough theoretical understanding of thisphenomenon. Taking this circumstance as its point of departure, the article aims to outline a theoreticalframework that examines sports scandals as a social phenomenon.
Existing literature on (sports) scandals
 – 
a brief review
1
 
Sports scandals are not a contemporary phenomenon (Crowtherm, 2002; Maening, 2005). However, inthe age of mass media these scandals are broadcasted to a larger audience than ever before. Scholars of social sport science have explicitly dealt with sports scandals in relation to doping (Blackwell, 1991;Carstairs, 2003; Hanstad, 2008; Laine, 2006), bribery and corruption (Bachin, 2003; Lee, 2008;Saloufakos-Parsons, 2001; Wenn & Martyn, 2006), referee decisions (Amegashie, 2006; Stepanova,Strube, & Hetts, 2009) and sexual harassment (Toffoletti, 2007).
2
 On the one hand, these academic contributions have significantly emphasized the
mass media‟s
role in sports scandals, but, on the other, they have conspicuously neglected to offer theoreticaldefinitions of the sports scandal. There are a number of exceptions, though: Hughes and Shank (2005)provide empirical insights from an American sports marketing context, showing how scandals areperceived by and have an impact on the mass media and corporate sponsors. Furthermore, Rowe (1997)makes a fruitful contribution with insights into how sports scandals represent the breakdown of certainethical expectations that spectators have of sporting celebrities and/or the Olympic ethos.Our aim here is not to evaluate the results of these studies or downplay their importance. Rather,we want to strengthen the theoretical understanding of the sports scandal by taking the important role of the mass media into account without reducing scandals to a mere mass media phenomenon. This allows
 
3us to move beyond a common-sense perception of sports scandals often adopted uncritically incontemporary studies. To guide this work, other scientific fields such as political science and businessstudies will be included, as these areas have a long tradition of dealing with scandals, referred to as`scandology´ (Neckel, 2005, p. 101). Our basic assumption is that, although there are significantdifferences between sport, business and politics, scandals emerging in these three spheres of societyshare some underlying similarities. Therefore, our general theoretical framework will draw on literatureexplicitly dealing with political and business scandals in order to develop an appropriate model of thesports scandal.
Approaching the sports scandal: the (contingent) choice of theory
The choice and combination of theories to undertake such a task is fundamentally contingent. As pointedout by Stäheli (1995, p. 3), only the success of our steps is able to legitimize our decisions. Takingexisting literature a step further, the argumentation of the article rests on the suggestion that acombination of systems theory and discourse theory establishes an analytical frame capable of reachingthe necessary level of abstraction together with being operational for analytic purposes.Several scholars have developed
Luhmann‟s
(1982; 1986; 1990b; 1990a; 1995a; 1995b; 1997b;1997a; 2000b; 2002) systems theory in order to understand the development of sport in modern society(see Bette, 1999; Tangen, 1997; 2000; 2004; Cachay, 1988; Thyssen, 2000; Stichweh, 1990; Schimank,1988). These perspectives point to important ways of understanding meaning and sports communicationand, therefore, to the
theory‟s p
otential for sports scandal analysis.This being said, certain theoretical aspects within the systems theoretical framework need to bedeveloped in order to grasp the phenomenon in question. Three important aspects come to mind inconnection with what is often regarded as the underdeveloped notion of subjectivity
in Luhmann‟s
perspective (or his perception of causality; see Joas (1995, p. 211ff) for an in-depth critique):
Firstly
, itis hard to find any other social activity in which the individual (and the body) is focused upon to such asignificant extent as in sport. Performances and actions in this area of society are regarded almostentirely as being the direct result of the will of the individual in question (Tangen, 2000, p. 74ff; Tangen,1997, p. 34; Rowe, 1994).
Secondly
, and related to the first point, scandals often develop around (a) keyperson(s) (seen as the transgressor/transgressors of specific expectations, norms or values) and certain
„non
-
 participants‟
(Thompson, 2000, p. 19) alarmed by the transgression (Adut, 2008, pp. 11-12).
Thirdly
, the sports scandal contains political elements, as moral communication emerges when a scandalappears. Demand for political intervention or pressure for preventing the scandal from occurring againhave, in many cases, made sports scandals an object of public debate and scrutiny. Viewed through the

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