The Sociological and Anthropological Effects of Sports

Introduction

Sports have been vital in the development of our human cultures. They serve a variety of functions and are ubiquitous, wherever there are human beings there will be sport. In this report the first topic will be the historical development of sport, followed by the negative effects of sport and then lastly the positive effects of sport.

Part One – Development of Sport

What is the link between sport and society? Does sport reflect society and its institutions? Or does it display society's principles and values, like cooperation and fairness, teaching the spectators? Or is it the other way around? Is sport a method of change in society? The answer is that sport is all of these things. Sport over the years has become a worldwide phenomenon capable of bringing people closer together and of creating interest and involvement in living a happier and healthier life. Although most of the sports we love and cherish today are only a few centuries old the development began a few millennia ago. The reason for their development is quite clear, boredom, but the effects they had and continue to have on societies is fascinating.

It is theorized that the first sports developed within nomadic hunting tribes. Ancient human societies would hunt animals and eat them to survive and for the rest of the time they had to find something to do. They practiced their skills in sports of many kinds with skills that would readily transfer into actions performed during the hunt. They helped to decide the societal order also, the most skilled hunters and athletes were the alpha males and they got first choice at women, food, etc. But then this all changed around ten thousand years ago with the advent of farming and allowed for more creative and physically challenging sports.

The most ancient known sports are hurling (similar to field hockey) in Ireland, harpastum (similar to rugby) in Rome, cuju (similar to association football) in China, Mesoamerican ballgame (similar to basketball) in Mesoamerica and polo in Persia. Of these sports only two are still played to any significant degree - hurling and polo.

Part Two – Negative Effects of Sport

Sports can be both good and bad, but mostly they are a positive part of our lives. Most negative effects of sports are unintentional and preventable to some degree, but that is the price we pay, the benefit far outweighs the harm.

The first major negative effect of sports is death and injury. Every year thousands of people are injured and some die during sporting events, these injuries results from overexertion, inattentiveness or may just be accidental, whereas the deaths result also from breaking the rules and carelessness. Around 30 million American children and teens participate in organized sports every year and 3.5 million of them suffer some sort of injury due to sports, 62% occur during practice.

Another major concern is violence due to sports. There have been many accounts of rioting due to sports, when fans get really into the game mod mentality takes over and the mayhem begins. Lots of property damaged is incurred and most time people are injured. Two well know and fairly recent riots are The Montreal Stanley Cup Riot (Jun 9th, 1993) and The Vancouver Stanley Cup Riot (June 14th, 1994), the first due to a victory and the second due to a loss. In Montreal to celebrate fans set bonfires, overturned cars, broke windows and looted stores and by morning 15 buses and 47 police cars were destroyed. 119 people and 49 police were injured and 115 people were in jail, the damage was more than ten million dollars. The damage in Vancouver was not as bad, but more people were injured, more than 200 people were injured and one man was shot in the head with a rubber bullet and spent a month in a coma and then spent 9 months in prison.

Drugs in sports are a major health concern not just for the athletes but also for teenagers. Why? Because they looks up to these athletes as role models and when they see they use drugs like anabolic steroids to increase they performance and they see the results of their use they think ‘Hey why don't I use them too? Then I can be stronger and leaner and fitter, etc.' But what they don't realize, or do and overlook, are the negative effects of these drugs.

Part Three - Positive Effects of Sports

Sports are a wonderful invention of the human species. Here are some benefits of sports:

• Promote a healthy lifestyle

• Helps combat diseases like obesity and diabetes

• Integrate communities, bring people closer together

• Develop hand-eye coordination, speed, agility, endurance, strength, etc.

• Teach lessons for life - self discipline, self confidence, responsibility, teamwork, friendly competition, mutual respect, fair play, perseverance, accountability, etc.

• A key defining feature of culture, make life richer

• Sports make for great entertainment, from playing to watching to sports themed movies

Sports for our children and young adults is a tool that teaches them life lessons and helps them to be their best physically and mentally, take our school motto “Be fit to learn and learn to be fit” as a balanced approach that should be used to help develop physically and mentally. Sports also teach that winning isn't always everything and then some things should be done just for enjoyment, for example most kids would rather be playing on a losing team than to be benchwarming on a winning team. Sports help also to make friends, improve self-confidence and morale, helped academic performance, involve parents and adults in their lives.

The health benefits on sports are probably the most important. Here are some health benefits:

(from www.letkidsplay.ca/docs/LKPPositiveImpactSports.pdf)

• Builds strong bones and strengthens muscles

• Achieves a healthy weight

• Promotes good posture and balance

• Improves fitness

• Strengthens the heart

• Increases relaxation

• Enhances healthy growth and development

Estimates for Sports Injuries 1998
(1998 Statistics should be released from the CPSC in July of 2000)

Sport & Product Code

Estimated # of Cases

Age Percents Age 0-4

Age Percents Age 5-14

Age Percents Age 15-24

Archery (1235)

3,110

2.8

22.7

27.5

Ball Sports (3236

41,534

5.7

54.3

20.1

Baseball (5041)

180,582

4.5

50.4

23.3

Basketball (1205)

631,186

0.6

31.5

46.4

Bicycles (5040)

577,621

7.1

55.0

15.2

Bleachers (1294)

19,161

14.5

50.3

12.4

Bowling (1206)

23,130

5.0

17.8

16.7

Boxing (1207)

9,183

0.0

8.6

54.4

Cheerleading (3254)

18,858

0.0

44.8

54.8

Dancing (3278)

38,427

3.5

19.2

36.3

Diving or Diving Boards (1278)

11,124

2.3

40.8

31.2

Exercise w/o Equipment (3299)

123,177

0.4

13.9

26.3

Exercise Equipment (3277)

33,320

17.4

25.8

9.7

Field Hockey (1295)

4,666

1.7

43.3

49.3

Football (1211)

355,247

0.3

45.0

43.1

Golf (1212)

46,019

6.4

23.0

7.5

Gymnastics (1272)

31,446

3.8

77.3

16.0

Hockey (not specified)(3272)

42,285

2.4

36.2

34.5

Horseback Riding (1239)

64,692

1.5

20.2

15.3

Ice Hockey (1279)

22,231

0.6

35.3

37.4

Ice Skating (3255)

33,741

2.4

46.4

18.8

In-Line Skating (3297)

110,783

0.7

61.1

18.7

Martial Arts (3257)

23,018

1.1

23.5

30.6

Roller Skating (3216)

53,681

2.2

60.5

12.5

Rugby (3234)

8361

0.0

0.1

65.9

Skateboards (1333)

54,532

2.7

50.7

39.5

Skating (not specified)(3217)

27,481)

2.4

61.5

16.2

Snow Skiing (3283)

81,787

0.5

14.2

15.9

Soccer (1267)

169,734

0.5

45.7

37.6

Softball (5034)

132,625

0.3

19.2

30.1

Squash, Racquet Ball or Paddle (3256)

8,984

0.0

8.9

26.3

Swimming (3274)

49,331

5.2

40.1

20.7

Tennis (3284)

22,665

1.0

18.8

19.2

Track & Field (5030)

15,560

0.0

40.9

54.6

Trampolines (1233)

95,239

9.6

69.6

14.0

Volleyball (1266)

66,191

0.1

25.2

42.6

Water Skiing (1264)

14,487

0.0

4.7

32.9

Weight Lifting (3265)

60,039

5.9

12.1

34.7

Wrestling (1279)

43,917

1.3

36.4

51.7

Works Cited

American Association of University Women (AAUW). 1999. Gender Gaps: Where Schools Still Fail Our Children. New York: Marlowe and Company.

Coakley, Jay. 2001. Sport in Society: Issues and Controversies (seventh edition). Boston, MA: McGraw Hill.

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