I have recently been assigneded to the department for culture, media and sport. I have been asked to write a report by the minister for sport about the falling rates in sport participation. This report will show how sports fits into society. I will first look at sports in society, in general and then I will look at three sociologists and their sociological theories. I will finally compare these theories and conclude with my own theory.
Firstly, I believe that, sport has and will always affect all societies, some more than others. It can affect people within society at different levels of intensity. For example some people are willing to fund different amounts of money into their chosen sports, they buy the team kits, attend the matches and even travel to international games. Some even base their lives around sports, determining their relationships.
Sport involves everyone, its everywhere we look. A large number of people play sports whether its at professional, amatre or just recreational level. You can’t look in a newspaper without having to read the results of the latest games, most of which is football. Sports dominates a major part of the televison agenda.Children often idolise professional sports players. This can be either a good or a bad thing. If a sports person or anyone relating to sports gets mentioned in the media it can have a positive or a negative effect on childrens behaviour. For example, if a player headbuts or starts a fight with another player then children would think it was ok for them to do it.
On the other hand if a football player such as Rio Ferdinand introduces an anti bullying campaign then children are more likely to listen to him rather than some politicians promising to stamp out bullying.The way the players interact with society can influence younger children. It can have an impact on the childrens mental and psychological development, making them who they are, when they become adults.The media can make sports people hated, but at the same time it can make them stars in the publics view.
A great example of this is during the world cup. People that usually hate football came out to watch the big matches. People would buy the st George flags and drive around with them hanging out the windows. There was very, very rarely a fight after the match in a pub if england had got into the next round or even closer to the world cup.
People would cheer in the streets and everyone was in a good mood. However the story was very different when England came to lose a match which had them knocked out the world cup. People were upset and even angry. Streets would turn violent and adults would start fights, this further encouraged children to start fights. There was always someone to blame and the players were always the scapegoats.Sports are usefull in society as they provide an outlet for stress, however some people believe that sports creates stress itself.
Both sides of the argument have decent and valuable evidence to support their side of the argument. Nevertheless i think that this argument depends on the situation (how important the game is), the events that occurred during the match (e.g.
a fight, foul, unfair penalty) and also the past history of the two teams. If the match was unfair and a team won to a bias decision, then there is bound to be stress involved for both the players and the supporters of the losing team. The anger at the opposistion can be enough to start group violence.If the two teams have a on going feud together then it seems that the game could be doomed from the start anyway, reguardless of the outcome. If the players furthermore show levels of violence towards each other during the match then the fans can pick up on this and use it as an excuse to show aggresion towards each other. I believe its important to remember that sports have evolved from games such as hunting and war. Football is similar to a battle or a war as the two teams are almost fighting each other in a safe enviorment to score a goal. The fans support either one of these teams and will fight each other just like in a battle.
I further believe this behaviour isn’t a new occurrence but more of a instinct that has been passed on by the generations. As the game of football has become more civilised and controlled the aggression and stress involved has still remained.Sports can also release energy and stress, this is shown more so when the player has won the game they are playing. The fact that they have won has given them a sense of pleasure and left them in a happy state. The stress that they may of had before the game has been replaced leaving them in high spirits. Even if a player has lost a match, a good sportsman would leave the pitch in a non-stressful state. They would be pleased that they tried their best, that they’ve had a good time and that they’ve learnt what to do better next time. Therefore I believe that when a sports person leaves the game in a bad mood, full of anger and stress its due to a lack of good sportsmanship.
The fact that have lost is their own fault and no one elses.In addition to this i believe that different sports have different levels of stress. Football can be seen to have quite a lot of stress involved, this could be due to the high stakes involved (relegation, moved down the tabel, knocked out the league or event). The afterscene of a football match can be dangeous. The amount of stress in the air can be enough to start a fight.On the other hand Sailing, cricket, golf and many other sports don’t seem to have that much stress shown in the form of anger. The supporters and spectators very rarely get in fights with each other.
This could be due to a number of factors. One could be that the players often hide their emotions of stress more so, compared to football. You never really see a tennis player headbutt their opposistion or even a sailor jump onto someone else’s boat to give him a smack.
This shows that the stress hidden in the players can’t be passed onto the spectators. In other words spectators feelings can’t be influenced by the players emotions as they’re hidding them away. The spectators in sports such as tennis, sailing, golf and cricket are also from a slightly higher class, matuarity and age. People of this nature don’t usually use fighting as a way of letting out their stress.
I believe that sports can be used to release stress. There is more evidence to show that sports lets off stress rather than creating it. This is looked at in further detail in the sociological theories.Participating in sports is a great way to meet new people and socialise, while getting fit and healthy. The values in sports at recreational level can be intrinsic. This makes the sports person feel good about what they have achieved and good about themselves.Sociological theoriesIn this section of the report, I will discuss and evaluate three different sociologists and their theories on sports in society.
I will firstly look at Norbert Elias and his theory. I will then look at Desmond Morrsis and karl marx (marxist) theories. I will then write a section on the differences in the theories and compare them.
I will finally come up with my own theory.Norbert EliasNorbert Elias based his work on Figurational sociology. Figurational sociology focuses on the networks of social relationships that human beings form with each other. He states that a relationship is when a group or a person has an effect on another person or group, therefore relationships are based on interdependency.
Relationships are otherwise known as ‘figurations’ which are constantly changing, as individuals interact and react to one another in different situations and ways. The power balance within a relationship is the main feature. If a party wants another party to behave or act in a certain or different way, then they will try to do so through an argument based on persuasion.Relationships around the world are constantly changing, they can be close people or on a global scale but as long as each party affects the other, the relationship has interdepency. Norbet Elias’ work focused on the second importaint concept of figurational sociology, the ‘civilising process’. This focuses on the continuous change through time that has occurred with regard to personality and behaviour.
Elias explained that the civilising process relies on an effective monopolization of violence by the state, which in turn pacifies the members of the state. Civilization has progressed with the state/goverment having power and control over violence this has occurred since the ancient Greek times. Elias emphasizes that this pressure was brought by people in the upper and middle classes and has been passed down thhe generations ever since.
Norbert states that behaviour, etiquette and aggression in sports has improved over time and will continue to improve. I can see where Norbert is coming from and I agree with this statement. However in sports such as the 100m, there can be a lack of etiquette. When people take drugs to help improve their run, this can be seen as bad sportsmanship and a real lack of etiquette. Even in football there is a lack of sportsmanship, when a player dives in order to get an advantage. If Norberts theory is right then this type of bad sportsmanship will begin to die out, and eventually no one will cheat. I can see this happening in the near future.Desmond MorrisDesmond Morris believed that there is a natural need to release the instinctive aggression and stress in all animals including humans.
In humans this release is found within sport. He felt that sporting events in general are controlled occasions for venting these violent urges. Morris believed that sports allow people to vent their aggression in a way that would be unacceptable in other contexts although he also recognises that sport can add too people’s frustration if the wrong result is achieved so every game can be therapeutic or inflammatory. He likened modern sports to traditional pursuits such as hunting, comparing the goal as a prey. Another comparison Morris makes is of the gathering of sports fans to the congregation at a religion observation transferring their beliefs and worship from a religious focus to a sporting team or individual. It is suggested that sport is seen as more important the religion and that more people observe sporting events than attend church.
The represenentation of religion in the media is guidance that the church used to provide, almost putting certain sports stars in a god like position.Desmond morris looks at why humans participate in sports, as if we were animals. He states that we use sports as a way to release anger and our instinctive aggression. I believe that Desmond morrison’s theory is valid as I can see where he is coming from. He describes how modern sports have evolved from stone age living, how hunting has theoretically evolved into football. Altough the rules and the regulations towards sports has intensified the aims and objectives of the game still remain. People can let out anger on the pitch in a controlled way.
A boxing ring is a great example of this, it’s a place where you can fight without getting in trouble and let out that instinctive aggresion. If you were to do this on the streets, the chances are you would be arrested. I believe that Morris’s theory is an acceptable theory.Another aspect of Morris’s theory looks at sport competing with religion. The congregation of people at football matches on Sundays can be seen as the modern religious ceremonies. Instead of attending church many people are deciding to watch sports. Sundays are now seen as a day for sport rather than religion. The devotion to god and the worship of the church on this religious day has been changed to worship the sports teams and the stars of sport.
This gives sports players the image of god.Karl Marx (Marxist)The German philosopher, economist and sociologist, Karl Marx was the founder of marxist. His theories offered the answers that functionalism failed to provide. Marxism is a direct opposition to capitalism. He also challenged the idea that the bosses, employers and owners had total control over the working classes in his theories.
His theories triggered the labour movement, as increasing numbers of people and workers wanted to find out the real meaning of the power which shape there lives. In order for them to be able to consciously influence and determine their own lives.Marxism viewed sport in an ironic way, as sport which is seen as a relaxation and distressing activity can often produce as much as if not more training, work and stress. He wrote in the 19th century that the relationship between the owners and the workers is an exploitative relationship. Marxism can be criticised as he only focuses on economy in his theory, and he doesn’t address other social aspects such as race and gender. Karl Marx didn’t talk about sport specifically.
The comparrison was drawn in 1996 by cashmore. He explained that companies provided workers with sports facilities and that they were encouraged to participate in competitive sporting events. It seemed that the workers were deliberately being made stronger and more loyal. This was done in order to increase production, reduce sick time and any rebellious behaviour.
Marx economical theory can’t be applied to all sports in society. Only the professional athletes get paid and people that play sports for the recreational values aren’t taken into consideration.I believe that what Marx is saying is accurate, although his research doesn’t focus on other aspects of sport, e.
g. gender, age, social classes, race and even religion. I further believe that if you are creating a theory that has such a strong opinion as he does you should take these other aspects into consideration.Comparing the three theoriesAll of the theories are unique and the sociologists talk about different aspects of the sociology of sports. Morris looks more at the nature of human being and how we’re similar to animals, as we share the same natural instincts. Whereas Marx looks at the economical side and how money and the production in factories is what influenced sports.
However Marx doesn’t talk about sports directly, it was cashmore in 1996 that expanded on his work. Norberts theory was based on Figurational sociology, this looks at the relationships between people and how society is developing. In this he explains that aggression is an acceptable outlet in sports but if the same actions were to be done out of sport it would not be accepted. This is similar to morris as they both use aggresion and what could be seen as unacceptable behaviour if not used in a controlled way as it is in a sporting situation. Marx theory cant be generalised to sports as much as Norbert and morris’s theories. Norbert and Morris based their research on sports, where as marx theory was aplied to sports.