2. Sport Criminology: Nic Groombridge - Some possibilities for and potential exclusions from Sport Criminology
- Last Updated on Monday, 09 July 2012 17:04
- Nic Groombridge
Some possibilities for and potential exclusions from Sport Criminology
Some of some of the materials reviewed and referred to above move smoothly, or unconcernedly, from considering sport and crime or sport and deviance to considering sportsmen (largely) and crime/deviance. There is some allure in covering the recent ‘spate’ of burglaries of footballers in theManchesterarea but these might well be addressed by or within criminology ‘proper’ or under the aegis of ‘celebrity’ (Penfold-Mounce, 2010). That is the only connection with crime is that a sportsperson has been the victim. Similarly, accusations of sportsmen’s violence against women (Benedict, 1997 & 2004 and Benedict and Yaeger, 1999) is important but might fall outside a ‘sport criminology’. Though the work of Tony Jefferson (1998) on boxer Mike Tyson might be considered as it explores the continuities in Tyson’s sport and life but is also a depiction of the psycho-social method and a contribution to the masculinities literature. There is obviously an overlap between the masculinities literature and the sports one and those interested in a gendered criminology might take this forward.
A rising concern in sports law, indeed in sports administration and more widely, is child protection. Clearly this is of interest for criminology but this too might not be sport criminology as sport is the context rather than a defining characteristic. Should the religious context of paedophile priests be used to propose a religious criminology?
Indicators against a sport criminology might be taken from the absence of the term or consideration in standard criminology texts. Thus the only mention of sport in the Sage Dictionary of Criminology is by Jupp (2001: 203) as a throwaway example of ‘hidden crime’ - bribery to affect a sporting result - and two in the Oxford Handbook. The first, by Heidensohn and Gelsthorpe (2007: 390) - again a throwaway - mentions sport in a discussion of masculinity. The second by Morgan and Newburn (2007:1048) notes that sports projects (undefined) are well represented in youth justice provision. Even in Newburn’s own magnum opus (2007) there are only 4 occurrences of the word sport; with one being metaphorical (op cit p 275), another referring to some work of Eynsenck on personality (op cit p163). The tendency of the press, in the past, to report assaults on the police as being akin to a ‘spectator sport’ (op cit p45) or noting the motor sport elements of joyriding (op cit p 468).
A very modern example of Jupp’s ‘hidden crime’ might be seen in reports and speculations about manipulations in cricket - a wide here, a full toss there - that might allow the spread better to make a killing without attracting any attention (Selvey, 2010). Similarly snooker has seen concerns about thrown matches, frames or shots and the influence of betting mobs.
In proposing sports criminology or criminology and sport it is intended to open up friendly relations between sport, law and criminology to examine the Venn diagram overlaps. The case studies above indicate some worked through examples that show the possibilities. What follows are more speculative shots that suggest some further work.
- As Morgan and Newburn (2007) note sport is often deployed as crime prevention or rehabilitation: some of this is explored by Nichols (2007). Smith and Waddington (2004) cite some of Nichols early work. Blackshaw and Crabbe (2004) see the social control aspects of such schemes yet he does not reciprocate but he is not uncritical of the possibilities and problems of such schemes. Kelly (2008) notes that the 'hook' is now for both diversion and desistance rather than 'moral improvement'.
- In respect of joyriding many saw motor sport, or at least motor mechanics, as crime prevention or an element in youth justice or probation responses . This has been explored in a PhD thesis (Groombridge, 1998) which notedCampbell’s (1993) description of joyriding as ‘auto-dressage’.
- Some of the earliest uses of CCTV has been in sports stadia for crowd control and targeted arrests which critical criminology and sports sociology rightly sees as evidence for social control. Others focus more on the effectiveness of the wider street use of CCTV (Groombridge, 2008b). Yet, despite the presence of numerous cameras, up to 80,000 spectators and dedicated officials, ‘diving’ and assorted cheating appears to be endemic. Here sport is an example of an ‘experiment’ that might not be sanctioned in real life.
- Parkour or free running is an urban recreation, which like skateboarding and roller blading is more popular with young people than the authorities and has attracted ‘designing out’ crime prevention measures or ASBOs. Indeed Tim Shieff, 2009 Barclays World Freerun Champion, has been warned by a Police Community Support Officer that his behaviour is anti-social (Daily Star 14 March 2010). Hartley notes the potential Parkour raises for negligence and public liability claims and rightly argues that it is, ‘a site ripe for socio-legal analysis of law and popular culture’ (2010: 278). Free runners, or traceurs, have been heralded as high speed ‘flaneurs’ (Atkinson, 2009), picked up on by cultural geographers (Saville, 2008) and attracted the concern of medical journals. Clearly there is an interest for Cultural Criminology and youth justice specialists as to where this analysis might commence. It might be compared to joyriding but more green and having more jouissance.
- Examples of the playing of sport and differences between sports can be used in lecturing on the sociology of law, deviance and criminology. Just as comparative legal scholars and criminologists note differences between laws so if you have played or spectated a variety of games differences in rules or laws or, indeed there application can be a source for meditation on the nature and malleability of such rules. See Gardiner et al (2006: 72) for discussion of rule changes like those in Formula 1 where one team is seen to be gaining too great an advantage.
- ‘Crashgate’ also involves Formula 1. Here the Renault team ordered Nelson Piquet Jnr to deliberately crash his Renault in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. This did involve both sport and national courts but lawyers thrashed out an agreement which leaves Flavio Briatore free to become involved with the sport from 1 January 2013. Like much elite wrongdoing it would be difficult to investigate such matters and even journalists who cover the sport may be reluctant to risk their access-all-areas passes.
- ‘Bloodgate’ is the media denotation of the whole story of Tom Williams’s deployment of fake blood during a match against Leinster in a Heineken Cup match to enable a specialist kicker to come on to the field and the eventual revelation that it had been ordered by Quins Director of Rugby Dean Richards. He was banned for 3 years and the club fined £240,000. Clearly no such event could occur in American Football where the rules specifically allow for multiple replacements and substitutions. So we have on field ‘positive deviance’ or innovation and off-field corporate/management actions.This was played out in the media but remained within the sports ‘justice system’. Here still and moving images played their part in alerting suspicion.
Some of these might feature in sports law in future and sports sociology and sports journalism touches on these but perhaps only a sports criminology has a less partial take on it.