There is a piece written by Gladwell (2013) in The New Yorker Magazine provided on
Blackboard. You are responsible for reading it in addition to this week‟s textbook
Working definition of ‘deviance’
“Deviance is any thought, action or feeling that runs contrary to social
standards or expectations. It can be considered rule-breaking behaviour.
Deviance can be thought of on a continuum of tolerable behaviour. For
instance, on one end there is tolerable behaviour, on the other, extremely
problematic or unacceptable behaviour and all the shades of grey in between”
(Wilbert Leonard II, 1998).
Deviance is constricted by time; what may be deviant now may not be deviant
in 10 years
Deviance depends on who is making the definition
But what about something like Billy Bean from Moneyball? Is he being a deviant in the
way he revolutionized baseball statistics?
Because people associate sports with building character; deviance on the field is seen as a
sign that the fabric of societal morality is eroding.
Problems with Deviance in Sports
Those involved in sports, especially the athletes, are governed by many different sets of
Determine what is permitted and what isn‟t
Could include “team rules” – curfew, diet, punctuality, etc
o Unwritten rules also fall under this category
What is considered normal in one sport may be deviant in another
o Tennis players giving up points when ref makes incorrect call would
be seen as deviant in soccer
Actions being accepted in sports that may be “deviant” in other spheres of society, and
actions accepted in society that may be ”deviant” in sports. Actions of players for sport may be criminal on the street; like boxing or
Athletes who take same supplements as millions of non-athletes may be fined
and banned from the sport entirely because in that sport, it is deviant
Coaches treat players in a way that if teachers treated students like this, it
would be criminal or “deviant”
The norms in sports are different from the norms in other social worlds
We view motives of people in sports as positive because what they do, while
it may be extreme and even violent, they do for their team, which is seen as a
The types and causes of “deviance” in sports are so diverse that no single theory can
explain all of them.
Breaking curfew, alcohol abuse, getting into fights, abusing women, hazing
Too many potential deviant acts to name!
Training and performance in sports are now based on such new forms of science and
technology that people have not yet developed norms to guide and evaluate the actions of
athletes and others in sports.
Science and medicine were once only used for people who were ill
Athletes push their bodies to the limit – need miracles of science to stay on the
They push their bodies using vitamins and supplements so they can be all they
“Deviance” in sports often involves and unquestioned acceptance of norms, rather than
a rejection of norms.
Sports involves excitement and action, more accepting of crazy shit when it
All the crazy shit athletes do would be deviant in normal society
This leads many to see athletes as role models, even if what they do isn‟t safe
in regular, everyday life