Social Control in Sport: An Analysis of Basketball Officiating

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Eldon E. Snyder Bowling Green State University

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Dean A. Purdy Bowling Green State University

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Much of the research on athletic officials has focused on their psychological traits. Researchers have considered the officials’ social world, as well as the emergent and processual nature of their activities in game situations. The present research provides an analysis of data on referees as they enforce rules and norms within the fluid context of basketball games. Quantitative data were collected from a survey of 689 high school basketball officials; additionally, qualitative data were gathered from the open-ended portions of the survey instrument as well as from participant observation and discussions with other officials. The primary conceptual areas generated from the research included control of the game, supplementation of rules, and the communication of decisions by officials. The findings are related to other areas of social control in which the rule violator must be closely supervised by the rule enforcer.

This paper is a revision of one presented at the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport, 1986.

Direct all correspondence to Eldon E. Snyder, Department of Sociology, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403.
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