The Great Sport Myth
Sport’s cultural prevalence has become deeply embedded within modern society, providing it with an effective means for psychological manipulation of its participants. This comes in various forms: indoctrinating young children into believing participation will lead to better lives; using sports as an escape route out of poverty; or by creating myths around specific events. This collection of essays presents some common myths promoted through sport that shape our perspectives and negatively influence social relationships, in an effort to expose how these can shape perceptions and alter lives.
In this issue we examine Jay Coakley’s (2015) concept of the Great Sport Myth – which refers to the widespread belief that 1) sport is good and pure by its very nature; (2) those who participate or consume sport also share in its goodness; and 3) sport always contributes towards development. This myth creates a halo around sport while providing justification for an exclusive approach towards its study.
The Great Sport Myth has had a devastating effect on those working in sport for development (SfD). It creates an assumption that sport is an effortless and accessible means of improving socioeconomic conditions, and promotes the idea that sport-based interventions are superior to more structured or politically accountable developmental programs. Therefore, critical scholarship in SfD has increased significantly with an emphasis on tempering its inherent positivism when used for developmental agendas.
Though SfD may provide positive outcomes, these aren’t always realized for low-income kids due to various reasons. Sports programs divert resources away from other avenues with greater potential economic and social gains over the long run, while emphasizing success stories while downplaying failures is harmful as it creates the impression that poor individuals simply lack the determination needed to overcome their situations.
At its core, sport plays an invaluable and indispensable role in our society, as evidenced by our reverence of athletes ranging from Super Bowl quarterbacks to football weekend attendees. But sport also comes with inherent dangers: building teams and helping those recovering from immense loss; as well as violent encounters such as pre fight press conferences for Connor McGregor and Mike Tyson fights, strategic bumping between runners competing at distance running races or for example throwing elbows into chests during basketball or football games or delivering elbow blows into someone’s ribs by another footballer or opponent’s arms to bring peace between players versus participants versus spectators vs opponents vs one another – but that doesn’t mean sport doesn’t come with risks – but that doesn’t make sport less powerful or effective than it could do if used violently than it otherwise could do; sport can bring unity between opposing sides while creating teams and resurrecting spirits from within those suffering great losses while sporting competition can build teams together while also being violent as evidenced by events such as pre fight press conferences of Connor McGregor vs Mike Tyson battles, strategic bumping between distance runners into another competitor or elbow to chest or even forearm to ribs on players.
We hope that these articles help shed some light on some of the negative aspects of sport haloing and spark some thoughtful conversations around why those who benefit continue to promote it.