Social values and sports

Valores sociales y deportes


Universidade Regional de Blumenau – FURB


Antonio José Müller







          Sport is an important factor to improve children’s education all over the world. However, the improvements are not clear and many students are not connected with a regular sport in many schools. The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between sport and culture to understand how sports can improve peoples’ culture, especially in schools. Another purpose is also to compare sports in schools in Brazil and in the United States. In the conclusion, suggest some ideas that sport can make a huge influence on the structure, philosophy, results, and society in both countries.

          Keywords: Sports. Social values. Education.


Reception: 11/26/2014 - Acceptance: 12/12/2014.


EFDeportes.com, Revista Digital. Buenos Aires, Año 19, Nº 199, Diciembre de 2014. http://www.efdeportes.com/

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    The phenomenon of sport is an important role for millions of people worldwide. All around the globe, more and more people enjoy playing, watching and to discussing variety of sports. Sports occupy a prominent place in different cultures realizing significant social influences. According to Simon (1985) sports as a significant form of social activity, sports affect the educational system, the economy, and the values of the citizens. Especially, in the present time, the social impact and significance of sports is massive. Snyder and Spreitzer (1978) summarize, sport has emerged in the last of the twentieth century to become one of the most pervasive social institutions in contemporary societies.

    The purpose of this essay is to explore the relationship between sport and culture to understand how sports can improve peoples’ culture, especially in schools.

    Also, my interest is to study the connections between sports and its cultural influences in school in the U.S. and Brazil. In order to understand the great differences between the sports structures in schools, it is considerable to recognize the cultural aspects of sport, also recognize all sport structure since public schools in both countries.

    In this examination, I would study sports’ articulation with the stratification of subject, such as social class, gender, and race through the interrelationship involving sports behavior, and sports participation.

    This suggests that sports may intersect with educational, economic, and cultural process in favor of school.

Benefits of Physical Education

    Participation in sporting activity is often associated with improvements in the health and fitness of the students. Through sports, human beings improve not only their health conditions but also, their power of reasoning, control of emotions, personality development, and social relationship. In our culture, young students practice sports as a way to improve their quality of life.

    Moreover, appropriate kinds and amounts of activity benefit all learning process. Some of these important benefits ones are espoused in the following statements. According to Seefeldt and Vogel (1986) physical activity facilitates:

  • Promote changes in brain structure and function in infants and young children. Sensory stimulation through physical activity is essential for the optimal growth and development of the young nervous system.

  • Aids the development of cognition through opportunities to develop learning strategies, decision making, acquiring, retrieving, and integrating information and solving problems.

  • Promotes a more positive attitude toward physical activity and leads to a more active lifestyle during unscheduled leisure time.

  • Enhances self-concept and self-esteem as indicated by increased confidence, assertiveness, emotional stability, independence, and self-control.

  • Is a major force in the socializing of individuals during late childhood and adolescence.

  • Is instrumental in the development and growth of moral reasoning, problem solving, creativity, and social competence.

Building social values in Physical Education and Sports

    Sports and Physical Education creates opportunities to enhance development in the physical, cognitive, and social domains. One of the aspects of the social domains includes moral reasoning or character development. According to Solomon (1997) art and physical education settings are ripe with opportunities to promote character development: (1) as issues spontaneously arise, address the moral implications of behavior, and/or (2) deliberately implement dilemmas which bear moral implications.

    Many sociologists agree that physical education is a key way to socialize children, also sport provides a human goods significance. Sport is a popular culture and democratic activity. Simon (1985) suggests that, through sports and physical education, we can face and overcome challenges and develop a concern for excellence. We can engage in activities that we value for themselves, apart from the rewards that accrue to the most successful. Through sports we can develop and express moral virtues and vices, and demonstrate the importance of such values as loyalty, dedication, integrity, and courage. Sport serves the social psychological function of providing a sense of excitement, joy, and diversion for many people. Additionally, the centrality of sport is evident in the play of children, in our schools, and in institutions of higher education (Snyder & Spreitzer, 1978).

    Competition is so everywhere in our society that even the pressures that lead to stress afflict school children. Poor performance in school brings out a lot of negative emotions, which lead to fear, and perceptions of threat. In sports there exists a competition, then a kind of activity where the emotions may express for various types of behavior.

    Sports also exemplify American values, and, to some degree at least, athletes may pick up these values through sport participation and use them for later success (Curry & Jiobu, 1984).

Sport Pedagogy

    Sport Pedagogy is one area of sport sciences focusing on human relations in physical and sport activities. As area of the humanities, Sport Pedagogy has the function of improving and guiding physical activities of individuals and groups in all age groups (Naul, 1999).

    Curriculum has the potential to help transform society. Curriculum theorizing is critical to the development of programs receptive to social and cultural changes in society. Sports in school become part of required curriculum via physical education classes, and of course, sports are major extracurricular activities (Curry & Jiobu, 1984).

    Schools, through physical education classes and interschool sports programs, serve as significant socializing agents for American youth. During late childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, it is peers, rather than the family, who serve as the most powerful socializing agents for sport involvement (Seefeldt & Vogel, 1986).

    A quality physical education program must demonstrate through its values that it has clear, useful, attainable goals (Freeman, 1992).

    Sport pedagogy has to promote discussion and understanding of social issues. Race, ethnicity, and gender differences support the examination for content diversification and integration in the P. E. curriculum. In addition, socio-economic inequality questions have to include the school context in the curriculum in order to prepare students for a changing world through social diversification and cross-cultural integration. Curricular survival in sport pedagogy is dependent on critical theorization of curriculum as responsive to larger cultural and social issues impacting educational institutions (Chepyator-Thompson, Russel, & Woorons, 1998).

Sport Participation and Academic / Social Achievement

    Sports reflect society and society reflects sports. Social problems permeate society: drugs, violence, crime, cheating, sexism, racism, corruption, inflation, recession, etc. And because sports reflect society we can use sports as a natural laboratory for studying these problems and other basic structures and processes (Curry & Jiobu, 1984).

    Sports have long been a part of American cultural values. Many research studies show that sport does, in fact, promote higher educational aspirations among high school participants, and college athletes graduate at a higher rate than nonathletes. Students/athletes graduation rates are two percent higher than a general student- body (NCAA, 1994). Sports produce upward mobility mainly because so many sports are linked to the educational system, starting as early as grammar school and continuing through the university level (Curry and Jiobu1984).

    Another important point is the social participation through athletics. Good athletes are directly and indirectly related with good social skills. Some athletes’ image is associated with success and helps to sell products and influence people’s opinions. Many times this success association, principally monetary, makes a bigger influence on youth, which affects future educational or professional goals. It is needles to say, that this is viewed as a positive thing by people in general. In particular, underprivileged people use sport to apply a better social life. Buhrmann (cited by Snyder and Spreitzer, 1978) studied that athletic participation was more strongly linked with educational success among boys from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds. This means that despite the small percentage of poor youngsters who go on the high status athletes, it still constitutes a dream for most of the poor children. In other words, athletics may be the most important means for these lower socioeconomic status students to gain social recognition and acceptance, and through it, greater academic aspirations and higher scholarship.

Social Classes and Sports

    According to Sage (1998), sports have immense power to shape consciousness, values, and beliefs of athletes and to pass on selected aspects of the dominant culture. In addition, he clarifies that despite American folklore’s premise that the United States is a classless society, American sport is shaped by social class stratification in terms of patronage, access, control, and social mobility.

    Class, gender, and race stratification is a fundamental feature of American society, as revealed in the dominance, exploitation, and discrimination of capitalists over workers, of males over females, and of whites over blacks. Moreover, each alone and all in combination are played out in the world of sport (Sage, 1998).

    Sports may be the only way for some ethnic groups. When some underprovided classes have the chance to climb socially through sports they usually “grab” it. Research shows African-Americans in sports for example, use sports to get a college degree. According to the NCAA (1994) “The group of Division I black female basketball players shows the largest differential in graduation rates between student-athletes and the general student population. They graduated at a rate of 61 percent, 19 percent higher than the black female population, which graduated at a rate of 42 percent. Black male student-athletes also graduated at a significantly higher rate than their counterparts in the overall student body with a graduation rate of 42 percent compared to the general student-body rate of 31 percent.” It is my believe that this happens because the minorities take advantages of their chances with more conviction than people from other social classes.

    According to Curry & Jiobu (1984) Black subculture, permeated with passion for sport, encourages, attracts, and pushes black youth into athletics much more than white culture does with white youth. White youths realistically aspire to careers in business, law, medicine, and so forth. A huge number of whites with athletic talent end up doing these jobs rather than trying to make careers in sports. For blacks those options do not exist to the same degree. Poverty, discrimination, lack of education, lack of training, and lack of cultural supports mean this: Most careers, while theoretically open to blacks, are closed to them in reality. The black community knows this, and so blacks flow into sports, just as the Irish, Italians, and Jews went into boxing during earlier times, and just as Hispanics now flow into baseball and boxing. I can complete with the South Americans and Africans now flow into soccer. They complete: Blacks do not flow into just any sport. Their dominance shows selectivity. Blacks are over represented in baseball, basketball, and football. With some exceptions, blacks have gone into the money sports, the sports with professional outlets. Economic and social factors explain the lack of black dominance in money sports like tennis or golf: The ghetto has few tennis clubs and country clubs. Living in a sport-dominated subculture; having dreams of success; being hungry; having the opportunity to play; not having other opportunities – these are the reasons that blacks or poor people have gone into, and dominate, the money sports. It all makes perfect sociological sense.

    Although this reality maybe true in the U. S. it doe not necessarily mean that it applies to Brazil, which is a democratic way of giving equal opportunities to people who want to become players. This can be stated in a situation than occurred with the Brazilian soccer. In soccer racial problems are not an issue. Differently from other sectors of society in soccer chances are given to everyone, independently of race or social class. This explains why there are so many black and poor people involved in soccer in Brazil. For instance, in the 2002 National Soccer Team, shows the racial Brazilian composition, where both the proportion of players from poor families (77%), and the proportion of black players (22%), are higher than the composition of the average Brazilian population, which 63% are poor and 6% are Black (IBGE, 2000).

    Amateurism is the only time whit players play for love and for freedom. Street basketball is a freedom demonstration. Sands (1999), ostensible freedom found only in the ghetto and in a space apparently separate—but, of course, only apparently separate—from the perverse profitability and creative destruction of multicultural capitalism. The figure of the basketball player, defined over and against the criminal, functions as a means of displacement that reconciles middle-class America’s sense of itself as compassionate while it simultaneously calls for, and endorses increasingly vengeful punitive behavior (Chepyator-Thompson, Russel, & Woorons, 1998).

Comparing Sports and Schools in Brazil and in the U.S.

    Sports are a part and reflector of society as well as social, economical, political, and cultural context. Cultural expressions and values are associated with sport. People use sports to express themselves. The relationship with the national or regional cultural characteristics and the sports are enormous in these days, especially in schools in North and South America.

    The United States and Brazil, giants of the Western Hemisphere, with populations of about 235 million and 150 million, respectively, offer a good contrast in sports in school. Both countries are fanatic for sports and this fanaticism exerts a great power in school. However, for cultural, economical, and political reasons, the concept of sports in public schools differs totally in each country.

    All these comparisons are based on my personal working experiences both in the U. S. and Brazil. Some of these important aspects are: Structure, Philosophy, Parents Involvement, and Social Importance.


In the United States (Laios, 1995):

  1. Generally, financial support from government, state, community, provides good school sports facilities, and many capable coaches are employed.

  2. Inexcusable expenses and waste of time are avoided from academic education and athletic development.

In Brazil

  1. Unprovided of financial support, schools do not have good facilities. Some schools neither have gym or places for physical activities, nor basic sports equipments.

  2. Teachers have preparation from physical education, the majority are not prepared to coach.

  3. Teachers or coaches salaries are very unattractive.


In the United States

  1. Students show a great love and dedication to sports, because apart from their academic records, the athletic records give them opportunities for future scholarships in higher educational institutions.

  2. Through school competitive sports, the students form their characters, acquire further knowledge and develop the meaning of leadership, adaptability and the spirit of noble competition.

In Brazil

  1. Students also show a great love and dedication to sports, but with more “passion”. However, their goals for future are limited because they do not have the same level of opportunities in higher education. Sports in universities are almost nonexistent.

  2. School provides less competition so the good sports impact in the student’s character development is limited.

  3. Schools do not have many possibilities for proper training. Most of the competition occurs outside the school, which results distracted of academics improvement.

Parents involvement

In the United States

  1. Parents stimulate their children very early, with time and participation, following all sports development phases.

  2. Look to sports for future scholarships opportunities in college or as future professional player.

  3. Sometimes it has a negative connotation due to the fact that there is to much pressure involved which forces some teachers to give good grades to exceptional athletes, even when they do not deserve them.

In Brazil

  1. Exceptionally, parents stimulated their children to participate in the sports. Some parents exerts a positive influence, some others exerts a negative influence, which believe sports are incompatible with education.

  2. Some influences occur, for future career in professional sports, being the only way for some poor children.

Social importance

In the United States

  1. Sports comprise a social phenomenon, since concerns and interests students, athletes, parents, teachers, trainers and the Ministries of Education and Athletics.

  2. All student manpower is used, since through the lesson of physical education and the school teams, all the students have the opportunity to be involved in sports.

  3. The opportunity for more people to go into athletics is given through school sport, a consequence of which is the best athletics record worldwide, in the Olympic Games.

  4. Extremities and vandalism are avoided during the school games because the students are educated and trained in the school environment, and there is a greater respect and appreciation of referees, opponents and properties.

In Brazil

  1. Schools help to promote sports, since through the lesson of physical education and the school teams in smaller scale than in the U.S. not of all students have the opportunity to be involved in sports.

  2. Usually, a better level of sport competition occurs in clubs. However, only talented children have the opportunity to compete at club level. Also, participation is limited by transportation and incompatibility of schedule.

  3. Less people are involved in sports in school, consequently fewer athletes in high level of competitions.

  4. Poor boy/girls dreams of being a soccer or volleyball player, to leave the misery and to have better conditions of life. This world of sports, created by the working-class players themselves, had become a genuine manifestation of popular culture.

Sports in school

In the United States

  1. Most commonly: Swimming, football, basketball, volleyball, athletics, hockey, tennis, baseball, judo, wrestling, karate, and soccer.

  2. Less commonly, but offered: Golf, archery, gymnastics, skiing, cycling, diving, rowing, water-polo, artistic gymnastic, badminton, and climbing.

In Brazil

  1. Most commonly (limited by physical facilities): Soccer, basketball, volleyball, indoor-soccer, European handball, and athletics.

Other facts

In the United States

  1. Schools at the same time as the teaching of different sports, offer the proper conditions for an ideal promotion of sports and championships. However, promote anxiety and stress for students in high competitive level.

  2. Because all the students have the opportunity to be involved in sports, it promotes false expectations for future in students without enough talent.

In Brazil

  1. In spite of deficient structure, sports in school are very important. Moreover, high level sports in Brazil are associated with clubs (country clubs), professional clubs, and soccer clubs that battle for city, states, and national, championships has divisions of amateur sports.

  2. Without influence and importance in higher education, sports are a separable part of the academic education for many Brazilians.


    Sports participation is an important aspect in the development of students worldwide. Through physical development and for some talent, many students evolve to have enough quality to be good athletes at a good level. Parents also plan a critical role in encouraging their children to play sports during their childhood in order to earn a scholarship to college.

    Sports exert large influences in schools. These influences were analyzed in two different panoramas. (1) United States, which use the power of sports to make opportunities for the citizens go further to get education in university level. Moreover, supporting and promoting sports excellence regarding in the high level of international competitions. (2) Brazil, which uses a reduced amount of money and promotes and develops sports under a different structure. Talented people which need a little attention and adequate structure in school to explode as an “Olympic nation.”

    A considerable part of this study was addressed to compare sports in public schools in the U. S. and Brazil. However, the main differential point between these two countries is the fact that sports “does” or “doesn’t” occur at the university level. If it does, therefore students are encouraged to improve their sports skills to later be able to get a scholarship in college. If it doesn’t, therefore students are unenthusiastic in sports, getting different ways to survive.

    Sometimes talented people are lost, in some cases for drug dealing of crime. This detail makes a huge influence on the structure, philosophy, results, and society in both countries.

    The society, through schools, must promote the chance that the sports propitiate to athletes and disproved people, making the path for social evolution out of it.

    The sports structure al all school levels (primary, secondary and higher education) is a fundamental focus on cultural development for some countries. If economically deprived people are given a chance to access higher education by sports, they can use the acquired knowledge gained from college to make some changes and develop themselves and the community.

    As an educator and coach, I have to suggest for our students to play sports and how sports can help their lives. Sport can transform the future for many students. We need to prepare our students showing the ways and prospect they should be find in the wonderful world of sport.


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