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Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars Sports--Build Character or Tear it Down?, 14 July 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Lessons of the Locker Room: Myth of School Sports (Hardcover)
Lessons of the Locker Room

Sports build character. At least, that's what we've always heard. Why else would our schools invest so much time, effort, and money in student athletics? Andrew W. Miracle, Jr. and C. Roger Rees aren't so sure.

Historically, sports were introduced to public schools to attract students who would otherwise attend private schools. After public schools became the norm, as they are today, sports continued to be valued as an opportunity for community involvement and positive publicity for schools.

The authors suggest that sports serve other, less obvious purposes as well. Sports encourage conformity by requiring players to act as group. Sports may also promote submissiveness, in that players do as they are told, taking orders rather than making their own decisions. Sports also increase the authority of those in charge. They are the experts, and credit or blame for success or failure goes to coaches as much as or more than to players.

Research shows that, while many athletes have more positive attitudes towards school than other students, they also have decreased independence and self-control. So, what is touted as an opportunity for individual achievement may actually produce better followers than leaders.

Morality and sports is an issue as well. "Game reasoning" refers to a sense of right and wrong that changes according to the situation and a belief that the winner is morally superior to the loser. In some cases, game reasoning seems to flow over into everyday life.
Rees and Miracle propose that game reasoning accounts for many incidents of violence among athletes. Tests of moral reasoning of athletes show a willingness to believe that aggressive behavior is okay in any situation, if it serves the purpose at hand. What begins as a friendly rivalry can degenerate into violence if it is not checked by that slippery value called sportsmanship.

Miracle and Rees, while definitely on the side of classroom education over sports, present a fair assessment of school sports, presenting benefits as well as problems, and raising some interesting questions. The conclusion? Sports do not build character, they reveal it.
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A Customer