Showing posts from November, 2015

Sola Scriptura, Sport and the Protestant ideal-type

Max Weber, my current go-to-guy in the sociological world, constructed a methodology for investigating society. One of the tools that he developed - an heuristic device, if you want to get technical - was the notion of the ideal-type. An ideal-type is a kind of utopian version of a thing, which despite not actually existing in reality, can be used as a substitute, or approximation, of a particular social reality. Let me exemplify. Sport is a social reality which takes many forms around the world, but the mention of the word conjures up a similar image in our minds no matter where we are from, and so evidently there are some clear commonalities which link sport in each context or locality. These commonalities, when pulled together, can be seen to make up a sort of short hand of the thing itself. We might say that an ideal type of sport is that it involves physical exertion, skill or prowess, it is competitive, organised, rationalised, and exists in hierarchical structures. Th

Game Over: Sport Will Destroy Itself

Tainted samples; missed tests; sabotaged games. Stories of illegal drug use in sport are seemingly more and more common.  The recent and frankly unsurprising news that the Russian Athletics Federation has been up to its neck in doping infractions, making a mockery of the sport (and the athletes) it is ostensibly serving, looks to have long lasting repercussions. But beyond the banning of a federation from an Olympic games, or the potential pro-Russian boycott that may result, there is one thing that is growing more apparent as the stories unfold... Drugs are destroying sport. But why do players, athletes, coaches and even entire federations make clandestine use of illegal and banned substances? The power structures that drive and sustain elite sport create enormous pressures on athletes to use illegal means to success. Let's briefly sketch three of these pressures. Status  Just about everybody knows Usain Bolt, or Serena Williams, or Lionel Messi. These are household