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Fair and Foul: Beyond the Myths and Paradoxes of Sport

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Casey Curran

Sociology of Sport

Fall 2011

Author: D. Stanley Eitzen

Title: Fair and Foul: Beyond the Myths and Paradoxes of Sport

Reviewed work: 8/29-10/5

Chapter 1: The Duality of Sport


This introductory chapter explains the format used in this work by identifying the duality that exists in sport. Duality exists in sports and meaning that there are two sides to every situation both good and bad. Noting that a paradox is something that is presented in a contradictory nature or something that is a commonly accepted opinion, Eitzen lays the foundation for examining diverse array of topics that have and will continue to impact sport. Sport mirrors society. Society is becoming more and more involved in sports because it can change people lives mentally, physically, and socially.

  • “American sport embodies American values—striving for excellence, winning, individual and team competition, and materialism” (Page 8).

In American society everyone strives to be the best at whatever they do. This struck to me because in sport we want to do the same thing. I think parents should let kids participate in sports because it teaches them basic values of American society. And sport does reflect society’s values and norms.  

  • “In today’s world, where we are so fragmented, an arena is one place left where we come together to share” (Page 9).

This made me think of Hurricane Katrina and the effects it had on New Orleans, home of the New Orleans Saints. The Saints in a relief effort used their dome to house thousands of civilians in need of help after the hurricane. After a couple years of rebuilding the community, the Saints fans had one thing going for them and it was the Saints. They won the Super Bowl in 2010 and the community and the city of New Orleans felt as one again.

Chapter 2: Sport Unites, Sport Divides


Sport can help bring dividing nations closer together. Sport can also be used to unite groups within one country. But sport also has the potential to divide people. Sport unites and divides the society into three categories: class, race, and gender. Class divides the rich from the poor, but as far as the gap in between it seems pretty irregular. Race can unite and divide as well; whites and African Americans can make friends through sport. In society women are second to men and when it comes to sports the same is true. The male dominance of sport is very clear to society and the media.

  • “Sport can encourage division rather than unity” (Page 25)

In other nations sports can erupt and cause lots of disaster. For examples El Salvador and Honduras soccer matches erupted in massive violence. This led to a war between the two nations. This is the most extreme case I found, but this is a realization that sport can become the catalyst that ignites fire.

  • “Women are second to men in power, earnings, and job opportunities” (Page 32).

It is hard to say, but this statement is true based on how are society operates. Its not that I don’t like to watch women’s sports, its just that they are less action packed.  If society like men’s sports more than women’s sports of course men will have more earnings and job opportunities.

Chapter 3: Names, Logos, Mascots, and Flags: The Contradictory Uses of Sports Symbols


A symbol is much more than a simple meaning. Symbols can be anything from a word, gesture, or object. These symbols carry out a particular meaning of a group and are very important when it comes to sports. For example, the symbolisms of baseball centers around are journey through life. In baseball, the journey is taken by the batter, who runs around the bases and returns to home plate. Home plate symbolizes are original unity with the world. Leaving home begins are journey through life.  And what is discovered at the end of the journey, paradoxically, is home.  

  • “Symbols have the power to both unite followers and divide groups into “us” and “them” (Page 41).

Symbols are used to separate one group from another. Each group has a identity that is displayed in its name and it reflects what the group represents. This creates tension when two groups or different symbols collide with each other. For example, gangs in the U.S. use distinctive clothing and colors to set them apart from others. Symbols are good for establishing identification, but bad because it creates non-unity between peoples.

  • “Lady” is used to “evoke a standard of propriety, correct behavior, and elegance,” characteristics that are decidedly unathletic” (Page 49-50).

This brought to my attention that I didn’t know the meaning behind “lady”.  At Washburn we call all of are women sports with the same term. The book also states that it refers to women as helpless and can’t do things for themselves. If the term is so offensive by definition, I don’t understand why it still being used to describe women’s sports teams.

Chapter 4: Sport is Fair, Sport is Foul


This chapter explains the socialization process in which sport aids in achieving positive goals. Many young people will take away life long characteristics traits from sport. They learn to strive for excellence, to work hard, to sacrifice, to communicate and work with others, and to be self disciplined. This view is counteracted by examining how unethical approach can lead to an assortment of sports ills. Sport can be corrupted by academics, recruiting violations, misuse of performance enhancing drugs, violence on the field, disrespecting opponents, and deviant behavior off the field. All in all, socialization in sports can benefit a person positively or negatively.

  • “In this in-your-face, whip-your-butt climate, winning at any price has become the prevailing code of conduct” (Page 63).

Winning has become everything in sport and society. If you’re not at the top of the chain, then you’re doing something wrong. A mentality that gets the job done by any means necessary. This mentality has rubbed off on society and is becoming something we value.  

  • “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t trying” (Page 65).

Every player wants to have the advantage and if it’s cheating to get that advantage then why not try and get away with it. This is a foul part of sport in most peoples eyes and sends the wrong message that winning is more important than playing fair. I believe all of it should be eliminated from the game.



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