Sociological issues in sport Essay Sample

Functionalism is frequently referred to as the consensus theory because it does non turn to the issue of struggle in society. and functionalists believe that society operates in a harmonious manner that maintains itself in a province of balance. staying healthy and coordinated and any sudden patterns that may upset the balance are rejected:

“Sociologists who use functionalist theory assume that society is an organized system of interconnected parts held together by shared values and processes that create consensus among people”

( Coakley. 1998. p. 32 )

From a functionalist position a consensus incorporating shared norms and values is critical to the operation of society as order flows from consensus. A clean illustration of this is a football squad. the participants and staff want to win ( shared norms and values ) and they are willing to assist each other out to accomplish this. therefore the whole squad and staff contribute.

A functionalist attack is popular with sociologists taking to seek and continue the position quo in society. they believe that anything that may upset the balance such as inharmoniousness or exclusion are rejected. From a functionalist position. athletics is used to advance common values held indispensable to the integrating and development of a society. McPherson. Curtis and Loy ( 1989. p. 102 ) believe that “all groups strive to keep the societal order. and that athletics can ease this process” . Functionalists want to demo how athletics is a valuable subscriber to societal stableness that benefits society every bit good as persons. because from a functionalist position athletics would be seen to assist integrating within society as it gives people something in common with aliens. and strengthens their relationship with friends.

The Government purposes to better wellness and they identify how athletics is a agency of this ( Appendix 1 ) . the attack to accomplishing this is preponderantly a functionalist attack in that they believe athletics is an inspiration and a cherished subscriber to wellness. The Government believes that if they increase chances and better entree to installations for all people. so their end of improved wellness will be attained.

This somewhat nonreversible position on athletics will be analysed throughout this assignment. placing whether or non the Governments usage of athletics acknowledges certain factors sing inclusion and exclusion or are their policies and aims insufficiently prejudiced and equivocal. The strengths and failings of the policies will be examined from a functionalist position and an apprehension will be gained as to whether or non they are feasible in a society of struggle.

Government’s usage of athletics

The Department of Culture. Media and Sport ( DCMS ) has laid out policies and aims for athletics and their chief aim is to increase engagement in athletics and physical activity across the whole population ( Appendix 2 ) . which in bend will assist to better wellness and hopefully supplying a greater quality of life for all ( Appendix 3 ) . Harmonizing to National Statistics Online “In 2000. 27 per cent of misss and 20 per cent of male childs aged between 2 and 19 were overweight” ( Appendix 4 ) ( www. nationalstatistics. gov. United Kingdom ) so this gives an apprehension as to why the Government wants to seek and advance athletics. The Government states the benefits that athletics and informal physical activities can hold in lending to good wellness. An over-emphasis on the positive effects of athletics is seen and to cite Hylton et Al ( 2001. p. 21 ) ; that from a functionalist attack the policy has “an unambiguous useful statement that athletics is good for health” and it doesn’t place that non everyone can play athletics. Further on in Hylton et al’s text ( 2001. p. 130 ) they province that “for many non-participants. athletics is less a beginning of wellness addition than an activity ripe with possible for injury” .

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The Government has identified that to better engagement they need to supply more chances ( Appendix 5 ) to as broad a scope of athleticss installations possible and at every degree. from the “playground to the podium” ( World Wide Web. civilization. gov. United Kingdom ) ( Appendix 9 ) .

From a functionalist position this would promote engagement from all countries of society regardless of sex. age. race. gender or category as the position does non know apart against persons. From a functionalist point of position the policy over-exaggerates the benefits of playing athletics. and Coakley ( 2003. p. 40 ) believes it doesn’t address “the accent on physical power” which may demo bias towards certain groups in society. and this is one of the grounds why women’s athletics has failed to be every bit large as men’s. and one of the grounds why the Paralympic Games is non every bit large as the Olympics.

Related to bettering wellness and opportunities the DCMS realises that “Everyone deserves to hold entree to the really best athleticss opportunities” ( Appendix 6 ) ( www. civilization. gov. United Kingdom ) . From a functionalist position if all members of a society had the opportunity to take part in athletics ( Appendix 8 ) it would assist advance societal connexions between people by conveying them closer together. so they would be lending to developing a moral consensus which the society needs to map. but harmonizing to Horne. Tomlinson and Whannel ( 1993. p. 103 ) the position doesn’t realise that people are “differently rewarded” and it “neglects the nature of power and privilege” . and Dewar ( 1993 ) recognises that athletics is where dominant cultural groups maintain their power and form athletics to reflect their ain involvements. which leads to societal inequality.

From a functionalist mentality. holding featuring installations and an betterment in entree available to all would assist bring forth integrating within the community. leting people to pass on with others through athletics. giving them something in common with aliens and set uping friendly relationships. Entree to installations would help in leting people to allow off steam in an undisruptive mode. it would besides educate kids. and harmonizing to Koss ( 2001 ) . intending they are able to develop as persons who contribute to their community in a positive and meaningful manner. From a functionalist attack one of the chief advantages of supplying more entree to people is that it would better wellness degrees on a national footing. which Hylton et Al ( 2001. p. 129 ) agree with saying that “policy displacements throughout the 1990’s reflected the realization that single additions through activity were shared by the wider society” .

Supplying greater entree to installations would possibly better engagement degrees but would still socially except some members of society and Collins and Kay ( 2003 ) suggest that if members of society are hapless so they have a low degree or narrow scope of engagement opportunities available to them. The cost of come ining certain installations would intend some people would non be able to afford to take part. due to them holding less disposable income. and Horne et Al ( 1999. p. 104 ) propose that “participation is non of personal choice” . but upon the “financial resources available” . and Eitzen ( 1996 ) summed this up noticing that athleticss engagement requires money and leisure clip and the upper categories have more of both which Bordieu ( 1984 ) describes as “cultural capital” which is gained from upbringing and instruction.

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However some of the major jobs in athleticss engagement have been identified by the Government and one of those is they want to better community athletics. and they want everybody to hold engagement chances. The Government hopes that by bettering equity at all degrees in athletics ( Appendix 7 ) . it will give the opportunity to under-represented groups in society to be come socially included through engagement. From a functionalist point of view Hylton et Al ( 2001. p. 54 ) argue that an “organisational position of fairness” is more of import than a “universal view” . and society equity is accomplishable as the societal system is dedicated to inclusion. Sports equity is a typically functionalist term as it means guaranting that athletics becomes every bit accessible to all members of society. Sports equity acknowledges the part that assorted parts of a society have in keeping stableness and the position quo.


When looking at the survey of athletics in society. the functionalist attack has founded the footing for legion determinations sing athletics at all degrees of engagement and is used to warrant the support of athletics by Governments. The functionalist attack is responsible for the publicity of athletics on both personal and societal degrees. because it highlights the positive effects. saying that athletics is a valuable societal establishment and a beginning of inspiration. Functionalist theory focuses attending on how athletics helps maintain the society runing swimmingly and influences persons to lend to the societal system.

From the Governments position it is easy to see that entree and engagement are intertwined ; by supplying more chances for people at all degrees in athletics. the sum of participants will lift. From a functionalist attack the Governments position is non sufficiently prejudiced. it overlooks certain jobs such as age and gender issues that do non back up the equilibrium in society.

A functionalist attack leads to overdone statements about positive effects of athletics. believing that anything that lasts is good ( is functional ) and it fails to see that athletics could falsify values. Functionalist theory is based on the premise that the demands of the persons in society reflect the demands of the societal system. it assumes homogeneousness of involvements and the desire to keep harmoniousness which is non the instance. non everyone in a society may desire to play a certain athletics. and functionalism can non separate whether people really want to play athletics at all.

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The manner the Government wants to advance athletics is typically from a functionalist position and is the best sociological theory to utilize when advancing athletics. Different sociological theories help place issues and jobs and Coakley ( 2003 ) believe the best theories are the 1s that make sense. so from the Governments point of position a functionalist attack is ideal because it believes athletics is an inspiration.


Bordieu. P. ( 1984 ) Differentiation: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Tast. Trans. Cambridge ( MA ) . Harvard University Press

Coakley. J. ( 1998 )

Coakley. J. ( 2003 ) Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies. ( Eight Edition ) . New York. McGraw Hill

Collins. M. and Kay. T. ( 2003 ) Sport and Social Exclusion. London and New York. Routledge

Dewar. A. ( 1993 ) Would all the Generic Women in Sport Please Stand Up? Challenges Confronting Feminist Sport Sociology. Quest. 45. p. 211-229

Eitzen. S. ( 1996 ) Classism in Sport: The Powerless Bear the Burden. Journal of Sport and Social Issues. 20. p. 95-105

Horne. J. Tomlinson. A. and Whannel. G. ( 1999 ) Understanding Sport: An Introduction to the Sociological and Cultural Analysis of Sport. London and New York. Routledge

Hylton. K. Bramham. P. Jackson. D. and Nesti. M. ( 2001 ) Sports Development: Policy. Procedure and Practice. London and New York. Routledge

Koss. J. ( 2001 ) . The Rules of the Games. In: ’01 First International Governance in Sport Conference. Brussels. 27th February. 2001. Belgique: The Business of Sport and Solidarity

McPherson. B. Curtis. J. and Loy. J. ( 1989 ) The Social Significance of Sport: An Introduction to the Sociology of Sport. Illinois. Human Kinetics

Web sites

Department for Culture. Media and Sport. ( 2004 ) . Sport and Health. ( online ) . DCMS. last accessed on 17 October 2004 at URL: hypertext transfer protocol: //www. civilization. gov. uk/sport/community_sport/sport_health

Department for Culture. Media and Sport. ( 2004 ) . Government Plan For Sport. ( online ) . DCMS. last accessed on 6 October 2004 at URL: hypertext transfer protocol: //www. civilization. gov. uk/sport/government_plan_for_sport

Department for Culture. Media and Sport. ( 2004 ) . Department for Culture.
Media and Sport. ( online ) . DCMS. last accessed on 17 October 2004 at URL:

hypertext transfer protocol: //www. civilization. gov. United Kingdom

Department for Culture. Media and Sport. ( 2004 ) . Community Sport. ( online ) . DCMS. last accessed on 17 October 2004 at URL: hypertext transfer protocol: //www. civilization. gov. uk/sport/community_sport

Department for Culture. Media and Sport. ( 2004 ) . Sporting Facilities. ( online ) . DCMS. last accessed on 17 October 2004 at URL: hypertext transfer protocol: //www. civilization. gov. uk/sport/sporting_facilities

Department for Culture. Media and Sport. ( 2004 ) . Equity in Sport. ( online ) . DCMS. last accessed on 17 October 2004 at URL: hypertext transfer protocol: //www. civilization. gov. uk/sport/community_sport/equity_in_sport

Department for Culture. Media and Sport. ( 2004 ) . Activity Co-ordination Team. ( online ) . DCMS. last accessed on 17 October 2004 at URL: hypertext transfer protocol: //www. civilization. gov. uk/sport/community_sport/ACT

Department for Culture. Media and Sport. ( 2004 ) . Sport. ( online ) . DCMS. last accessed on 17 October 2004 at URL: hypertext transfer protocol: //www. civilization. gov. uk/sport

National Statistics Online. ( 2004 ) . Health: Diet and Nutrition. ( online ) . National Statistics. last accessed on 9 November 2004 at URL: hypertext transfer protocol: //www. nationalstatistics. gov. uk/cci/nugget