Reflection Paper: Sociology of Sports

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Boston College
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Sports have over the years touched on many aspects of human existence, but the sociology of sports as a discipline has in many ways revolutionized sports. Sports remain a social phenomenon where socio-cultural patterns, organizations as well as structures are involved with sports. Like any other social aspect, sport is laden with other various aspects of crime being one of them. Crime has over the years increased steadily in sports as a social activity. It is from this premise that this reflection paper focuses on the aspect of crime irrespective of the magnitude in sports as well as its connection to sociology.

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Part 1

Reference is given to sports hooliganism where police released a photo of a man suspected of throwing a beer can at Orioles player (680 News, 2016). During the American League wild-card game, outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim of Baltimore Orioles was pelted with a beer can. Toronto police identified the culprit as an ardent and award winning journalist that is very passionate about baseball. Despite the identification by the police, the offender denied the allegations and claimed to have been drinking from a plastic cup. The issue highlighted the plight of players in the fields who are at risk of injury from hooligans disguised as fans. The issue of safety of players also comes to the limelight given the continued increase in similar cases but different sports.

There is also an aspect of racism where racial slurs were apparently directed at Hyun Soo Kim after the beer can was thrown at him. According to 680 News (2016), these are acts that illustrate the pathetic state of affairs concerning the state of affairs in sports. As on commentator stated, Ive heard that so much playing baseball, call me what you want, I dont care. You hear everything, we can hear everything, people cussing you, flipping you off, thats fine, but to go out of character, put us in harms way were here to play baseball, nothing more, nothing less and put us in harms way, thats not part of the game, not part of any sport,

The incident drew mixed comments though majority pointed on the unacceptable nature of hooliganism depicted by the can throwing fan as well as racial slurs directed at Kim. Major League Baseball was also roped in the incident to sternly warn of the dire consequences that fans resorting to dangerous actions will be subjected. It also highlighted its commitment to the provision of a safe as well as "fan-friendly atmosphere in their games. In the same footing, Toronto Blue Jays offered a statement to object to the hooligan nature of the incident strongly. They also offered an apology and assured their fans, players, staff as well as visiting teams of their safety. The need for cooperation with the Toronto Police came in handy in the identification and ensuring that justice is served to the offender.

Part 2

Sociology of sports centers on sports being a reflection of society. Despite the various analytical perspectives concerning the subject, it helps in gaining insight into the various aspect of society. Sports play a significant role in societies mainly through offering a means of recreation as well as physical exercise. It also plays a cohesive role where social relationships are building in addition to the creation of a huge number of jobs throughout the globe (Hylton, 2010).

Despite the many positives that are attributable to sports, several dysfunctional consequences are related and associated with sports. There are early cases of conflict cases mainly touching on racism that is similar to the case in part 1 above. For example, there is an English fan song dating back in the 70s "there ain't no black in the Union Jack, send the bastards back" an indication of the seriousness of the issues. As a result, the issue of conflict has been a widespread concern in various sports and not only baseball. Major onslaught has been on football players playing for foreign teams abroad.

Racism related to sports touches on overt racism, color-blind racism as well as micro-aggressions or inferential racism. While many incidents are mainly concerned with the public attention as well as attracted media debate on some fan groups, they also focus on hooliganism and violence. It is from this foundation that such studies focus on the extent as well as nature of such actions. Though fan behavior is a major issue, there are various aspects of racism that has been fueled by the increase in immigration. Many countries today face a huge number of immigrants that are talented in various social aspects with sports included. Like in any other field, natives tend to feel threatened by the presence of immigrants that show talent as in the case of Hyun Soo Kim.

Sports (Baseball/Football) Culture

The hooligan debate has been associated with the vague resentment towards foreigners or immigrants who become convenient targets for hooliganism. Sports has for many years been a reflection of the society both regarding the sport itself as well as the fans, players and the entire body of the game. On the other hand, it is important to understand that players are driven by their individual attributes, social circumstances as well as the individual social interaction pattern history.

According to (Giulianotti and Klauser, 2010), Representing sport has over the years been used as an escapist route to downplay the effect or magnitude of hooliganism as well as racism/feminism or any other ism in sport. The main factor lies in the delivery of audiences attention to advertisers where it must be held. There is also the excitement and conventionalism where rules are changed in the game. The use of dramatization of sports through commentary using rivalries and stories has also been used to promote hooliganism. Another factor is the appeal to sensibilities of the bigger share of the audience that is represented by white males. Finally, there is the consumerism that is manifest through representations as well as narrations. All these factors in many respects downplay the magnitude of all forms of hooliganism in sports as seen in the case of Kim and Toronto Blue Jays.

When the above factors are combined, players are incensed to exhibit extraordinary attributes that make them rise above others. On the other hand, each sport has its vocabulary that is used by spectators, players and other entities involved in that sport. Therefore, the underlying factors that are seen to promote hooliganism stem from the deep ambivalence among groups that are seen to hinge their racist policies and practices on the superiority of whites. Despite the evident facts relating to the aspect of racism in sport, sociology in sport highlights aspects of racism, anti-Semitism, racial perspective as well as racial prejudice.

Research in Sociology of Sport

Despite the previous research touching on the sociology of sports, there is need to formulate strategies to control on the field violence as well as eliminate all forms of prejudice in sports. The need to change interactional approach is now more evident than ever considering the increased frequency of violent or conflict-related cases in sports. The need to have sanity as in the case of Toronto Blue Jays baseball game indicate the dire need to refocus on the increased consumerism and ingrain an aspect of sanity in games (Darnell, 2010). Situational influences, when combined with psychological traits, are known to influence behavior which calls for a positive approach to create positive influences.

Throwing of a beer can at outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim of Baltimore Orioles during the American League wild-card game is an indication of having a short-fuse present. It is from the short-fuse that the culprit was incensed to throw the beer can an outright rash and hostile action. From research, it is common to have players illustrate high levels of discipline unless they are forced to react to psychological behavior where they become aggressive snapping to violence. For example, Kim was justified as many quarters would argue to reiterate, but his lack thereof illustrates a different perspective in a reflection of his society (Sugden, 2010).


Sport in many regards helps in depicting a true picture of a society and its values. The case of American League wild-card game where outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim of Baltimore Orioles was pelted with a beer can is an illustration of the diversity of values in the Canadian society. While there are many perspectives through which the action may be analyzed, the fact stands that there are differences in values in various societies. With sport, these differences are well reflected, and from such reflection, values can be eroded or strengthened.


680 News, (2016). Police release photo of man suspected of throwing beer can at Orioles player.

Retrieved from, S. C. (2010). Power, politics and "sport for development and peace": Investigating the

utility of sport for international development. Sociology of sport journal, 27(1), 54-75.

Giulianotti, R., & Klauser, F. (2010). Security governance and sport mega-events: Toward an

interdisciplinary research agenda. Journal of Sport & Social Issues, 34(1), 49-61.

Hylton, K. (2010). How a turn to critical race theory can contribute to our understanding of

race,' racism and anti-racism in sport. International review of the sociology of sport, 45(3), 335-354.

Sugden, J. (2010). Critical left-realism and sport interventions in divided societies. International

Review for the Sociology of Sport, 45(3), 258-272.

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