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NOTE: These notes are a composite of several editions of the book. They have not yet been modified to include material from the Second Canadian Edition, but the older material is a good basis for the present edition of the book. The Exam Review Questions are based on the Second Canadian Edition. Answers to these questions can be found both in the book and in the Powerpoint slides for the chapter. If you are unable to find an answer in the text, look in the Powerpoint slides. You have to be logged in to moodle in order to access the Powerpoint slides.

 

CH 6 - DEVIANCE IN SPORTS: Is it Out of Control?

  • PROBLEMS FACED WHEN STUDYING "DEVIANCE" IN SPORTS
  • DEFINING AND STUDYING "DEVIANCE" IN SPORTS: THREE THEORETICAL APPROACHES
    • Using Functionalist Theory: "Deviance" Distrupts Shared Values
    • Using Conflict Theory: "Deviance" Interferes with the Interests of Those with Economic Power
    • Using Interactionist and Critical Theories: "Deviance" Is Based in Social Processes and Power Relations
      • The Sport Ethic and "Deviance" in Sports
      • Why Do Athletes Engage in "Deviant" Overconformity?
      • "Deviant" Overconformity and Group Dynamics
      • "Deviant" Overconformity and "Deviant" Underconformity: Is There a Connection?
      • Controlling "Deviant" Overconformity in Sports
  • RESEARCH ON "DEVIANCE" AMONG ATHLETES
    • "Deviance" on the Field and in Sport Settings
    • "Deviance" off the Field and Away from Sports
      • Delinquency Rates
      • Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking
      • Felony Rates
      • In Summary
    • Why Focus Only on "Deviance" among Athletes?
  • PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING SUBSTANCES: A CASE OF "DEVIANT" OVERCONFORMITY IN SPORTS
    • Defining and Banning Performance-Enhancing Substances
    • Why Is the Challenge of Substance Control So Great in Sports Today?
    • Drug Testing as a Deterrent
    • Controlling Substance Use in Sports: Where to Start
  • SUMMARY: IS "DEVIANCE" IN SPORTS OUT OF CONTROL?

 

Table of Contents

PROBLEMS FACED WHEN STUDYING DEVIANCE IN SPORTS
DEFINING AND STUDYING DEVIANCE IN SPORTS: THREE APPROACHES
Using Functionalist Theory: Deviance Disrupts Shared Values
Using Conflict Theory: Deviance Interferes with the Interests of Those with Economic Power
Using Interactionist and Critical Theories: Deviance is Based in Social Processes and Power Relations
THE "SPORT ETHIC" AND DEVIANCE IN SPORTS
WHY DO ATHLETES ENGAGE IN DEVIANT OVERCONFORMITY?
DEVIANT OVERCONFORMITY AND GROUP DYNAMICS
DEVIANT OVERCONFORMITY AND DEVIANT UNDERCONFORMITY:  IS THERE A CONNECTION?
CONTROLLING DEVIANT OVERCONFORMITY IN SPORTS
CONTROLLING POSITIVE DEVIANCE IN SPORTS
RESEARCH ON DEVIANCE AMONG ATHLETES
Deviance on the Field and in Sport Settings
Deviance Off the Field and Away from Sports
DELINQUENCY RATES
ACADEMIC CHEATING
ALCOHOL USE AND BINGE DRINKING
FELONY RATES
SEXUAL ASSAULT
IN SUMMARY
Why Focus Only on Deviance among Athletes?
PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING SUBSTANCES: A CASE OF DEVIANT OVERCONFORMITY IN SPORTS
Defining and Banning Performance-Enhancing Substances
Why is the Challenge of Substance Control So Great in Sports Today?
Drug  Testing as a Deterrent
Controlling Substance Use in Sports: Where to Start
Drug Testing in Sports
BACKGROUND AND HISTORY
TESTING AS A DETERRENT
Controlling Substance Use in Sports
IS DEVIANCE IN SPORTS OUT OF CONTROL?
EXAM REVIEW QUESTIONS

CH 6 - DEVIANCE IN SPORTS: Is it Out of Control?

PROBLEMS FACED WHEN STUDYING "DEVIANCE" IN SPORTS

DEFINING AND STUDYING "DEVIANCE" IN SPORTS: THREE THEORETICAL APPROACHES

Using Functionalist Theory: "Deviance" Distrupts Shared Values

Using Conflict Theory: "Deviance" Interferes with the Interests of Those with Economic Power

Using Interactionist and Critical Theories: "Deviance" Is Based in Social Processes and Power Relations

The Sport Ethic and "Deviance" in Sports

Why Do Athletes Engage in "Deviant" Overconformity?

"Deviant" Overconformity and Group Dynamics

"Deviant" Overconformity and "Deviant" Underconformity: Is There a Connection?

Controlling "Deviant" Overconformity in Sports

RESEARCH ON "DEVIANCE" AMONG ATHLETES

"Deviance" on the Field and in Sport Settings

"Deviance" off the Field and Away from Sports

Delinquency Rates

Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking

Felony Rates

In Summary

Why Focus Only on "Deviance" among Athletes?

PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING SUBSTANCES: A CASE OF "DEVIANT" OVERCONFORMITY IN SPORTS

Defining and Banning Performance-Enhancing Substances

Why Is the Challenge of Substance Control So Great in Sports Today?

Drug Testing as a Deterrent

Controlling Substance Use in Sports: Where to Start

SUMMARY: IS "DEVIANCE" IN SPORTS OUT OF CONTROL?

little concern pre-1970's
will attempt to look at the following:
problems faced when dealing with deviance in sports
definition of deviance
the connection between men's sport and sexual assault
why athletes use performance-enhancing drugs - whether it is possible to control drug use in sport

PROBLEMS FACED WHEN STUDYING DEVIANCE IN SPORTS

several problems:

  1. deviance is too varied - difficult to explain with a single theoretical approach

    e.g. how athletes act on the field

    e.g. how athletes act off the field

    e.g. playing with injuries

  2. what is normal in sports, is deviant outside of sports
    deviance outlawed in general society, is sometimes encouraged in sport (e.g. boxing, speeding)
    in all sports (including non-contact), use of hate as a motivator: sometimes in sport, rarely in general society
    church, classroom and work settings stress "getting along" with others
    sport = hostility and "beating" others
    Retton, 1992: sports encourages athletes to "squeeze out" other aspects of life in deference to sports - normally this type of behavior would be seen as abnormal - but expected in sports
    over-specialization in training can lead to failure to pay attention to a balanced life ... deviant behavior
  3. note that sport involves over-conformance to societal norms (positive deviance) as opposed to a rejection of societal norms
    sport participation (esp. for males) is so important that athletes sometimes try too hard to "be all that they can be"
  4. sport has become "medicalized"
    sport science is a term which connotes the use of science in the service of sport
    common notion that some type of "health food" will help sport performance

DEFINING AND STUDYING DEVIANCE IN SPORTS: THREE APPROACHES

Using Functionalist Theory: Deviance Disrupts Shared Values

usual sociological approach is to compare actual behavior with a norm - the more the difference, the more the deviance
this approach contains biases (e.g. gender, social class, race)
how can we resolve differences between one person who believes that the "essence" of sports is to win and another who believes that sport is simply the embodiment of "fair play"
given a norm, the greater the difference between a behavior and the norm, the greater the deviance
... but, depends on the definition of the ideal (e.g. fair play vs. winning
fair play concept: all fouls are bad
winning concept: some fouls are "good fouls"
sport seen as play: aggression is bad
sport seen as "war without weapons": aggression is good
functionalist roots: existing value systems are right (simply because they exist)
leads to a "law and order" orientation:
leads to rules, rules and more rules
leads to more strict rules
leads to stronger systems for detecting and punishing offenders
leads to campaigns to make people more aware of both the rules and the punishments  
leads to belief that someone who does not follow the "natural" rules is either weak, ignorant, mentally ill, etc.

Using Conflict Theory: Deviance Interferes with the Interests of Those with Economic Power

no behavior and/or person is inherently deviant - only that which is defined to be so by those in positions of power
everyone naturally acts in their own interests - therefore "what's good for the goose is good for the gander"
those who do not have any say in society are in more danger of having their behavior labeled as deviant, just because they cannot defend it as being normal
conflict theory roots: e.g. rules in sport are based on what the owners want
athletes do not even have the power to protest the discrimination, let alone to eliminate it
people in power determine the rules, therefore who/what is labeled "deviant"
problem:
what to do when the same deviant behaviors are found in high level (e.g. pro) and low level (e.g. age-group) settings - there are no "owners" controlling the athletes, especially in teams run by the athletes themselves
what to do when there is no objective determination of right and wrong - cannot control something which is legal according to some sub-cultural norm (e.g. My family thinks that drug use is good!)
all current forms of established sport are by definition, wrong
no hope for present sports ... need a radical transformation
but this is still grounded on the profit-motive (i.e. "profit-driven exploitation" pg. 143)
so how do relativists advocate that we control deviance?
give athletes more power - then they will no long be victims
change the political system so that athletes will not be encouraged to use destructive/dehumanizing behavior

Using Interactionist and Critical Theories: Deviance is Based on Social Processes and Power Relations

absolutists: deviance as a failure to conform
rule violators are looked on as disruptive
relativists: deviance result of biased/coercive rules
rule violators exploited and victimized
maybe good to look at behavior on a normal probability distribution (subnormal - underconformity to normal to supernormal - overconformity)
underconformity: behavior which involves a rejection of rules or a lack of awareness of rules - negative deviance - leads to anarchy
overconformity: behavior which is based on blind acceptance of rules - positive deviance - leads to fascism
Ewald & Jiobu (1985): bodybuilders and distance runners - goal pursuit like an addiction
negative effect on family and work
negative effect on health
Nash (1987): compulsive long-distance runners and anorexics - too much emphasis on exercise/control
other studies:
deviant eating behaviors
too much rigidity in training for competition in bicyclists
too much of a tendency to play with pain

THE "SPORT ETHIC" AND DEVIANCE IN SPORTS

  1. have to make sacrifices "for the game"
    right attitude, commitment, perform up to expectations, make sacrifices, etc.
  2. have to strive for distinction
    e.g. like Toffler's "maximization" principle (remember Third Wave: Maximization, Specialization, Bureaucratization, Concentration, Centralization, Synchronization)
  3. have to accept risk and play through pain
    risk and pain are a natural part of the job
  4. have to believe that there are no limits
    " If you think you are beaten, you are; If you think you dare not, you don't; If you'd like to win but think you can't, it's almost certain you won't; Life's battles often go, to the stronger or swifter man; But sooner or later the man who wins, is the one who thinks he can (Anonymous) - whole point is that one's dedication can make anything possible
the problems come when athletes overconform to the sport ethic
sometimes this overconformance is rewarded (e.g. Kerry Strutt's vault in the Atlanta Olympics)

WHY DO ATHLETES ENGAGE IN DEVIANT OVERCONFORMITY?

  1. Sports are so good they don't want to quit
  2. overconformance can help to get one selected to a team
the whole issue of "pushing oneself" involves positive deviance and is very difficult to criticize - let alone to control
Nike, 1996: emphasis on playing with pain; use of images (healed) demonstrating athletes' commitment to training/trying too hard
who is most likely to overconform?
athletes with low self-esteem ... sport sacrifices = acceptance by peers
athletes who see sport success as only way to get ahead
probably more prevalent among men because men carry sport identify in different situations
probably more prevalent among low-income minority athletes
probably more prevalent among those whose relationships with significant others have been based mainly around sport
is it possible that some coaches (e.g. Karolyi?) create sport environments that keep athletes uncertain and continually in a state of adolescence (dependency = overconformity)

DEVIANT OVERCONFORMITY AND GROUP DYNAMICS

demonstration of unqualified commitment helps to create bonds of friendship and membership
creation of a "we-they" system which can lead to a superiority complex - athletes come to think of themselves as "special"
therefore attempts to keep competing when it is time to quit or retire
therefore repeated surgery in an attempt to keep the body going for just a little while longer
therefore use of hormones so as to improve functioning
hubris (pride-driven arrogance) of competitive sport might lead to negative deviance (e.g. assault, sexual harassment, violence, etc.)
strong bonding (sometimes encourages overconforming deviance)
separation from the rest of the community
create pride-driven arrogance
key point: sport-related deviance is probably highly associated with desire to play and to be a part of an elite group - this is social, not economic
e.g. astronauts, pilots, special forces teams, fraternities

DEVIANT OVERCONFORMITY AND DEVIANT UNDERCONFORMITY:  IS THERE A CONNECTION?

 

CONTROLLING POSITIVE DEVIANCE IN SPORTS

when athletes overconform, others benefit (e.g. owners, managers, sponsors and coaches) - they will therefore not control it
more of a problem if someone who has overconformed earlier as an athlete, becomes promoted and is now a coach
how to control overconformance:
must constantly raise questions about "why" we are doing what we do
athletes should question why they must play with pain

Back to Table of Contents

 

RESEARCH ON DEVIANCE AMONG ATHLETES

note the tendency to look at athletes' deviance from the point of view of the news media - tendency there is to blow up the individual incident and ignore the general trend

not enough systematic studies of deviance in various situations

 

On-the-field and Sport-Related Deviance

e.g. spitball pitches, steroid use, intimidation/violence, unsportsmanlike behavior
inconclusive proof of the relative extent of this deviance as compared with the past
note that dirty play, cheating and violence have been part of sports for the entire 20th century, so TV and/or "big money" cannot be blamed for the "creation" of the problem
Bredemeier & Shields, 1984, 1986; Donnelly & Young, 1985, 1988: athletes create or stretch the rules
e.g. tests of courage (see what they can take)
sometimes violence is used as a demonstration of "worth"
perhaps there are more incidents of deviance in the same ratio as the creation of new rules by all of the many governing bodies that exist today (thousands more than the number 50 years ago)
need more research

Off-the-Field, Away-from-Sport Deviance

e.g. fights, use of recreational drugs, easy courses, shady deals

DELINQUENCY RATES

general data show that compared with students from similar backgrounds, athletes have lower rates of delinquent and deviant behavior (sports, gender, race, class)

key point is whether a selection process is involved (self-selection, coach-selection or preferential treatment)

ACADEMIC CHEATING

not a lot of data

fraternity/sorority members vs. athletes:
fraternities from higher SES vs. athletes from lower SES and minority-backgrounds
fraternities avoid scrutiny vs. athletes under scrutiny

ALCOHOL USE AND BINGE DRINKING

Naughton, 1996; Wechsler, 1996: 17,500 student study of 140 U.S. colleges
61% of male athletes vs. 43% male nonathletes used binge drinking

50% female athletes vs. 39% female nonathletes used binge drinking

Carr et al, 1996: HS male athletes higher in both regular alcohol use and abstinence

SEXUAL ASSAULT

reportedly high rates of sexual abuse, assault, rape and gang rape among male athletes in certain sports ... however, more confirmatory studies needed

Curry, 1991: male big-time intercollegiate locker-room talk involved sexism and treatment of women as objects

... but no information as to actual behavior

Crosset et al, 1995:  sexual assault reports in 30 U.S. universities (25 were top-ranked in BB or FB)

high number of sexual assault cases (esp. BB and FB)

more research needed

Is Sport Participation a "Cure" for Deviant Behavior?

Trulson, 1986: Tae Kwon Do training for 34 delinquent males
Group 1: traditional training & philosophy (respect, fitness, self-control, etc.)
Group 2: modern training (free sparring and self-defense techniques)
Group 3: jogging, BB ... but no Tae Kwon Do training
results:
Group 1 - fewer delinquent tendencies, less anxiety, higher self-esteem
Group 2 - increased delinquent tendencies, more aggression, less well-adjusted
Group 3 - no change on delinquency, self-esteem up

THE MORAL OF THE STORY

for positive outcomes, need:
philosophy of nonviolence
respect (self and others)
importance of fitness and self control
confidence in physical skills
sense of responsibility

A WORD OF CAUTION

Snyder, 1994: qualitative analysis of burglaries committed by 9 university athletes (almost all swimmers)
formation of special bonds, arrogance and separation from rest of community might be related
Donnelly, 1993: binge incidents of Canadian national-level athletes during periods of break from training

A FINAL NOTE

sports are sites associated with powerful experiences ... can then result in either deviance or virtue
youth need adult guidance

Why Focus Only on Deviance among Athletes?

others also are deviant in sport:
coaches - verbal, physical and sexual abuse of players under their control
administrators who avoid adherence to Title IX guidelines
team owners who violate anti-trust laws
sports administrators who take bribes
team managers and player personnel staff who use racist criteria
media personnel who blow up incidents in order to get a good story
agents who mislead and cheat athletes
spectators who throw objects on the field, fight, destroy property, bet illegally
race horse owners who have their horses killed in order to collect on the life insurance policy (Nack & Munson, 1992)

 

Back to Table of Contents

 

PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING SUBSTANCES: A CASE STUDY OF DEVIANCE IN SPORT

athletes have used things like:
hallucinogenic mushrooms (Greece & Rome)
strychnine and brandy (European skaters in 1700's; distance runners in 1800's)
heroin (boxers in late 1800's)
heroin & cocaine "speedballs" (athletes in late 1800's)
amphetamines & cocaine (British cyclists and soccer players in 1930's)

note that athletes have used "performance-enhancing" substances for many years ... it is not a modern problem, therefore:

If the problem is not new, how can we ascribe responsibility for it to TV, money, winning emphasis, etc.?

What is the definition of a "performance-enhancing" drug?

Why test athletes? Is there a special danger to them?

What is the best theoretical approach for studying drug abuse?

there was an increase of performance-enhancing drugs in 1950's:
military use of amphetamines during W.W.II
development of synthetic hormones ... therefore testosterone, steroids, growth hormone
... therefore the main difference between modern times and earlier times is greater availability of the drugs (substance availability hypothesis)
note that athletes who are attempting to do their best (i.e. the overconformers), are more likely to take drugs and to push their bodies beyond natural barriers
in order to "be their best"
in order to continue to play and be a part of the action

 

Defining, identifying, and Banning Performance-Enhancing Drugs

there are many drugs ...which are "bad" and which are "good?"
IOC doping definition:
... substance foreign to the body, or ... physiological substance taken in abnormal quantity, or ... abnormal route of entry into the body ... in order to gain an unfair competitive advantage
any medical treatment with a substance which gives a competitive boost, is also classified as doping
problems:
aspirin and Tylenol are foreign but not banned
natural hormone Testosterone is banned
vitamin megadoses not banned but decongestants are
why is muscle stimulation not banned?
why is herbal tea banned?
why is making weight not banned?
etc. etc.
1984 Hollman comment (president of World Federation of Sports Medicine): will never again see a high performance sport event which does not include doping
if it is the brain/nervous system's responses to stimulation which causes hormone production, how can anyone regulate the body's own response to stimulation
ability to "know" genetic determinants of structure and function of the body (e.g. as a result of the Human Genome Project), will make it possible to conduct doping on a much more sophisticated level
other problems:
testing for substance effects from small amount of a drug when common use is in much larger doses
testing for single drug effects when drugs are often taken in "cocktails" (mixtures of drugs)
if high level participation in a sport can be the cause of injuries (e.g. stress fractures in gymnasts), why would an athlete worry about "possible" negative effects of a drug?
why should society go after athletes when the drug abuses of average people are so common (e.g. tranquilizers, pain pills, anti-depressants, diet pills, etc.)

 

Drug Testing in Sports

BACKGROUND AND HISTORY

IOC first banned doping in 1967 ... later drug testing at 1968 Olympics (no penalties)
since as many as 68% of track and field athletes used steroids by 1972 (Todd, 1987), IOC introduced anabolic steroid testing at 1974 Commonwealth Games (no penalties)
1976 Olympics: 275 athletes tested positive for steroids, but most had already switched from anabolic steroids (unnatural substance, but not so dangerous) to testosterone (natural substance, but dangerous)
1980 testing done on potential US participants in Moscow Olympics showed that 20% would have tested positive to testosterone use
1982: testosterone added to list of banned substances by the IOC
1984: 86 US athletes tested positive for steroid use (no penalties) ... still, athletes changed to use of human Growth Hormone (hGH) - could not be detected easily
1988 & 1992: only a few athletes tested positive, but there were many rumours about widespread use of something

 

TESTING AS A DETERRENT

arguments against testing:
if athletes are going to continue to attempt to beat the drug testing "system," why not legalize drug use?
would allow for safer use of drugs
testing procedures cannot detect all banned substances - especially new ones - so why do it?
what about the athletes' rights to privacy ... could lead to more intrusive state intervention in people's lives
arguments in favour of testing:
should not allow substances which let athletes go beyond their "natural" abilities ... cannot determine the true winners
immorality issue ... it's bad, stop it
health issue
should make testing mandatory, regular and unscheduled

 

Controlling Substance Use in Sports

since athletes are neither a) lacking in character/sanity/etc. nor b) victims of oppression, absolutists' and relativists' solutions are not appropriate
recommendations:
eliminate use of "legal" performance-enhancing drugs (e.g. pain killers, vitamins, blood boosting, special casting, etc.)
make rules which show that risking one's health in sports is not appropriate
do not allow athletes to play while injured
should develop norms about recognizing one's limits ... define courage in sports as courage to be well in health
should emphasize the growth and development of the athlete instead of the development of the sport (sport psychology should avoid use of "psycho-doping")
should be formal discussion of the appropriateness of the sport ethic
make drug education part of a larger "deviance and health education" program
notion of "deviance education:"
create norms about how we should use new medical knowledge
critically examine sport value systems
redefine the meaning of sport experiences vis a vis performance-enhancing technologies
highlight the fact that athlete behavior is under their control and is determined by their choices

 

CONCLUSION: IS DEVIANCE IN SPORT OUT OF CONTROL?

usually deviance is a product of overconformity to norms - not underconformity
normal distribution approach seems to be an appropriate way to explain deviance
most on-the-field deviance involves an unquestioned acceptance of the sport ethic
use of performance-enhancing substances is a big problem ... athletes have seemed to be able to keep ahead of the rule makers since testing was introduced in 1967
positive deviance requires an examination of the norms of sport - especially by the coaches and athletes themselves

EXAM REVIEW QUESTIONS

  1. Coakley and Donnelly cite five problems faced by those studying deviance in sports. List and briefly discuss each of them. (5 points)
  2. Briefly discuss how theoretical orientations can affect how one defines deviance in sports. Using functionalist theory, conflict theory and interactionist/critical theory, present two points from each which affect how deviance is seen. (6 points)
  3. Describe the constuctionist approach to deviance in sports, together with its four main points. (6 points)
  4. Describe the difference between deviant underconformity and deviant overconformity as they are believed to operate in sports. (4 points)
  5. What is the sport ethic and how might it be involved in deviance in sports? In your answer, elaborate on the four major norms of the sport ethic. (6 points)
  6. What are the three main reasons presented by the authors as too why athletes might engage in deviant overconformity and what two characteristics of athletes may predispose them to engage in deviant overconformity? (5 points)
  7. According to Coakley and Donnelly, how are social processes involved in deviant overconformity, and how might overconformity (and possibly underconformity as well) be controlled in sports? (8 points)
  8. Briefly define and discuss two of the three areas presented in the text connected with off the field deviance. (4 points)
  9. According to the authors, there are 8 major factors which make contolling substance abuse in sport difficult to achieve. Briefly present any four of them. (4 points)
  10. Present four arguments in support of the use of drug testing in sports, and four arguments opposed to the use of drug testing in sports (8 points).
  11. Briefly discuss the six starting points listed in the text for controlling substance use in sports. (6 points)

Back to Table of Contents

 

Last Revised: November 15, 2009 8:24 PM

Copyright © 1996 onward: Richard R. Danielson. All rights reserved

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