George Churchill

Individual Essay

Sociology SSP325

George Churchill

Sociology SSP325

Marc Lawton

Deviance and the Athlete: Causes in Sports Society

Due Date: 18th December 2008

Word Count: 2578

Contents Page

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George Churchill 1. Introduction

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3-5

2. Theories Behind Deviance in Sport

5-6

Conflict and Critical theories

3. Causes of Deviance

6-8

Education System, Overconformity & Gambling

4. Sport Ethic

8-10 Underconformity, Positive Deviance, Varsity Blues & Mary Decker Slaney

5. Drug Use

10-11

Banned Substances, Tom Simpson & Information Network

6. Conclusion

11-12

7. References

13

8. Appendices

14-17

Deviance and the Athlete: Causes in Sports Society

Introduction 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
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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
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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 guiltlessathlete. 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 natural acts for athletes and these will be discussed.

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Theories behind Deviance in Sport The conflict theory suggests that the violators of rules are the exploited victims. Groups of people with power are able to manipulate

others to accept their views of the world and any athlete that violates those norms are seen as deviant. Athletes are seen as the victims of a profit driven system where the emphasis is placed solely on the success they achieve and deviance is forced on athletes as a result of the rules discriminating against them. These rules can cause an athlete to be

deviant to secure sponsorship funds, where only the successful and elite athletes get sponsored. A limitation behind this deviance is that both

sponsored and non-sponsored athletes are deviant, which ignores how they identify themselves and what factors drive them to be deviant (Coakley, 1991). Critical theory implies that dominant forms of social constructions can privilege people over others (Blackshaw & Crabbe, 2004). Sport

includes aggression, competition and the pursuit of goals through the use of performance and technology with the athletes making their own choices. Although the conflict theory ignores overconformity to rules and sport ethic, the critical theory involves overconformity and also

underconformity (going against/rejecting the norms).

Values in sport

never stay the same as these depend on negotiation, compromise and coercion but significant evidence in recent times suggest sport can reflect society and even cause change to society. What the critical theory cannot determine is when sports produce dominant forms of social relations in society, although these may be gradual happenings.
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Causes of Deviance Athletes have historically been given second, third and fourth chances in sport because of their skills. The preferential treatments

athletes receive don’t just come from coaches, media and spectators but also unpredictably from the sporting system and even in recent times the legal system (Joovie, 2006). Best examples of these behaviours are in the educational system where athletes are usually the subject of higher class treatment from coaches, teachers and even fellow students. This form of pampering and favouritism can cause greater departure from cultural ideals resulting in greater deviance from the athletes, who detach from normal society and take on a social world likened to a ‘sporting vacuum’ where only other athletes can understand them. Deviance caused

amongst these athletes become social in nature rather than individually and they become further detached from normal society when they get less severe punishments then normal people caught performing these deviant acts (see Appendix A). The Santana High School tragedy was linked to athletes, this followed acts of deviant behaviour from athletes who it is believed, started to believe they were invincible and could do what they wanted and barely get a slap on the wrist (see Appendix B). Following the shootings,friends of Williams claimed he was a huge fan of Linkin Park and one of his favourite tracks contained the lyric ‘Cause I’m one step closer to the edge, and I’m about to break’. These killings were linked to favouritism shown towards athletes at the high school and these lyricsshows signs that
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helplessness from a sensitive young individual could have been evident in his extreme actions. His friend, Alex Ribble, described Williams as a small geeky boy who was constantly bullied by the school jocks (athletes) and never stuck up for himself but always swore revenge (Demiro, 2002). Deviant overconformity can arise from athletes who show eagerness to be accepted by their peers. To do this they must adopt behaviours that will be accepted by the other athletes and coaches which can make them vulnerable to group demands to please these people (see Appendix B). The highest performing athletes tend to bond the most and detach from normal society and in some cases create their own rules because they sense they are unique. As Howard Becker articulated in his study, Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance:

‘Social groups create deviance by making the rules and then applying those rules to particular people and labelling them outsiders. This point of view signifies deviance is not the action committed by the person, but rather the application by others of the rules and sanctions to an offender. The deviant is one to whom that label has successfully been applied; deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label. (Becker, 1963: 9)

Off field deviance such as gambling became familiar in the late 1990s. The sports betting market comprises of bets that can be placed at the venue, in betting shops, over the telephone and over the internet. In Australia alone the sports betting market has experienced an increased growth of approximately 12 percent peryear since the mid-1990’s
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(Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1999). The easy access to betting, mainly from the introduction of online betting in the late 1990’s, has shown patterns of deviant behaviour amongst athletes. Increased attempts by players and coaches to influence the outcome of scores have in recent years undermined the integrity of sports which has created suspicion from spectators who feel outcomes can be pre-arranged. In 2000, Pakistan’s Salim Malik and South Africa’s Hansie Cronje were found guilty of accepting sums of money for allegedly giving information on team morale, tactics and pitch conditions and other cricketer’s were also implicated in the scandal.

Sport Ethic The sport ethics are the norms in sport that are defined by the dominant groups in sports and consist of rules that set the criteria of defining an athlete. Athletes that do not conform to these norm set of rules usually do not last very long in their sport and history can prove this. George Best did not show the correct attitude and commitment (underconformity) expected by his coaches and fellow pros and adapted the behaviour of retreatism (Coakley, 1991). Not only did he give up on his goals, but also the means to his deviant actions such as partying and alcoholism led to an early retirement from football. The sport system in place that defines the norms relate to the addiction like overconformity to sports that include self injurious overtraining (Nash, 1987), unhealthy eating strategies (Franseen & McCann, 1996) and the willingness to still compete regardless of pain and injury, which in some
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circumstances can result in athletes getting pain injections (Dimeo, 2007; Nixon, 1993, 1996; Young and White, 1995). These are identified as

‘positive deviance’ to achieve the success in sport the athletes’ desire. Positive deviance is overconforming to the norms of sport that consist of risks (Hughes and Coakley, 1991). If a deviant athlete becomes successful others will follow, winning symbolizes progress and establishes distinction (Blackshaw and Crabb, 2004; Jarvie, 2006)). Athletes will accept the risks of injuries and play

through them, this sets an example to other athletes that to pursue success they must overcome situations and beat the odds. Deviance such as playing with torn ligaments and having surgery after surgery to continue competing will occur when these norms are accepted uncritically unquestioned and are even glorified by those involved in sport such as coaches, journalists, spectators and sponsors (see Appendix D).

Commentators echo these words and praise such athletes as ‘dedicated to the game’ and ‘heroes’ (Glifford and Mangel, 1977). Athletes can be seen as victims of a profit driven business in which they must conform to or risk losing their ability to earn (Blackshaw & Crabbe, 2004). Again the conflict theory emphasizes this social order

where athletes are used as robots to profit others. In the movie Varsity Blue (Tova Laiter Productions, 1999) an American football team isunder the regime of a coach whose philosophy is ‘win at all costs’. The movie is based on intercollegiate sports and portrays a compelling incite of athletes as robots to profit a coach who manipulates the athletes to play through pain regardless of long term consequence to profit his winning
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statistics (see Appendix C).

This health abuse includes using tough

dietary measures to speed up rehabilitation and psychodoping (Coakley, 1992). To overconform means an athlete will usually pursue their dream without questioning methods and exclude family and health. Successful American long distance track athlete Mary Decker Slaney’s coach Alberto Salazar stated in his Guide to Road Racing:
‘The greatest athletes run themselves to death. You have got to have an obsession, but if unchecked it can become destructive. That’s what it is with Slaney. She will kill herself unless you pull the reigns back’ (Salazar, 2002)

Training in sports has become medicalised to the point that the athletes use medical technology in ways to push beyond normative limits (Beamish and Ritchie, 2006). Slaney was found guilty of failing a

testosterone to epitestosterone test in 1996 during the Atlanta Olympic trialsat the age of 37. Her age might suggest overconformity to stay

involved in sport for as long as possible. As Slaney was a very successful athlete who had in her career broken world records in long distance, it is possible these exhilarating experiences and also those around her may have contributed to creating a context where taking natural chemicals such as testosterone seems normal.

Drug Use Banned substances were not tested for until the Mexico Olympics in 1968, this followed the development of steroids and amphetamines during the 1940s. One of the most controversial incidents involving banned
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substances occurred in 1967 when British cycling star Tom Simpson died of exhaustion during the Tour de France. A post mortem revealed he had taken amphetamines and alcohol and this proved fatal in the heat. Other substances that have caused controversy include beta blockers, these slow down the heart rate and were rife in snooker and golf in the 1980s (Dimeo, 2007). An athlete has to decide whether to ingest or inject a banned substance, this is a conscious act where the athlete is fully aware it is an illegal act in the world of sport (Houlihan, 2003). It is easy to point the finger towards the athlete and blame their actions solely on their shoulders, citing it as an act of weakness, but in the modern society we live in there are influences surrounding the athlete that are making decisions like these the norm in sport that now include, medicalisation of sport, public demand for more spectacular performances and culture of winning values that encourage risks. Athletes share an information network concerning who is taking drugs, what they are using, what dosage they use and how they are getting away with it (Dimeo, 2007). This form of deviance has to be fully considered before the blame is put on the athlete because of the system of sport we have created and the choices the athlete makes in light of the circumstances surrounding them. Interactionism theory explains that an athlete will learn the norms and expectations in their sport after becoming associated with a group of other athletes in their sport, but the process of choice making make this theory limited as the athlete must make a conscious choice.
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Conclusion Deviance in sport is more likely to occur when athletes are separated from the rest of community and get self-indulgent on the idea that they are extraordinary and unique and above normal people. To prevent deviance sporting programs need to be put in place for young athletes that cover drugs, injury, the body, rules of the game and risks associated with deviant behaviour. There is a need to create new norms within sport to prevent athletes from entering a ‘sporting vacuum’ and becoming distanced from normal society. It is crucial to know that athletes are not the sole perpetrators in deviance, coaches, teachers, administrators, sponsors, journalists and agents provide a long list of people who engage deviance in sport. It is important to remember sport is not above society, it is just a part of society whose sole purpose is to entertain the general public and those who are elite performers need to be surrounded with people who can ground people on these norms.

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References Atkinson, M & Young, K. (2008). Deviance and Social Control in Sport. Human Kinetics Europe Ltd. Baker, J. (1999). Varsity Blues. Pocket Books. Beamish, R & Ritchie, I. (2006). Fastest, Highest, Strongest: a critique of high performance sport. Routledge. Blackshaw, T & Crabbe, T. (2004). New Perspectives on Sport and Deviance: Consumption, Performativity and Social Control. Routledge Clement, J. (1995). Contributions of the Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu to the Sociology of Sport. Sociology of Sport Journal. 12, 2: 147-158. Coakley, J. (1998). Sport in Society: Issues & Controversies. 6th Edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill. DeMiro, D. (2002). Too High a Price for Harmony: A Perspective on School Shootings. AuthorHouse. Dimeo, P. (2007). A History of Drug Use in Sport 1876-1976: Beyond Good and Evil. Routledge. Hasday, J. (2002). Columbine High School Shooting: Student Violence. Enslow Publishers. Hines, B. (1968). A Kestral for Knave. London: Penguin. Horne, J. (2005). Sport in Consumer Culture, Palgrave. Houlihan, B. (2003). Sport and Society, Sage. Hughes, R. and Coakley, J. (1991). Positive Deviance Amongst Athletes. Sociology of Sport Journal. 8: 307-25. Jarvie, G. (2006). Sport, Culture and Society: An Introduction. Routledge.
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Lefkowitz, B. (1997). Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb. University of California Press. Lenk, H. (1981). Sport Achievement & Social Criticism: Handbook of Social Sciences of Sport. Publishing Co. Nixon, H. (1993). Accepting the Risks and Pain of Injury in Sport: Mediated Cutural Influences on Playing Hurt. Sociology of Sport Journal. 10, 2: 183196 Polley, M. (1998). Moving the Goalposts: a history of sport and society since 1945, Routledge

Appendix A Columbine High School The Columbine High School massacre occurred on Tuesday, April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Columbine in unincorporated Jefferson County, Colorado, United States, near Denver and Littleton. Two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, embarked on a massacre, killing 12 students and a teacher, as well as wounding 23 others, before committing suicide. It is the fourth-deadliest school shooting in United States history, after the 1927 Bath School disaster, 2007 Virginia Tech massacre and the 1966 University of Texas massacre, and the deadliest for an American high school. During the Columbine situation the two teenagers (reportedly sport dropouts) began their rampage in the library with the words ‘all jocks stand up, we will get the guys in the white hats’ and ‘everyone with a white cap or baseball cap standup’. These were the trademark clothingfor athletes at the school, or jocks as the attackers referred to them. It is reported that Columbine was a school that may have favouredthe athletes. In the run up to the massacre there were incidents such as the
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state wrestling champion parking his car all-day in a 15 minute slot without being questioned, a football player on probation for burglaryand sexual harassment from an athlete going unpunished by his teacher who was also his coach. A feeling of powerlessness, caused by the preferential treatment of athletes at Columbine, was one reason linked to the actions of Harris and Klebold.

Appendix B Santana High School On Monday, March 5, 2001 at 9:20 a.m., 15-year-old Williams began firing a .22-caliber revolver in a boy’s bathroom at Santana High School. Following the shootings an angry reader wrote to the Los Angeles Times stating:
‘For school personnel to be at a loss as to the motives of the shootings at Santana High School is hypocritical. Anyone who has attended high school knows there is the ‘in crowd’ made up of sports heroes, class officers and their entourage. To this group the teachers and administrators pander Those not in the ‘in

allowing them to do pretty much as they please.

group’ become of the subject of bullying, ridicule and taunting’ (Williams case).

Leading up to the Santana tragedy a group of high school football players sexually assaulted a retarded woman with a baseball bat and a broomstick in the wealthy suburb of Glen Ridge in 1989. The community was unwilling to believe its beloved high school heroes were responsible. One excuse
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after another was brought forth to spare the athletes, while the victimised woman was made into the one who coerced them into the act.

Appendix C Quotes from Varsity Blues movie 1999 give an insight into deviance and the role the coach plays in sports, the sporting ethic portrayed here is one of manipulation.

‘You just listened to the coaches and tried as best you could to win’ Lead character Jonathan Mox explaining at the beginning of the movie how the coach is the most important man in the team and you do what he says at a costs.

‘You're a gamer, Wendell. Let's do this, you'll be good to go’ This line in the movie comes from the coach Bud Kilmer who tries to manipulate a young athlete into taking a pain injection so he can finish the game.

‘Never show weakness, the only pain that matters is the pain you inflict’

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Coach Bud Kilmer explaining to his team it is okay to hurt the opposition purposefully.

‘I'm amazed he lasted this long. I removed scar tissue from his knee.’ The doctor explaining the extent of the injury suffered by lead star Lance Harbor who had been manipulated by coach Bud Kilmer into taking pain injections to play through injury. The cause of the injury was due to his teammate collapsing and being unable to block the opposing teams defence, his teammate who collapsed, Billy Bob, was days earlier told by a nurse he was not fit to play after collapsing in class but coach Bud Kilmer pressured him into playing regardless of the nurses advice. Appendix D Nike Atlantic Olympic Ad Campaign 1996 The sport ethic we have created can cause deviance to overconform, this ad campaign by Nike in 1996 clearly shows that there is a social world in sport where only success matters. ‘Whothe Hell Do You Think You Are? Are You An Athlete? Because if you are then you know what it means to want to be better, to want to be the best. And if you are then you understand it's not enough to just want to be the best. You can't just sit around and b******t about how much you want it. Show me how much you want it. Dare to do what it takes to be the best. And then, whether you win, lose, or collapse on the finish line, at worst you willknow exactly who you are. If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Out of Atlanta!’ (Sports Illustrated 1996).
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Sponsors, as with coaches, journalists, commentators and agents all contribute this sporting ethic to athletes who have this sentiment ringing in their ears everyday of their career. Upon retirement athletes then use the same terminology when they enter coaching and it causes everlasting forum of overconformity.

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