Deviance in Sports

Deviancein Sports

Deviancein Sports

Deviancein sports is common and its history can be traced to the times whensports started becoming competitive. Deviance refers to a scenario inwhich the traits, ideals, or the actions of a particular player areperceived by other people to have fallen outside the range of normsthat is considered to be normal. This paper will address differentconcepts in sport deviance.

Challengesthat people face when studying sport deviance

Thereare four challenges that one is likely to be faced with when studyingsport deviance. The first challenge arises from the fact that thecauses and forms of deviance in the field of sports are divers to anextent that no single theory can be able to explain all of them. Forexample, a single theory may not be applied to explain the conduct ofsports people when they are off the field and playing with injuries.The second unique challenge arises from the fact that players areallowed to engage in behaviors (such as boxing and speeding) thatwould otherwise not be accepted in other spheres. Third, sportdeviance, in most cased, involve over-conformity, which makes it achallenge to distinguish negative versus positive deviance. Lastly, alot of science has been introduced into sports to an extent that somehealth foods have been associated with improvement in performance.

Differencesbetween constructionist and absolutist approaches that are used tostudy sport deviance

Theabsolutist approach is based on a notion that social norms arefounded on fundamental principles constituting an unchangingcriterion for the identification of what can be regarded to be eviland good or distinguishing wrong from right. The constructionistapproach, on the other hand, holds that sport deviance takes placewhen traits, ideas, and actions get outside boundaries that aresocially determined and that are used by people to differentiatebetween unacceptable and acceptable conducts.

Fromtheir definitions, it is evident that the key difference is the factthat absolutist approach always assume that the norms that arerequired in the society represents norms that have already beendefined by moral or social ideals, while constructionist approachholds that norms emerge or are constructed as people continue tointeract with each other. The absolutist approach also assumes thatdeviance takes place when one’s conduct departs from sociallypredetermined norms while the constructionist approach holds thedeviance takes place as people try to negotiate the boundariesbetween what they will consider to be unacceptable and acceptable. Inaddition, the constructionist approach creates room for people withpower to have more influence in setting normative boundaries whileabsolutist approach does not create chances for power influence sinceboundaries are already determined by the norms set by the society.

Sportethic and norms that define it

Sportethics refers to a set of standard or norms that a given group ofpeople in sport performance or in power considered to be acceptableand reaffirm them as the fundamental or the dominant criteria to beused in determining the identity and the definition of who can beregarded to be a sportsman or an athlete. This set of standards isused to regulate the conduct of sportspeople by providing a criterionthat is used by sport managers to determine when players have donewrong and when they have done right.

Sportethics have four major norms. First, athletes express theirdedication to the game. This dedication is confirmed by the athlete’sunwavering commitment, meeting the expectations of other athletes,and making all necessary sacrifices. Secondly, all athletes strive tobe distinguished. Their strive is confirmed by their tendency to seekfor perfection and improve performance, where winning is consideredas a key indicator of one’s achievement and the willingness to keepon pushing the current limits for a better performance in the future.Athletes are always willing to accept risk and address those risks byplaying through pain with the objective of proving to coaches andteammates that one is not ready to succumb to the fear of pain andother pressures in any circumstance in which the teammates and thegame rely on their proper participation. Lastly, athletes do notaccept any obstacles that seem to block their pursuit of successpossibilities, even when all odds appear to be going against them.

Differencesexisting between deviant under-conformity and over-conformity

Inunder-conformity, deviance occurs when an athlete rejects or ignoresnorms. This type of ignorance is characterized by subnormal actionsthat may lead to anarchy in extreme cases. In over-conformity, on theother hand, sport deviance takes place when an athlete accepts normswithout questioning them or evaluating them in a rational way. Thistype of deviance is characterized by supra-normal actions and leadsto fascism in extreme cases. In both cases, the conduct of an athleteconsidered gets outside the normal range of actions, but the natureof actions and the possible outcome are different.

Athleteswho are likely to over-conform

Over-conformityis more likely to occur among several groups of athletes. The firstgroup of athletes includes those who have an extremely lowself-esteem, but they wish to be accepted by teammates and peers inthe field of sports. This group of athletes perceives thatover-conformity is the only way to hide their low self-esteem. Thesecond category of athletes includes those who feel that theirachievement in sports is the only viable way of making a name andgaining significance in the world. Other athletes who are at a higherrisk of over-conforming include those who participate in televisedgames, playing to receive performance contracts or a scholarship, andthose who strive to earn public fame.

Reasonsfor a high prevalence of substances used to enhance performance

Thehigh prevalence is attributed to many factors, but four of them aremore significant. First, a high stake in sports has boosted researchas well as the development of performance enhancing substances.Secondly, a heavy emphasis on the self-medication has created a roomfor athletes to use substances that enhance their performance. Third,technology-based fascination has lured athletes to use it with theobjective of pushing their performance beyond the ordinary humanperformance. Fourth, the competitive nature of sports dictates has towin to continue playing, which tempt athletes to enhance theirperformance using substances in order to remain relevant. Other minorcauses of a high prevalence include pressure from coaches as well asother stakeholders to perform, evolution of gender relations, andbody rationalization.


Devianceis a common concept in sports and it is mainly caused by pressure tosucceed and remain relevant of build a name through sports. One’sperception about sport deviance may be influenced by the approachthat has been adopted and used to study deviance. All athletes areexpected to observe sport ethics in spite of the challenges andpressures they undergo.