Part 1. In the book titled Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies, Jay Coakley provides numerous insights necessary for a person taking a sporting sociology course. It was published by McGraw-Hill in New York and can be found in almost every bookshop or library in the country. In general, the book deals with the interaction of sports and society, the “mechanics” of sports community relations and behaviour. In fact, the text helps readers to develop critical thinking skills. Moreover, the author addresses the issues of social inequality, social control and violence in sports as some of the most important aspects. Other problems include media influence, bioethics, developmental sports, and globalization. In examining these aspects, Coakley stimulates critical thinking skills to make readers consider the role of physiology and sociology have in sports (Coakley, 2009). Importantly, every sportsperson, coach or even amateur needs to understand the relation between the sports and the issues that humans encounter in their daily interactions with other people.
Part 2. Notably, the authors raise numerous controversies and dilemmas in the sports industry. Although the material is mainly confined to the situation in the USA, readers can also find certain similarities with the trends in the global sporting environment. The book highlights many issues, including competition, politics, race, children and females in sports. Using an issue-oriented approach, the author analyzes every issue to determined the role sports play in society. The book discusses current sporting activities considered controversial based on sociologist and psychologist’s point of view. For instance, specialists study people’s behaviour, attributes and the processes that exist in a sports setting.
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First, looking at social inequality, the book examines the different forms of social division that exist and influence contemporary sports. For instance, many people are classified according to their condition, opportunity, and capability. Moreover, numerous sporting activities are influenced by religious beliefs, social class ideology, sexuality, age, and nationality. Consequently, most of the sport’s participants are chosen based on such grounds. Women, in particular, seem to be unfit for some of the sporting activities. Commercialization of sports, on the other hand, has led to members of the community being discriminated against based on their social status, nationality, race and education background (Coakley, 2009). Moreover, there exists the issue of reaffirmation of sports as an important idea and belief in society.
This process represents the perspectives of most members of the community, as well as ideas that favour the people that have power and influence within a certain social group. As most of them tend to promote their ideologies, sporting activities have become an actual battleground since most of the society members are reinforcing or challenging the principal ideas and beliefs. Third, there is a need to determine the existence of a relationship between social problems that occur in the society and the subcultures that emphasize sports, wellness, physical fitness and the overall physical appearance of the body of those participating in sports. There are different theoretical approaches that perceive sporting activities as a reflection of additional social institutions and social practices. Social sporting has been studied as a phenomenon that is both a reflection of the dominant social structure and a process (Coakley, 2009).
Each of these aspects has different values, meanings and ideologies between the various people in the community. All the values that sporting activities create within the society are constantly being challenged, promoted or modified. According to the author, the body and the various body parts are identified in different ways throughout history from one region to another. The changes in the physical shape of the body identify a social member with either the ability to take part in a sporting activity (Rensmann & Markovits, 2010). Lastly, there is the integration of sports in the major spheres of society. Sporting activities in society has been integrated into different areas. These areas include education, media, religion and politics. As far as the media are concerned, various television stations, billboards and other mass media instruments use billions of dollars for the rights to air different sporting activities.
In fact, many sports present distinct ideologies within society. Sports are influencing what people talk about on a day-to-day basis. For politicians, sports create pride and national identity among many people. Moreover, they are used by many nations to gain recognition and the show of power and influence. Sports play a vital role in education. For instance, the development of physical education in schools and interschool competition use a lot of money and resources to ensure the success of sports in schools. There is also an emerging relation between sports and religion. Many churches and other religious institutions have played a significant role in sponsoring various sporting events.
Part 3. From an individual perspective, the issue of social inequality limits most participants and coaches in a given sport to develop and show off their talents. The disadvantaged members of the community have unprecedented shortcomings as compared to the other advantaged members of the society. There are instances when a particular group of society receives more funding for the various sporting activities presenting an unfair advantage to other teams. During the selection of different sports, people are discriminated against based on their sexuality, race, age and social class. There is the issue of racial abuse from the fans watching the game that demoralizes some of the players. Reaffirmation of sports is an important aspect that should be considered in sports. Sports are an important aspect of the community, and everybody needs an equal chance to present their skills.
The manipulation of sports based on the power and status of the individuals badly paint the image of the people responsible. Sports have been known to coincide with community values as well as politics within the sports. Many fans find reaffirmation of the large social values through sports as it gives meaning to their lives. Being fans, the spectators engage in certain kinds of activities and pleasures that fulfil their desires (Rensmann & Markovits, 2010). Sports have evolved from playful activities, participation-oriented activity to a corporate activity guided by the general principles of commercialism and entertainment. The role of sports has also developed from being just about physical exercise, body development and good health to have a leading role in international relations and national development that gives meaning to political power and influence.
With the development of social media, sporting activities have been integrated into many aspects of life. The aspects of politics, religion, education and media play major roles in sporting activities in society. Such aspects are used to describe the use of sports as a means of influence to diplomatic (Henderson, 2013), social and political relations in many parts of the world. Sporting diplomacy may transcend the cultural differences existing and bring people from all divides together in developing true sportsmanship. The social aspects of politics have had both positive and negative influence on the overall development of sports in society.
- Coakley, J. (2009). Sports in Society: Issues and controversies. (10th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
- Henderson, S. (2013). Sidelined: How American sports challenged the black freedom struggle. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky.
- Rensmann, L. & Markovits, A. (2010). Gaming the world: How sports are reshaping global politics and culture.
- Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
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