Deviance In Sports: Four Categories Of Violence

2279 words - 10 pages

March 8th, 2004 was supposed to be nothing more than a competitive and action packed regular season hockey game between feuding rivals, the Colorado Avalanche and the Vancouver Canucks. The game slipped away from the Canucks, with the Avalanche up 6-2 heading into the third period. The heated contested already had its fair share of fighting majors, but an incident that happened late in the third period shocked the more than 18,000 fans in attendance at Rogers Arena, the hockey community, and North America. After failing to instigate a fight with Avalanche forward Steve Moore, Todd Bertuzzi of the Vancouver Canucks grabbed the back of Moore’s jersey, landed a vicious punch to the back of Moore’s head, before slamming him face first on the ice and falling on top of him. Moore had to be helped off the ice on a stretcher, and has never returned to the NHL. Bertuzzi, on the other hand, was suspended for 20 games by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, and is still playing in the NHL for the Detroit Red Wings. This is one of many examples of deviance in sports, and how a win-at-all costs mentality can drive athletes to act in extreme manners. As a result of the growing commercialization of sports, athletes are socialized at young ages to believe that winning is everything, and that stopping at nothing will help you succeed. Athletes will do almost anything to gain the upper hand in their respective sports, whether it is through engaging in excessive on-field violence or through the use of performance enhancing drugs, excessively committing themselves to their sport, or by violating league rules and policies. In sports, deviance is viewed in a different light than in the outside world. As professional athletes strive towards conforming to sport ethics and strive towards new personal goals and league records, over conformity presents problems with the social setting of the sport.

In the world of Major League Baseball players are judged on the production numbers (home runes, runs batted in etc.) they bring to the team. Each team has its select players who are expected to be the big home run hitters, who drive in the winning runs for the team. But what happens when a player can no longer hit those game winning home runs? Often times, players turn to alternative means, such as performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) to reach their goal of becoming that dominant batter once again. Sociologist Robert Merton’s anomie and strain theory suggests that “deviance not only originates from the individual, but also from the structure of society, which propels some people into deviance” (Bereska, 1968). When star baseball players are unable to reach their goal of hitting home runs, the fear of loosing respect from the management staff, teammates and the media forces them to resort to illegitimate means of attaining such goals (use of PED’s). Merton classified this struggle as the deinstitutionalization of the means; more simply understood as, “…attaining the institutionalized...

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