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Critical thinking in sport sociology

This is an excerpt from Contemporary Sport Management 6th Edition With Web Study Guide-Loose-Leaf Edition by Paul M. Pedersen & Lucie Thibault.

The following is a guest column by a male student that was published in a university newspaper. The authors of this chapter do not necessarily agree with its position; this article is meant to stimulate alternative perspective taking and critical thinking.

Title IX is not good for collegiate sports. Universities are decreasing the athletic opportunities for men in order to make room for various women's sports. There has been a net loss of more than 17,000 opportunities for men in collegiate athletics. Title IX is merely a law of proportionality. Schools need to keep the same ratio of male athletes to male students as female athletes to female students. This is not fair to men's athletics. Universities need to be concerned about the economics of athletics by focusing mainly on those sports that are the most profitable. This should be common sense.


The university should be putting money toward those sports that will return the greatest profits, not using funds for state-of-the art women's athletic facilities. Earlier in the year the women's [sport withheld for privacy] team was promoting games for $1 - $1 games . . . this is not a good investment. This sport does not attract fans. There are so few students that would go to a women's [sport] game for the purpose of being entertained. Most of those in attendance are family or friends that know the athletes. Now compare this to a men's [same sport] game. . . .


I just don't believe it is fair for men's programs to be cut in order to have more women's sports. . . . The female teams that benefit from Title IX do very little to benefit the university on an economic level. These teams are financial burdens to the university. Title IX was never expected to last 30 years. The number of women in college has increased, so the number of females [sic] athletes needs to increase according to Title IX. This does not take into account the fact that there is a greater proportion of men interested in sports than women. Title IX is now a threat to the history of men's athletic programs across the country.


Ethics in Sport Sociology


The debate over the use of Native American sport mascots has been contested over the last 35 years. The very act of having Native Americans as mascots evokes ethical discussion over right or wrong and good or bad that results, or is perceived to result, from this practice. According to Davis-Delano (2007), Native American mascots were used by five professional sport teams (the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Blackhawks, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Chiefs, and Washington Redskins), approximately 15 to 20 colleges and universities, and more than 2,900 high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools across the United States. There are no other systemic grouping of mascots that depict other ethnic minority groups who have experienced similar historic marginalization and discrimination similar to Native Americans in the United States.


The positions of scholars and activists on Native American mascots are based on three major points: (1) Imagery reflects and reinforces stereotypes and bias, (2) representations harm Native Americans, and (3) Native Americans have no control over such images (Davis-Delano, 2007). For example, the Chief Wahoo (Cleveland Indians) caricature mascot is representative of images at the center of the debate. Stereotypical depictions and inaccurate portrayals of Native Americans assume two forms: untamed savages (Washington Redskins) or noble savages (Chief Wahoo). This unfounded dichotomy of Native American culture ignores the role that the U.S. government played in the relocation and displacement of Native American tribes (Staurowsky, 2004).


In contrast, individuals and institutions who defend the use of Native American mascots believe they are resisting political correctness, claim the images honor local tribes, or assert that the mascot has been supported by Native Americans. Institutions have shown reluctance to change their mascots because they fear economic backlash from loyal alumni donors or fans. This controversy has inspired position statements from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the American Sociological Association and a 2005 NCAA policy change banning postseason hosting for schools with Native American mascots. The debate over Native American imagery is far from over; for example, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder vowed to continue using the mascot despite two lawmakers threatening to hold hearings if the name is not changed.