The question I am to argue is “to what extent is sport like work”. I will be discussing both reasons for and against. I will be discussing the reading by Coakley, Snyder, Spreitzer, Brohm, Rigauer and Beal. Sociology helps us when it comes to lo0oking at sport as a social phenomenon. It provides us with concepts, theoretical approaches and research methods for describing and understanding human behaviour and social interactions as they occur in social and cultural contexts (Coakley 1998). The critical perspective of sociology is that it provides us with a fresh way of looking at the questions, which are obvious.
To understand sociology we need to understand culture. Coakley describes culture as “the ways of life of a group or society” (Coakley 1998). Culture is something, which we share, and consists of norm and values. Norms are the guidelines for conduct in specific contexts worth striving for (Snyder and Speitzer 1983). Values provide us with the belief that something is worth striving for. Another factor important to sociology is ideology. Ideology explores a set of ideas, attitudes and beliefs that are help by a particular group of people. Ideology helps us to make sense and give meaning to the social world.
Ideologies can be developed by different social groups. An ideology can be either dominant (powerful) or subordinate (have less power). Ideologies work in favour of the powerful and established groups i. e. the upper class white male. Dominant ideologies can be challenged by subordinate groups this results in social change. Ideology also helps us to explore and understand values; these include the dominant values of sport. The values include things like discipline, conformity, commitment, obedience to rules and hard work. An article by Brohm explores these values and explains how they are carried over into the workplace.
On the institutional, superstructural level, sport ideologically reproduces the world of work. It is a symbolic parallel of this world. This fundamental thesis of the sociological of sport holds that capitalist production relations are reproduced symbolically in the relations between the participants in the sporting mode of production”(Brohm 1978 p69). Sport is seen to be different from work. We portray sport as being something we do for fun, a way to escape the pressures of everyday life. But what we don’t realise is the values we conform to overlap with those which we use at work e. g. ommitment, hard work, machine like, maximum output efficiency and conformity to authoritarian.
The best example to describe this is a production line. A production line works on the principal of maximum output. Workers are trained like robots to methodically carry out the same task. The result of this is achieving maximum out put. An athlete works on the same principles. They carryout the same task repeatedly so that they can achieve their maximum output e. g. “Wolferman throws a javelin 600 times a week” (Brohm 1978 p68). By conforming to these values we unknowingly reproduce a capitalist society.
Capitalism identifies a specific mode of production. Marx identified two main social classes; bourgeoise and proletariat. Bourgeoise are the capitalist class who own the means of production. Proletariat are the working class who only own their labour power. The working class sell their labour to the working class in return for wages. Participating in sport teaches us values, we then take these values into the workplace. By doing this we reproduce a capitalist society which results in them making more money. We do this because we see sport as a form of play, and so it said that sport gives us a false consciousness.
A second reading I took was by Rigauer; the concept was very similar to Brohm. Work has been divided into small tasks and so no one person carries out the tasks to complete an entire product. This is very similar to sports training. Goals or tasks are broken down into smaller pieces and carried out either separately or in small groups (Rigauer 1981) However not all sports are the same, some sport are countercultural. Countercultural sports do not conform to the dominant values of sport and instead conform to their own values. These values are freedom, non-competition, expressive, done for own sake, based on participation and playlike.
Some examples of countercultural sports are skateboarding, snowboarding, water rafting, skiing, paragliding, surfing and windsurfing. Countercultural sports resist hegemony. Hegemony is the process whereby the subordinate class consents to the dominant ideology of the ruling class. This means that the working class take values given to them by the capitalists, accept them as right and conform to them. These ideas become naturalised and are accepted as common sense. Sport is then used to socialise the working class into this concept. The sports previously stated exhibit values that oppose those of the dominant sports culture.
Skateboarding can be a site of resistance to the ruling class hegemony (Beal 1995) However it is continually attempted to pull theses sports back to capitalist values. This is done by the government. The government set up governing bodies to organise and regulate the sport, they state set rules and have competitions. FFS (federation francaise de ski) took over fun skating and changed the rules to have them reflect those of traditional skiing events. There was also the NSA (national skateboarding association) set up in the United States (Beal 1995). Although countercultural sports resist the change they are still heavily commercialised.
The clothing worn for these sports/by those participating in these sport is sold in shops for a profit and so the capitalist society makes money. Those who are involved in corporate bureaucratic skateboarding were known as rats (Beal 1995) Both of the arguments are very strong and put forward proven ideas. However I feel that there is a stronger argument for ‘sport is like work’. I feel that the dominant values are taught to us at an early age. Were taught to conform to them and to eventually take them into the workplace. And so the capitalsit society is reproduced.