DEVIANCE AND SPORT



Mair Underwood

What is deviance?



• Deviance is an action, trait or idea that falls outside of a range of acceptance as determined by people with the power to enforce norms in a social world (Coakley et al 2009:167).
• Norms are socially constructed through interaction and do not represent absolute ideals (Coakley ey al 2009:168).
• The category “deviant” is a social construct; it can and does get redefined
• e.g. changes to levels of violence in Australian rugby league after extreme violence of 1970s and early 1980s
• We define what is considered deviant

Sport’s unique relationship with deviance



• Norms in sport are often different from norms in other social worlds
– What is accepted in sport may be deviant in other spheres of society (e.g. violence), and actions accepted in society may be deviant in sport (e.g. asthma inhalants, nutritional supplements used by millions of non-athletes.
• Sense of entitlement and hubris among athletes.
• Hubris: pride-driven arrogance (p223); expression of self-importance and the accompanying sense of being separate from and above the rest of the community (Coakley et al 2009:179).
• Bonds athletes together & separates them from the wider community
• The deviance in sport often involves unquestioned acceptance of norms, rather than a rejection of norms.
• Sport is often thought of as beneficial in terms of reducing deviance (as discussed in the lecture on values)

Two types of deviance


• Deviant underconformity consists of actions based on ignoring or rejecting norms, whereas deviant overconformity consists of actions based on uncritically accepting norms and being willing to follow them to extreme degrees (Coakley et al 2009:169).
• All social life contains tensions between overconformity and underconformity

Deviant underconformity & sport

• alcohol and recreational drug use
• violence (unsanctioned)
• sexual assaults & abuse
• other crime

Deviant overconformity and sport

• Violence (e.g. sanctioned)
• Overtraining
• Playing with pain and injury
• Taking performance enhancing substances

Underconformity




Recreational drugs

• In a recent statement, a retired Australian footballer claimed that 80% of elite footballers in Australia had used or been offered recreational drugs.
• Others claimed the figure was closer to 30% (Turner and McCrory 2003:378)
• A study in France found an association between sport participation and consumption of cannabis, heroine and cocaine (Arvers et al 2000)
• A national US study found athletes were more likely to use spit tobacco
• National average for college men: 17%
• Baseball players: 41%
• Football players: 29% (NCAA 2001)

Alcohol

• A national study of US college student drinking found that athletes have significantly higher rates of heavy drinking (5 or more drinks in a row for men, 4 for women) than non-athletes.
• Men: 49% drank heavily in 2 weeks prior to survey, compared to 57% of athletes
• Women: 40% vs 48% athletes (Nelson and Wechsler 2001)
• A similar study in Finland found that members of sport clubs were more likely to consume large amounts of alcohol, that the association was stronger for young men, and that it was especially strong in sports with a particularly masculine culture, such as ice-hockey, boxing and motor sport (Koski 2000)

A drinking culture?

• Long tradition of drink-related initiations and hazings in sport
• US national survey Hoover (1999) found that over 75% of athletes (n=325 000) experienced hazing, and over half had been required to participate in drinking contests or alcohol- related hazing.
• Indeed it seems that there is a drinking culture that surrounds at least some sports where individuals are taught that it is manly not only to play sport but to drink beer and ‘hold your ale’ (Dunning and Waddington 2003:356).

Violence and deviance


• Violence in sport can be a matter of underconforming (e.g. unsanctioned violence such as low blows) or overconforming (e.g. sanctioned violence such as hard tackles).

Sexuality and deviance


• Culture of sexualisation and subordination of women in sport.
• Prof Steven Oritz, a sociologist at Oregon State Uni, suggests that a “culture of adultery” permeates professional sport.
• He states that there is a “fast food sex mentality” among professional athletes (Floyd 2001).

Shane Warne

• ‘Everyone knows what a woman would be called if she behaved like Shane Warne. Shane Warne is called a cricketer’.
Letter to the Editor of The Sydney
Morning Herald, 28 June 2005

Are there different sexual norms in some sport settings?


Roy Masters (2006) Bad Boys

• “privately, no-one denied ‘buns’ or group sex occurred in the football environment” (p85).
• unnamed Bulldog player: “Some of the boys love a bun … Gang banging is nothing new for our club, or rugby league” (p99).
• “So why do the boys love a bun? The sociologists say it is part of the bonding process and they’re right” (p99).

Sexual violence

• Sexual violence is a problem that is relevant to all of you.
• 1 in 7 adult women have experienced a completed rape in their lifetime.
• Power to change things with how they project themselves, and what accept from men (e.g. those who did not participate in Glen Ridge rape had strong women in their lives).
– 38% of blue-collar men and 15% of male college students admit having sex with a woman they knew did not want sex.
– 35% of male college students stated that they might rape a woman if they could be assured of not getting caught (Franklin 2004:28-9)

Is there a connection between sport and sexual violence?

• reports of sexual assaults by AFL, League and Union players almost regular features in the news
• There is a public perception that athletes are more likely to be involved in violence against women.
– For instance, an internet poll found that 51% of respondents believed this to be the case (Crossett 1999 in Smith and Stewart:385)

Evidence regarding athletes and sexual violence

• There is little information comparing athletes to similar people who are not high- profile competitors (Coakley et al 2009:222).
• Within the little research there are inconsistent findings
• In a study of a large midwestern US university, men on sports teams made up 2% of males on campus, but made up 23% of attackers in sexual assaults and 14% in attempted sexual assaults (Frintner and Rubinson 1993).
• At another university, an anonymous survey found that men on varsity, revenue-producing teams, such as football and basketball, self- reported higher rates of sexually abusive behaviour (Koss and Gaines 1993)
• However, Jackson (1991) found no difference with regard to self-reported assault (in Jackson 2000:600).
• At another university 2.1% of athletes had been reported for allegedly committing rape, compared to 0.6% of the general population (Moore 1991) in Smith and Stewart: 385
• Gang rapes are most often perpetrated by men who belong to all-male peer groups. One review of 24 alleged gang rapes found in that 22 of the 24 cases perpetrators were members of intercollegiate athletic teams or fraternities (O’Sullivan 1991)

Rape supportive attitudes and behaviour

• In a meta-analysis of 29 studies Murnen and Kohlman (2007) found that athletic and fraternity membership were both related to sexually aggressive attitudes, and to a lesser extent self-reported behaviour.
• Boeringer (1999) found that athletes were more likely to agree with rape supportive statements than controls


Sociological views



• Sociologists have suggested numerous reasons why athletes may use and abuse women:
– Competitive and win at all costs attitude
– Taught to dominate others
– Taught that aggression and violence are legitimate solutions
– Taught a ‘don’t think, act’ attitude
– Elitism and invulnerability
– Strong support for competitors regardless of their actions
– Strong bonding and loyalty
– Group think

Groupthink and gang rape

• Sometimes men may feel that they have to go along with others lest they be branded non-masculine, are expelled from the group, or become victims themselves (Franklin
2004:31).
• As a member of the Cincinnati Bengals who was implicated in a gang rape explained “It was very hard for you to say “No” because you’re going to get ragged about it, you’re going to get teased (Franklin 2004:31).

A rape culture?

• “Men’s sport represents a rape culture” (Crossett et al in Smith and Stewart: 385).
• Athletic teams associated with hazing (including stripping and sodomizing) (Franklin 2004)
• Athletes at Columbine sexually and racially abused other students including Harris and Klebold (Franklin 2004:32)
• 2 women filed lawsuits against the Uni of Colorado alleging the university fostered an atmosphere that led to them being sexually assaulted by footballers (Murnen and Kohlman 2007:146).
• Does sport foster a rape culture?
• Does sport shape the individual or do pre- existing traits influence individual sport choices?

Sport and overconformity



• Athletes may not see overconformity as deviance, but as evidence of commitment and dedication.
• Eating disorders
• On-field, sanctioned violence
• Playing through pain and injury
• Over-training
• Using performance enhancing drugs

Overconforming to what?

• Much of the deviance among athletes (and coaches) involves unquestioned acceptance of and conformity to the value system embodied in the sport ethic (Coakley 2003:168)

The sport ethic

• A player is dedicated to the game above all things
• An athlete strives for distinction.
• An athlete accepts risks and plays through pain.
• An athlete accepts no obstacles in the pursuit of possibilities (Coakley 2009:171-2).

Overconformity: Performance enhancing drugs

• The use of performance enhancing drugs occurs in a certain cultural context:
• a medicalised world where drugs are seen to be the solution to many problems.
• Humans = drug-dependent species (Dunning and Waddington 2003:353-4)
• The body is considered a tool or machine, the condition of which can be actively manipulated.

Performance enhancing drugs in sport
• Use currently banned
• Thousand of drugs on banned list
• Punishments: fines and bans
• Seems that penalties are small compared to the potential rewards
• What do you think about the use of performance enhancing drugs in sport?
• Is it wrong? Why?

Arguments for the ban
• Fair play and a level playing field
• The health of athletes
• Allowing drug use will force all to use in order to compete
Fair play and a level playing field
• The argument is that a ban and drug testing is needed to guarantee a level playing field where competitive outcomes reflect skills and training rather than access to substances.
• Drug use is seen as damaging the integrity of sports (Coakley 2003:192-3).
• But is the playing field ever level?
• Why single out drugs?
All is fair in sport?
• Jennifer Capriati was given every available coaching an equipment facility to help her develop her tennis skills since she was old enough to grip a racket … Imagine tennis produced a ghetto child from Brooklyn, who had the added disadvantage of being black. When they came face-to-face the conditions might appear fair, but one would hardly say that they are fair in the deeper sense…. It would be a naïve person indeed who believed all is fair in sport (Cashmore 2005:250).
Other enhancements that are not banned
• Hypobaric chambers or hypoxic air machines are designed to replicate high altitude atmospheres. Their use is not banned even though they produce much the same results as illicit methods such as EPO or blood doping (Cashmore 2005:241-2).
• Tiger Woods - eye surgery which gave him a competitive advantage.
• Air-inflated spikes and FastSkin swimsuits

Drugs as an equaliser?
• If all athletes were on drugs, contests would again come down to natural ability (Black 1996:370).
• Perhaps drugs and a working knowledge of how to take them are more transferable than the developed world’s high-tech facilities, Olympic-size pools, and college bursaries that enable full-time training (Cashmore 2005:251).

Drugs as equaliser continued
• “Nature is not fair. Ian Thorpe has enormous feet which give him an advantage that no other swimmer can get … By allowing everyone to take performance enhancing drugs, we level the playing field. We remove the effects of genetic inequality. Far from being unfair, allowing
performance enhancement promotes equality” (Savelescu, Foddy and Clayton 2004:667-668).

The argument for athlete health
• Some performance enhancing substances can have a detrimental impact on athlete health.
• But some have argued that at the moment we spend so much on testing for drugs that there is no money left for ascertaining exactly what they do to athletes (Cashmore 2005:237).
• Black (1996:372-3) argues that the ban exacerbates health risks which would significantly reduce if the ban was removed. This occurs since the ban reduces the incentive for research into safe dosages and ways to overcome harmful side effects; it restricts medical monitoring; it contributes to the spread of AIDS; it cause athletes to acquire Black Market drugs; and it contributes to excessive consumption of drugs by users (Black 1996:372-3).

Allowing drug use will force all to use in order to compete
• Of course athletes should have the choice about what risks they are prepared to accept.
• But this could also be an argument for lifting the ban.
• But what about the fact that athletes are role models?
• Well so are others such as musicians and actors, but we don’t test them for drugs.

Arguments for lifting the ban
• Problems with testing
• Current policy assumes free choice in using drugs
• Problems with prohibition
• Athletes are being singled out
• Drugs are not against the spirit of sport

Problems with testing
• Not all athletes tested
• Drugs often mimic natural processes, and therefore difficult to detect.
• Often detection means defining the natural body (very difficult)
• Testing is not keeping up with the development of new drugs

Current policy assumes free choice in using drugs
• Some people do not have the same options
• East Germany: state sanctioned doping
• From 1960 as part of State Program 1425 government doped athletes
• Won many medals and set records
• Some forced to change sex afterwards

Problems with prohibition
• The current ban on performance enhancing drugs may actually enhance the appeal of these drugs, and encourage people to use them.
• There is already a demand for performance enhancing drugs, and banning things that are already in demand has a history of failing.

Athletes are being singled out
• Drug use is allowed in other contexts (e.g. classical music).
• More emphasis on combating drugs in sport than recreational drugs even though impact of recreational is larger
• The ban on drugs assumes that athletes are not rational, deliberating agents capable of assessing the risks and benefits
Drugs are not against the spirit of sport

• Not against the spirit of sport; it is the spirit of sport (Savulescu, Foddy and Clayton2004:670).
• Coakley’s (2009) sport ethic:
• A player is dedicated to the game above all things
• An athlete strives for distinction.
• An athlete accepts risks and plays through pain.
• An athlete accepts no obstacles in the pursuit of possibilities

Some suggestions for the future

• Change the balance between penalty and reward.
• Change the interest groups from sporting organisations (who are concerned with maintaining a certain image of sport for financial reasons) to medical authorities (who would be more concerned with the health of athletes) (Dingelstad et al 1996).
• Change the sport ethic (Coakley 2003).