Hello everyone, I have an Assignment for you today. This assignment must be DONE by Thursday, October 29, 2020, no later than 10 pm. By the way, I need this assignment to be PLAGIARISM FREE & a Spell Check when completed. Make sure you READ the instructions CAREFULLY. Now without further ado, the instructions to the assignments are below:
The article critique assignment investigates professional journals and current relatable information. You should locate an article(s) pertaining to how the media and/or economy have impacted sports. The article(s) should be less than 3 years old. You are encouraged to use the research database found in the CSU Online Library. These databases will allow you to quickly search through thousands of journal articles.
Include the following components:
Your article critique must be at least two pages in length, not counting title and reference pages. Follow APA Style when constructing this assignment, including a title page, and in-text citations and references for all sources that are used.
By the way, I several attachments below. The first attachment is a study guide. The next two attachments are Power Points going over Chapter 11 & Chapter 12. Lastly, are CSU article you will CHOOSE from to complete this assignment. Be sure to use the resources below. Remember NO PLAGIARISM & I need will need a PLAGIARISM REPORT upon completion.
SOC 3301, Sociology of Sport 1
Course Learning Outcomes for Unit IV Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
7. Explain how the commercialization of sports has influenced and contributed to changes in status, money, and authority. 7.1 Compare and contrast the impact of money and power in sports and the influential role they
play involving the media and economy.
8. Investigate the globalization of sports. 8.1 Discuss the impact that the globalization of sports has had on sports management ideologies.
Course/Unit Learning Outcomes
7.1 Unit Lesson Chapter 11, pp. 336–350, 352-369 Unit IV Article Critique
8.1 Unit Lesson Chapter 12, pp. 372–403 Unit IV Article Critique
Required Unit Resources Chapter 11: Sports and the Economy: What Are the Characteristics of Commercial Sports?, pp. 336–350, 352-369 Chapter 12: Sports and the Media: Could They Survive Without Each Other?, pp. 372–403
Unit Lesson By now, most of us realize the huge impact sports have on our lives whether you are an athlete who participates or a spectator who watches. Have you ever wondered how different sports would be if the media was not so involved, or if the number of paying spectators decreased? The sporting industry might not be what it is today. This unit includes two topics that have such a powerful connection to sports—the economy and the media. The commercialization of sports has shifted the power and control of sport decisions to the corporate organizations and interests that sponsor a majority of the sporting events. Because of this shift, the sporting industry is now assessed using criteria such as gate receipts, concession and merchandising sales, licensing fees, website hits, media rights contracts, market share, rating points, and the cost of commercial time. Facilities are even named after these corporations instead of legendary players and historical places. These dominant entities influence every aspect of the sport environment, including team names, the design of uniforms, media coverage, event schedules, and sport announcers (Coakley, 2017). The success of commercialized sports is based on the profit they create, which is dependent on the following economic elements.
Material rewards are highly valued by athletes, event sponsors, team owners, and spectators.
There is a dense population and high concentration of spectators.
The resources and standard of living are high enough for people to afford attending these events.
There are large amounts of capital existing for the expansion of facilities.
UNIT IV STUDY GUIDE
Sports, Media, and the Economy
SOC 3301, Sociology of Sport 2
UNIT x STUDY GUIDE
The culture and lifestyle of the area focuses on consumption and material status symbols (Coakley, 2017).
For example, even though golf is not a difficult sport for providing media commentary, it is a challenge to stage an event for a live audience. Golf is not very lively and action-packed. The golf community consists of those who have economic clout, live a wealthy lifestyle, and spend money on luxury cars and other high-end products; therefore, commercializing the sport of golf benefits the corporations who sponsor these events, increasing their profits (Coakley, 2017). The globalization of sport has been greatly affected by the commercialization of sports. As previously mentioned, the corporate organizations are always seeking new ways to increase their profits; therefore, they continuously search for new markets to expand that will raise the bottom line. Transnational companies use sports as a method to introduce products and services for acknowledging the great interest in sports around the world. This drives cultural trade, making the product of sports an import and export commodity. Commercialized sports also enable rules to be changed to increase enjoyment for the spectator, increase the action, expand scoring opportunities, equalize the competition, maximize the drama, and create attachments to players and teams. While structured by commercialization, these changes have not transformed the foundation and goals of sports and sporting events. The chapter on sports and the economy will also discuss team ownership and the creation of cartels, monopolies, and monopsonies. These terms are used to describe how team owners collaborate and coordinate similar interests to ensure that outside leagues and teams are not established, which would introduce competition. This practice among owners also prevents players from going to other leagues. Media coverage promotes the commercialization of sports by publicizing and marketing sports that gain and maintain spectator interest. Even though there are those who may not be able to afford the high cost of ticket prices and concession stand items, many people can watch sporting events from the comfort of their home on a television or computer, or even listen to games via the radio. Often these actions lead to expanded sales of cable, satellite, and pay-per-view subscriptions, and sometimes even increase the number of people who will eventually buy tickets. Media is any form of information transmission, which may include print media (such as newspapers and magazines), and electronic media (such as television and radio). The various media forms influence how we think, feel, and act. They are an important part of our experiences, allowing us to gain information and make connections with people, images, and ideas that are outside our everyday lives. Sports provide an entertainment value to our lives, and the coverage we experience, whether via television, radio, phone or laptop, generate revenue and increase publicity for the sports and sports teams.
Similar to the commercialization of sports, the main goal of the privately-owned media outlets is to make a profit. They also strive to disseminate content that supports the beliefs and ideas of those in positions of power and influence. Conversely, the media is mainly controlled by state entities that have the goal of providing a public service. However, state-controlled media is on the decline with privatization and deregulation laws. Media has been radically changed with the inclusion of the Internet, thus allowing people to access unlimited information while maintaining a connection with others around the world (Lund, 2007; Coakley, 2017). Even though it is a much different medium, we have been able to enjoy sports via video games and virtual sport opportunities. These interactive games are
continuously updated and modified to attract new buyers, and with the ability to play live online, consumers can play with people from other parts of the world.
Sports media is now available on smartphones. (Dawn, 2014)
SOC 3301, Sociology of Sport 3
UNIT x STUDY GUIDE
Media tends to be very persuasive to some people; what we hear and see can be very influential. To avoid being taken in and controlled by the media, we must identify and relate several ideologies: the success, consumption, gender, race, ethnicity, and nationality. In conclusion, the interrelationship between media and the economy is a continuous cycle—commercialized sports depend on the media for exposure and publicity, while media strengthens the processes of commercialization. Sports promoters understand the value of the media; therefore, free access is usually granted. Because more sports are becoming commercialized, we would have very little need for sports media coverage without the commercial entities.
Coakley, J. (2017). Sports in society: Issues and controversies (12th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Dawnfu. (2014). Iphone-Iphone6-TV-Social Tv-Technology-Sports [Photograph]. Retrieved from
https://pixabay.com/photos/iphone-iphone-6-tv-social-tv-472197/ Lund, A. B. (2007). The political economy of mass mediated sports. Keynote address at the ISHPES and
ISSA Joint World Congress, Copenhagen (August 3).
Suggested Unit Resources In order to access the following resources, click the links below. The following information discusses the role of the media and sports, as well as the effects that media has on sports, both positive and negative. This section of the article comes from McGraw-Hill’s Online Learning Center (OLC) for Coakley’s Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies (12th ed.) online version. Open the Chapter 12 readings, then scroll to Reading 1 to read “New media: Consuming sports 24/7.” The following short video introduces how the expansion of technology is changing the world of sports, not only for the participant, but also for the consumer. You are encouraged to view this information. Forbes Tech. (2013, January 11). How technology is changing the economics of sports [Video file]. Retrieved
from https://youtu.be/G99S4GfChiA Transcript for the How Technology is Changing the Economics of Sports video
Learning Activities (Nongraded) Nongraded Learning Activities are provided to aid students in their course of study. You do not have to submit them. If you have questions, contact your instructor for further guidance and information. The following activities help support the lesson on sports economy and the media that plays a crucial role in the sociology of sports. You may complete one, two, or all of the activities. Activity 1: Research the internship opportunities available in sports, and create a list of five to ten positions you find interesting and might consider pursuing. Activity 2: Locate an article involving the global impact on sports. Briefly summarize the article’s key parts and express your reaction to the article.
SOC 3301, Sociology of Sport 4
UNIT x STUDY GUIDE
Activity 3: Review the PowerPoint presentations on Chapter 11 and Chapter 12 to supplement the textbook reading and lesson content. Alternate formats and transcripts for the presentations are provided below. Chapter 11: Sports and the Economy: What Are the Characteristics of Commercial Sports?
Chapter 11 PowerPoint presentation
PDF version of the Chapter 11 PowerPoint presentation Chapter 12: Sports and the Media: Could They Survive Without Each Other?
Chapter 12 PowerPoint presentation
PDF version of the Chapter 12 PowerPoint presentation
Sport in Society:
Issues and Controversies
Sports and the Media:
Could They Survive
Without Each Other?
We use media images and narratives as we evaluate
ourselves, give meaning to other people and events, form ideas, and envision the future.
Media permeate our lives, and sport is a focus for much media programming.
Photo by Jay Coakley
Traditional distinctions between
media are now blurred
Print media: words and images on paper
Newspapers, magazines and fanzines, books,
catalogs, event programs, and trading cards
Electronic media: words, commentary, and
images transmitted by audio and/or video devices and technologies
Radio, television, film, video games, the Internet, and online publications
The media provide
. . . is always edited and “re-presented” by those who control media organizations
Editing decisions are based on one or more of these goals:
Influencing cultural values
Providing a public service
Enhancing personal status and reputation
Expressing self in technical, artistic, or personal ways
Media sports, like other
aspects of culture, are
Photo by Jay Coakley
of sports are carefully edited to highlight dramatic action.
Media representations are shaped by camera people and
editors who select images from various cameras.
Photo by Jay Coakley
Media and power
Those who control media decide which
sports and events to cover AND the images and commentary presented in the coverage.
When they do this, they play an important
role in constructing the frameworks that media consumers use to define and incorporate sports in their lives.
As they make programming decisions, they see audiences as collections of consumers that can be sold to advertisers.
Media usually serve the interests of those with power & wealth in society.
As corporate control of media has become
more concentrated, sports programming highlights action, competition, aggression, hard work, individual heroism and
achievement, playing despite pain, teamwork,
competitive outcomes, and through
. . . And these things are presented as if they were natural and necessary in society
The X Games were
created by ESPN, which is owned by ABC, which is owned
The people who control the X Games don’t promote a
noncompetitive, expressive culture in
alternative sports— it’s not in their
Photo by Becky Beal
What if . . .
All TV documentaries were sponsored by environmental groups, labor organizations, or women’s groups? Wouldn’t we ask critical questions about the content
of those programs and think about why we see and hear what we do?
99% of all sports programming in the media is sponsored by capitalist corporations. Should we ask critical questions about program
content, whose interests it serves, and why we see and hear what we do? Shouldn’t schools teach this?
Characteristics of the new media
Extend and radically change (potentially) our
connections with the world
Are not limited to sequential programming
Enable each of us to be the “editors” of our own media experiences, if we wish
Give us the potential to create our own sport realities
and experiences as spectators and virtual athletes
Young people now re-present their own sports in media forms.
Fantasy leagues change media experiences related to sports.
New media consumption of sports
Should the new media be available to
everyone, like public roads, or should they be toll roads?
New media allow people to control
when and how they consume sports content, but this in itself changes little from when content was created by a
limited number of powerful sources.
New media production
Will the new media democratize social
life or will they become tools to expand corporate capital, increase consumption,
and reproduce dominant ideologies?
People can use new media in personally transformative ways, but most often they are used to complement or create
informational and interpretive content related to sports covered mainstream
Fantasy sports reposition fans relative to players
Fantasy league players feel empowered by their
“ownership” of teams and players—but . . .
Sport leagues and media companies now use
fantasy sports to generate new revenue and “re –
enchant” the spectator experience for a key
College-educated white men, 18-50-years old
with higher-than-average incomes and a
willingness to spend over $4 billion annually to
obtain data about players and compete in
organized fantasy leagues.
Video games as simulated sports
Research indicates that
Gamers generally committed considerable time to
Gamers create their own narratives and stories
when they play sport-themed video games
Social relationships are formed and nurtured
through video gaming
Gaming involves a diverse range of experiences,
feelings, and interpretations
Sport-themed video games provide different
experiences than consuming televised sports.
Video games and virtual sports
Research is needed to help answer questions such as:
What are the dynamics of playing video sport games and virtual sports, and how do they differ
from other sport-related experiences?
How are video sport game experiences linked with other sport experiences?
What ideological themes are structured into the
images and actions in video sport games?
Will virtual sports complement or replace sports as we know them today?
It’s becoming more difficult to distinguish simulations
from media representations of sports
Video games as simulated sports
The graphics and images in video games nearly match images in televised sports.
TV producers now use special filters to make the action in televised games look like video games.
Some athletes use video sport games to train.
Some children today are introduced to sports through video games.
Being good at playing video games is a source of status among many young people.
Virtual sports—discussion issues
Will the grandchildren of today’s college
students go to virtual sport complexes instead
of playing what we define as sports today?
Virtual sports offer a range of experiences that
current sports do not.
Will communities use tax money to fund virtual
sport complexes instead of parks?
Is the Wii gaming console a small step in the
direction of virtual sports, and are there other
Do sports depend on the media?
No, not when they are organized by and
for the players themselves
Yes, when they are organized as forms
of commercial entertainment
Media coverage attracts attention to sports
and provides news of results.
Television coverage remains a key factor in
the growth and expansion of commercial
Media companies pay increasingly high rights fees to broadcast sports, because
advertisers know that viewers watch them live and don’t edit out commercials.
The media enable some athletes to become global celebrities and
benefit from windfall income related to their popularity.
Have commercial sports
sold out to the media?
Probably not—for two reasons:
The changes often thought to be a direct result of
media would have occurred to boost live attendance, gate receipts, and venue revenues.
General commercial interests exist without the media,
although the media usually intensify them.
Most changes associated with television coverage have been made willingly by sport organizations.
Most (not all) athletes are willing to make trade-offs in
exchange for the benefits of media coverage.
The primary goal of commercial television sports is to hype events and entertain audiences.
Photo by Dennis Coakley
Have media corrupted sports?
Probably not—for two reasons:
Sports are not shaped primarily by media
Sports are social constructions that emerge in connection with
many social relationships.
Media, including TV, do not operate in a political and
Media are regulated by government and market factors, which
influence and set limits on media coverage and content.
NOTE: The relatively homogeneous collection of white men from post-industrial nations who control media coverage
certainly influence sports, but do they corrupt them?
Do media depend on sports?
Most media do not depend on sports.
Daily newspapers depend on “sports sections” for circulation and ad revenues.
Many television companies depend on sports to fill programming schedules and attract male viewers and sponsors that want to reach them. Many sport events have audiences with clearly
identifiable “demographics,” which is of great value for sponsors (pro golf is an example).
Media organizations focused on sports programming ARE dependent on sports—such as ESPN.
Digital media are especially invasive technologies.
Everyone with a smartphone can create media content. This alters the relationship between fans & athletes
Photo by Jay Coakley
Estimated cost per pay-TV subscriber
per month (2016) Channel Monthly cost Nick/NAN $0.75
Fox News $1.05
Source: Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/frankbi/2015/01/08/espn-
When paying cable & satellite bills, those who
don’t watch sports subsidize those who do
There are many commercials during NFL games, because
there is less than 13-minutes of actual playing time during the 210 minutes of television time devoted to a game.
Photo by Jay Coakley
As people use electronic media to consume professional
sports, local newspapers focus on local school sports.
Photo by Jay Coakley
Trends in televised sports
Rights fees have skyrocketed since the 1960s.
Sports programming has increased dramatically.
As more events are covered, ratings for particular events have decreased. Audience fragmentation has occurred.
Television companies use sports events to promote other programming.
Television companies are parts of conglomerates that now own teams, sport events, and other businesses that benefit from sports coverage and its commercials.
The sports-media relationship
. . . is very strong for commercial sports at this
time, but other sports are uncovered by the
. . . is generally business based, but it also exists
for promoting lifestyles based on consumption
and the ideologies that support such lifestyles
A few powerful global media companies control most of the
media representations of sports worldwide. This monopoly has serious implications for what sports we see or don’t see
Other aspects of the
sports-media relationship (I)
1. Corporations selling alcohol, tobacco, and food with questionable health value use sports to promote products
in connection with activities that people define as healthy.
2. If these corporations cannot sponsor televised events, they put signage on
people, equipment, and facilities that are viewed during television coverage.
Other aspects of the
sports-media relationship (II)
3. Decision-making power in large media companies
rests with many male executives who love sports.
4. The values and experiences of men are deeply
embedded in the cultures of these companies.
5. When sports emphasize competition, domination,
and achievement, many male executives feel that
these are crucial factors in their companies.
Therefore, they are willing to use corporate money to sponsor sports.
Images & narratives in media sports:
Coverage of athletes with a disability (I)
Media coverage is constructed around specific themes and messages. For athletes with disabilities, the coverage usually fits in one of these categories:
The irony: As the athletes disrupt and challenge stereotypes about disabilities, the media coverage creates others, such as the “heroic supercrip” and the “courageous victim.”
Images & narratives in media sports:
Ideological themes (II)
Media coverage is constructed around specific ideological themes and messages:
Emphasis on winners, losers, and final scores
Emphasis on big plays, big hits, and sacrificing self for team success
“This game is brought to you by . . .”
“This is the [ . . . ] half time report”
“This is the [ . . . ] pre-game show”
Images & narratives in media sports:
Ideological themes (III)
Gender Masculinity rules in media sports: Coverage
privileges men over women by nearly 6 to 1.
Heterosexuality is assumed; homosexuality is erased or ignored.
Coverage reproduces dominant ideas about
manhood, but may challenge ideas about femininity.
Media organizations are gendered; they’re male – dominated/identified/centered.
Images and narratives in media sports:
Ideological themes (IV)
Race/ethnicity/nationality Media images and narratives based on explicit
racial ideology and stereotypes are rare today, but they were common through the 1980s.
Coverage today pretends that race and ethnicity
don’t exist; nationality is often a focus in international events.
This allows media people who are ignorant of
racial & ethnic perspectives and experiences to claim expertise when they know little about what and who they cover.
Images and narratives in media sports:
Ideological themes (V)
Race, ethnicity, and nationality (continued) Subtle stereotypes about nationality sometimes
influence narratives in media coverage: Germans may be described as organized, Chinese people as
self-disciplined and secretive, Brazilians as flamboyant and passionate, Nigerians as undisciplined and unpredictable, etc.
Media organizations have few directors, editors, assistant editors, reporters, camera people, etc. who represent ethnic backgrounds and experiences.
Violence and conflict
are frequently given priority in media coverage, even though it disrupts action in games and matches.
“If it bleeds, it leads”
broadcasts of local
news and sports.
College football now attracts large media rights fees
due to its popularity among younger males with high levels of education and higher than average incomes.
Photo by Bobak Ha’Eri
As outdoor screens are used to televise sport events, there
are new social dynamics associated with media consumption.
This is yet to be studied in the sociology of sport.
Photo by Jay Coakley
Experiences and consequences
of consuming media sports (I)
Research is rare on audience experiences, but it appears that watching television sports is positively integrated into social relationships and social networks. Identities are connected with the experience of
watching sports, and those identities can be linked with varying relationships and groups.
Couple who cohabitate often watch sports together, and over time most partners accommodate each other’s viewing habits.
Experiences and consequences
of consuming media sports (II)
Active participation in sports
A positive link exists only for those who are already
strongly committed to participation in a sport.
Attendance at sport events
Media consumption of sports is positively linked with attendance at elite events, but it may decrease attendance at less elite events—research is needed.
Betting on sports
The Internet provides easy access to opportunities.
Betting creates interest in sports but threatens them if
it inspires gamblers to “fix” events.
Big-screen technology has created new spectator
contexts that have yet to be studied.
Photo by Jay Coakley
The profession of sports journalism
Sport journalists are not all the same—some focus on
entertainment, some focus on information.
The work of sports journalists does matter when it comes to cultural ideology and public consciousness.
Tensions between players and sportswriters have
intensified as differences in their salaries and backgrounds have become more pronounced.
Ethical issues have become increasingly important in sports journalism because the stakes are so high for
teams, athletes, coaches, owners, etc.
Media differences in traditional
media coverage of sports
Newspaper/m agazine coverage
Emphasizes information and interpretation primarily
Offers previews and summaries of events
Provides written representation of events
Success depends on credibility
Highlights facts and dominant ideology
May criticize sport personalities and organizations
Emphasizes entertainment primarily
Offers play-by-play images and narratives
Provides real-time representations of events
Success depends on hype and visual action
Highlights heroic plays and dominant ideology
Usually supports sport personalities and organizations
Tensions between athletes and sport journalists are common.
Now that athletes have social media to reach fans, some have little patience for journalists.
Sports and the Economy:
What Are the Characteristics
of Commercial Sports?
Sports in Society:
Issues and Controversies
Through history, sports have never been as
thoroughly commercialized as they are today.
Photo by Bárbara Schausteck de Almeida
Conditions for emergence and
growth of commercial sports
A market economy
Large, densely populated cities
A standard of living that provides people with time, money, transportation, and
Large amounts of capital (for venue construction and maintenance)
Culture emphasizing consumption and material status symbols
Pro sports seldom exist in labor-intensive, poor nations. The Afghan horsemen
playing buzkashi, a popular sport in their country, are not paid because Afghanistan lacks the conditions to sustain a sport with fulltime paid athletes and paying fans.
In most of Africa there’s not enough capital to develop or
sustain professional sports. Teams from wealthy nations now
use Africa as a “talent pool” for recruiting players they can sign for
little money compared to European and North American players.
Photo by Kevin Young
Class relations and
The preferences and priorities of people with
power and wealth often influence which sports are commercialized—for example:
Golf is enjoyed by wealthy people; therefore,
it receives TV coverage despite low ratings.
Football reproduces an ideology that
privileges men, celebrates masculinity, and reaffirms the cultural priority of competition;
therefore it has been heavily marketed and televised since the 1960s.
Football is by far
the most widely watched sport in
the United States.
Photo by Jay Coakley
Why are commercial sports so
popular in society today?
The quest for excitement
Fit with social class ideology
competitive youth sports
Widespread media coverage
FB offers U.S. fans rule-governed violence, competition, and male
warriors all wrapped in the U.S. flag and combined with the military,
female cheerleaders, and sponsors selling beer and fast food.
Photo by Jay Coakley
Economic motives and the
globalization of commercial sports
Sport organizations look for global markets.
FIFA, the NFL, the NBA, etc. seek global
media exposure and expansion.
Corporations use sports as vehicles for
To increase profits
To sponsor enjoyment and pleasure and
establish ideological outposts in the minds of people worldwide.
Wanting to expand o
London, the NFL promotes
its games there in grand
fashion. Here they promote
a pre-season game with a
90-foot tall inflatable Miami
Dolphin, among other
Photo by Elizabeth Pike
Corporations such as Coca-Cola have long used
sports as vehicles for global expansion.
Photo by Elizabeth Pike
Ideological outposts in action:
Sport places are branded
Sport events are branded
Athletes are branded
Corporate branding is accepted in the U.S. and much of the world today as necessary,
non-political, and even “natural.”
What are the limits of corporate branding?
When do Americans resist having their minds colonized by corporations?
Corporations looking to establish ideological outposts in the minds of
Americans use sports as a delivery site. Notre Dame partnered with Lucky
Strike in the 1950s—until too many fans died of lung cancer
The branding that occurs today is in your face,
as in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games.
Photo by Elizabeth Pike
Because people watch sports live and don’t edit
out commercials, televised games and events are now the hottest programming in media history.
Sponsors of sports nourish our dreams and save us from nothingness—so they say
Without sponsors, there would be no Olympic
Games. Without the Olympic Games, there would be no dreams. Without dreams, there
would be nothing.
—Notice published in an official program
for the Olympic Games
Corporations sponsor sports because they can put their
logos and messages where they cannot be ignored
Photo by Jay Coakley
in sports depends on:
Spectator attachments to those involved in the event
The uncertainty of an event’s outcome
The risk or financial rewards associated with an event
The anticipated displays of excellence, heroics, or dramatic actions by athletes
When sports are commercialized there are changes in
Structure and goals
Orientations of athletes, coaches, and sponsors
People and organizations that control sports
Commercial sports involve a shift from
aesthetic to heroic orientations
The origins of
heroic action in sports
Commercial sports are ENTERTAINMENT
1. Commercial entertainment depends on attracting a
2. Members of a mass audience lack technical
knowledge about a sport.
3. Entertaining people without technical knowledge
requires heroic action.
Changes in structure and goals
Rule changes occur to make action more exciting, understandable, and profitable by
Speeding up action
Increasing scores and scoring chances
Maximizing dramatic moments
Heightening attachment to players and teams
Providing commercial breaks
provide a Total Entertainment Experience
The promotional culture
of professional wrestling
Events are dramatic spectacles.
Players display carefully constructed personas.
Emphasis is on heroic action.
Storylines are simple; they emphasize domination, gender
differences, and capricious bosses.
Professional wrestling, known as Lucha Libre in Latin America, is an
example of what occurs when aesthetic orientations are replaced by heroic
orientations; the activity changes from sport to spectacle.
Ultimate fighting (aka cage fighting), clearly a dramatic spectacle, is the
fastest growing media sport in the United States. When heroic values
are taken to an extreme, this and/or professional wrestling is the result.
Changes in locus of control in
With commercialization: Control shifts away from athletes; decisions
are less likely to reflect their interests
Control shifts toward owners, corporate sponsors, advertisers, media personnel, marketing and publicity staff, professional management staff, accountants, and agents
Athletes accept the decisions of these people because their financial interests are at stake.
Owners, sponsors, and
promoters of professional sports
Owners are a diversified collection of people— usually white men.
Owners of teams in many sport leagues have formed cartels—centralized organizing groups that coordinate the actions of all team owners in a league.
Profits can be great in leagues where monopoly control and TV revenues are high; but losses may be great under other conditions.
Team owners usually make money when allowed
to operate as monopolies & monopsonies.
Some fans in England have
organized to buy pro soccer
teams. They can do this
because many teams are
owned by stockholders.
This could work only for the
NFL Green Bay Packers in
the U.S.—the only publicly-
traded team in pro sports.
monopoly & monopsony
A monopoly enables team owners to:
Negotiate high media rights fees
Prevent the formation of new teams
A monopsony enables team owners to:
Draft new players to one team only
Control the careers of athletes
Minimize bidding for athletes’ contracts
Team owners benefit from
public assistance (aka “welfare”)
Owners benefit when Public money is used to construct and maintain
Federal tax deduction loopholes boost profits (e.g., depreciating players)
Cities and states give them tax breaks, tax rebates, and special opportunities for commercial development around a stadium
Cities that build venues allow them to control revenues created by the venues (e.g., parking, concessions, seat licenses, luxury box leases, etc.)
1. A stadium and team create jobs.
2. Stadium construction infuses money into
the local economy.
3. Team attracts other businesses.
4. Team attracts media attention to boost
tourism and economic development.
5. Team creates positive psychic and social
benefits—social unity, civic pride, and sense of personal well-being.
1. Stadium jobs are low-paid, part-time, and seasonal—except for athletes and executives.
2. Construction companies and materials often come from outside the local area.
3. New businesses often are franchises that are headquartered in other cities.
4. Entertainment dollars are moved from areas in a region to the area around the venue, thereby undermining local businesses.
5. Men’s sport teams reaffirm values and orientations that disadvantage many people.
Tax payers provided $432 million to renovate Soldier Field. Result:
team owners enjoyed a $702 million increase in franchise value
Sources of income
for team owners
Gate receipts/ticket sales
Sale of media rights (TV/radio)
Leases on club seats and luxury boxes
Concessions/parking/leasing spaces to others
Sale of naming rights and site advertising
Licensing fees and merchandise sales
New stadiums are built as
shopping malls around a playing field.
Self-funded and dependent on corporate
sponsors, or funded through a central government sports authority
Controlled by organizations with an interest in two things:
Power—over the athletes in their sport
Money generated by events & sponsorships
Legal status of athletes
in pro team sports
Athletes in team sports are governed by a reserve system—a set of practices that team owners use to control the movement of athletes from team to team.
Players have formed unions to challenge the reserve system and gain free agency—the right to sell their skills to the highest bidder.
Free agency exists to varying degrees in major team sports.
Labor rights for athletes in minor sports are limited.
The NFL is a machine. The operators of the machine pull its levers more frantically every season, pushing it past its breaking point. So the league has stockpiled interchangeable spare parts. The broken ones are seamlessly replaced and the machine keeps rolling.
—Nate Jackson, former NFL player (2011)
Note: this way of treating players has led to
lawsuits that will cost the NFL billions over time
Legal Status of Athletes
in Individual Sports
Varies greatly from sport to sport and athlete to athlete
Status often depends on what athletes must do to support their training and competition
Status may be partially protected by professional associations formed by the athletes
Income: Team sports
A large majority of pro athletes make
Super-contracts and mega-salaries for a few athletes have distorted popular
ideas about athlete income
Income among top athletes has risen
Legal status and rights have improved
League revenues have increased
Salaries for pro athletes in the major men’s spectator sports were low until after 1976 when they could become “free agents.”
The average NBA player made slightly more than the median U.S. family income in 1950. In 2013, he makes 87 times more than median family income! Average salary for WNBA players is less than
median family income.
Athletes’ salaries DO NOT determine ticket prices; owners
charge what people will pay for tickets, regardless of athletes’ salaries.
Tickets for NFL and the University of Nebraska games cost
the same, but college players don’t have salaries.
Primary issues in CBA negotiations (I)
1. The percentage of league revenues that must be
allocated to players’ salaries and benefits, and what is counted as “league revenues”
2. The extent to which teams can or must share revenues with one another
3. Salary limits for rookies signing their first pro contract, salary restrictions for veteran players, & minimum
salary levels for all players
4. The conditions under which players can become free agents, and the rights of those who are free agents
Primary issues in CBA negotiations (II)
5. A salary cap that sets a maximum player payroll for
teams, and a formula determining the fines that an owner must pay if the team’s payroll exceeds the cap
6. The minimum payroll for each team in a league
7. The conditions under which players or teams can request an outside arbitrator to determine the fairness of an existing or proposed contract
8. Changes in the rules of the game
Lockouts vs Strikes
Lockout = an employer-imposed work stoppage that suspends all games and practices until the dispute is resolved and the CBA is revised to the owners’ (and players’) satisfaction.
Strike = a work stoppage in which employees refuse to work until a labor dispute is resolved and the players (and owners) agree to sign a new CBA.
Many athletes do not make enough to pay
training and travel expenses.
There are increasing disparities between top money winners and other athletes.
Top male heavyweight boxers have traditionally made the most money.
Question: does prevailing ideology shape the
reward system in sports?
Rights depend on the governing bodies
that control various sports.
Income depends on
The rules of governing bodies
Endorsements that vary with celebrity status and corporate interest
Most intercollegiate athletes in the U.S. are controlled by the NCAA; they have
Leisure Sciences, 34: 377–394, 2012 Copyright C© Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 0149-0400 print / 1521-0588 online DOI: 10.1080/01490400.2012.714699
Organized Youth Sport and Parenting in Public and Private Spaces
DAWN E. TRUSSELL
Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies Brock University St. Catharines, ON, Canada
SUSAN M. SHAW
Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies University of Waterloo Waterloo, ON, Canada
This article examines the connection of organized youth sport to cultural beliefs, values and practices of contemporary parenting ideologies, specifically the idealization of intensive mothering and involved fathering. It explores how parenting ideologies are constructed by the discourses expressed by individuals in their everyday lives through their children’s sport participation. Moreover, the analysis of the parental discourse illustrates how parenting goes beyond the home environment and becomes a public act that is observed by other parents, with these observations creating the basis of what is deemed to be a good parent. Emphasis is also placed on the gendered dimensions of meeting the expectations for being a good parent.
Keywords children, father, gender, leisure, mother, parenthood, sport, youth
The emergence of youth sport organizations during the past half century in North America resulted in new forms of socialization of children and the nature of their leisure. Further, with each new generation, the popularity of organized youth sport has continued to grow (Adler & Adler, 1994; Coakley, 2009), becoming a significant aspect of children’s and parents’ lives. This may reflect important generational ideological shifts and changing cultural and structural factors. Coakley theorizes that there are now important cultural connections between organized youth sport and ideologies of parenting and gender.
Grounded in a middle-upper class value system of postindustrial societies, a culture of involved fathering and intensive mothering parenting ideologies have emerged and may have important connections to organized youth sport. That is, a parent’s moral worth may be evaluated by their children’s successful participation in sport. Although this phenomenon has been relatively unexamined, the edited book Fathering through Sport and Leisure by
Received 29 November 2011; accepted 18 April 2012. The first author gratefully acknowledges the support of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Doctoral Fellowship and Sport Canada (the Sport Participation Research Initiative) for this project. Address correspondence to Dawn E. Trussell, Brock University, 500 Glenridge Avenue, St. Catharines, ON,
L2S 3A1, Canada. E-mail: [email protected]
378 D. E. Trussell and S. M. Shaw
Tess Kay (2009) provides some key insights related to why families are so willing to invest the vast amount of emotional, physical and financial support toward their children’s participation.
Moreover, changing parenthood ideologies may have important implications for gender research. On the surface the cultural expectations, beliefs and practices of involved fathering and intensive mothering ideologies seem to evoke notions of gender equity; however, these practices may also hide underlying inequality (Shaw, 2008). Organized youth sport may provide a setting where fathers can be actively involved in their children’s lives, while feeling comfortable, knowledgeable and able to share their sport expertise with their children (Marsiglio, Roy, & Fox, 2005). For fathers, children’s organized sport programs may also provide a context in which they can successfully avoid the dilemma of feminizing the fathering role.
The important connection of children’s sport participation to intensive mothering prac- tices in Westernized societies has also created an environment where a woman’s moral worth as a parent may be evaluated by her ability to foster her children’s sport participation (Coakley, 2009; Hays, 1996). That is, motherhood ideologies provide not only an idealiza- tion of childrearing practices but also a criterion by which mothers may be judged (Leisse de Lustgarten, 2006). To date, however, the broader social sciences literature as well as leisure studies literature on parenthood ideologies has, for the most part, examined the concepts of intensive mothering and involved fathering in isolation from one another, and research that examines both of the concepts at the same time may provide some important insights.
The purpose of this exploratory study is to understand the connection of organized youth sport to cultural beliefs, values and practices of contemporary parenting ideologies. More specifically, we wanted to explore if parents perceived that organized youth sport was important to their own parenting roles and responsibilities related to childrearing. Prior research on the social construction of involved fathering and intensive mothering as well as their potential connection to organized youth sport from several academic fields (e.g., leisure studies, sport studies, and the broader social sciences literature on fatherhood and motherhood) was used to help frame this study and to provide the sensitizing concepts.
Social Construction of Involved Fathering and Organized Youth Sport
From Breadwinner to Involved Fathering
The definition of fatherhood is changing. For most of the 20th century, a father’s employment status and ability to provide financially for his family underpinned strong ideological assumptions about masculinity and the fatherhood role (Brannen & Nilsen, 2006). Unlike previous generations, the emergence of new fatherhood ideologies means that the current generation of fathers’ moral worth is evaluated based upon the meaningful time spent with their children (Daly, 1996). As Coakley (2006) theorizes, the shift in contemporary fatherhood expectations is:
fueled by a combination of factors, including a conservative emphasis on tradi- tional family values and fathers as heads of households, a neoliberal emphasis on individualism and the need for fathers to take responsibility for the development of their children, a liberal feminist emphasis on gender equity in family life, and progressive ideas about the meaning of gender and sexuality. (p. 153)
In response to the fatherhood ideological shift, many fathers have expressed difficulty in attaining the involved ideal (Daly, 1996, 2001). This difficulty seems to stem from the
Parenting in Public and Private Spaces 379
expectation of having a greater involvement in their children’s lives, while at the same time continuing to be the primary breadwinner for their families. Kay (2009) defines these two conflicting cultural expectations as the central dilemma to the new fathering ideology. Consequently, many men have struggled to make sense of the competing images, and there has been a complex and diverse response to the practice of this new fatherhood ideology (Marsiglio, Amato, Day, & Lamb, 2000; Ranson, 2001). This struggle may be seen as a pull between the public and private spheres. In that, fathers are expected to contribute primarily in the public sphere of paid work, but they are also increasingly expected to contribute to what is often seen as the private sphere of family and home life. (See, e.g., Daly, 2001, and Brannen & Nilsen, 2006, for further discussion on the historical development of public and private spaces related to paid labor, family time and parenting.)
Reflecting on the previous generation of fathers, some men hold their own fathers accountable for not spending more time with them, although they themselves are “usually willing to excuse their own absenteeism on the basis of their own work demands” (Kazura, 2000, p. 44). Nonetheless, most fathers have the desire to provide an enriched childhood for their own children (Brannen & Nilsen, 2006) and leisure often provides an important context to do this.
Leisure-based Fathering as the Primary Context for Involvement
Compared to mothers, fathers devote less time to the emotional and physical care work of their children (Kay, 2009); rather, fathers spend time with their children in play and companionship activities outside the home such as sports, outdoor activities and hobbies (Brannen & Nilsen, 2006; Doucet, 2006; Yeung, Sandberg, & Davis-Kean, 2001). In recent years, the importance of father-child interactions spent in moments of play has heightened with the emergence of the involved fatherhood ideology. One of the reasons for this may be that leisure and sport activities are believed to strengthen and build the father-child relationship (Harrington, 2009; Such, 2009), although at times it may also have damaging consequences (Jeanes & Magee, 2011).
For many fathers, the opportunity to share the sport experience with their children brings warm and nostalgic memories from their own childhood, of time they spent with their father (Marsiglio et al., 2005). Many fathers want to ensure that they pass on what they have learned to their children, who will in turn do the same for future generations. Yet some fathers intentionally do things differently and in opposition to the memories that they have of their fathers. For example, men who had fathers who were overbearing, competitive and demanding of their sport excellence may be determined to provide a more positive sporting experience for their children (Brannen & Nilson, 2006; Harrington, 2009). Also, fathers who feel they were not encouraged to participate in youth sport may be highly motivated to support their children’s sport participation (Harrington).
A father’s (in)ability to support his children’s sport participation may also lead to feelings of inadequacy. Fathers have expressed feeling judged by their children for the amount of time they are able to share with them in the sport context (Brannen & Nilsen, 2006). Fathers have also expressed self-criticism and guilt related to the amount of emotional and physical support they can provide their children and the feeling that they can never meet their own expectations (Daly, 2001).
Different sets of issues also arise when considering fathers’ involvement in their chil- dren’s sport participation. The cultural expectation for fathers to increase the amount of time they spend with their children challenges hegemonic forms of masculinity, and some fathers may use youth sport as a vehicle to fulfill new involved fatherhood cultural expec- tations without challenging the dominant masculine discourse (Coakley, 2009; Gavanas,
380 D. E. Trussell and S. M. Shaw
2003). That is, children’s organized sport programs may provide a context in which they can successfully avoid the dilemma of feminizing the fathering role. In fact, Coakley (2009) argues that organized sport reproduces and strengthens the preservation of hegemonic masculinity in domestic life, as it provides fathers with the opportunity to “reaffirm tradi- tional gender ideology at the same time as they meet expectations for father involvement” (p. 44).
However, this idea has come under criticism as privileging men who now claim to share parenting responsibilities, yet women continue to fill the bulk of childcare and household related responsibilities (Coakley, 2009). This critique is also consistent with Such’s (2009) research that fathers spend time “being with” children in leisure type activities that do not challenge hegemonic forms of masculinity, while mothers spend time “being there” for their children in more feminine and domesticated work-related contexts.
Social Construction of Intensive Mothering and Organized Youth Sport
The Idealization of Intensive Mothering
As the ideology of involved fathering has emerged, so has a culture of intensive mothering. For women, “the character of mothering has intensified. Contemporary mothering arguably entails more involved and deliberate practices” (Arendell, 2001, p. 168). Mothers are expected to be child-centered and direct their children’s lives (Arendell, 2001). Motherhood is also generally entwined with notions of femininity, nurturing and caring. In fact, in most cultures, “feminine and mother are combined to form a single representation of WOMAN – and for most women in the world this is still their only self-representation” (Lax, 2006, p. 1). Moreover, unlike men’s expected contributions to the public sphere of paid work, women’s primary contributions to home and family may be traditionally thought of within the private or domestic sphere of life.
However, mothering as a natural and biological function has been deconstructed to reveal many different definitions of mothering that are in a constant state of renegotia- tion situated in temporal, cultural, and political value systems (Arendell, 2000). Further, motherhood ideologies reflect both “hegemonic institutional discourses and the discourses expressed by women themselves in their everyday interactions” (Guendouzi, 2006, p. 902). Motherhood ideologies provide not only an idealization of childrearing practices but also a set of criteria by which mothers may be judged (Leisse de Lustgarten, 2006).
In North American scholarship, the social construct of intensive mothering has been one of the most important and influential conceptualizations during the past two decades in the social sciences literature (e.g., Arendell, 2000; Hays, 1996; Johnston & Swanson, 2006). What is considered the dominant ideology of intensive mothering is actually one that is rooted in a white, middle-class value system based on the nuclear family model that promotes women who can afford and/or desire to stay at home with their children (Guendouzi, 2006). Yet the ideal of motherhood is universalized and does not embrace the diversity of mothers’ lived-experiences structured by the status of employment, marital, (dis)-ability, race and ethnicity. Despite the diversity of women’s lives, all mothers are subject to judgment and censure by society if they are not able to live up to the universalized ideal (Leisse de Lustgarten, 2006).
For most women, feelings of tension, conflict and guilt are experienced as they try to meet the ideological expectations of intensive mothering practices while real- izing their individual needs (Cowdery & Knudson-Martin, 2005). Despite significant
Parenting in Public and Private Spaces 381
social, cultural and economic changes in Western societies, and the ways in which women practice mothering, traditional gender ideologies of parenting roles still exist (Maher & Saugeres, 2007; Shaw, 2010). Women’s increase in paid employment in the public sphere (Harsch, 2006; Hattery, 2001), the rise of single-parent families (Daly, 2004), and the shift in government policies to a neo-liberal emphasis (Caragata, 2003) all contribute to a widening gap between the intensive mothering ideology and the reality of mothers’ lived experiences.
The Centrality of Organized Youth Sport to Intensive Mothering Practices
The ideology of intensive mothering embodies motherhood as child-centered, emotionally absorbing, self-sacrificing, labor intensive, with mothers as active managers of their chil- dren’s time and activities (Hays, 1996). Compared with previous generations, mothering now extends beyond the provision of children’s safety and well-being and involves an enrichment process to ensure the children’s time is well-managed and highly productive in terms of their ongoing growth and development (Arendell, 2001; Hays).
The enrichment aspect of intensive mothering is similar to Lareau’s (2002) concept of “concerted cultivation” (p. 748). Mothers seek out opportunities to foster their chil- dren’s talents, skills and abilities through organized leisure activities. This ideology is rooted in middle-class values that expect parents to “enroll their children in numerous age-specific organized activities that dominate family life and create enormous labor, particularly for mothers. The parents view these activities as transmitting important life skills to children” (p. 748). Other research has also supported the purposive and all- encompassing nature of mothers’ labor in the organization of children’s activities and often at the expense of the mothers’ own leisure experiences (Shaw, 2008, 2010; Such, 2009). As mothers seek out organized activities to meet the cultural expectations of being a good mother, children’s organized sport participation may become an important con- text in the provision of such opportunities. Although sport is widely assumed to be a central context for fathering (Marsiglio et al., 2005), little research has investigated the important role of mothers and motherhood ideologies in children’s sport practices. No- table exceptions are Thompson (1999) and Chafetz and Kotarba’s (1999) research on the gender differentiation of parenting responsibilities and expectations in facilitating chil- dren’s sport participation. These authors challenge “the perception that it is fathers rather than mothers who are predominately involved in their children’s sport” (Harrington, 2009, p. 58).
Moreover, as noted earlier, leisure-based activities may be important to the development and growth of the father-child relationship. To date, the fatherhood literature in the family, sport and leisure fields has failed to examine “the social and cultural processes entailed in shared father-child leisure activities [and] the subjective meanings these activities have for fathers” (Harrington, 2009, p. 55). The context of children’s sport, therefore, may provide important future research directions in understanding the father-child relationship in relation to the meanings, interactions and experiences of their time spent together.
This begs the question, of whether the framework and philosophy of children’s sport has contributed to and/or perpetuated the dominant ideologies of intensive mothering as well as involved fathering. Although children’s sport participation may be for the benefit of the child, it may have important implications (both positive and negative) in terms of the parents’ lives and family life in general.
382 D. E. Trussell and S. M. Shaw
Feminist scholarship is central to the understanding of contemporary motherhood ide- ologies, cultural beliefs, and practices (Allen, 2004; Arendell, 2000). Feminism has also advanced contemporary men’s studies and the growing body of literature on new father- hood expectations and values (Allen). General concepts or principles of feminism also provided the guiding framework for this study. Feminism is a philosophical and theoretical framework that embodies “aspects of equity, empowerment, and social change for women and men” (Henderson, Bialeschki, Shaw, & Freysinger, 1996, p. 13).
West and Zimmerman’s (1987) landmark article was instrumental in the development of gender scholarship in the social sciences. Rather than a social role or set of biological traits, West and Zimmerman argued that gender is embedded and created in doing everyday social interactions. Gender is a powerful ideological device, reinforcing hierarchical relations between men and women, operating at both structural (macro) and interactional (micro) levels. Masculine and feminine behaviors are arguably socially constructed rather than socially modeled, and individuals are consequently judged by these normative standards. The significance of the doing gender thesis (West & Zimmerman) is the notion that gender behavior is dynamic and could transform over time, responding to changing contemporary norms (Deutsch, 2007).
With the exploratory nature of the study and the focus on the subjective experiences of the participants, an inductive qualitative approach was appropriate. Specifically, the guiding principles of grounded theory were used to inform and emphasize a systematic gathering and analysis of the data, while allowing for creativity and openness to emerging concepts and themes. A grounded theory design is open-ended allowing for the development of emerging themes that are co-constructed by the participants’ experiences and the researcher’s inter- pretations of those experiences (Cresswell, 2003). We were guided by Charmaz’s (2005, 2006) constructivist approach to grounded theory. In a constructivist framework, “we con- struct our grounded theories through our past and present involvements and interactions with people, perspectives, and research practices” (Charmaz, 2006, p. 10, emphasis in orig- inal). Consistent with our feminist theoretical framework, a constructivist grounded theory approach emphasizes the interactive nature of the researcher-participant relationship in the creation of knowledge.
The data draw on a purposive sample of 13 participants (seven sets of parents; seven mothers and six fathers, with one father who declined participation). To ensure elements of homogeneity, all families had at least one child in the 12–15-year-old age group who was currently participating in organized sport. Participants were recruited through contacting several volunteer organizations (e.g., Kinsmen Club and Seniors Club) in a small community in Ontario, Canada, who helped identify potential participants in their community. Snowball or chain sampling strategies were then used to find additional information rich participants who met the criterion as outlined above (Cresswell, 2003). In all instances it was the mother of the family who was the first point of contact and who organized the interview date. All participants received a $10 gift certificate to a local sporting store.
Individual semi-structured interviews occurred in the family home. The family home provided an ideal context as it could facilitate a greater sense of comfort and security for the participants (Manderson, Bennett, & Andajani-Sutjahjo, 2006). It also provided “witness to the class and social status of the interviewee through the location and kind of housing
Parenting in Public and Private Spaces 383
and its contents, and to clues to identity and history through personal artifacts (such as photographs), which, in turn, are open to comment” (Manderson et al., p. 1318).
Separate interviews were conducted with each parent in the belief that it would provide a composite story of family life that would be richer than joint interviews which may privilege one dominant voice over another. Hertz (1995) argues that although interviewing a couple together may elicit the advantage of a shared and collective story, it is often difficult to detect differences and discrepancies in individual experiences with most couples wanting to show a unified front and/or avoid confrontation. Traditional gender ideology is also reinforced in joint interview settings, with wives being more likely to agree with their spouses’ answers. As Zipp, Prohaska, and Bemiller (2004) explain in their methodological paper on interviewing couples: “True to gender theory, men used the interview situation to assert their dominance by largely ignoring their wives’ answers, even on matters in which women have traditionally held sway or in situations in which they themselves were the junior partner” (p. 952). Further, Zipp et al. found that women were “doing gender” in the interview by agreeing with their husbands answers and indirectly deferring power to their husband, regardless of the “women’s financial, cultural, and political capital” (p. 953).
While the topics were wide-ranging, participants were asked questions related to their expectations, hopes and values of youth sport participation. For example: What do you hope s/he will gain from taking part in youth sport? Is there a connection to youth sport and your role as a parent? How do you and your spouse work out the various responsibilities (physical and emotional work) that need to be done to support your child(ren)’s participation?
Charmaz’s (2006) principles of constructivist grounded theory, which requires initial, focused and theoretical coding procedures, were used for data analysis. Initial coding involved the review of interview transcripts and journal entries line-by-line, examining and exploring concepts that seemed to fit the data. In this coding process, data were compared with data rather than applying “preexisting categories to the data” (p. 47). This initial stage was seen as tentative, its primary purpose being to invoke thinking and engage in creativity and conceptual exploration. Through the lengthy process of initial coding, codes were discarded, modified, reworded and expanded with the goal of saturation and placing them in relationship to other codes.
The second major phase in the coding process was focused coding. Charmaz (2006) defines focused coding as “using the most significant and/or frequent earlier codes to sift through large amounts of data. Focused coding requires decisions about which initial codes make the most analytic sense to categorize your data incisively and completely” (p. 57). However, moving to the focused coding stage was not a linear process; rather, it involved working back and forth through the initial and focused coding procedures. Furthermore, the focused coding process works across interviews while comparing “people’s experiences, actions, and interpretations” (Charmaz, 2006, p. 59).
The final phase is the process of theoretical coding. Charmaz defines theoretical coding as a “sophisticated level of coding that follows the codes you have selected during focused coding” and identifies “possible relationships between categories you have developed in your focused coding” (p. 63). As the early coding stages fractured and separated the data, this process brought it back together again in a “coherent story” and moved the analysis into a theoretical direction.
The analysis of the data revealed the high value and significance of children’s participation in organized sport opportunities as it related to being a good parent. Moreover, the analysis of the parental discourse discovered that parenting went beyond the home environment and
384 D. E. Trussell and S. M. Shaw
became a public act that was observed by other parents, with these observations creating the basis of what was deemed to be a good parent. Three main themes that best reflected the parents’ perspectives emerged: (a) paying a high price to play, (b) judging other parents and (c) maintaining the gendered ideal. From these three subthemes a core theme emerged: parenting in private and public spaces. The three sub-themes and core theme are discussed in the following sections.
Paying a High Price to Play
The first theme revealed the significance of facilitating children’s participation in organized sport, and parents clearly believed that these activities would help prepare children for their adult years. For example, one father talked about the value of organized youth sport to a child’s life:
Whether it’s organized sports or an organized club, I feel every child should be involved. Sports builds up not only your own inner self-esteem, but it teaches you how to play as a teammate and it prepares you for the real world so to speak. (Father, family #2)
This sentiment was echoed by many of the parents, however, what stood out in this study were the comments that indirectly critiqued other parents in the community. For example, these two fathers explained:
I see some of the kids in the neighborhood that have parents . . . the kids aren’t involved in sports at all. And I think it’s something the kids should have a chance at. (Father, family #1)
There are still a lot of kids out there that don’t play. Maybe they can’t afford it. I know some that can afford it and they’re just not involved. Maybe, it’s the kid’s choice too but I think a lot of times it’s the parents. (Father, family #6)
Children’s participation in organized sport was deemed necessary, and for some parents this necessity extended to the provision of additional opportunities to enhance their basic skill development. As best illustrated by one mother: “Everybody thinks your kid’s a superstar but they don’t want to give them the tools that they need to be a good player. They don’t want to spend any extra to have them take power skating lessons” (Mother, family #4).
Another issue was the need for parents to provide opportunities, so that their children would not feel resentment in later years. As one father explained:
And you know, a friend of ours just lives outside of town here and he was an awesome hockey player and he was invited to the junior camp [try-outs for a higher level hockey league] and his mom never told him about it until it was over. And he’s still bitter about it and he’s almost 50 years old now. So, you know, we don’t want our kids to look at us, you know 20 years from now and say you never gave me the opportunity. (Father, family #2)
The parents in this study also talked about their hectic schedules and …
Bulletin of Latin American Research, Vol. 38, No. 3, pp. 284–299, 2019
‘Let’s Win this Game Together’: Children’s Rights Violations, Macro-Securitisation and the Transformative Potential of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil LORRAINE VAN BLERK, JONATHAN MENDEL, ANDREA RODRIGUEZ, AND FERNANDO L. FERNANDES University of Dundee
IRENE RIZZINI Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sport’s transformative potential is known to support marginalised children, to deal with traumatic experiences and instil positive values; yet hosting mega sporting events (MSEs) can have negative impacts. Drawing on participatory research with favela-based children during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, this article argues that MSEs bring a macro-securitisation of urban life, which causes considerable harm. This paper also suggests that the inclusion of children’s voices in advocacy debates can challenge top-down securitisation and might allow MSEs to foster further positive social transformation. Therefore, juxtaposed with causing harm, macro-securitisations can open opportunities for children to take action and have their voices heard.
Keywords: children’s rights, mega sports events, securitisation, social transformation, urban poverty.
Producing a successful bid to host a mega sporting event (MSE) is a critical factor in urban entrepreneurialism that seeks to bring foreign investment into the country and foster advantage in the global economy (Robinson, 2002). Given the potential for con- tinued development and economic transformation that hosting mega sporting events might bring, it is not surprising to find that a number of low to middle income countries (LMIC), including Brazil, have bid for and won the rights to host large-scale sport- ing events (e.g. Commonwealth Games 2010 in Delhi, India; FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa; FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil, and the Summer Olympics 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). While this attention may create positive links between sport and social
© 2018 The Authors. Bulletin of Latin American Research © 2018 Society for Latin American Studies. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK
284 and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.
Let’s Win this Game Together
transformation, the sheer scale of poverty and inequality present in many new hosting countries means that the impact of MSEs on the urban poor is not fully recognised. This places pressure on governments to manage the paradox between using an MSE to boost global foreign investment and international tourism and dealing with the day-to-day poverty of many urban dwellers.
Since 9/11 there has also been increased securitisation at MSEs (Giulianotti and Klauser, 2010) with the poorest living in host cities disproportionately and negatively affected by securitisations (Baade and Matheson, 2004; van Blerk, 2011; Wladimir, 2012; Rodriguez et al., 2016). Further, new hosting cities, particularly those located in Global South, also overwhelmingly deal with poverty, inequality, deep social divisions and associated urban crime (Giulianotti and Klauser, 2010). These issues are securitised when MSEs are viewed as ‘requiring emergency [security] measures and justifying actions outside the normal bounds of political procedure’ (Buzan et al., 1997: 24). However, this article goes beyond the idea of a single securitisation to argue that, where the securitisation of these MSEs intersects with global sporting competition and economic and political concerns, it can be viewed as a macro-securitisation. The macro-securitisations associated with MSEs ‘bundle other securitisations together’ (Buzan and Waever, 2009: 257). We then see, for example, securitisations relating to ter- rorism and drug crime bundled together and addressed in the name of MSE preparation.
For Buzan and Waever (2009: 266), a ‘macro-securitisation should be studied in terms of actors, audiences, speech acts and synergy with other actors and their securiti- sations (counter-securitisations as well as co-securitisations)’. With the need to consider responses to macro-securitisation in mind, this article discusses the tensions between the competing discourses that emerge around the hosting of MSEs in a context where inequality and poverty are high and of significant concern for many inhabitants. Drawing on research exploring children’s rights and MSEs in Brazil (see Rodriguez et al., 2016), we investigate how MSEs can be used to transform the lives of young people who face discrimination and rights violations, taking the positive discourse of sport as a transfor- mative response to securitisations at the individual, community and macro levels. The article suggests that, through participatory engagement with young people, the transfor- mative potential of sport need not just be at a local individual level but can result in the empowerment of communities and change at multiple political levels. Through active engagement and the inclusion of children’s voices in advocacy debates, a challenge to macro-securitisation is possible; young people have much to contribute to the discus- sion of the role of MSEs in fostering social transformation, and to building positive transformations that disrupt processes of macro-securitisation.
Securitisation, Macro-Securitisation and MSEs
There has been considerable discussion of the securitisation associated with MSEs (see, for example, Klauser, 2009; Giulianotti and Klauser, 2010; Cornelissen, 2011; Samatas, 2011). As Cornelissen (2011: 3224) notes, ‘in the aftermath of 9/11 [… ] sport mega events are today regarded as major security or terror risks in and of themselves’. Researchers have detailed various securitisations that often accompany MSEs, particu- larly in the Global South. For example, Giulianotti and Klauser (2010: 52) argue that, when thinking about security around MSEs, ‘event-specific risks and security strategies [… ] centre on (a) terrorist risks, (b) spectator and political violence, and (c) poverty, social divisions, and urban crime’.
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Buzan and Waever (2009: 253) note that the Copenhagen School of Security Studies’ work on securitisation ‘has mainly focused on the middle level of world politics [… ] Its argument has been that this middle level would be the most active both because of the facility with which collective political units can construct each other as threats, and the difficulty of finding audiences for the kinds of securitisations [… ] that are available at the individual and system levels’. To supplement this, they introduce the concept of a macro-securitisation (Buzan and Waever, 2009: 257). This concept of macro-securitisation is useful for discussing processes that, while not part of the system level of world politics, are above the level where ‘collective political units’, which are often but not always states, are active (Buzan and Waever, 2009: 253).
This concept of macro-securitisation has been used to analyse contexts, such as the ‘war on terror’ (Storm, 2009; Howell, 2014), overlapping security claims in the Cana- dian Arctic (Watson, 2013) and the Cold War (Howell, 2014). MSEs are also a fruitful field to analyse as macro-securitisations because, while not part of the system level of world politics, they nonetheless provide significant audiences for securitisations that take place above the scale of individual states while also having substantial local-scale impacts. This gives MSEs what Cornelissen (2011: 3224) describes as ‘a glocal charac- ter’. This article will demonstrate that, as well as looking at the diverse securitisations that accompany an MSE, it can be helpful to consider how MSEs bundle different activ- ities together into a macro-securitisation.
Engaging with macro-securitisation is useful to get an ‘analytical grip’ on all that occurs above the middle tier. As discussed above, the ‘most powerful macro-securitisations, such as the Cold War, will impose a hierarchy on the lower level ones incorporated within them, but it is also possible for a macro-securitisation simply to bundle other securitisations together without necessarily outranking them’ (Buzan and Waever, 2009: 257). Our research suggests that this was the case in the context of FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Here, bundling together securitisations of issues, such as drugs and poverty around this MSE, did not impose a hierarchy on them. However, to understand how these securitisations played out around the football World Cup it is important to consider how they were bundled together into a macro-securitisation. For example, a crack down on parts of the illegal drug trade would likely have had a substantially different impact had it not been bundled with securitisations of poverty that led to displacement. It is thus important to look at how MSEs bundle together securitisations taking place at state or sub-state level, and how this has different effects from those that these securitisations alone might have, even if the macro-securitisation here does not ultimately establish any hierarchy.
Social and Political Context of MSEs
Hosting a sports event may position a country as a global player in economic terms, but it can have adverse economic effects (Wladimir, 2012). However, prior to the 2014 World Cup, FIFA had not included human rights issues as part of the bidding criteria for event hosting (recent lobbying by pressure groups means this is now under discussion at FIFA). Governments are, therefore, under pressure to manage the tension between using MSEs to boost global foreign investment and international tourism and dealing with the daily experience of poverty faced by significant numbers of their countries’ residents. Cornelis- sen (2011), drawing on the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, notes scaled management where international, national, state and city level interests are brought together in secu- ritisation processes. Labelling such events as security risks allows a macro-securitisation
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where new, pre-existing and intensifying securitisations are bundled together at differ- ent levels – providing legitimation for all these interests to establish rights and enforce bylaws in the context of ensuring the safety of the public in attendance. This can be used to justify intrusion in the daily lives of citizens and the violation of their human rights. Such actions might include the removal of street-connected children from host cities – as was identified during the FIFA World Cup in South Africa (Cornelissen, 2011; van Blerk, 2011).
Challenging the argument that sport negatively impacts on the poorest in societies, other literature views sport as positively supporting social transformation at a local level (Armstrong, 2004; Spaaij and Schulenkorf, 2014). There are many initiatives that seek social transformation through sport, such as Sport for Peace, and NGOs often use sport as a mechanism for transforming communities and rehabilitating young people by devel- oping cooperation, respect and promoting good health (Fuller et al., 2010). Fuller et al. (2010), for example, discuss the benefits of using football for health promotion in South Africa. Similarly, Armstrong (2004) outlines the process of incorporating football into the rehabilitation of young people who ended up on the streets during the Liberian civil war. In these examples, sport acted as a meeting point between social workers and young people, creating a space for building trust and constructing positive lives. It is worth noting, however, that even these social transformation projects are faced with tensions around pleasing donors and effecting real change.
Social Context of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil
The 2014 World Cup took place not just against a backdrop of heightened global security concerns following terrorist activity in the preceding years, but also within a society with high levels of socio-economic inequalities. Although significant attention was given to terrorist threats during the World Cup, as with any event of that scale and nature, Brazilian authorities were also concerned with ‘internal’ issues – in particular, the risk of local criminals targeting the event and tourists. The concern about internal threats was always specifically targeted at the neighbourhoods dominated by armed criminal groups and, therefore, security attention was focused on areas and social groups that historically had had problems with the police (see also Ramos and Musumeci, 2005 for a discussion of the historical tensions between police and criminal groups). The militarisation of public security in Brazilian urban centres aligns with the historical stigmatisation and criminalisation of favela dwellers, reinforcing already existing social tensions. Negative perceptions of favelas not only contributed to justifying the tough actions that formed part of MSE securitisation, but also increased levels of insecurity and exposure to human rights violations of those living in stigmatised neighbourhoods.
For Silva and Silva (2005), violence against young people in Brazil is underpinned by racism and socio-centrism, creating the idea that some young people are disposable. This is reflected through the criminalisation of poor youth in Brazil, with high levels of imprisonment and death (Fernandes, 2014). The media has played a role in the dissem- ination of social fear and in the production of social hate and indifference, with young people presented as being a threat to public order and security (Ramos and Paiva, 2007). These factors are used to justify and, to an extent, authorise police abuse and violence (Ramos and Musumeci, 2005).
The creation of socio-spatial strategies of control and containment are shaping new forms of governance of the ‘disposable’ in Brazil (Fernandes, 2013). Such strategies involve structural changes in the way neoliberal governance addresses social insecurity
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(Wacquant, 2010). In this context, the World Cup served as a macro-securitisation where a ‘universal’ sporting competition and a global institution (FIFA) could ‘aim to incorpo- rate and coordinate multiple lower level securitisations’ (Buzan and Waever, 2009: 257). Through bundling together other securitisations, MSEs play a crucial role in reshaping spaces and relationships as part of a creative destruction process of the socio-political, economic and cultural landscape.
Therefore, hosting an MSE in Brazil can intensify existing social tensions and rein- force the marginalisation of young people who are already exposed to rights violations, which tend to be exacerbated in the context of MSE preparation, execution and after- math. The invisibility of socially excluded groups, in contrast to the maximum visibility of profitable issues such as attracting tourists and investors, can also create a harm- ful environment for young people through violations such as child labour and sexual exploitation.
Historically, police operations in favelas often included the exchange of fire between police and local criminal groups, sometimes resulting in the death of local residents, including children (Fernandes, 2013). However, since 2008, the Rio de Janeiro State Government has been implementing a new strategy for public security in Rio’s fave- las, with the creation of Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora (UPP, Police Pacifying Units). The focus is on occupying favelas dominated by drug trafficking armed groups through establishing a police unit in the area, and implementing social interventions to restore trust between the community and the police. The impacts of UPP interventions have not yet been evaluated, however, and residents still experience mistrust and fear due to historical violence between the police and favela communities.
Alongside securitisation through UPPs, Favela Maré in Rio de Janeiro faces a number of non-state groups attempting to impose different types of security – what might be viewed as counter-securitisations or co-securitisations. The favela is composed of what de Souza e Silva, Lannes-Fernandes, and Willadino (2008) call ‘criminal armed groups with a domain of territories’, including a group of former police officers and other state security agents (such as the army, fire brigade, etc) who are taking advantage of the lack of state sovereignty to gain control of informal and illegal economic activities, such as illegal cable TV, the control of ‘private security’, and the distribution of essential goods such as bottled gas and water (Alves, 2008). Since 2010, Mare’s complex of favelas has had a UPP present and has been facing conflict between drug traffickers and the military police. During the research period intense shoot-outs between police and drug traffickers continued for two weeks, demonstrating the volatile and at times dangerous context in which many Brazilians live.
Study Context, Methodology and Data
To investigate the ways in which young people’s lives can be transformed through the hosting of MSEs in their cities a creative participatory approach to action research was used. This is proven to be appropriate for work with children who have experienced rights violations, as it facilitates young people to be key actors in the process and has positive effects in making change among communities (Cahill, 2004; van Blerk, 2011). This approach is based on the premise that all young people are experts on their own lives and able to articulate their needs and requirements when given the opportunity. In practical terms this approach involves spending time with young people, develop- ing trust, rapport and new ways of communicating through active engagement on their
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terms. The unique culture of Brazilian cities and children’s social contexts, as well as the nature of violence experienced by them, demands such adaptability (Fernandes, 2014). As such, the Brazilian researcher undertook an active process of facilitation engaging young people through participatory drawing, theatre and discussion.
The research focused on the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Recife. These cities were selected due to their status as host cities for the World Cup, as well as historical records of violence against children as indicated by data from the Brazilian Federal Government’s National Secretariat for Human Rights (ANDI, 2014). This paper is based on a series of in-depth participatory focus groups undertaken with twenty young people, who were residents in favelas in both cities, in order to better understand their experience and perceptions of rights violations in the context of World Cup macro-securitisations.
The research collaborated with an NGO in each city. In Rio, the Real Life Institute (Real Life) has worked with young people for over ten years in Favela Maré, the largest favela group in Brazil, with sixteen communities and approximately 130,000 inhabi- tants. Maré has a strategic location in the context of MSEs because the communities are located along the major routes between the international airport and the city centre. Therefore, Maré (which has three organised crime groups engaged in drug trafficking) received particular security-related attention. Real Life works through education and skills training in drawing, graphic arts, music, craft and silk, to promote social inclusion, ethical values and citizenship. The participatory research in Rio de Janeiro involved thir- teen young people enrolled in Real Life, aged between 12 and 15 years. The research in Recife was in collaboration with the NGO Diaconia that operates in the area of human rights and youth participation. Seven boys and girls aged between 11 and 13 years, living in the favela Morro da Conceição, participated.
The research began with discussions about the positive and negative aspects of host- ing the 2014 World Cup to introduce the project and to understand young people’s perceptions and experiences. The participants developed ideas around what changes were required to the organisation of the World Cup and how to limit violations against children. They drew on their creative abilities to express their views and over two weeks set about using the space and materials to create artistic outputs that could convey their voices to the wider public, practitioners and policy-makers. The group in Rio de Janeiro chose to create a series of artefacts (graffiti, t-shirts and posters) to combat violations of their rights under the banner ‘let’s win this game together’, while the Recife group chose to dramatise key messages for stopping violations of children’s rights.
The University of Dundee Research Ethics Committee provided ethics approval and the research adheres to key ethical imperatives for work with children, including any specific Brazilian requirements (see Alderson and Morrow, 2011). Collaboration with partner organisations was essential to ensure that the research was properly explained and that all children who expressed a desire to participate also had parental consent.
Results and Discussion
Impacts of the World Cup on Young People
A series of negative impacts on young people living in low income neighbourhoods of host cities was identified. In particular, four violations against children’s rights emerged: police and army violence, displacement, sexual exploitation and child labour, which is illegal in Brazil (see also Rodriguez et al., 2016). In addition, a number of other negative
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outcomes were mentioned. This section outlines the discussions of these violations and accompanying securitisations and negative outcomes for young people, before exploring whether there is any potential for positive social transformation. The material presented draws on qualitative data created through listening to children’s experiences and percep- tions of the positive and negative impacts of the World Cup. This fills a gap highlighted by Brackenridge et al. (2013) who advocated for research to ascertain the issues, as currently there is no large-scale data set for examining the impacts of human rights vio- lations in the context of MSEs. The first step is, therefore, to understand the issues. There is a lack of formal objective data on the transformations claimed by the World Cup (positive and negative) because of the fragilities of the Brazilian system of Guaran- tee of Rights of Children and Adolescents in failing to produce updated records on these violations and there are infrastructure and capacity problems as cases fail to be properly received and investigated (ANDI, 2014).
Violations of Children’s Rights
In both favelas, police and army violence, part of the macro-securitisation associated with MSEs, emerged as the worst form of rights violation that existed around the World Cup. Data shows that 1658 more complaints regarding rights violations against young people were made via the Dial 100 hotline in June 2014 (during the MSE) compared to June 2013, an increase of 17 percent (ANCOP, 2014). Media reports also indicated that the police and army acted harshly in searching people in the communities. The young people spoke about many cases involving rubber shots, slaps on their heads, furniture and other belongings being broken during houses raids, as well as experiencing physical and verbal aggression towards themselves or people they know:
My aunt left the door open, so they [the army] came, my cousin was lying on the sofa and her sister was in the bathroom, it was then that my cousin spoke calmly that her sister is in the bathroom, and they went anyway [… ] they touched everything, the house got a big messy after […] Looks like they have pleasure to do that … (Focus Group, Rio de Janeiro)
The young people in Rio de Janeiro also mentioned the fear they felt when Maré was occupied by the army in the two months preceding the World Cup. Seeing the soldiers, tanks and weapons up close was traumatising. In their highly emotive accounts, the group recalled how a 14-year old boy they knew had been shot and killed in Mare a few days before the World Cup:
We felt fear. Entered tank, many tanks, until today we have it here. They [the army] began putting soldiers in all exits of favela, the soldiers heavily armed, it seemed like a war … (Focus Group, Rio de Janeiro)
In Recife, the group discussed similar experiences of police beating or being aggressive towards young people from their communities who were found around the stadiums. There was a strong sense of injustice emerging from both groups that such events prob- ably happened because of race and residence in a favela. The group in Recife showed a very clear sense of injustice in speaking about the different attitudes and procedures adopted by police in specific areas in the city. For them, residents in favelas should have the ‘same rights’ as people living in other areas:
A police officer cannot beat in a person, but he did it, why? What is his right to do that? None … the boy didn’t do anything and the police was
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hitting him … he was just going to stadium but as he was poor and black … I have never even seen a police beat in a rich person because if they do that they will directly to court! (Focus Group, Recife)
Displacement was highlighted as a rights violation because poor families were evicted against their will for the development of car parks and stadiums. Two years prior to the MSE, ANCOP (2012) estimated that over 250,000 people were being removed from their homes to make space for new infrastructure and urban developments required for hosting the MSE. In addition, young people mentioned that processes for the actual removal of families was not properly adhered to, with reports that the money even- tually paid to the families whose houses were demolished was far less than originally stated:
They told me that the value of the house was like, a hundred thousand, so they [the government] destroy it and gives only fifty thousand for the family. (Focus Group, Rio de Janeiro)
They also mentioned that corruption resulted in further negative effects on the poor. Profiteering companies used hosting the World Cup to pay off low-income communities in order to build expensive apartment blocks aimed at the middle classes in a process of forced gentrification – and thus commercialised securitisation – of areas close to the newly constructed stadiums. The construction was not actually related to the hosting of either the World Cup or the subsequent Olympic Games:
In Vila Autódromo this has happened, the people came out [eviction], they [the government] said it was to build the new racetrack, but what in fact is being built is buildings of luxury, I mean, they take the poor to put whom? The rich. The Cup took just the poor from their houses. (Focus Group, Rio de Janeiro)
Again, echoing the discussion on violence, both groups concluded that several forms of social injustice occurred for those living in favelas as they have no economic power to resist any negative consequences of the World Cup put in place by the government:
All this happens because those people who are poor they are worthless, they mean nothing to the Mayor, to the Governor … I am rejected, only because I live in a favela. (Focus Group, Rio de Janeiro)
Why did the government not improve hospitals, schools [instead of stadi- ums]? They have not improved anything which is for the use of the poor, the Brazilian people. (Focus Group, Recife)
Sexual exploitation was discussed in both groups and although none of the young peo- ple specifically disclosed any personal experience of this, they mentioned the existence of areas within their communities where such violations occurred and commented on increased activity during the MSE. In Recife, the participants mentioned an area of pros- titution at the bottom of the hill where they live. During the World Cup they could see people from their communities engaging in prostitution. Similarly, the group from Rio de Janeiro spoke about young crack users who were removed by the Military Police from Avenue Brasil before the World Cup migrating to the first street inside the favela. In their discussions, they stated that the movement of cars looking for sex …
Building Inclusive Communities in Youth Sport for Lesbian-Parented Families
Dawn E. Trussell Brock University
This interpretative study examines the complexities of lesbian parents’ experiences in organized youth sport programs. Specifically, it seeks to understand youth sport as a potential site for social change that facilitates a sense of inclusive community for diverse family structures. Using thematic analysis, the author examines perspectives of nine participants from Australia, Canada, and the United States. Emphasis is placed on how the lesbian parents (a) negotiate heightened visibility, sexual stigma, and parental judgment; (b) foster social relationships through participation, volunteerism, and positive role models; and (c) create shared understanding toward building an inclusive sport culture. The findings call attention to the importance of intentional and unintentional acts (by families as well as sport organizations) that create a sense of community and an inclusive organizational culture. The connection of lesbian parents’ experiences to broader concepts, such as sexual stigma and transformative services, are also examined within the context of youth sport.
Keywords: diversity, parent, sense of community, sexual stigma, transformative, volunteer
Our job as parents is to nurture our children. To love our children and to help them become productive citizens in the world. And when you’re “out” in the world, we come in contact with all different kinds of people. So what better way to nourish those relationships—but to have the kids be together. (Parent A, Family 6, United States)
The collective evidence points to the need for sport organiza- tions to understand the sometimes, arguably, hostile environments for athletes, coaches, and employees of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) identities (e.g., Carless, 2012; Cunningham, 2015b). Although there have been subtle shifts in how diverse sexual identities and trans identities are perceived in sport organizations, recent evidence suggests that homophobia and prejudice persist. Despite commitment to, and support for, diver- sity in sport organizations (e.g., Cunningham, 2015a), this failure may be due to leaders’ lack of expertise in diversity policy creation and management, or it may reflect individual prejudicial attitudes and beliefs (Cunningham & Pickett, 2018; Shaw, 2019). As Spaaij, Knoppers, and Jeanes (2019) point out, change is slow: “While at the macro level the rhetoric of the discourse of diversity has arguably become normalized . . . much of the (overt) resistance to it—and therefore to inclusion of marginalized groups—seems to occur at the micro level” (p. 3). Indeed, at the microlevel, athletes who identify as LGBTQ may confront overt silencing practices, such as the clubs’ denial of homophobic actions by other members (Spaaij et al., 2019).
Although current research has examined the perspectives of both athletes (e.g., Petty & Trussell, 2018) and organizations (e.g., Shaw, 2019), parents who identify as LGBTQ and the impact of these identities on their family’s involvement in community youth sport have received limited attention in the sport literature. This is problematic as parents who identify as LGBTQ experience
everyday injustices, fear sexual stigma, and confront assumptions of heterosexuality while they support their children in community youth sport (Trussell, Kovac, & Apgar, 2018). In turn, this may have implications on the parents’ (and consequently their chil- dren’s) short- and long-term involvement with a community sport organization.
Yet, as Herek and McLemore (2013) make clear, the most powerful instigator to reduce sexual prejudice for a heterosexual person is through having a close relationship with a friend, relative, or associate who identifies as LGBTQ. As alluded to in the opening participant quote, community youth sport has the potential to be a “site for social change that builds community” (Warner, Dixon, & Leierer, 2015, p. 46) and may create or enhance a space for shared understanding and relationship build- ing among families. As Warner and Dixon (2011) argued, “Creating and fostering a sense of community (SOC) within sport is important because of its potential to improve the life quality of those associated with sport organizations and programs” (p. 257). In spite of the prominence of building a sense of community in understanding athletes’ experiences, limited research has investi- gated parental experiences within the context of community youth sport (see notable exception by Warner et al., 2015). Moreover, little research currently exists that explores how cultural ideolo- gies that create a sense of otherness (e.g., sexual stigma) may be negotiated through youth sport to help foster inclusive communities.
In this study, I seek to extend this work by examining the complexities of lesbian parents’1 experiences in community youth sport organizations. Specifically, I seek to understand youth sport as a potential site for social change that facilitates a sense of inclusive community for diverse family structures. The pers- pectives of parents who identify as lesbian are highlighted as sport has long been thought of as an institution that privileges male hegemony and promotes social exclusion (e.g., Fink, 2016; Frisby & Miller, 2002). Furthermore, research has examined parents who identify as LGBTQ in organized youth sport as a group
Trussell ([email protected]) is with the Department of Sport Management, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
Journal of Sport Management, 2020, 34, 367-377 https://doi.org/10.1123/jsm.2019-0395 © 2020 Human Kinetics, Inc. ARTICLE
(e.g., Trussell et al., 2018) even though experiences of diverse identities may be inherently different. Recent evidence suggests focusing on one particular identity. For example, trans prejudice may be different than lesbian, gay, and bisexual prejudice and, in turn, require additional interventions and prejudice reduction efforts (Cunningham & Pickett, 2018). As such, this research extends this line of inquiry with an in-depth investigation on the specific intricacies of one particular group—lesbian parents. In doing so, it provides a more nuanced account and advances understanding of the multiple ways that lesbian parents may be involved in the youth sport system not only as a parent but also as a youth sport volunteer and/or partner of a youth sport volunteer. An in-depth understanding of diverse parental experiences is an important perspective as parents are the primary providers, inter- preters, leaders, and volunteers of the youth sport experience (Cuskelly, 2005; Dixon, Warner, & Bruening, 2008; Warner et al., 2015).
This study includes areas of literature not usually considered together, including Warner and Dixon’s Sport and Sense of Community theory (2011, 2013) as well as Spaaij, Magee, and Jeanes’s (2014) inclusive community criteria. This research ex- tends these frameworks by examining diverse perspectives and experiences, specifically those of lesbian-parented families. Herek, Gillis, and Cogan’s (2015) social psychological framework on sexual stigma also provides a useful lens to consider the ways a parent’s sexual identity might alter their experiences in community youth sport. Finally, this study advances insight on youth sport as a vehicle for transformative change, particularly as much of the sport research has focused on the negative consequences of sexual stigma. As demonstrated by this special issue, with an increasing focus on transformative service research (TSR) in sport manage- ment (e.g., Dickson, Darcy, Johns, & Pentifallo, 2016), the need to improve the individual and collective lives of sport consumers and citizens (e.g., diverse family structures in community youth sport) is increasingly relevant.
Sport and Sexual Stigma
Reflecting broader societal values and legislation, there is evi- dence of improved social attitudes that demonstrate growing inclusivity, greater acceptance of LGBTQ identities, and a sense of decreasing cultural homophobia within the sporting context (e.g., Adams & Anderson, 2012; Norman, 2013). Yet, heterosex- ism is still prevalent in sport and is a mechanism for social exclusion. Indeed, sport cultures have been found to be unwel- coming and sometimes, arguably, hostile environments for ath- letes, coaches, and administrators with LGBTQ identities (e.g., Carless, 2012; Cunningham, 2015b; Oswalt & Vargas, 2013; Satore & Cunningham, 2009). For coaches and adminis- trators, sport is governed by the attitudes and values of the dominant group (e.g., male, heterosexual) that act to reproduce and maintain the theoretical tenets of hegemonic masculinity rather than be governed by policy aimed at equality and inclusion of underrepresented groups (Walker & Sartore-Baldwin, 2013). AsWalker andMelton (2015) contend in their research on minority lesbians’ disadvantaged status, “individuals who do not fit these norms usually do not gain access to or maintain membership in sport institutions” (p. 268) and may leave the sporting culture to find more welcoming and inclusive environments.
Herek’s social psychological perspective for understanding sexual stigma provides a useful framework for sport scholars to consider the ways a person’s sexual identity might alter their experiences in sport (see, e.g., Cunningham & Melton, 2012; Petty & Trussell, 2018). As summarized in Herek et al. (2015), “This framework starts from a cultural analysis of how sexuality is socially constructed and how social categories based on sexuality reflect power and status inequalities” (p. 19). The concept of sexual stigma is constructed through shared social knowledge that LGBTQ behaviors, identity, relationships, or communities have a devalued status relative to heterosexuality (Herek et al., 2015). Moreover, sexual stigma is legitimated and perpetuated through dominant ideologies and “is both embedded in the institutions of society and internalized by individuals” (Herek, 2015, p. S33). In short, LGBTQ people may have less control and power over what happens in their own lives due to their marginalized, and often invisible, status (Herek, 2015).
Against the backdrop of heterosexism,2 Herek et al. (2015) write that all individuals (regardless of their sexual orientation) can experience sexual stigma in at least three ways. First, enacted sexual stigma “is expressed behaviorally through actions such as shunning, ostracism, the use of antigay epithets, overt discrimina- tion, and violence” (p. 19). Enacted stigma may be directed toward anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, as any member of society can potentially be perceived as LGBTQ.
Felt stigma is the second manifestation of sexual stigma and constitutes “expectations about the probability that stigma enact- ments will occur in a particular situation or under specific circumstances” (Herek et al., 2015, p. 20). Similar to enacted stigma, felt stigma may be experienced by anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. Felt stigma can motivate individuals to modify their behaviors and to use various self-presentation strate- gies to avoid being the target of stigma acts (Herek et al., 2015). For example, as Herek et al. (2015) explain, it can lead to individuals concealing or denying their LGBTQ identity or avoiding gender nonconformity or physical contact with same- sex friends. Recent sport management research provides evidence of how lesbian sport administrators and coaches conceal their sexual identity in fear of perceived discrimination as they lack social and organizational support (Walker & Melton, 2015). For some women, this involved active identity management techni- ques to appear heterosexual (i.e., displaying femininity), whereas for others it involved lying about their lesbian identity to their peers to “ensure their secret remained hidden” (Walker & Melton, 2015, p. 266).
Finally, a “third manifestation is internalized sexual stigma— a heterosexual or sexual minority individual’s personal accep- tance of sexual stigma as part of her or his own value system” (Herek et al., 2015, p. 20). For heterosexuals, internalized stigma is performed through negative attitudes toward sexual minorities, which Herek et al. (2015) refer to as popular concepts such as sexual prejudice, homophobia, homonegativity, and heterosex- ism. Moreover, as Herek et al. (2015) write, for LGBTQ indivi- duals, internalized stigma can be experienced both inwardly (e.g., negative attitudes harbored toward themselves) and out- wardly (e.g., holding negative attitudes toward other LGBTQ individuals). Sport scholars have revealed how inwardly internal- ized sexual stigma is experienced by young people and how it negatively impacts sport experiences during the high school years (Melton & Cunningham, 2012; Petty & Trussell, 2018). Young people also experience internalized sexual stigma from coaches, teammates, teachers, and parents, and these relationships
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influence their sport engagement by causing them to search for safe and inclusive spaces (Petty & Trussell, 2018).
It is clear, too, that recent shifts in public attitudes toward greater acceptance of individuals who identify as LGBTQ illustrate how the socially constructed concept of sexual stigma may be disrupted through cultural shifts as well as legislative and policy changes (Herek, 2015). The recent shifts reflect “more accepting younger generations as well as reductions in prejudice in many individual heterosexuals” (Herek & McLemore, 2013, p. 326). Improved social attitudes toward sexual orientation have also permeated into sport settings (Norman, 2013). As Trussell et al. (2018) contend, even though a culture of heterosexism and sexual prejudice is entrenched in the youth sport culture, many community sport organizations are open to change once oppressive policies and program designs are made visible through advocacy and education about inclusive practices. Furthermore, it is through inclusive behaviors and practices that the potential to create a sense of community for diverse family structures lies.
Building Inclusive Sport Communities
Sports are social spaces that provide rich memories (both positive and negative) and create meaningful personal, social, and cultural experiences for an individual (Coakley & Donnelly, 2009). Sport also fosters larger social networks and a sense of community that brings people together. In this sense, community sport is posi- tioned as an important social hub and central gathering place that provides more than physical benefits for the athlete (Mair, 2009; Tonts, 2005).
Drawing on sense of community research (e.g., Gusfield, 1975; McMillan & Chavis, 1986; Sarason, 1974), Warner et al. (Warner & Dixon, 2011, 2013; Warner, Dixon, & Chalip, 2012) propose a sport and community building theory. Depending on the sporting context (e.g., elite athletes vs. club sports in the collegiate context), this theory contends that seven fundamental factors provide the necessary basis for “community” in sport, including Administrative Considerations, Common Interest, Competition, Equity in Administrative Decisions, Leadership Opportunities, Social Spaces, and Voluntary Action (Warner, Kerwin, & Walker, 2013). However, as Warner et al. (2012) point out, it is important to explore sport variations and contexts to “allow a deeper and broader understanding of a sense of community in sport” (p. 998). For example, a study that examined the role of a youth sport program in fostering a sense of community for parents finds that the child’s experience, clear logistics, administrative consideration, and equity in administrative decisions are the most salient elements (Warner et al., 2015). At the same time, there are several factors that did not emerge in the same study, such as Social Spaces, Voluntary Action, Competition, and Leadership Opportunities.
Focusing on issues of social identities and inclusion, Spaaij et al. (2014) emphasize that “participation alone does not equate to social inclusion”; the authors contend that an inclusive community is one “whereby everyone is respected, equal and has the same opportunities to take part” (p. 141). As the authors point out, there is no singular definition of an inclusive community; however, they suggest the following criteria: (a) all people have access to the same sports opportunities, facilities, and resources; (b) all people have the opportunity not only to play sport but also to participate in administration and organization, irrespective of who they are; and (c) all people feel part of the sports community they participate in and experience a sense of belonging within it.
Closely aligned with the concept of social inclusion is TSR, defined as “service research that centers on creating uplifting changes and improvement in the well-being of both individuals and communities” (Ostrom et al., 2010, p. 9). A key feature of TSR is to understand the disparities in the quality of services to different groups, including individuals and communities, while focusing on their well-being (Dickson et al., 2016; Ostrom et al., 2010). Furthermore, TSR represents a deliberate attempt to enhance the lives of people with marginalized identities such as race, ethnicity, income, and sexual orientation (Rosenbaum, 2015).
Key studies in sport scholarship point to the importance of TSR in understanding diverse identities. For example, Dickson et al. (2016) use the TSR framework to understand transformative services and sport event accessibility for people with disabilities. As the authors point out, TSR is a “research philosophy, rather than a methodology or theory” (p. 537) that identifies barriers to inclusion and makes an important contribution to the service literature and practice. Scholars such as Frisby (2005) have long called for research that investigates the transformative potential of sport, focusing on implications for practice and new ways of operating.
Thus, youth sport is an important part of community life, and, although there may be divisive attitudes and behaviors, it has the potential to help facilitate shared understanding and social change through transformative services. Sensitized by sport and a sense of community theory (i.e., Warner & Dixon, 2011, 2013), inclusive sports communities criteria (i.e., Spaaij et al., 2014), sexual stigma framework (Herek et al., 2015), and TSR (e.g., Ostrom et al., 2010), this study seeks to understand the complexities of lesbian parents’ experiences in community youth sport programs. Finally, etymo- logically, the philosophical assumptions that guide this study conceptualize TSR as the potential for change rather than as an assumed outcome or result (Watson, Tucker, & Drury, 2013).
For this study, general concepts of feminism provide the guiding theoretical perspective. Feminism challenges the utility of concepts like objectivity and universality (Hesse-Biber, 2007). Knowledge, feminists advocate, is developed through understanding the uniqueness of people’s lives and experiences that are embedded within a system of patriarchy. A dominant theme in feminist research is the recognition of “differences among women and within the same groups of women and the recognition that multiple identities and subjectivities are constructed in particular historical and social contexts” (Olesen, 2013, p. 268). Similar to many feminist scholars, I use a critical social constructivist lens, whereby human activity is constructed through dialogue, discourse, and social practices (Freysinger, Shaw, Henderson, & Bialeschki, 2013). A feminist constructivist lens interrogates how dominant “discourses or ideologies, such as those associated with femininity, ‘the family’ or sexuality are socially constructed and reproduced” (Freysinger et al., 2013, p. 73).
Feminist sport management scholars have challenged the way in which gendered discourses shape the interactions, practices, and structures of sport organizations and maintain sport’s patriarchal, heterosexist norms (e.g., Fink, 2016; Shaw & Frisby, 2006; Shaw & Hoeber, 2003). A feminist approach aligns well with the examination of the experiences of lesbian-parented families in community youth sport as assumptions of heteronormativity are
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Building Inclusive Communities 369
implicit, and sport becomes a vehicle for social exclusion. Satore and Cunningham (2010) write that, in sport, “characteristics such as gender, sex, and sexuality do not only take the form of identities, but also social positions that possess societal status and power” (Burman, 2002, p. 495–496).
With the exploratory nature of the study and the focus on the subjective experiences of the participants, an inductive qualitative approach was appropriate (Shaw & Hoeber, 2016). The partici- pants came from an initial study that included an online asynchro- nous focus group with parents who identified as LGBTQ. Original recruitment for the parents occurred through social media channels (i.e., Facebook and Twitter), and a total of 73 parents participated in the study from Australia, Canada, and the United States. The focus of this initial study was to broadly understand the LGBTQ parents’ experiences of the design and management of community youth sport programs.
After completion of the online focus group (see Trussell et al., 2018 for a full description of the study), parents were contacted 1 year later to see if they would be interested in participating in a second phase to advance insights on the original study. A total of nine lesbian parents (representing six families) responded to the call: five of the participants were from Canada, one parent from Australia, and three parents from the United States. Guided by the theoretical frameworks of Sport and Sense of Community Theory (Warner & Dixon, 2011, 2013) as well as inclusive community criteria (Spaaij et al., 2014), this study was distinguished from the larger project by its in-depth investigation of the lesbian parent identity. Moreover, sensitized by theoretical frameworks on sense of community and inclusion, the focus of this study was on the multiple roles that a lesbian parent may play within youth sport (i.e., not only as a parent but also as a youth sport volunteer).
The primary method of data collection was semistructured interviews that provided in-depth accounts of personal experience (Braun, Clarke, & Weate, 2016). Interviews provided the opportu- nity to ask questions directly aligned with the research study’s goals with the aim to provide rich answers and insights (Saldaña, 2015). Semistructured interviews also elicited data that were “open-ended yet directed, shaped yet emergent, and paced yet unrestricted” (Charmaz, 2006, p. 28). Interviewers used a reflexive, dyadic interview style with follow-up comments and questions that helped the participants articulate their meanings and experiences (Charmaz, 2006). For two of the three families wherein both parents participated in the study, interviews were conducted sepa- rately to foster individual and diverse perspectives; however, the third family requested to be interviewed together.
Based on sensitizing concepts from the literature, topics of discussion in the interviews included (a) experiences of inclusion in relation to their lesbian identity and youth community-based sporting activities; (b) a high point and low point in their experi- ences with their children’s community sporting activities; (c) volunteer involvement with their children’s sport organizations; and (d) initiatives, programs, and/or adaptations that service pro- viders should consider. Whenever geographically possible, inter- views were conducted in person at the parents’ home (four participants), with the remainder conducted via Skype (five parti- cipants). All interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim for data analysis, with conversations ranging in length from 25 min to 1 hr and 39 min, averaging 57 min per interview.
Data Analysis and Trustworthiness Strategies
Data analysis was guided by an active and inductive approach to facilitate understanding of participants’ experiences. An inductive approach aims to be an “open-ended investigation with minimal assumptions, leaving the researcher open to emergent leads and new ideas” (Saldaña, 2015, p. 23). Using analytic inductive methods, a researcher constructs knowledge in a cumulative process to build sense and meaning (Saldaña, 2015). Moreover, an interpretative approach to thematic analysis was used to search for patterns of meaning across the qualitative dataset, an approach commonly employed by sport scholars (Braun et al., 2016; Sparkes & Smith, 2014). Thematic analysis does not seek to quantify themes or build hierarchical structures; rather it highlights similar- ities and differences across the dataset (Sparkes & Smith, 2014). As explained by Braun et al. (2016), thematic analysis “can provide analyses of people’s experiences in relation to an issue, or the factors and processes that underlie and influence particular phe- nomena” (p. 193).
Specifically, the phases for thematic analysis, as outlined by Braun et al. (2016, pp. 196–202), while drawing on Braun and Clarke (2006) as well as Sparkes and Smith (2014, pp. 123–126), provided the guiding framework for this study. The phases included Phases 1–2: Familiarization and coding; Phases 3–5: Theme development, refinement, and naming; and Phase 6: Writ- ing up. Although the themes are presented as a linear progression, it is a reflexive process that works back and forth through the various phases (Braun et al., 2016). During Phases 1–5 of thematic analysis, I worked with a research assistant who separately coded at the same time. Throughout this iterative process, we would meet regularly to gather and collate all of the relevant coded extracts, discuss whether we saw any coherent patterns, and reflect on the evolving construction of thematic categories. For example, some of the initial codes (Phase 2) included “Fears for Children,” “Fears of Coming Out,” “Confronting Moments of Heteronormativity,” and “Seeking Male Role Models.”
During Phase 3, we then refocused the analysis to the broader level of themes. Examples of our tentative themes included “Heightened Visibility and Perceived Stigma,” “Building Relation- ships,” and “Creating Inclusive Programming.”During Phase 4, we continued to work through a reflexive process wherein we sought to ascertain whether the tentative themes worked in relation to the entire dataset. Next, in Phase 5, we further refined and defined the “essence” of what each theme was about through a descriptive positioning of the “story” that each individual theme tells. At this point, once the themes were refined, I was able to enter the final phase of thematic analysis—Phase 6: Writing up—where themes became “embedded within an analytic tale that provides a clear interpretation of the data” (Sparkes & Smith, 2014, p. 126). Finally, guided by the aims of the study and as a reflection of my epistemological position, a feminist–constructivist orientation shaped the choices made throughout all phases of analysis (Braun et al., 2016).
Three primary strategies, as outlined by Cresswell (2014), were used to ensure the trustworthiness of the study. The first strategy was the use of debriefing with peers (p. 202). With this strategy, the research assistant and I met on several occasions to compare our thoughts and interpretations of the analytical process. Once we had reviewed the themes (Phase 4 of thematic analysis), one of the participants, who resided locally, was invited to review and ask critical questions about our interpretations. In accordance with Cresswell (2014), this strategy was used to enhance the
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accuracy of the research team’s interpretations of the data and to ensure that the analytical outcomes would resonate with the reader and, we would also argue, with the social group of inquiry. After this meeting and feedback, the research assistant and I returned to the iterative process of coding as we aimed to further refine and clarify the thematic categories.
Upon completion of defining and naming the themes (Phase 5 of thematic analysis), the second strategy of member checking (p. 201) was implemented. Specifically, a one-page summary of the thematic highlights was sent to all participants to deter- mine whether they felt the themes reflected their experiences. At that time, no one expressed any concerns with the developed themes.
In writing the report (Phase 6 of thematic analysis), the third strategy, using a rich, thick description (Cresswell, 2014, p. …
International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring 2018, Vol. 16(2), pp. 42-54. DOI: 10.24384/000494
Hierarchy, Community, and Attachment: Integrating At-Risk Youth into Martial Arts and Combat Sports Academies Adam Lorenz ✉
Abstract Cultural shifts have eroded the hierarchical structure responsible for vertically transmitting guidance to youth, making the development of secure parent-child attachment relationships challenging. Youth are experiencing an orientation void, which affects development. Integrating youth into supportive communities promotes psycho-social development. Martial arts and combat sports academies provide opportunities for the development of external and internal assets. Research is needed to measure the psycho-social influence academy communities have on at-risk youth. The effectiveness of martial arts and combat sports participation in intervention and reintegration plans need investigating. There are considerations to be made before developing programs that integrate youth into academy communities.
Keywords hierarchy, attachment, mentorship, at-risk youth, psycho-social development,
Article history Accepted for publication: 01/06/2018 Published online: 30/07/2018
© the Author(s) Published by Oxford Brookes University
Introduction This manuscript was inspired by personal communication with Rich Clementi, retired professional MMA athlete and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veteran (October 23, 2015), regarding the benefits of hierarchical structure and combat sports participation for at-risk youth. An observed Dr. Gordon Neufeld lecture discussed the importance of adult-child relationships and hierarchical structure, while sharing an analogy used by Clementi about unbridled young elephants. This analogy is also used by Neufeld and Maté (2013) and Siegel (2013). To access an original source regarding these elephants, communication was established with Dr. Wade Horn, President of the National Fatherhood Initiative. The original intention of this manuscript was to analyse the correlation between academy membership and Neufeld’s theory regarding alpha children. However, Neufeld’s views do not exist in the literature. A more general review of the literature was conducted. Peer-reviewed articles regarding martial arts and combat sports participation for at-risk youth, mentorship, and adult-child relationships were obtained from the online databases of Athabasca University. The views of Clementi and development attachment theorists were integrated alongside scholarly sources to provide context within this underexplored topic.
International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring 2018, Vol. 16(2), pp. 42-54. DOI: 10.24384/000494
Stories about rediscovering a positive direction in life are abundant among recreational martial artists and competitive combat sports athletes. At times, individuals who have struggled with substance abuse, crime, delinquency, and other issues have attributed overcoming these obstacles through their preferred sport. However, these claims are largely unproven. Evidence exists which supports the idea that sport participation reduces the criminal and anti-social behaviour of at-risk youth, but some researchers believe it is inconclusive, because proving a simple causal relationship regarding such a complex correlation is difficult (Chamberlain, 2013).
Martial arts in this manuscript refers to practices such as Wing Chun, Kung-Fu, Kenpo, and other traditional martial arts that are rooted in Eastern Philosophy. These arts are often characterised by lower amounts of physical contact than full-contact competition, focusing instead on internal experiences and meditation, and the development of personal mastery of techniques and self-control. Combat sports in this manuscript refer to practices such as boxing, wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Sambo, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). These modern arts emphasise the mastery of techniques and the development of athleticism to obtain competence in full-contact competition and training practices.
At-risk youth often lack healthy parent-child attachment relationships. These youth benefit from the hierarchical structure, community interactions, and adult-child relationships provided by martial arts and combat sports academies. This has been witnessed first-hand by Rich Clementi (personal communication, October 23, 2015). Clementi, who owns and operates a martial arts facility called Clementi’s Gladiator Academy in Slidell, Louisiana, is also a coach and mentor to youth through the Bayou Elite wrestling team. Clementi frequented youth correctional facilities as an adolescent. To replicate the positive influence wrestling coaches had on him, Clementi partnered with the Slidell Police Department in 2011 to help dozens of at-risk young boys develop positive life paths through wrestling (Chiri, 2015). Clementi credits one-on-one sports, positive social interactions, an internalised sense of belonging to a team, and the personal accountability of one-on-one sports for improving the lives of struggling youth (Chiri, 2015). Clementi explained that introducing troubled youth into the hierarchically structured environment of a martial arts or combat sports academy significantly reduced aggressive behaviour (personal communication, October 23, 2015).
This manuscript surmises that the natural hierarchy, community interaction, and adult-child relationships provided by martial arts and combat sports academies reduce problematic behaviours in children and adolescents. Additional research is needed to develop an understanding of how martial arts and combat sports related intervention programs benefit at-risk youth. The impact of sports coaching on youth who participate in mainstream sports is well documented in the literature. This literature review will instead analyse the psycho-social development of youth and the creation of mentor-mentee relationships within the context of martial arts and combat sports academies. Youth crime, the importance of adult-child relationships, challenges in developing relationships with youth, the efficacy of youth participation in martial arts and combat sports, and opportunities for mentorship and community involvement through academy membership are explored. Areas that have potential to benefit at-risk youth are discussed: engaging youth in healthy adult-child relationships, configuring mentorship programs and community participation interventions, and recommendations for further exploration.
Criminal Behaviour of Youth Juvenile crime is a social and public health issue, as criminal offenses plague the criminal justice system and have serious implications for later adult behaviour (Mendenhall, 2008). Adolescents who have committed a crime exhibit lower levels of empathy and prosocial behaviour, while being more aggressive, emotionally unstable, and angry (Llorca-Mestre, Malonda-Vidal, & Samper-García, 2017). Analysis of the prosocial moral reasoning of young offenders suggested a greater orientation towards engaging in helping behaviours if it will gain them personal benefits or approval (Llorca-Mestre et al., 2017). Unfortunately, committing juvenile offenders to large facilities has not proven to be effective for rehabilitation
International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring 2018, Vol. 16(2), pp. 42-54. DOI: 10.24384/000494
(Mendenhall, 2008). In addition the recidivism rate of juvenile offenders has become a significant area of concern in some jurisdictions (Williams & Smalls, 2015).
Reducing problematic behaviours in youth is supported by recognising the influence that external and internal assets have on personal development, rather than solely focusing on punishment (Scales & Leffert, 2004). According to Scales and Leffert (2004), the categories of support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, and constructive use of time comprise the external assets that benefit youth, while commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive identity are internal asset categories. Their data suggests that average adolescents possess under half of the 40 assets that the authors assigned to these eight asset categories. It seems that more must be done to strengthen the assets of youth, as opposed to punishing the negative behaviours they have developed. The modeling of adults and structure provided by positive adult-child relationships has been shown to aid the development of assets in youth (Higley, Walker, Bishop, & Fritz, 2016).
Horn (2000) likened a group of young men’s criminal activity in Central Park to a destructive group of transplanted young male elephants in South Africa who killed rhinoceroses and destroyed property. He claimed that similar to the animal kingdom, young men run a particularly high risk of exhibiting negative behaviour without the guidance of their fathers or other responsible adults. Clementi (personal communication, October 23, 2015) has observed with confidence the negative alpha dynamic developed in unguided young men being positively influenced by martial arts and combat sports participation due to the hierarchical nature of academy communities. In recent decades, cultural changes have weakened the natural hierarchy of Western society and the development of parent-child attachment relationships (Neufeld & Maté, 2013) and therefore the needs that young people have for social structure is not surprising.
Alternative approaches based on developmental attachment theory are a theoretically viable option to rehabilitate young offenders or to act as a preventive measure. Insecure attachments create externalizing and internalizing behaviours, such as aggression and anxiety, while secure parent-child attachments promote positive development (Bowlby, 1982). A consistent link between parenting style and development suggests the negative behaviours of young offenders are influenced by adult-child relationships (William & Smalls, 2015). Survey data produced by Williams and Smalls (2015) provided evidence that parental involvement, reactions, attitudes, monitoring and supervision, and use of positive parenting techniques impact juvenile recidivism. Supporting youth relies on the effort and abilities of caregivers. If youth are not afforded support by parents, then other supportive role models can be utilised to effect change through the development of earned-secure attachment relationships (Saunders, Jacobvitz, Zaccagnino, Beverung, & Hazen, 2011; Venta, Sharp, Shmueli-Goetz, & Newlin, 2015).
Adult-Child Relationships The natural hierarchical structure of Western society and our ability to develop secure adult-child attachment relationships is diminishing (Neufeld & Maté, 2013). Hierarchical structure provides vertical transmission of culture to children, allowing them to become oriented to adults and experience the benefits of parental guidance (Neufeld & Maté, 2013). Natural hierarchy is comprised of adult-child attachment relationships, which provide youth with a compass point that produces psychological orientation and reduces negative behaviours (Neufeld & Maté, 2013).
Society is failing to support natural hierarchy and adult-child relationships due to economic realities that require duel-employment, geographical distancing, the abolishment of attachment villages (adults within the community who help raise youth), decreased extended family bonds, increased solitary activities involving technology, contemporary parenting practices (i.e., egalitarian parenting), and peer orientation versus parent orientation (Neufeld and Maté, 2013). Society’s failings are producing psychologically disoriented youth who experience anxiety and exhibit unruly behaviour in the absence of adult-child attachment relationships, which are needed to serve as their compass point and provide security (Neufeld
& Maté, 2013). Attachment is also necessary for youth to reach maturation and realise their potential; becoming independent, exploring curiosities, taking risks, acting on instincts, forming relationships, thinking for oneself, learning from failure, and developing resilience. This potential can be pursued and achieved when youth possess the safety and security of an adult-child attachment to fall back on (Neufeld, 2012).
According to Scales and Leffert (2004), a considerable amount of research has demonstrated that resilient youth have at least one adult in their lives who cares for them (Scales & Leffert, 2004). Supporting the development of connections with positive influences is important when working with youth in the criminal justice system, school system, through an organisation or team, and as a mentor. It is vital that adults who take on mentorship roles possess the strong ethical standards necessary for working closely with youth, especially at-risk youth who are exceptionally vulnerable due to lacking familial support. The boundaries and expectations influencing the realities of youth are instilled by the adults in their lives, which models prosocial behaviour (Scales & Leffert, 2004).
Henley (2013) claimed youth who have experienced separation, loss, and dislocation will develop an ingrained sense of alienation and distrust. He contends that ingrained negative senses are amplified by solely addressing the resulting external behaviour, making it vital to attend to youth’s need for belonging, inclusion, and security. Henley stated that:
…although we often take it for granted, our belonging with one another is the very stuff of life, equally, if not more important than the food and drink that nurtures us. In order to survive, grow, and develop, we need to connect to one another in families, in communities, in cultural and language groups and ultimately, as citizens of the planet. (Henley, 2013, p. 19)
Providing youth opportunities to interact with responsible adults and develop positive relationships can be facilitated by having a structured and supportive place to belong.
The development of responsibility and independence in youth requires their needs for belonging, closeness, and security being satisfied (Neufeld & Maté, 2013). Instead of punishing negative behaviour we must focus on attachment relationships. A lack of adult-child attachment affects the thoughts and emotions of youth, not just their behaviour. Therefore, the causes for behaviour must be addressed instead of just symptoms; securely attached children have a desire to be good, so it is not youth, but relationships, that need correcting (Neufeld and Maté, 2013). Aggressive behaviours of youth, such as crime, violence, and bullying, and the subsequent victimisation, suicide, and substance abuse, that plague both perpetrators and targets, can be combatted by entering secure adult-child attachment relationships with youth. These connections can restore natural hierarchy (Neufeld & Maté, 2013).
The classical clinical work of John Bowlby, which addresses the development of attachment disorders in young offenders, was analysed by Follan and Minis (2010). They surmised that the youth in Bowlby’s studies were impaired in their ability to form appropriate social relationships because their parents were not attuned to them, which affected their social development. To assist youth who lack parental support, interventions should focus on more than parent-child attachments by exploring the interactions of youth with strangers and peers (Follan & Minnis, 2010). Opportunities to interact with others and develop attachments are afforded by martial arts and combat sports participation; sports programs promote social inclusion, a sense of belonging, and relationship building (Bruening, Clark, & Mudrick, 2015).
Adults support the development of positive behaviours in youth by developing, enhancing, and sustaining the connections youth have with a world that includes responsible adult models (Henley, 2013). Clementi illustrated how youth need adults by drawing attention to how young male elephants who were removed from the herd became destructive and their aggression was curbed by reintroducing mature older male leaders back into the environment (personal communication, October 23, 2015). The occurrence described by Clementi took place in South Africa and involved elephants who were transplanted from Kruger National Park to Pilanesberg National Park. (Slotow, van Dyk, Poole, Page, & Klocke, 2000). These young
elephants gored many rhinoceroses to death and destroyed property (Slotow at al., 2000). Horn (2000) surmised that fatherlessness led to the destructiveness of these elephants. Similarly, parallels have been drawn between troubled youth and these elephants by Neufeld and Maté (2013) and Siegel (2013), who contend that loss of natural hierarchy and isolation from the adult community negatively impact behaviour development. This creates a link between developmental attachment theory, biological science, and the anecdotal observations of an experienced martial arts and combat sports athlete and coach.
Youth Separating Themselves from Adults Today’s parents were amongst the first to experience the societal changes distancing youth from parents and towards peers, which has made the shift difficult for contemporary adults to recognise (Neufeld & Maté, 2013). With parents and children being separated by economic, social, and cultural trends, youth are filling this orientation void with peer relationships (Neufeld & Maté, 2013). Much like has been observed in the animal kingdom, where peer-oriented monkeys and young elephants have become aggressive and destructive without adult leadership, human youth are also at risk when they become separated from the adult community (Neufeld & Maté, 2013; Siegel, 2013). Youth benefit greatly from having interactions with peers who engage in positive behaviours, as this motivates them to practice similar positive behaviour. However, they require expectations and boundaries to be implemented by adults to ensure they do their best regardless of the quality of their peer relationships (Scales & Leffert, 2004; Siegel, 2013). Excessive peer orientation, insecure adult-child attachments, and psycho-social deficiencies lead to youth distancing themselves from interactions with adults.
Adolescence is the developmental stage where youth naturally begin to push away adults in search of independence, which is different than shutting them out completely. Adults pushing back against adolescent rebellion, hyperrationality, and novelty seeking can lead to complete shut out. With today’s technology of cars, synthetic drugs, and the internet, it is easier for youth to do this than ever before (Siegel, 2013). Siegel (2013) believes the pruning of at-risk childhood circuits is heightened by stress, which reveals vulnerabilities in adolescents, leading to mood or thought dysfunction occurring during brain remodeling. He cites that high school and college is a prime time for major psychiatric disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia to first present themselves in well-functioning people. Siegel theorised that if youth obtained assistance from responsible adults at times of need, it would reduce their stress and prevent excess pruning. More factors than genetics determine neural growth; supportive relationships and the feeling that one belongs to a larger group significantly influences development (Siegel, 2013). Youth forming secure attachment relationships may positively affect their behaviour due to physical and neurological changes, as well as by the psychological and emotional support that it provides.
Community development initiatives achieve success based on the efforts of everyday people, perhaps more so than the labour of professional youth workers (Scales & Leffert, 2004). Youth’s connections with supportive adults in day-to-day life have important implications for their development. However, many adults and communities are not working to promote youth development or modelling constructive and prosocial behaviours to them (Scales & Leffert, 2004). With the declining presence of attachment villages, which Neufeld and Maté (2013) define as the community of supportive adults that exist in youths’ lives, alternative methods for engaging youth with the adult world are needed. Martial arts and combat sports academies provide opportunities for at-risk youth to become immersed in an alternative sub-culture separate from the negative ecological environment that they have been residing in.
Benefits of Martial Arts Two contrasting views regarding the essence of martial arts are that of violence and discipline. Every individual is influenced by unique biological factors, systemic factors, and experiences, which shape their perception (Arthur & Collins, 2010). Therefore, how martial arts participation affects the thoughts, feelings,
and behaviours of each individual youth will vary. However, research has shown benefits to youth being trained in martial arts.
Internal martial arts training, which relates to the mindful and meditative practices associated with becoming a martial artist, have been shown to reduce aggressive behaviours and psychological arousal in children and adults; increasing their ability to control feelings related to alarm (Hernandez & Anderson, 2015). People who participated in martial arts as children are less frequently aggressive and are more likely to assist the targets of bullies (Twemlow, Biggs, Neelson, Vernberg, Fonagy and Twemlow, 2008). Martial arts programs have been found to be effective for reducing violence and producing positive changes in the psychological risk factors of high-risk youth (Zivin et al., 2001). The internal personal growth afforded to youth, which is part of becoming a martial artist, positively affects self-control and the development of values. Martial arts participation and academy membership may be a catalyst for developing the external and internal assets outlined by Scales and Leffert (2004).
Developing the ability to learn from experienced adults is afforded to youth through the martial arts. Twemlow, Sacco, and Fonagy (2008) asserted martial arts training helped high-risk youth foster attachments to instructors because respect and discipline is needed to learn the techniques being taught, which cannot be done efficiently when lacking self-control. The development of youth is significantly impacted by the modelling of positive and responsible behaviour and the implementation of clear and consistent expectations by adults, as this motivates youth to put into practice preferred behaviours (Scales & Leffert, 2004).
The influence of peers also makes significant contributions towards youth development; positive and negative peer influence impacts behaviour, while the social and emotional context of peer interactions influence information processing and decision making (Scales & Leffert, 2004; Siegel, 2013; Neufeld & Maté, 2013). Positive norms are regulated through verbal and non-verbal communication in martial arts academies (Cole, 2015). The enculturation of youth into respectful communities, which contain peers and adults who model positive behaviours, social interactions, and lifestyles, has encouraging implications for at-risk youth.
Benefits of Combat Sports Sports-based extracurricular activities appeal to young people and benefit their social development (Bruening et al., 2015; Parker, Meek, & Lewis, 2014). This is especially important for underprivileged youth. Youth with challenging social conditions have limited access to resources, so including them in meaningful leisure activities connects them to mainstream society and other communities (Hopper & Yoshitaka, 2017). Becoming involved with sports introduces at-risk youth to peer groups and coaches who are positive role models; promoting positive development, such as aspiring to attend college, and diminishing the influence of negative role models (DeMeulenaere, 2010). According to Parker, Meek, and Lewis (2014), through sports programs young offenders experienced physical, social, and psychological benefits. They noted increased self-esteem, social skills, and positivity regarding the future amongst program participants. When part of a holistic program for the resettlement of young offenders, participants developed trust, multi-agency connections, renewed familial connections, and self-advocacy skills that supported their transition back into society. Bruening et al. (2015) discovered relationships created through a sports-based youth program were significant to a youth’s personal development and sense of belonging. These findings reflect the beliefs of attachment theorists, who place vast importance on attachment relationships for the development of youth. Through leisure, youth develop positive connections with the peers and community members who they learn alongside (Hopper & Yoshitaka, 2017).
Despite the one-on-one format of combat sports competition, the training takes place within a team environment. Boxing coaches hypothesised that the full-contact nature of combat sports training provides unique opportunities for youth to develop responsibility and awareness of others, as these social interactions require them to adjust themselves towards less able participants (Haudenhuyse, Theeboom, &
Coalter, 2012). Much like participating in martial arts or other sports, people train in combat sports for many reasons; exercise, comradery, stress relief, fun, or to compete. Actively competing in combat sports is not necessary to belong to an academy. Combat sports involvement can distance individuals from behavioural, social, and economic risk factors, which makes participation beneficial for violent or impulsive offenders, gang members, and young offenders who lack familial support (Jenkins & Ellis, 2011). Combat sport participation achieves this by strengthening youth’s relationships with family and friends, while providing alternate non-deviant peer networks. The encouraging and supportive atmosphere of combat sports can reduce their exposure to community risk factors (Jenkins & Ellis, 2011). In addition Jenkins & Ellis (2011) show how pride in affiliation with the combat sports community increases self-esteem and self- confidence in participants, resulting in an increased sense of self and decreased need to identify with antisocial behaviour. Combat sports participation may foster a sense of belonging and assist at-risk youth with developing healthy adult-child and peer relationships with responsible others.
The role of competition includes the development of competent competitive athletes, who may then serve as role models. Opportunities to achieve competitive goals is important for retaining talented athletes within the academy community (Haudenhuyse et al., 2012). Combat sports competition also has lessons to teach youth. Clementi (personal communication, May 23, 2017) stressed the development of accountability and resiliency that wrestling competition fostered in youth. He witnessed the growth of personal accountability in young athletes who had to ensure that they were living a healthy lifestyle and remaining consistent in their training because their athletic performance was impacted by their decisions. He also saw resiliency instilled in youth by learning from failure. Clementi (personal communication, May 23, 2017) explained that in the real world, people will not always succeed in everything that they do, which mirrors competition. The individual nature of combat sports competition heightens the development of accountability and resiliency in youth because there is nobody else to blame when they lose; there are no teammates to drop the ball or miss the shot (Clementi, personal communication, May 23, 2017). Clementi additionally identified that the hierarchical structure of combat sports communities reduces the confrontational and aggressive behaviour of troubled youth, especially fatherless young males who exhibited alpha complexes. He witnessed how young male offenders who had developed the sense of being above authority figures, and who were used to being in charge, resigned to taking their place as novice members of combat sports academies (personal communication, October 23, 2015). By succumbing to the natural ranking order among academy members, these youths were provided opportunities to develop psycho-social attributes under the influence of responsible adults and peers. This process mirrors the vertical transmission of culture …
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