Sport’s Global Contribution to Society

September 24, 2016


Historically, sport has been credited with playing a considerable role in the psycho-social growth and development of children and adolescents in the U.S. and Internationally. However, those that benefits do not cease upon one’s entry into the workforce, nor do they diminish outside of the courts and fields with which they are experienced or witnessed. The potentiality of the benefits of sport is quite pervasive, yet it remains anecdotal in nature (Vail, 2005). Many researchers have sought to document the benefits of involvement in sport, although increased attention and investigative efforts are needed to further describe its impact.

Sport’s potential to benefit individuals (as participants, administrators, organizers, spectators, etc.) and to contribute to the greater society may be organized into four categories: (1) education, (2) health, (3) social, and (4) economic (SMG, 2005). Scholars and sport advocates have documented benefits, including, but not limited to the following:

* academic achievement

* social adjustment

* physiological and psychological growth and development

* family and community development

* reduced crime

* nationalism

* economic development.

Yet, there may be a growing need for change. At the 1999 Symposium: American Sport at Century’s End, D. Stanley Eitzen, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Colorado State University, engaged scholars and policy makers to critically examine several paradoxes that continue to beleaguer sport in our nation.

While originally a trivial pursuit, Eitzen purports sport as a significant aspect of the human experience that, mirror society, combines spectacle with drama, and fulfills an insatiable desire by individuals to be a part of something special. However, association and participation in sport can no longer primarily be associated with outcomes once thought to be automatically derived from sport’s organization as play: entertainment, imagination, and a diversion from reality (e.g. work, relationships, and survival). Whereas the potentiality of sport to promote positive outcomes, such as positive adolescent development and well-being over the life span remains strong (Eccles, Templeton, Barber, & Stone, 2003), when sport is improperly supervised sport can promote poor moral and negative character development equally as well Eitzen highlighted a variety of examples to illustrate sports potentiality as a breeding ground for immoral and illegal behavior, including:

1. trash-talking and taunting

2. dirty play by players

3. dirty play taught by coaches

4. faking injury or being fouled

5. trying to hurt opponents

6. throwing spitball pitches and corked bats

7. use of illegal drugs

8. running the score up on opponents

9. fans unruly behavior (including racial and sexual slurs)

10. male locker room culture and coach homophobia, sexism

11. illegal recruiting, bribing, etc.

Without increased scrutiny on its organization, administration, delivery, and consumption of sport, sport becomes what Eitzen referred to as “a morally distorted sports world – a world where winning often supersedes all other considerations, where moral values have become confused with the bottom line” (p. 190). Therefore, a critical examination of sportsmanship should assist in shaping the research agendas of youth sport policy reviewers and advocates around the globe.

Dr. Diaz was awarded by MentorCoach as their 2009 Fellow for Personal and Executive Coaching. Having won the Nike-Heinrich’s Scholar Award, she received her National Coaching License from U.S. Soccer. As a Positive Coaching Alliance Double-Goal Coach Award Nominee and a recipient of the N.C. State University Outstanding Teaching Assistance Award, Stephanie’s standard for excellence in teaching, advising, training, coaching, and working with and for others ranks second to none.

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