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The Social Function of Sports

January 26, 2009
"My girls never quit."

The coach of the losing team was quoted as saying: "My girls never quit."

Some sociologists hold that because sports are a product of society, they can often reflect larger elements of the society that spawned them. Some believe particular sports teach important principles, rules, and values that form key life skills. For example, how to learn from defeat or encourage self-discipline and drive through the rewards of deserved success.

But such approaches may cause problems in society as well. Some have been argued that winning is stressed over lessons of self-improvement or social cooperation. In other words, how well you play the game takes a second seat to victory. An example of this might include a recent high school basketball game in Texas where a team won by a score of 100 to 0.

The coach of the wining team reportedly explained that forfeiting the game would not have helped the losing team, recalling the wining school had experienced a similar loss and benefited by the experience. Officials from the winning school apologized for the dramatic disparity in the score. The coach of the winning team disagreed with that decision. He was fired.

Do you have an opinion about this issue? If so, please select a topic below and respond to it:

Topics for Discussion
1) What do you think are some of the social purposes of sporting events?
2) Do you think competition is a good medium through which to teach life values? Why?
3) Do you think the score should have been “curved” or the game stopped at some point? Why?

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5 comments

  1. I feel that sports in general for kids is a good way of teaching life lessons if done right. If you teach your team to hold their heads up and never look disappointed you are assentually teaching them respect for themselves and the other team.
    You always want to teach good sportmanship and if that requires you to have your team to slack off some due to the fact that you are so ahead there is no way the other team can come back then you put in you back up players and tell your team to back down some. Through competition you can teach life values such as team work, respect, loyalty, honesty, and many more. I coach travel softball and I try to instill in the girls that I coach it is not whether you win or lose. It is a matter of whether we learned anything and whether we had a good time and enjoyed ourselves. I even tell my parents this at the beginning our season.
    I do feel like the winning team should have slacked off on scoring or the officials should have called the game due to being outscored by so much, even baseball and softball have run rules where the game can and will be called if one team is winning by a certain amount. I do not feel that the winning coach should have forfeited the game. This teaches and does nothing for either team. Should the coach have appologized? Yes, but not for winning but for not showing the other team’s school, coach, players and parents the respect they deserved, No one likes to see a one sided game especially that big of a score.


  2. I feel that competition is a good medium to teach life values. The competition in life teaches people that they have to work hard at things if they want to succeed. Winning doesn’t always come easy and the people that want to win the most will work the hardest for it. Winning isn’t everything in life, but you can still hold your head up high if you played your hardest. Competition in life teaches the players how to get along with their peers. Not everyone gets along with everybody but in a team situation the players learn to work together.


  3. I think the game should not have been curved and should have been played the entire way through. Even though there is no reason a game should end with a score of 100 to 0, it does teach lessons to the losing team and the winning team. The lesson taught to the losing team is you can’t win every battle and there are always things to improve on. The lesson taught to the winning team, if the coach does it right, would be that not every team will be that easy to beat and to not get too cocky because a team will eventually come and beat them by 100 to 0. There should always be healthy competition in sports but to stop a game early just because someone is beating shouldn’t be done. It embarrasses the team worse than losing 100 to 0. They would always carry that. A loss is a loss and you forget that over time, but stopping the game midway because of the score is a little much.


  4. I belive that the game should not have been curved for many reasons. First of all I don’t believe it would have been fair to either of the teams. The team that won the game would have felt that all of there hard work was not worth anything because the team that was not as good as them would have an advantage by being helped with a curve for no reason other than becasue they were losing. The losing team as well would have not appreciated the curve because it would be mocking their capabilities and if they won then the victory would not be as near of rewarding as if they won without aid. Secondly, if they had curved this particular game, other teams in the surrounding area might try to take advantage of the curve. Lastly, the determination and training ethics of the athletes would drastically decrease, with aids such as curving applied to games they would not feel that hard training is a must.


  5. There are a few things I would like to say regarding the matter at hand. First, I would like to say I love the game of basketball and have always loved the game. Basketball and any sport for the sake of arguement can and has taught lessons that can be used in life. The game of life shows and teaches many lessons whether we are ready for them or not. Everyone has there own way of learning life’s lessons and some take different directions. I believe sports are a great way to teach life’s lessons. With that being said, I think the score should not have been curved and the game should never be stopped. No matter what happens in life or in the game, we need to learn in life to never quit or give up. That was one lesson taught during the game and a lesson that will never be forgotten. By stopping the game or curving the score you teach the students there is a way to short cut life when it gets hard. This was a hard taught lesson for the students who lost but lets translate that lesson to life. Just think of the message that was sent to all of America when Barack Obama became president. I know this is not the same but the lesson I learned that day is if we keep fighting for what we want and never give up we will make it one day. Therefore, we may lose or fail one day or even everyday but one day we will win or even succeed.



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