600 word count
APA Format
Essay answer the question
word count. APA format
· Interpret the reasons (presented in the readings and video) that society doesn’t question sport and how it is organized (per Eitzen’s claim)
· Explain the social arrangements that sustain sport’s protections from critical evaluation
· Explain some of the reasons we don’t question sport and how it is organized. Why are sports revered as the great equalizer or as a true meritocracy? Are they, and if so, for whom?
· Do we hide from or rationalize classist (rags to riches), racist, sexist, and ableist practices embedded in the “process” of sport (as Eitzen identified)? Or are those categories necessary to organize sport and society?

ffo11w11 beings seek ekstasis, a “stepping 011t~ide” of th eir 1w111wl,
111111ulr111e experience. If they 110 lunger find ecstasy in a synagogue,
clwrc/1, or 111osq11e, they look for it i11 dm1cc , lllll5ic, sport, sex, or
– Karen Armstrong, historian of religions
Spol1 is a u;i11do11; 011 a clw11gi11g soqety.
– Dmicl Halber~tam , author
For sol/le people, baseball i\· like a religion . It has all the ele111e11ts:
a creation story, falls from grace, redemption, prophets, heretic5,
icons, lituals, te111JJ!es, u:ors/1ip, sacrifice, miracles, sar,iors a11d si11-
11ers-lots of si111wrn.
– John Longhurst, Wi1111ipeg ( Manitoba ) Free Press
Soccer is like a 90-111ir111te anxiety dream–·, English professor of philosophy
Sports are not just physical contests, yott know,_tl~ ey are also sociol­
ogy. They are a reflection of the people and soczetzes that play th em.
-Mike Seccombe, Australian journalist
The thrill ofcicton; and the agony of defeat-the human drama of
athletic competition .
-Jim McKay for ABC’s Wide \Vorld of Sport
The subject of this volume is sport in US society. To guide this inquiry,
I ham organized the book around two themes: that sport has positive
and negative consequences, that is, sport is both fair and foul; and
that sport is a microcosm of society. Each of these themes brings into
sharper focus the paradox that, on the one hand, we love sport and are
fascinated by its magical qualities, yet sport has troublesome qualities
as well. This leads to confusion, as sportswriter Gary Smith has written:
All this confusion does it signal a society lost in the wilderness . . . or one
finally mature enough to look at questions it has always shut its eyes to?
m~ mine.I gnaws at the bone, at every last bit gristle. Beneath it all , he
can !> ense \\’hat’s going on , the vague feeling that people are beginning
to ham that their love of sports-the sense of escape and belonging that
the:’ prmide- is doubling back on them like some hidden undertow,
pulling the m out to sea. 1
Sociologist Jay Coakley observes that Americans believe in what he calls
the “Great American Sports Myth,” which is “the widespread belief that
all sp01ts are essentially pure and good, and that their purity and good­
ness are transferred to those who participate.”2 This is the message given
at a typical high school sports banquet honoring the school’s athletes .
The guest speaker, with examples, humor, and sincerity, extols the many
\i1tues of sports participation. The implications of the “Great American
Sports M)th ” are, foremost, that sports participation builds ch_aracter.
Second, if there are problems, they are because of a few “bad apples,”
not the system. And, third, acceptance of the system makes critical
thinking about sport difficult.3 The primary goal of the essays in this
book, to the contrary, is to examine the world of sport from a critical
perspective: to see how the system works sometimes in beneficial ways
and sometimes not.
On the “sport is fair” side, there are countless examples of athletes’
philanthropy for such public goods as providing college scholarships
for poor children, subsidizing public school budgets to keep sports pro­
grams alive, and HIV/ AIDS research. There are also numerous exam­
ples of athletes who have supported their minority teammates when
they were faced \vith racial, gender, or sexual orientation bias. Or on a
wider scale, they can put themselves in the spotlight drawing attention
to the hate and prejudice that plague society. 4 When a video revealed
fraternity members at the University of Oklahoma singing racist chants,
for example, the head coaches of the football and basketball teams at
Oklahoma-Bob Stoops and Lon Kruger-took a stand ,vith their teams
by taking part in campus protests against racism. As sportswriter Mike
Sandrolini has said, “\,Ve must keep in mind that the overwhelming
majority of athletes, pro or othenvise, are good, kind, charitable people
who strive to play by the rules.”5
The dark side of sport can be observed in the sports section of any
random issue of USA Today. Chances are you will find one or more
examples of athletes accused or founq.guilty of rape, spouse abuse, ille­
gal substance abuse, and other criminal activities. There you ,vill find
athletes, coaches, and occasionally referees who cheat. Similarly, you
might find examples of scandals where schools are accused of illegal
recruiting, enrolling athletes in “phantom” courses, failing to enforce
regulations promoting gender equality, protecting their accused athletes
from court actions that would make them ineligible to play, and pro­
tecting the school’s image rather than seeking justice.6 Or you will see
examples of the governing organization of college sport enforcing rules
of amateurism that serve to enrich some individuals and organizations
while restricting the money of the workers-the athletes. There are also
professional sports leagues that have avoided taking responsibility for
failures to protect or compensate their athletes for the long-term effects
of head injuries .
But just as we are ready to condemn sports and vow to never watch
SportsCenter on ESPN, an act of selflessness, of sportsmanship,
restores one’s faith in sport. Consider this crown jewel: in the spring of
2008, Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University hit a home run in
a softball game against Central Washington University, but she missed
first base . When she started back to tag it she collapsed with a serious
knee injury. She crawled back to first but could do no more. Her options
were limited. If her teammates helped her she would be called out. If a
pinch-runner substituted for her, the home run would be counted only
as a single. What happened was astounding. When the umpire said there
was no rule against it, tu;o of her opponents-Liz Wallace and Mallory
Holtman-carried her around the bases, lowering her gently at each
base so that she could touch it, thus allowing the three-run homer to
count, contributing to their own team ‘s elimination from the playoffs .7
\ Vow! Double Wow!
\ Vhat are we to make of this contradiction of sport and its actors hav­
ing elements of the good and the bad-of being fair and foul? That is
what this book is about.
Analysts of society are inundated with data. They are faced with the
problems of sorting out the important from tl1e less important and with
discerning social patterns of behavior and tl1eir meanings. They need
shortcuts to ease the task. To focus on sport is just such a technique for
understanding the complexities of the larger society.
Sport is an institution that provides scientific observers with a
convenient laboratory \vithin which to examine values, socialization,
stratification, and bureaucracy, to name a few structures and processes
that also exist at the societal level. The games people choose to play, the
degree of competitiveness, the types of rules, the constraints on the
participants, the groups that do and do not benefit under the exist­
ing arrangements, the rate and type of change, and the reward system
in sport provide us with a microcosm of the society in which sport is
Suppose an astute sociologist from another country or gala\.y were to
visit the United States with the intent to understand its values, the system
of social control, the division of labor, and the system of stratification.
Although the answers could be found by careful study and observation
of any single institution, such as religion, education, polity, economy, or
family, an attention to sport would also provide answers. It would not
take that sociologist long to discern the follO\ving qualities in sport:
The High Degree of Competitiveness
Competition is ubiquitous in US society. Competition is the essence of
sport. The downside is that competition divides participants into winners
and losers. As Jon Wertheim observes, “If there weren’t losers, it wouldn’t
be competition.” 10 Americans demand \vinners. In sports (for children
and adults), \vinning is the ultimate goal, not pleasure in the activity. The
adulation given to winners is incredible while losers are maligned. Exam­
ple: Popular locker room slogans exemplify this divergence: “Show Me a
Good Loser and I’ll Show you a Loser” and “Lose is a Four-Letter Word.”
Consider, for example, the difference in how the \vinner and the loser of
the Super Bowl or the World Series are evaluated. Clearly, to be second
best is not good enough. “Nobody remembers who came in second” is the
conventional wisdom. The goal of victcfry is so important for many that it
is laudable even if attained by questionable methods . “Whatever you can
get away with” is another conventional ma.xim.
The Emphasis on Materialism
Examples of the value that Americans place on materialism are
blatant in sport: for example, players signing multiyear contracts, some
exceeding $100 million; male golfers playing weekly for first-place
awards of more than a million dollars; college teams leaving leagues
for others where the economic rewards are greater; professional teams
being moved to more economically fertile climates; and lavish stadiums
being built mostly at public expense.
The Pervasiveness of Racism
Although conditions have improved greatly over the past fifty years,
racist attitudes and actions still affect who coaches, positions played, and
the futures of minorities after their sports career. Just as in the larger
society, racial minorities in sport are rarely found in positions of author­
ity. In the Super Bowl, for example, although African American players
dominate, racism is evident in the dearth of black coaches, team owners,
publicists, trainers, and media personnel. 11
Male Dominance as the Norm
Men control sport. Almost every major professional, amateur, and
educational sport organization in the United States is under the man­
agement and control of men. The proportion of women in leadership
and decision-making positions-those \vith power and influence- in
sport is quite small; far smaller, certainly, than would be expected based
on the number of female sport participants. Significant shifts in the
balance of gender dominance in sports are difficult to find. Moreover,
women are usually found supporting men’s teams, often as scenery.
Sport perpetuates male dominance by defining sport as a male activity;
by controlling sport, even women’s sport; by giving most attention to male
sports in the media and through community and school budgets, facilities,
and the like; and by trivializing women’s sports and women athletes. 12
The Domination of Individuals by Bureaucracies
Conservative bureaucratic organizations, through their desire to per­
petuate themselves, curtail innovations and deflect activities away from
the \vishes of individuals and from the original intent of these organiza­
tions. Many sport organizations-the NCAA, intercollegiate athletic
conferences, professional sport leagues-pride themselves on having
adopted bureaucratic business practices.
The Unequal Distribution of Power in Organizations
The structure of sport in the United States is such that power is in
the hands of the wealthy (e.g., boards of regents, corporate boards of
directors, each professional league, the media, wealthy entrepreneurs,
the United States Olympic Committees, and the National Collegiate
Athletic Association). Evidence of the power of these individuals and
organizations is seen in the exemptions allowed to them by state govern­
ments and the federal government in dealing with athletes and owners,
in tax breaks, and in the concessions that communities make to entice
professional sports franchises to relocate or to remain, and, incidentally,
to benefit the wealthy of that community.
Sport Is Not a Sanctuary; Deviance Is Found Throughout Sport
Corruption, law breaking, unethical behavior, and other crimes are
endemic to human societies. Because sport reflects society, racist, and
sexist organizations, bad actors and bad actions will be found in sport
as they are in society. Both fairness and unfairness are found. There
are ethical and unethical athletes, coaches, and athletic administrators.
It is impossible to imagine the worst about sports anymore. Cheating
is accepted, drugs are common, rapists in the locker rooms , nothing is
beyond belief.
Caveat: While Sport Is a Microcosm of Society, It Is Not Just
a Passive Reflection of Society but It Can Also be an Agent
of Change
Sports are social constructions, that is, 11s part of the social world they
are created by people in interaction and they can be changed by people.
Conflict, in the forms oflawsuits, strikes, and demonstrations . hist01ically
and presently has been used by the less powerful in the spmts world to
change sport. As sports columnist/activist Dave Zirin puts it: “Sports has
often acted as a reflection of the national life. At different times it has
also been a fetter holding back the tide of change. In other instances, it
has been a Taser, sending an electric jolt into the body politics.” 1l
The Super Bowl is the quintessential sports event in the United States.
Football, the most telegenic of all team sports, is the most watched
American television event (sport and nonspo1t), with 11.J.4 million
watching the 2015 event. In the last fifteen minutes of the game
120.3 million watched-the equivalent of just about e\·eryone in
Super Bowl Sunday is unique-a shared, nationwide social event
organized around a single stage at a single time. It is an unofficial
national holiday; the biggest day for gambling, and the second biggest
clay in the year for food consumption (trailing only Thanksgiving).
The Super Bowl brims with the potential for great drama, he ro­
ics, disastrous errors, and excellence in performance all of which are
heightened by an uncertain outcome. For these and many other rea­
sons, the game embodies all sport-and shows why the excitement of
sp01t is so infectious to me and so many others.
But there is another side to the Super Bowl, a side that diminishes
sport for me. A sp01ts contest, a physical competition between oppo­
nents, is decided by differences in abilities , strategy, and chance. The
effort to win under these conditions is the essence of sport, whether a
playground basketball game , a church league slow-pitch softball game,
a college rirnlry, or the opposing teams in the Super Bowl. But as the
le\·el of spo1t becomes more sophisticated, sport shifts from pla:, to work
and from pleasurable participation to pageant1}-pageantry wedded
to militarism (e .g., fl ym·ers, a giant flag, precision parachutists landing
on the fifty-yard line, military honor guards, and, military personnel
honored ).15
Today, spo1t has become a spectacle ruled by money and the Super
Bowl is the exemplar where we celebrate a $10 billion industry owned
by the wealthy elite. Television networks pay enormous sums for
the broadcasting rights to the Super Bmd and then sell ach-ertising
(at $4 .5 million per thiity seconds in 201.5, that’s $150,000 a second).
Social media such as Twitter, YouTuhe, and Facebook share profits on
Super Bowl ad\·ertising with the NFL. It has a $200 million marketing
contract \Vith Nike. The sale of memorabilia dming Super Bowl week
b1ings in more than $100 million, which is about twenty-fh·e times more
than the athletes make cumulath·ely for playing in that game. OYer the
course of the season , the NFL generates S,51 million in ticket sales ,
$2.1 billion in merchandising reYenue, an estimated $2.8 billion in tele­
vision rights, and it receives about $1 billion a year in state and federal
subsidies to cover their capital costs. The NFL commissioner makes
$4-1: million a year. And, the NFL gets a tax break because it has been
deemed a nonprofit organi::ation. 16
Violence is glorified in the Super Bowl. Dming the course of the
game, there are cheap hits aimed at intimidating and perhaps injming
an opponent. Injuries are commonplace. Some athletes, outside the
arena, are thugs, rapists, and domestic partner abusers. Morem·er. there
are instances of rule breaking, such as placing silicone on jerseys to
make the player harder to grab and the alleged deflating of game balls
in the Conference Championship game leading to the Super Bowl in
2015 (“Deflategate”) to giYe the New England Patriots and their quar­
terback, Tom Brady, an advantage in gripping and throwing the ball.
The e:,,.-penses inrnlved in attending the Super Bowl mean that most
attendees are affluent. The face value of a ticket to the 2015 Super Bowl
was $800-81,500. These were in short supply because the league and
the NFL owners are giYen 75 percent of the tickets. The result is the
aYerage price for a ticket was $10,466 through secondary sources . At the
game, the cost of parking, souvenirs, and food/drink is outrageous .
Airfares , lodging, and food costs escalate dramatically chuing Super
Bowl week. So, the Super Bowl is not for regular fans . It is for the rich
and famous who engage in conspicuous consumption such as renting a
mansion for $2,50,000 a week. i;
Racism is evident at the Super Bowl, in the race of the players at rn1i ­
ous positions (African Americans on tlefense, and whites on offense ).
About 77 pen:ent of the players in the NFL are black, yet there is a
deaith of African Ame1ican coaches, coordinators, owners, general man­
agers, trainers, publicists, and media personnel. Likewise, the Super
Bowl represents the sexist side of sport as it glorifies team and media
personnel, all but a small fraction of whom are male . \\’omen prmicle
suppmting roles. Their bodies are used to heterosexualize the festival
as cheerleaders, dancers, halftime performers, and promotional sex
objects. 1~
\Vinning the Super Bowl is vitally important. We Americans empha­
size the outcome of games rather than the process . \Ve glorif)· winners
and \ilify losers. As John Madden, Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster,
has said, “The biggest gap in sports is between the winner of the Super
Bowl and the loser in the Super Bowl.” 19
The Super Bowl symbolizes the fundamental sports paradox for me :
it is both magical and materialistic, unifying and divisive , inclusive and
exclusionary, e>..vansive and exploitive. These agony and ecstasy ele­
ments of sport are the subjects of this book. And, these dualities remind
us that sport reveals so much about ourselves and our society.
An important indicator of the essence of a society is the type of sport
it glorifies. Football and baseball are the two preeminent spo1is in
American society. Examining these sports, there are a few similarities,
most notably that both are played mostly by boys and men . \\ omen
are involved in supporth·e roles .21 Although there are other similarities
between the two (e .g., rule breaking and rule bending are common in
both), the two sp01is are basically opposites and these differences pro­
,ide insightful clues about Americans and American society.
Baseball was once America’s most popular sport. Now football is the
people’s favorite, with more Americans watching football on Sundays
than attending church. The NFL is the richest sports venture with about
$10 billion in annual revenue. An estimated $50 million is bet each week
in Las Vegas alone on football.22 \Vhen baseball was the national pas­
time, the United States was a pastoral, agrarian nation?3 Farmers and
small-town craftsmen, merchants, and laborers worked alone or with
their families to achieve success. But then America became an indus­
trial nation , with people moving to the cities to work in factories and
to large bureaucracies associated with a large industrial society. These
bureaucracies require “elaborately choreographed cooperation among
large groups: success for the team is success for everyone .”2~ In effect,
part of football’s appeal is that its structure is similar to the structure of
the contemporary workplace .
These two sports have fundamentally different 01ientations toward
time . Baseball is not bounded by time while football must ~dhere to a
rigid time schedule . “Baseball is oblivious to time. There is no clock, no
two-minute drill. The game flows in a timeless stream with a rhythm of
its own.”25 In this way, baseball reflects life in rural America as it existed
in the not-too-distant past compared to football’s emulation of contem­
porary urban society, where persons have rigid schedules, deadlines,
appointments, and time clocks to punch.
The innings of baseball have no time limit, and if the game is tied
at the end of the nine innings, the teams play as many extra innings
as it takes to determine a winner. Football, on the other hand, is
played for sixty minutes, and if tied at the end, the game goes into
sudden death. The nomenclature of the two sports- “extra innings”
compared to “sudden death”-illustrates a basic difference between
them. There are other semantic differences. A baseball player makes
an “error,” but a football team is “penalized.”26 The object of baseball
is to be “safe at home” while the goal of football is to penetrate deep
into the opponent’s “territory, crossing the enemy’s goal line.” In base­
ball, there is no home territory to defend; the playing field is shared
by both teams. In football, there is “clipping,” “hitting,” “spearing,”
“piling on ,” and “personal fouls.” Baseball, in sharp contrast, has the
“sacrifice,” and players commit “errors.” There is no analogue in base­
ball for the militaristic terms of football, for example, “blitz,” “bomb,”
“trap,” “trenches,” “field general,” “aerial attack,” and “ground attack.”
Such linguistic differences imply a basic difference between baseball
and football. Baseball, as seen in its benign verbs (home run hitters
trot around the bases; pitchers “toe” the rubber),2 7 is essentially a calm
and leisurely activity while football is intense, aggressive, and violent.
A baseball player cannot get to first base because of strength, aggres­
sion, or ability to intimidate. The only way to get there is through skill
or an opponent’s lack thereof. In football, however, survival (success )
belongs to the most aggressive. Clearly, the source of football’s appeal
is violence. 28
Baseball is a game of repetition and predictable action pla~,ed over
a 162-game schedule. The players must stay rela’Xed and not get too
excited. They must pace themselves and not let a loss or even a succes­
sion of losses get them down. In football, though, losing is intolerable
because of the short season (sL\.ieen games). Thus, football players must
play each game with intensity. The intensity that characterizes football
resembles the tensions and pressures of modem society, contrasted with
the more relaxed pace of agrarian life and baseball.
The two sports differ in their orientation to change. Baseball today is
much like it was decades ago. Managerial actions are relatively predict­
able for the various situations that arise, because there is a time-honored
way of doing things. Football, on the other hand, is constantly changing
as coaches devise new offenses and defensive coaches design new ways
to counteract these changes as well as creating new defenses to con­
found offenses . Football is also more reliant on technology than base­
ball. Baseball does use the speed gun, videotaping, computers, analytics,
and other forms of technology but not nearly as much as football where
computers are used to evaluate player performance on each play, to
discover opponent’s tendencies in play calling by situation, and the like.
An interesting contrast between these two sports is the equality of
opportunity each offers. Baseball promotes equality while football is
essentially unequal. This difference occurs in several ways. First, the
usual route to become a professional football player is to first play in
college . Some baseball players do also, but they have the option of work­
ing up through the minor leagues. A second way that baseball is more
egalitarian than football is that it can be played by players of all sizes.
Football, however, is for big people (with a few exceptions). Baseball is
also more equal than football because everyone has the opportunity to be
a star. Except for designated hitters, all players play offense ,md defense,
giving each the chance to make an outstanding defensive play or to bat in
the winning run. In football, stardom is essentially reserved for those who
play at the positions that score points. Others labor in relative obscurity.
This is similar to American society, where the elite few score the points,
call the plays, and get the glory at the e:-.-pense of the commoners.
Another dimension on which the two sports differ is individualism.
Baseball is highly individualistic. It is “a team sport, but it is basically
an accumulation of individual activities. Throwing a strike, hitting a line
drive or fielding a grounder is primarily an individual achievernent.”29
Elaborate teamwork is not required except for double plays, defending
sacrifice bunts, and being in position for cut-off throws. Each player
struggles to succeed on his own.
As Gerald Cavenaugh has written:
Baseball is each [player] doing the best . .. within a loose confederation
of fellow individualists…. This reflects a society in which individual
effort, drive, and success are esteemed and in which , conversely, failure
is deemed the individual’s responsibility.30
Football, in sharp contrast, is the quintessence of team spmts. EYery
move is planned and practiced in advance. The players in each of the
eleven positions have a specific task to pertom1 on every play. E\·ery player
is a specialist whose actions are coordinated with the other specialists on
the team. Each player’s personality must be subordinate to the team’s goals
as set by a demanding coach. The parallel between the organization of a
football team and a factory or a corporation or other bureaucracies is ob\i­
ous.31 In each, the intricate and precise actions of all members doing dif­
ferent tasks are required for the attainment of the organization’s objecti\·e.
In summary, baseball represents what we were. It continues to be
popular because of our longing for the peaceful past. Football, on the
other hand, is popular now because it symbolized what we now are­
an urban-technological-corporate-bureaucratic society. Thus, the two
sports represent cultural contrasts: country vs. city, stability vs. change ,
harmony vs. conflict, calm vs. intensity, and equality vs. inequality.
Each sport contains a fundamental myth that it elaborates for its fans .
Baseball represents an island of stability in a confused and confusing
world. As such, it provides an antidote for a world of too much action ,
struggle, pressure, and change. Baseball provides this antidote by being
individualistic, unbounded by time, nonviolent, leisurely in pace, and by
perpetuating the American myths of:equal opportunity, egalitarianism .
and potential success for everyone.
Football represents what we are. Our society is violent. It is high!:,·
technological. Change is rapid. It is highly bureaucratized, and we are
all caught in its impersonal clutches. Football fits contemporary urban­
corporate society because it is team oriented, highly technological.
dominated by the clock, rewards aggressive behavior, and because it
perpetuates inequality.
I begin \vith a paradox: Sport, a seemingly trivial pursuit, is important.
Sport is a fantasy-a diversion from the realities of work, relationships ,
I 4
and survival. Sport entertains. Why then do we take it so seriously?
First and foremost, sport mirrors the human e~-perience, as noted by
The Nation in its introduction to a special issue on sport:
Sport elaborates in its rituals what it means to be human: the play, the
risk, the trials, the collecth·e impulse to games, the thrill of physicality,
the necessity of strategy; defeat, victory, defeat again, pain, transcen­
dence and, most of all, the certainty that nothing is ce1tain-that e,·ery­
thing can change and be changed. 1”
Second, sport mirrors society in other profound ways. It shares with
the larger society the basic elements and e:,vressions of bureaucratiza­
tion, commercialization, racism, sexism, homophobia, greed, exploita­
tion of the powerless by the powe1ful, alienation, and ethnocentiism.
American spmt embodies Ame1ican values- sbiving for excellence,
winning, individual and team competition, and mate1ialism. Parents
want their children to participate in spmt because pa1ticipation teaches
them the basic values of American society and builds character.
Third, sport is compelling because it combines spectacle (a unh·ersal
human social tendency to combine sp01t and pageantry) with drama (an
outcome that is not perfectly predictable ), pcrfonnance excellence, and
clarity (exactly who won, by hm,· much , and in \\’hat manner ). \\ ‘e also
know who lost and whv.
Fomth, there is something transcendent about spmt. Fans celebrate.
Fans high-five strangers. Fans emote with cheers , jeers, screams . and
tears. As Scott Simon of National Public Radio puts it: “You can tell
yourself: it’s just spo1ts, nothing real; it has nothing to do with yonr life,
no resonance in the real world oflhing, dying, and struggling. And you’d
be 1ight. Then, something [magical] happens . . .. And inside, where
your body cannot kid you, something takes m·er and it feels real.”-•1
there is the human desire to identif\·. with and connect to
something greater than oneself. For athletes, this is being part of a team,
working and sacrificing together to achieYe a common goal. For fans,
identif)ing \\ith a team or a sports hero bonds them with others who
share their allegiance; they belong and they hm·e an identity. Esteemed
analyst of sports, Frank Deford puts it this way: “In today’s world,
where we are so fragmented, an arena is one place left where we come
together to share… . That’s why the creeps at games who shout loud
obscenities are not merely being offensh·e. They’re breaking a compact,
which is that all us sports fans must sacrifice a little of our indi\iduality
to, for one rare modern moment, commune.”3~
Sport is a pervasive aspect of US society. Participation rates are high .
.Most children are involved in organized sport at some time in their
li,·es. Sport is the subject of much conversation, reading material, lei­
sure activity, and discretionary spending. Over one-tenth of the World
Almanac is devoted annually to sport, more than is allotted to politics
business, and science. USA Today, the most widely read newspaper
in the United States , devotes one-fourth of its space to sport. E,·en
the Wall Street ]ollrnal has a weekly sports page. A number of cable
tele\ision networks provide twenty-four-hour sports cO\·erage. Almost
one-fifth of major network time is devoted to sport. Annually, the most
watched television e,·ent in the United States is the Super Bowl. The
amount of sp01ts betting is staggering, with unknown billions wagered
legally and illegally.
\Ve sports fans read the daily sports page with a keen interest in the
latest scores , win-loss records, favorite athletes, and possible new col­
lege ret:ruits or trades that improve our belO\·ed professional teams. \\’e
know a great deal about sport. \Ve know point spreads, c;urrent statis­
tics, playoff probabilities , biographical information about athletes and
c;oaches, and more. As children, many of us learned spo1ts information ,
memorizing incredible amounts of thvia. Moreover, most of us play
spo1ts, whether as indhiduals or on organized teams, throughout muc;h
of our lives.
But do we truly understand sport? Can we separate the h)1Je from
the reality and the myth from the facts? Do we question the way spmt is
organized? Unf01tunately, many fans and pmticipants alike have a super­
flcial, unc1itical attitude that takes much for granted. 15 The purpose of
this book is to examine sport critically and to ask probing questions.
As a sociologist, I examine all social arrangem ents critically. A sociolo­
gist asks questions such as: How does sp01t really work?\\’ho has power
and who does not? \Vho benefits under the existing social arrangements
and who does not? These questions scrutinize existing m~ths, stereo­
types, media representations, and official dogma. The answers to these
questions enable us to demystify sport and truly understand it. I examine
I 6
sport and the beliefs surrounding it, holding them to the light of current
research findings and critical thinking in order to demythologize them.
I focus on shmving how sport really works and, in the process, I identify
a duality in it, which exists in all human institutions. In other words,
sport has positive and negative outcomes for individuals and society,
as we have already seen. My approach will probably raise questions,
doubts, resistance, and even anger among some readers, demonstrating
the power of myth. In the process, though, readers will see sport from
a new angle, one that brings new interpretations and insights to their
e:’1.-periences with sport.
The subtitle of this book refers to the paradoxes of sport. The Random
House Dictionary of the English Language supplies the following defini­
tion of paradox: ( 1) “any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an appar­
ently contradictory nature”; and (2 ) “any opinion or statement contrary
to commonly accepted opinion.” l!J
This book is titled Fair and Fout3· because sport is beset by a number
of contraclictions (definition 1 above), and the common understanding
of sport is often guided by myth. My goal is to dem)thologize sport
by calling into question the prevailing beliefs about this phenomenon
(definition 2 abO\·e ). These two dimensions of the term “paradox” con­
stitute the organizing principle-the essence–of this book.
Sport is inherently contradictory. On the one hand, sport provides
excitement, joy, and self-fulfillment for the participants. As former
Olympic athlete Kenny Moore puts it: “To celebrate sp01t is … to
celebrate sheer abandon, to savor moments when athletes surrender
themselves to effort and are genuinely transformed. This is when spo1t
takes loneliness, fear, hate and ego and transmutes them into achie\’e­
ment, records, art, and powerful example.”35
But there is also a dark side, as Moore concedes: “[Sport also pres­
ents us with] cocaine deaths, steroid cover-ups , collegiate hypocrisies,
gambling scandals, criminal agents, and Olympic boycotts. Such failings
show that sport’s civilizing, freeing effect on us is incomplete . ‘Not every­
one is following the rules. Not everyone is trying.”39
Put another way, spo1t provides examples of courage, superhuman
effort, extraordinary teamwork, selflessness , and saciifice. Yet the images
corn·eyed through sport- violence, greed, exploitation, selfishness ,
cheating, and contempt for authority-are not always uplifting.~0
Sport is clearly appealing. \Ve are fascinated by the competition and
the st1i\ing for excellence. Spo1t is compelling because it transcends our
e,·eryday routine e~-peiiences with excitement, heroics, and unpredict­
ability. But much about spo1t is also appalling. Paradoxically, fans often
find the appalling appealing-the \iolence, the incredible amounts of
money, the cheating, and the outrageous behmiors by some athletes ,
coaches, and owners.
Each chapter in this book takes up a particular paraclm. of spo1t.
First, sport is both unif)ring and divisi\’e. Chapter 2 shows ho\\’ spmt
can unite warring factions and b1ing different social classes and racial
groups together. However, it can also reinforce the banicades that
dhicle groups.
The related topics of chapter .3 are the names , mascots , logos , and
1ituals associated \\rith spo1ts teams, which e,·oke strong emotions of
solidaiity among follo,,·ers. But these spo1ts symbols hm·e a potentially
dark side as well. Man\’ Native Ame1icans and others are offemled l1\’ . ,
the use of Nafo·e Ame1ican names (like th e \\ ‘ashington Redskins), \\’ar
paint, tomahawks, war chants, and mascots dressed in nati\·e costume .
They feel that these practices stereot)1)e, demean , and tridalize the
traditions and 1ituals of Native Americans. Similarly, the names giYen
to \\·omen’s teams raise parallel questions concerning stereotyping
(the name Rambelles hardly refers to athletic skills ) and tii,ialization
(e.g., \Vildkittens as a diminutive of Wildcats ). Then there is the use of
the Rebel flag-the symbol of the Confederacy, racial segregation , and
Afiican Ameiican enslavement-as the rall)ring symbol for spo1ts teams
at some Southern schools and for many NASCAR fan s. Proponents see
the Confederate flag as an inspirational symbol of Southern he1itage
and Old South piide and tradition . Opponents see this S)1nbol as send­
ing an inflammatory message about a tradition of racial oppression and
Sport is a rnle-bound acthrity organized and supenrised by authmities
and organizations to promote fair play, as shown in chapter-!. It includes
a socialization process whereby paiticipants learn to play by the rules,
commit themselves to hard work and teamwork, and practice good
sp01tsmanship. These positive attributes of sport have given rise to the
common assumption that sport builds character. Yet these att1ibutes are
counteracted by unethical coaches and players, the widespread use of
performance-enhancing drugs, the pampering of athletes, hatred among
opponents , and the debasement of fair play.
A fourth paradox is the subject of chapter 5: sport is both healthy
and unhealthy. Sport encourages good physical health. Obviously, the
physical exercise that sports participation requires is beneficial because
it promotes endurance, coordination, weight control, muscle strength,
strong bones, joint flexibility, and increased aerobic (lung and heart )
capacity. At the same time, however, participants get hurt during sport­
ing activities. Sport can also damage the health of athletes through
ove1training, rapid weight loss to meet weight requirements, excessive
weight gain, and the use of drugs that promote muscle mass, strength,
and endurance. Demanding coaches may e:\.-pect too much from their
athletes. Parents may d1ive their child athletes too hard, too fast. Elite
young athletes are especially vulnerable to excessive training and even
sexual abuse from adult authorities.
Chapter 6 examines two fonns of children’s play-peer centered and
adult centered. Since the latter dominates the sports experience of chil­
dren today, I focus on the dark side of this phenomenon.
Chapter 7 examines the duality of sport found in its expressiveness,
on the one hand, and control on the other. Social control is necessary
for stability in society and all social groups. Social control, which is a
central feature in sport, has two contradictory consequences. Its positive
functions lead to consensus and cooperation as everyone pulls together
to achieve a common goal, as well as stability on the team, in the orga­
nization, or in the society. The maintenance of the status quo, however,
is not always good for everyone. Sport, for example, supports tradition,
but in so doing it helps to reinforce traditional gender roles and compul­
sory heterosexuality. It helped to maintain racial segregation until after
\ \’oriel \Var II and continues to allow considerable discrimination against
racial minorities in some sports even to this day.
Chapter 8 demythologizes the prevailing notion that sport is played
on a level playing field, where talent, strategy, and luck determine win­
ners and losers . This is not the case when it comes to the participation of
racial mino1ities in some sports (e.g., automobile racing, bowling, golf,
and tennis). Similarly, gender, sexual orientation, and social class issues
illustrate how some are favored while others are disadvantaged.
Chapter 9 focuses on the role of the mass media in what we see and
how we interpret what we see. Most significant, the mass media act
as the “conductor” of sports-scheduling games, changing rules, and
infusing great amounts of money into sports, with consequences for
sustaining big-time college sport, college league realignment, increased
coaching salaries, and other manifestations of an arms race .
Chapter 10 investigates the contradictions of big-time college
athletics. Sport is an integral part of higher education in the United
States . Big-time college sport supplies full-ride scholarships to ath­
letes and generates many millions of dollars for their institutions, their
communities and corporate Ame1ica. Big-time college sport unites
its supporters , provides free publicity for the schools, and gives good
athletes from economically disadvantaged backgrounds the chance for
a college education. And it is a training ground for future professional
athletes. Does it, however, fit \vith the educational mission of these
A strong case can be made that sport is actually detrimental to aca­
demics (as chapter 10 e:-..plores). For example , most of these schools
actually lose money, since scholarship money and other economic
resources are channeled away from ~cademics and toward athletics .
And the athletes admitted to these schools tend to perform below the
student body average on test scores and graduation rates; they are often
athletes first and students second. In addition, occasional scandals hurt
the image of the schools involved; the programs and resources are
disprop01tionately geared toward the male athletes in the revenue­
producing sports; gender equity is denied; and athletes are exploited
under the guise of amateurism. The overarching contradiction is that
big-time school sport is organized as a commercial entertainment activ­
ity within an educational environment. This arrangement may have
certain positive consequences, but it compromises educational goals.
Chapter 11 asks the question: To what degree is sport a mechanism
of social mobility? Athletes can parlay their skills and achievements into
college scholarships, careers as professional athletes, coaching positions,
and other sports-related occupations. Huge amounts of money are made
by special athletes, many of whom c<;>me from lower socioeconomic
backgrounds. However, the odds of any one athlete achieving these
rewards are very slim.
Actually, achieving a professional sports career is extremely difficult,
no matter how hard the individual works. Sport is a path out of poverty
for only a very few. Racial minorities are especially vulnerable to the
appeal of riches and fame through sport, but this is a false hope leading
to failure for most. Women have even less chance of upward mobility
through sport than men because fewer college scholarships are available
to them, as well as fewer professional sport opportunities. Even those
who do become professional athletes lack lifelong security.
Chapter 12 examines the link between private ownership of profes­
sional teams and public subsidies for them. Large cities either have
professional sports franchises or actively seek them. In either case, the
cities subsidize or offer to subsidize the teams and their wealthy own­
ers, typically by providing arenas or stadiums, refurbishing these venues
as needed, charging little or no rent, providing access roads, and giving
generous percentages on concessions and parking. The rationale for
such largesse is that professional teams benefit their host cities eco­

This raises some interesting questions : Who benefits financially
from professional teams and who does not? Do women and men and
the members of all social classes share in the benefits? Should wealthy
owners and affluent athletes be subsidized by taxpayers, many of whom
are not interested in sport? Do men and women in the community gain
more or less equally from the arrangements? Does a city actually benefit
economically from having professional teams? Is the profit margin so
low for professional teams that they can only survive if subsidized by tax­
payers? Is there a better alternative to professional teams being owned
by affluent individuals or large corporations who threaten to move the
team to a city that offers more generous subsidies?
\\ hile sport is local (i.e., fans identify with their local teams and
athletes ), it is becoming increasing global, the subject of chapter 13.
One-fifth of the players in the National Basketball Association (NBA)
are foreign. More than one-fourth of Major League Baseball (MLB )
players are not native born ; instead they are mostly from Latin America.
How does this new ethnic makeup of teams affect the loyalty of fans?
Does it increase the hostility toward visiting teams and players? On the
other hand, does the presence of foreign players on teams build b1idges
\vith other societies?
These paradoxes are considered in this book. Although each chapter
focuses on a central theme, the book also explores related contradictions
and myths. Issues of class, race, ethnicity, and gender are also consid­
ered in each chapter.
Do these contradictions and questions pique your interest about
how sport really works? Or does their critical thrust make you defensive
about sports? Both are likely reactions, indicating once again the
contradictory nature of sport. My point is that anyone who truly wants to
understand sport in American society must accept its inherent dualities.
Too often we focus on the bright side of the dualities present in sport,
letting myths guide our perceptions and analyses. I intend to present the
reality of sport, including the good and the bad. Indeed, I emphasize the
negative aspects of sport in order to demythologize and demystify it. Yet
I do not want to forget the magical nature of sport that is so captirnting
and compelling. Overcoming this basic contradiction-being critical of
sport while retaining a love for it-will enable us to examine the nega­
tives surrounding sport with the goal of seeking alternatives to improve
this vital, interesting, and exciting aspect of social life.
Finally, sports organization can be changed, but this requires a plan,
a strategy, and an organized effort (th~ topic of chapter 14). Sociologist
Jay Coakley puts it this way: ·
The growing importance of sports in society makes it more necessary
for us to take a closer and more critical look at how sports are defined,
organized, and played. As we do this, some of us will call for changes
in dominant forms of sports or reject those forms and call for new and
alternative sports. However, we should not e~-pect widespread, re\”Olu­
tionary changes to occur overnight. Social transformation is always a
challenging and tedious process. It requires long-term efforts and care­
fully planned strategies, but it does not occur without a clear vision of
possible futures and strategic efforts to tum visions into realities.41
Understanding sport must precede any effort to change it for the
better. That is the goal of this book.
AP PhotofThemba Hadebe
The \forld C11p atl01ced people from different co1111tries and religions
to co11w togcthe1: May sport alu;ays pro111ote th e culture ofe11co1111te1:
– Pope Frnn<:is, Argentinian and soc:cl"r fan S1mits are 1clwt they arc, and the best thing th ey are is a co11111w11 11w111ory, a slwred experience that knits a co1111111111ity togl'the1; fm111 the s11111g to the clesperate,from the prosperous lo the pe1111iless,fro111 the i11cohl'l"e11tly adolescent to the irretrier;ably adult. -Bernie Lin<:icome, sportsw1iter for the Rocky Mo1111tai11 S!'rcs Sports, l11bricated by bee1; is the glue that hold\ 11~ togethc1: - Dmill Hosenfelt, from the 110\'el Dog Tag~ (2010 ) 011 the 11ight in 201..J that a Ca1uulia11 soldier 1ca~ killed 1cl1ilc g1wrd­ i11g the national rear 111e111orial i11 Ottawa, Pittslmrgh ft111s sang a11 emotional rendition of "O Canada" before the Pe11g11i11s ga11w against Philadelphia. - Jimmy Golen, Associated Pres.'> sports \\’liter
To play this game you 11111st /wr;e fire in you , and there is nothing that
stokes fire like hate.
-Vince Lombardi, legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers
Nothing builds team 11nity like a good old-fashioned trai11i11g camp
-Rex Ryan, New York Jets coach
On the morning of September 11, 2001, follr commercial planes tcere
taken ouer by hijackers tclw piloted the planes to netc destinations, and
the collrse of history teas changed. Two of the planes rammed into the
World Trade Center in Netc York City, another plLLngecl into the Penta­
gon. The fourth plane failed in its 1nission, presumably because of heroic
passengers attacking the hijackers, crashing instead in 111ral Pe11nsyl­
u111ia. Abot1t three thousand people 1cere killed in this attack a11d the
sL1bsequ e11t rescue attempts, about the same 1111mber of Ame1ica11s tclw
died at Pearl Harbor in 19..Jl.
Follo1ci11g this attack by Islamic extremists, the stunned nation came
togeth e,; rallyin g aroLLnd the flag. Sports played an important role in
b11ildina this patriotic 11nity. At first, the wlious sports leagues and
tea111s postponed games out of respect for those tcho died. Th en, as th e
rescheduled games began,from high school games to professio11al games,
each 1cas preceded by a wliety of unifying symbolic acts-11w111e11ts of
silence to reflect on the fallen and the heroic, patriotic songs, the presen­
tation ofthe flags (some as h11ge as a football field ), militan; flyoue,~s, and
spontaneous chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” These patriotic displays bro11ght
the people i11 the stacli11ms and in the teleuision aLLcliences together in a
ca11se larger tha11 themselves.
The first Super Bou;[ after the September attack, 011 Febnum; 3, 2002,
in Netc Orleans, outdid itself in nationalistic fen.;or. For the gathering of
131 million US households, the largest assemblage of Americans since
9111, teler;ision 11et1corks and the NFL took the opportunity to celebrate
all things American. Fox’s three-hour pregame show had as its theme
“Hope, Heroes, and Homeland,” which it advertised in USA Today as a
“celebration offootball and the American spirit.” Includecl’in the ecent
icas a reenactment ofthe signing ofthe Declaration of Independence with
famous athletes reciting tcords from that document, Janner presidents
reading passages of Abraham Lincoln’s speeches, Barry Manilow singing
“Let Freedom Ring, ” and Paul McCartney singing his song “Freedom,”
with military personnel, firefighters, police holding flags, and young
tcomen dressed as Statues of Liberty. The pageantry before the game
also included a huge flag and Mariah Carey singing the national anthem.
At halftime, the NFL presented the band U2 , which sang seoeral songs
on a stage in front of a huge unfurling scroll listing those whose lives
tcere lost on September 11. “The American militanJ-industrial-sports­
ente,tainment complex took a bow before the teorld. . . . [The] message
teas the nexus of politics and sp01ts, football and nationhood. “1 And to
top off this orgy offootball and nationalism, the tui11ning team, in a huge
upset, teas the New England Patriots! And, as the team was presented
the trophy, the field teas inundated with red, white, and blue confetti.
Fast Jon.card ten years to the time when Osama bin Laden was assas­
si1wted, resulting in spontaneous emptions of patriotic ::.eal with fans
of both teams joining in chants of U-S-A, U-S-A. This was followed by
organi::.ecl patriotic celebrations at stadiums throughout the country,
such as Military Appreciation Nights ; displays of football field-si::.ed
flags , alld military flyoi;ers . As sports commentator Daoe Zi1in argues:
“Sports has been co-opted, exploited, scarred, and tu med inside out by
the aftermath of 9111 and the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Some have
trn11clered if now that bin Laden is depd, life will ‘go back to nonnal’
But . . . this is the new nonnal. “2
Two opposing forces are at work throughout the world today: increas­
ing intolerance, ideological purity, tribalism, exclusion, and conflict, as
well as many signs of tolerance, cooperation, compromise, acceptance
of differences, and inclusion. Just as the world is moving toward becom­
ing a global community, it is tom by parochial hatreds dividing nations
and regions into warring ethnic enclaves.3 Sport, too, embodies these
contradictory elements as it increasingly pulls people apart on the one
hand and pulls them together on the other.
Sport Unites
International events bring together people from different countlies
and different racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, promoting under­
standing and friendships across these social divides. The US government
uses athletes to promote international goodwill. The State Department,
for example, sponsors tours of athletes to foreign countries for these pur­
poses. Sport has also been used to open diplomatic doors. In the 1970s,
when communist China and the United States did not have diplomatic
relations, the leadership of the two nations agreed that their athletes could
compete in each country. After this “ping-pong” diplomacy broke the ice,
the two countries eventually established nonnal relations. In 1998, US
wrestlers were invited to participate in a seventeen-nation tournament in
Iran, the first American athletic team to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic
rernlution. \ Vrestling is Iran’s national sport, and Iran’s president at that
time, Mohammed Khatami, encouraged this breakthrough to crack “the
wall of distrust between the two nations.” Thomas Omestad described an
important symbolic act that may help to bridge the antagonism between
Iran and the United States that has existed for over two decades:
It mls only a small, spontaneous gesture. But it worked emotional magic .
After \\inning a silver medal … American Larry “Zeke'” Jones waved a
hand-sized Iranian flag, and the 2,000 fans packed into a Tehran arena
went wild with delight. “America! America! ” They chanted in response­
a sudden , unscripted reversal of the ritual “Death to America!” chorus
that Iranians usually chant at public events .4
Thus sport was a wedge helping to break down the hostility between
these two countries. Perhaps it is a prelude to normalizing relations
between the United States and a former enemy. In June 1998, Iran
upset the United States in a first-round World Cup soccer match in
Lyon, France. 5 The Iranians celebrated their une.x-pected victory \vildly
but not (and this is crucial) with taunts directed at the United States.
President Bill Clinton congratulated the Iranians, and the Iranian presi­
dent was a gracious \vinner. (Clinton’s gesture was facilitated because
soccer is not yet an important sport to Americans.)
Since India was divided into two nations-India and Pakistan­
in 1948, they have gone to war three times, ,vith millions killed.
The tension between these two nuclear powers is enormous and unre ­
lenting, unleashing religious hatred, as India is Hindu and Pakistan is
Muslim. However, in 2004, the two nations came together in a se1ies of
cricket matches, as the team from India, for the first time in fomteen
years, toured Pakistan for thirty-nine days.
The phrase sporting event can’t begin to contain the religious extrem­
ism, unforgiven deeds, and rabid jingoism that swirl around each India­
Pakistan cricket match; the game is haunted by battle dead, and the air
is charged with the ongoing dispute between the two countries over
control of Kashmir. For generations cricket has been a prQ.\y for war
between the two nations. 6
Temporarily, at least, sport brought these two warring nations
together, promising either better relations between the two countries­
or an explosion of violence.
Sport can be used to unite groups \vithin one country, as Adolf Hitler
used the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin to unite the German people
through the accomplishments of Germany’s athletes on the world stage.
According to Richard D. Mandell in his book The Na:::,i Olympics, the
Olympic festival was a shrewdly propagandistic and b1illiantly conceived
charade that reinforced and mobilized the patriotism of the German
masses.’ The successes of the GermanTathletes at those Olympics (they
won eighty-nine medals, twenty-three ‘more than US athletes and more
than four times as many as any other country) was “proof’ of German
Similarly, success in international sports competition can tiigger p1ide
across divisions within a country. For example, even in war-ravaged Iraq,
with its ethnic and sectarian divides, unity was achieved briefly in 200i
when the national Iraqi soccer team, composed of Shiites, Sunnis, and
Kurds, won its first ever Asian Cup, defeating Saudi Arabia. Spontane­
ous celebrations occurred follmving the victory with people dancing in
the streets and waving Iraqi flags. 8
Cuba provides another contemporary example of the great potential
that sport has a mechanism for promoting domestic unity. 9 Fidel Castro,
Cuba’s leader, decreed that sport is a right of the people. No admission
is ever charged to a sporting event. The communist leadership in Cuba
uses sport to unite its people through p1ide in its athletic achie,·ements.
The most promising athletes are given the best coaching and train­
ing. Cuba de,·otes 3 percent of its national budget to a sports ministiy
that encourages and trains elite athletes. In the Pan Ame1ican Games,
Cuban athletes, from a country with a third the population of California,
\\in many times more medals than US athletes on a per capita basis. In
the 2012 Olpnpics , Cuba ranked third in the number of medals per
100,000 people (the United States ranked 48th ).10 Cuban athletes are
spo1ts heroes and heroines, e,·oking intense nationalistic pride in the
Cuban people and, indirectly, suppo1t for the ruling elite.
Racially, South Af1ica is a nation deeply divided. Sport has helped to
break down this division, at least in part, in two ways. First, when the
whites in South Af1ica held an election to decide whether to dismantle
apmtheid. 69 percent ,·oted to give up their p1ivilege, marking a rare
peaceful transition of power. One reason for the fa,·orable vote was
South African president F. \\’. de Klerk’s warning that failure to pass the
mc,L~ure would return the country to isolation in business and sport. 11
South Ahica had last pmticipated in the Olympics in 1960 and had
been barred since then from international competition. Its apa1theid
racial policies had made it a pmiah country in e\’eI)thing from politics
to sports for three decades. With apartheid dismantled, South Afticans
could once again show their athletic prowess. This was a compelling
argument for many whites. Subsequently, South Africa has been allowed
to compete in the Olympics and in other worldwide competitions , espe­
cial!~- in rugby, which is ,·ery important to its people.
After the formal fall of apartheid and the election of Nelson ~Iandela,
the spo1ts world accepted South Africa. The World Cup in rugby was
hekl in South Af1ica in 199,5. President Mandela used the rugby World
Cup as an opp01tunity to bring the races somewhat closer together
within his country-to use spmt for the greater good. 12 The national
rngby team, the Springboks, and rugby itself had symbolized white
South Africa, since it had been an all-white team. But Mandela, against
the wishes of his ad,isors, kept the Springbok name and encouraged
black Afocans to think of this team as their team. In speaking to a black
audience, Mandela, weming a Springbok cap, said, “This Springbok cap
does honor to our boys. I ask you to stand by them tomorrow because
they are our kind.” Mandela inspired Sports Illustrated to comment:
Our kind . Not [black]. Not white. South African. The rugb_\ team
became a symbol for the country as a whole…. Gi,·en the 1ight time
and place. sport is capable of starting such a process in a weiety. It i~
only a stait, of course. The hard work lies ahead, after the crmHls ha\'(.>
clisperse are misled. Findings in 2015 revealed that the Defense
Department, mostly through the Army National Guard and the Air
Force, had paid professional sports franchises in the NFL, Major
League Baseball, and the National Hockey League, NASCAR, and col­
lege programs in exchange for patriotic tributes at sporting events hon­
oring members of the armed services. 54 It is hard to not be cynical when
we learn that public relations by the military are used to manipulate fans
by tugging at their heart strings. Such is the sentiment of sports historian
Richard C. Crepeau:
\\’alt Disne: is often quoted as sa)ing that the goal of the Disney Parks
is to offer an e\-pe1ience to visitors in which they will not be able to dis­
tinguish th e real from the artificial or fanciful. Is this what it has come
to in our public relations riclcllecl culture? When this sort of fraud is
peq_:>e trated in the arena of sport, the ultimate reality e,·ent, and clone
so to manipulate the public emotions in support of the militar:’, hm,· c:an
the result be an:thing but disgust and a shm1J increase in c:nicism?5s
Is the Unity Achieved Through Sport Always Good?
~lost discussions of sport implicitly assume that 11nity is good and
dhision is bad. This is not always the case. 5 The Nazi Olympics ofi;
19:36, for example, uniflecl the Germans in their contempt for Jews,
G~1Jsies. pe ople of color, homosex11als, and non-Germans. This unity
was achieYed by separating the German people into supe1ior/ inferior
categories . Soccer wars dhide nations precisely be cause of soccer’s abil­
ity to 11nite the people within national boundmies. The infamous black
power fist statement by Tommy Smith and John Carlos on the ,ictory
stand during tlte pla)ing of the national anth e m in the 1968 01),npics
was ,iewed by most Americans as a di\isiYe gesture pulling white and
black athletes apart. Many blacks and antiracists, howeve r. interpreted
this syrnholic act as a po\\’erful , uni(,ing political statement. Depending
011 the audience, this act was divisive or unil)ing;, unpatriotic or progres­
sin:•. Thus it is not simply a matter of sport either uniting or cli,iding but
a question of how and under what circumstances docs spo1t unite and/
or dhide and \\ith what consequences.
Sp01t does h.n-c a uni~\ing function . This can be accomplished with
progressi,·e consequences if it is organized to make foll participants of
the members of all social classes , races , and genders. Spmt does this to
some degree, but for the most pmt sport reinforces the inequalities in
society. Consider, for example, the statement by Mmiah Burton Nelson
from her book, The Stronger Wo111 e11 Get, the i\lore Men Lor.;e Football:
“\Ve need to take spmts seriously- not the scores or the statistics, but
the process. Not to focus on who wins, but on who’s losing.”57 By my
count, the losers in spo1t hm·e been and continue to be the poor, racial
minorities, and women . And, as long as these folks lose, spmt will more
like!~- dhicle than uni(y.
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We'll send you the first draft for approval by September 11, 2018 at 10:52 AM
Total price:
The price is based on these factors:
Academic level
Number of pages
Basic features
  • Free title page and bibliography
  • Unlimited revisions
  • Plagiarism-free guarantee
  • Money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 support
On-demand options
  • Writer’s samples
  • Part-by-part delivery
  • Overnight delivery
  • Copies of used sources
  • Expert Proofreading
Paper format
  • 275 words per page
  • 12 pt Arial/Times New Roman
  • Double line spacing
  • Any citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard)

Our guarantees

Delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price is not enough anymore.
That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.

Money-back guarantee

You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.

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Zero-plagiarism guarantee

Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.

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Free-revision policy

Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.

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Privacy policy

Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.

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Fair-cooperation guarantee

By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.

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