2. Sport Criminology: Nic Groombridge - Sport, law and sociology in the literature
- Last Updated on Monday, 09 July 2012 17:04
- Nic Groombridge
Sport, law and sociology in the literature
In this section the sport law literature and sport sociology literature are separately considered before turning to the works of Atkinson and Young (2008) and Blackshaw and Crabbe (2004) who, in their different ways, come close to my intentions. Clearly the entirety of all these growing numbers of books cannot be reviewed here. There has been selection, partly seeking a modicum of breadth but also contemporary relevance.
From the numbers of books, specialist journals and standalone modules on undergraduate and post graduate degrees this is a growing area. Books on sports law typically set out the law in respect of particular jurisdictions and journal articles typically analyse or set out notable cases. Largely they follow the black letter law tradition and often, as textbooks, contain little critical material. Some take sporting celebrity and the extreme circumstances that occur in live sport as vignettes to illuminate the law - sometimes intending humour (Day, 2005). Obviously the growth in international organisations and law and the influence of international sports federations with their imbrication in late modern mediatised societies mean a growing confluence of sports, entertainment and media law. Resisting such globalising tendencies, and reinforcing the argument for ‘sports law’ over ‘law and sport’, we findFrancewith its own specific Loi du Sport.
In Brazil football has needed, and has acquired under President Lula, the protection of law - the ‘Law of Moralisation in Sport’ and the "fans statute". The statute requires the Brazilian FA (CBF) to hold at least one national competition in which the "teams know before it begins how many games they will play and who their opponents will be". Brazilhas had a national league only since 1971 and changed its format every year as the cartolas (top hats) and dictators who use to rule, used the sport to serve their own interests. Relegation rules have been changed to keep big clubs up, and teams have been included in the league in return for political favours (Bellos, 2003). During the recent UK General Election all parties made mention of greater regulation of football (Harris, 2010).
Two of the most common aspects of recent UK(Englandand Wales) legal publications are drugs testing and the Olympics. Drugs are seen to be a problem in all sports and all jurisdictions so might be expected. The arrival of the Olympics in Londonfor 2012 ensures that Lewis and Taylor’s (2008) standard work now includes a special section on this as does James (2010). Mestre gives a whole book over to the lex olympica. Some criminology might be found in a consideration of the Olympics - as opposed to its constituent sports - and investigative journalists may be first to the corporate and organised crime aspects but here we deal initially with the most obviously criminological in sports law - drugs.
In the sports law literature ‘drugs’ generally mean performance-enhancing drugs rather than ‘recreational’ or illegal drugs. Indeed Hartley’s index just says ‘drugs see doping’ (2009: 325) but is covered, encouragingly for the critical criminologist, as a human rights issue (though mostly in the language of natural rights and ethics) to which we will return in the case studies. Healey (2009) too, in her analysis of Australian sports law takes much the same line. Gardiner et al (2006) however discuss the issue in contractual terms, often implied and now more often explicit, between the sports authorities and the competitor and raising the moral issue of ‘cheating’.
Much of the standard, shared contents of these texts is on the application of the doctrine of volenti non fit injuria. That is in stepping into the ring or onto the pitch you consent, within the rules of the sport, to be injured. Hartley (2009) interestingly expands on this by deploying arguments from the homosexual sado-masochistic case of R v Brown  on boxing but also mixed martial arts and cage fighting.
Hartley’s work promises a bridge to the sociological literature. Concentrating on English law her work is commended to us by Helena Kennedy’s foreword as seeing the ‘development of the law through a sociological lens’ (2009: xvii). By this she seems to mean the recognition of the rise of ‘race’, religion, homosexuality, age and disability as rising legal issues that have finally, formally impacted on sport that are reprised in the sports sociology literature proper. That is it is sports law with a strong sociological flavour. We turn now to sport sociology proper.