Sports and Society Term Paper

Pages: 9 (3564 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sports  ·  Buy This Paper

Violence in American Sports Today

Participation in amateur athletic events has grown tremendously over the past few decades in terms of their scope, power, and economic status. In fact, in the United States alone, amateur athletics involve the lives and athletic experiences of people from their childhood through high school and college and beyond. Not surprisingly, then, high school and college sports are one of the most popular, and according to some observers, important aspects of academic life today. The camaraderie and fellowship that can emerge among sports players can last a lifetime, and practically all participants and spectators derive a great deal of entertainment from these events. The economics, too, of many high school and collegiate sporting events make these important components of the curriculum, notwithstanding the fact that college athletes frequently do not receive the benefits from the contributions their sports make to their universities. There has also been a disturbing trend towards violence in sports that has emerged in recent years. While injuries and mishaps can reasonably be expected to take place in any sporting event, there is frequently a fine distinction between intimidating tactics and violence that can result in serious injuries on the sporting field. Furthermore, a number of the incidents of violent conduct in high school and college sports appear to transcend the reasonable scope of risks that are typically associated with sporting events. For instance, the same type of acts that are clearly criminal in nonsporting contexts appear to be officially approved of if they take place on the playing field. In addition, a number of observers regard the punishments of fines and suspensions for violent conduct on the sporting field to be insignificant when they are compared with the nature of the actions involved.

Annotated

Works Cited

Sociological Dynamics Relating to Sports in American Society

Adams, Douglas, Luann Bean and William D. Mangold. (2003). "The Impact of Intercollegiate Athletics on Graduation Rates among Major NCAA Division I Universities: Implications for College Persistence Theory and Practice." Journal of Higher Education 74(5):540.

In this essay, Adams, Bean and Mangold make the point that the value of intercollegiate sports goes far beyond their ability to provide participants with positive role models and a healthy lifestyle, as well as the ability of these sporting events to provide revenue streams for the institutions themselves and the entertainment that all spectators receive in their production. The authors' primary contribution in this article concerns their point that the true value of such sporting activities is to help develop and sustain a sense of community in the student body that will help offset the downside of such events in terms of injuries and violence on the playing field, and may even help prevent them in the future.

Barbash, Louis. (1990, August). "Clean Up or Pay Up; Here's the Solution to the College Sports Mess." Washington Monthly 22(6-7):38.

While violence in collegiate sports has received much attention in recent years, a less publicized problem also exists. College athletes are highly popular figures on campus and in communities, but they are being unfairly treated in terms of how they are compensated for their efforts. While the performance of these student athletes on the field or court provides millions of dollars in revenue for universities, these students receive only their scholarships (usually comprised of tuition, room, and board), but no spending money. Furthermore, under current NCAA regulations, these student athletes are prohibited from even working part-time during the season. "Athletes have been caught trying to make money by getting loans from coaches and advisers," the author says, "selling the shoes and other gear they get as team members, taking allowances from agents, and getting paid for no-show summer jobs provided by jock-sniffing alumni -- all violations of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules" (38). The value of this analysis was found in the author's original suggestion that colleges consider releasing students from the obligation to be active students in order to play on a college team, in effect turning these sports into professional events. This would benefit both the student athlete who was more interested in pursuing an education as well as those students who wanted to get an early start on their professional careers in an "apprentice" capacity.

Berry, Robert C. And Glenn M. Wong. Law and Business of the Sports Industries: Common Issues in Amateur and Professional Sports Vol. 2. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

In this book, Berry and Wong report that the numerous incidents of violence among athletes in recent years, combined with widely publicized reports involving athletic competition and gambling, have created an enormous amount of public interest and concern regarding the nature of the relationship between criminal law and athletic competition. "Are athletes immune from criminal prosecution for their violent actions on the field of play?," the authors ask, and "Is an athlete who wagers on games in which he is a participant subject to criminal penalties?" (679). The authors cite several well-publicized incidents that occurred within the past several years in professional hockey (the worst offender), baseball, football, and basketball to highlight the potential problems of uncontrolled, excessive violence. Even basketball has not been immune to these trends, they note, and suggest that the level of violence in many of these sporting events were criminal in nature, but no charges were filed. These findings are valuable for PE teachers and coaches because they illustrate just how powerful this message is from the professionals on their amateur counterparts: "Violence on the playing field pays off and you probably won't be prosecuted if you go too far."

Carroll, Pamela S., Steve B. Chandler and Dewayne J. Johnson. (1999). "Abusive Behaviors of College Athletes." College Student Journal 33(4):638.

Increasing reports of athletes being involved in domestic violence compelled these authors to determine if college athletes are more frequently involved in abusive behaviors than nonathletes. They administered a questionnaire concerning abusive behaviors to 126 college athletes and 216 nonathletes and found that athletes were involved in physical abuse of someone of the same sex and sexual abuse of someone of the opposite sex more often than their nonathlete counterparts. Further, athletes reported a history of prior abuse that was associated with later displaying abusive behavior and with being a victim of sexual abuse. The value of this study can be found in its finding that that athletes tend to play a greater role in some abusive behaviors than nonathletes and that modeling may be an important determinant of these behaviors.

Connolly, Mark R. (2000). "What's in a Name?" Journal of Higher Education 71(5):515.

While the focus on this essay is on the recent efforts by Native American activist groups to have the names of some college and high school sports teams changed from "Redmen," "Redskins," "Braves," "Chiefs," and so forth, the point is also made that as a result of the growing popularity of intercollegiate athletics (first in football and then later in basketball), many Americans who had never attended a state college found themselves supporting their sports teams and regarding them as their own. The importance of these sporting events in fostering a sense of community is also described: "Over time there emerged a group of people who not only shared an outward and enacted affection for their region's university sports teams but also often felt an implicit pride in the region itself" (515).

Courtenay, Will H. (2000). "Behavioral Factors Associated with Disease, Injury, and Death among Men: Evidence and Implications for Prevention." The Journal of Men's Studies 9(1):81.

According to Courtenay, high school and collegiate sporting activities are more dangerous for males than females. Male students are more likely than their female counterparts to engage in strengthening exercises (such as weight lifting) and team sports such as football, basketball, or baseball; unfortunately, these types of exercise are a contributor to a greater risk of injury and death among males. Males are also more likely than females to participate in risky sports and recreational activities and sports and recreation remains a main contributor to injuries sustained by those under age 18 years. Males under the age of 18 years also experience a much higher sports and recreation injury rates than females. Further, the author makes the important point that sports that are almost exclusively male are responsible for a large number of injuries and deaths; for instance, in one recent year, football was responsible for almost one-half million injuries and 13 deaths.

Cuneen, Jacquelyn and Angela Lumpkin. (2001). "Developing a Personal Philosophy of Sport." JOPERD -- The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance 72(8):40.

In this essay, the authors make the point that in many cases, American sporting events have lost their sense of fair play, value for human life, and respect for others. "The media continually bombard the public with graphic examples of delinquent behavior by individuals participating in professional, collegiate, K-12, youth, and even recreational sports," the authors note and "The unethical behaviors of athletes, coaches, and sport leaders are not confined to playing fields and arenas,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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