Gender, Media and the Sport Scandal

Authored by: David Rowe

Routledge Handbook of Sport, Gender and Sexuality

Print publication date:  February  2014
Online publication date:  March  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415522533
eBook ISBN: 9780203121375
Adobe ISBN: 9781136326967


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Whenever a sport scandal erupts into public consciousness, melancholic statements inevitably follow in the media sphere that it has precipitated a ‘loss of innocence’. For example, baseball’s infamous Black Sox Scandal, in which the 1917 World Series was ‘fixed’ in a gambling conspiracy, has been described as ‘Baseball’s loss of innocence’ (Goetsch, 2011). In the following century, revelations concerning the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes in baseball and in other sports resulted in reactions in the media such as ‘Steroid scandal: a diehard fan mourns sports’ loss of innocence’ (Vongs, 2004). Sometimes, a hierarchy of scandal is constructed, meaning that what was once scandalous has become relatively routine, and new frontiers of lost innocence are found. Thus, after allegations in 2011 of child sex abuse (with all its additional connotations of innocence lost beyond those associated with sport fan disillusionment) by American football coaches at Pennsylvania State and Syracuse Universities, passages in the media such as the following were common:

“The academic cheating, the recruitment violations, the gambling, taking steroids, that stuff has been a part of sports forever”, Sailes [a Professor of sport sociology at Indiana University] said. “But the veracity, the seriousness (of the sex-abuse scandals) — this is the last bastion of American innocence, our kids. So yeah, this is the worst.”

(quoted in Armour, 2011 )

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