Sport in Society – Chapter 10

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Social Class
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Categories of people who share a similar economic position in society based on a combination of their – Income – Wealth – Education – Occupation – Social connections
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Social Stratification
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Structured forms of economic inequalities that are part of the organization of everyday life; these inequalities influence life chances
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Life chances
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– opportunities to achieve economic success and gain economic power – vary from one social class to another in the social stratification system
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Class Relations
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the ways that social class is incorporated into everyday life in groups and society –
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Class Ideology
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a web of ideas and beliefs that people use to – understand economic inequalities – identify themselves in terms of their class position – evaluate the manner in which economic inequalities are and – should be integrated into the organization of social worlds
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Class ideology in the US is based on
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The American Dream Belief in MERITOCRACY – a form of social organization in which rewards and positions of leadership and power are earned when people prove that their characteristics and abilities are superior to those of others
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The American Dream
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a hopeful vision of boundless economic opportunities to succeed and consume in ways that lead to individual fulfillment and happiness.
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MERITOCRACY
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a form of social organization in which rewards and positions of leadership and power are earned when people prove that their characteristics and abilities are superior to those of others **Exclusive sport clubs are widely perceived as a legitimate privilege of people in the upper class. This is an outcome of the belief in meritocracy.
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Economic inequality, class relations, & sports
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– The meaning, organization, and purpose of sports are heavily influenced by money and economic power – Class relations in the US are based on an ideology in which economic success is equated with individual ability, worth, and character – Competitive power and performance sports reaffirm this ideology
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Class Relations & Power in Sports
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The most powerful people in sports are white men who control the resources of organizations that sponsor or re-present sports in the media – The most visible sports around the world revolve around the meanings and orientations valued by people with economic resources and power
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The \”Power 100\” in U.S. Sports
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The Sporting News ranks people with power in and over sports. The rankings change each year, but they always show that – Power is grounded in organizations and rests in the hands of the people who control those organizations – Athletes and coaches have little or no power to determine the structure and organization of sports
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Class Relations & Cultural Ideology
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Sports are valuable cultural vehicles for developing ideological \”outposts\” in the minds of people around the world – This is why transnational corporations spend billions of dollars to be primary providers of popular pleasure and entertainment
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Social Class & Sport Participation
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Social class & class relations influence who plays, who watches, who consumes information about sports, and the information that is available – Generally, the higher the social class, the greater the involvement and influence – Sport participation occurs in the context of class-related lifestyles
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Public Money & Private Profits
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Sports have become sites for transferring tax money to wealthy individuals and private corporations by – Using sales taxes to build facilities controlled by team owners and private corporations – Funding construction with tax-exempt bonds purchased by wealthy investors – Discounting property tax rates for sport facilities and development around stadiums – Granting tax deductions for tickets
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Class & Gender Relations
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– Girls and women in low-income households often face the greatest constraints to sport participation – Boys and girls from higher income families seldom face constraints that interfere with participation in after school and summer programs, camps, and leagues – Gender-related factors have a greater impact on sport participation patterns in lower income households
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Class & Gender in Men’s Lives
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– Ideas about sports and masculinity vary by social class – Boys from lower income backgrounds often see sport participation as a means of obtaining \”respect\” – Early, exclusive commitments to sports often are more likely among boys from lower income backgrounds
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Sport Participation and Disabilities
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Social class have a major impact on people with disabilities because they – Have an unemployment rate three times higher than people without disabilities – Are three times more likely to live in households making less than $15,000 – Are less likely to have access to transportation
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Class Relations in Action
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– Cuts in publicly funded sport programs disproportionately affect people with few economic resources (eg., school programs) – Tickets to pro sports events are too expensive for many people today — Ticket prices increase about 30% after new facilities are constructed (even when regressive sales taxes provide the capital)
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Economic & Career Opportunities in Sports
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– Career opportunities are limited and, for athletes, they are short term – The odds of making big money as an athlete are so low that nobody should bet on them! – Opportunities for women are growing but they remain limited – Opportunities for African Americans and other ethnic minorities are growing but remain limited
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Careers for Women
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– existed primarily in tennis and golf – Other pro sports have been formed recently, but they generate little revenue, and careers are insecure – Other job opportunities in sports remain limited by traditional gender ideology
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Careers for Ethnic Minorities
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– There are 35 times more African Americans working as doctors, lawyers, and engineers than there are black athletes making a good living in sports – Some minority athletes have faced entry and retention barriers in sports – Employment barriers for ethnic minorities remain in many sports, especially in positions of power in sport organizations
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Occupational Careers Among Former Athletes
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Former athletes might experience career benefits from playing sports if: – They learn interpersonal skills that carry over to off-the-field jobs – People with power and influence define them as good job prospects because they were athletes – They can use their sport reputations to create the publicity needed to achieve career success – They are well connected with others who can provide opportunities or advocate their interests
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Research suggests that playing sports may be related to success when it:
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– Enables people to complete degrees & gain knowledge about the world – Increases support from others – Leads to connections out of sports – Provides material resources – Expands identities and abilities – Does not lead to serious injuries
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Major Challenges Faced By Retiring Athletes
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1. Reconstructing identities in terms of activities, abilities, and relationships unrelated to sport participation 2. Renegotiating relationships with others so as to gain feedback and support for new identities
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Athletic Scholarships & Occupational Success
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– The perceived number of full athletic scholarships is exaggerated – One-third of 1% of all students in NCAA universities receive full athletic scholarships – Athletic scholarships are awarded year-to-year, but athletes are obligated for 4 years – Class and race/ethnicity is related to who receives scholarships in what sports – We don’t know how many students with athletic scholarships would attend school without such aid

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