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Deviance in Sport. Coakley, J. (2004). Sports in society: Issues and Controversies. 8th ed. New York: McGraw- Hill. . Deviance in Sport. Defining Deviance in Sport Studying Deviance in Sport Deviance Among Athletes Deviant Overconformity in Sports Implications of Deviance in Sport.

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Deviance in Sport

Coakley, J. (2004). Sports in society: Issues and Controversies. 8th ed. New York: McGraw- Hill.


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Deviance in Sport

  • Defining Deviance in Sport

  • Studying Deviance in Sport

  • Deviance Among Athletes

  • Deviant Overconformity in Sports

  • Implications of Deviance in Sport


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Deviance in Sport

  • Difficulties associated with studying deviance

    • Deviance in sport can not be described by a single theory

    • Deviance in sport is not always congruent with deviance in society

    • Unquestioned acceptance of norms

    • Training and performance have become “medicalized”


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Defining and Studying Deviance in Sport

  • Three primary approaches

    • Functionalist Theory

    • Conflict Theory

    • Interactionist and Critical Theories


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Functionalist Theory

  • Deviance disrupts shared values

  • Deviance-failure to conform

    • Departure from cultural ideals

      • Failure to learn and internalize cultural beliefs and norms

      • Conflicts and strains within society

    • Sport’s cultural ideals and norms

      • Improving skills, reaching goals, commitment

      • Deviance results from rejecting sport norms

    • Problems with Functionalist Theory


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Conflict Theory

  • Deviance interferes with the interests of people with economic power

  • Deviance-behavior that violates interests of people with power

    • Social order and norms are based on those who hold the most power

      • Violation results in deviance

      • Individuals without power are disadvantaged

    • Sport’s norms and rules represent those of power and ignore athletes

      • Athletes as victims that are forced to be deviant

    • Problems with Conflict Theory


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Interactionist and Critical Theories

  • Deviance is based on social processes and power relations

  • Deviance-ideas, behaviors and characteristics outside of the normally accepted range

  • Continuum of deviance:

    • Underconformity-ignoring or rejecting norms

    • Overconformity-unquestioned acceptance

    • Normal range of acceptance falls between underconformity and overconformity

  • Calls attention to Sport Ethic


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Sport Ethic

  • Norms accepted as the dominant criteria for defining an athlete

    • An athlete makes sacrifices for the game

    • An athlete strives for distinction

    • An athlete accepts risks and plays through pain

    • An athlete accepts no limits in the pursuit of possibilities


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Deviant Overconformity

  • Reasons for deviant overconformity

    • Athletes will do anything to participate as long as possible

    • Praise, accolades and rewards associated with overconformity

    • Drama and excitement

    • Establishment of strong bonds


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Deviant Overconformity

  • Common characteristics of overconformers

    • Low self-esteem

    • Eager for acceptance

    • Chance for achievement and establishing oneself

  • Group demands and memberships


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Deviant Overconformity

  • Linkage between deviant overconformity to the sport ethic and deviant underconformity within society

    • Binge drinking, group crimes, harassment, coercing other to engage in deviant behavior

  • Controlling deviant overconformity

    • Deviant overconformity is often advantageous for coaches, parents, sponsors, owners, etc.

    • Control requires a commitment to the establishment of acceptable limits


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Deviance in Sport

  • Deviance on the field and in sport settings

    • Cheating, gambling, point shaving, throwing games, fighting, performance-enhancing drugs, etc.

  • Deviance off the field and outside of sport settings

    • Arrests, criminal activity, academic cheating, alcohol use and abuse, etc.

    • Athlete vs. non-athlete rate of occurrence


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Deviance Beyond the Athlete

  • Coaches

  • School and Sport Team Administrators

  • Sport Team Owners

  • Judges and officials

  • Team managers and staff

  • Media promoters and commentators

  • Agents

  • Parents

  • Spectators


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Performance-Enhancing Substances

  • Expression of overcommitment to the sport ethic

  • Difficult to define and ban

    • Legal (aspirin) and illegal (heroin) substances

    • Natural or synthetic

    • Harmless or dangerous

    • Physical changes, psychological changes, or both

  • International Olympic Committee (IOC) definition

  • Professional Sport Leagues, NCAA, High Schools

  • Endless game of “hide and seek”


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    Performance-Enhancing Substances

    • Why do athletes continue to look to performance-enhancing substances?

    • Drug Testing

      • Cons

        • Ineffective

        • Violation of rights and privacy

      • Pros

        • Health of athletes

        • Integrity of sport

        • Drug use is illegal and must be controlled


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    Controlling Deviant Overconformity

    • Recommendations

      • Examine the nature of elite and high performance sports

      • Rules and regulations

      • Educational programs

      • Code of ethics


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    Deviance in Sport

    • Definitions of deviance in sport

      • No one theory can explain deviance

    • Deviance in sport vs. deviance in society

    • Overconformity

      • Sport ethic

    • Performance-enhancing substances

      • Drug testing

    • Controlling deviant overconformity


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