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Howard L. Nixon II

Efforts to integrate and exclude disabled people in mainstream settings raise questions about the appropriateness of integration. This paper explores problematic aspects of the integration of disabled and able-bodied people in the mainstream, and structural conditions affecting the quality of such integration. In particular, it uses a case study of a partially sighted boy’s experiences in different mainstream sport settings to show how integration efforts can be complicated by the ambiguity of an invisible impairment, by the pressures on disabled persons and their families to ignore or deny impairment and disability, and by a mismatching of structural aspects of sports and the abilities of participants with disabilities.

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Howard L. Nixon II

This paper addresses how parents encourage or discourage sports involvement by their visually impaired offspring, the types of sports involvement these children pursue, and the effects of parental encouragement on sports involvement. It analyzes new evidence from a study of parental adjustment to a visually impaired child. The evidence was derived mainly from open-ended, in-depth interviews of parents of 18 partially sighted and totally blind children who had attended public school. There were 15 mothers and 9 fathers in the 16 families who were interviewed, and 2 of the families had 2 visually impaired children. Additional data were provided through interviews with 14 professionals and volunteers from various fields who had sports-related experiences or observations of visually impaired children and their families. Four major forms of parental encouragement and discouragement were identified: strong encouragers, weak encouragers, tolerators, and discouragers. The predominance of the latter three helped explain the dominant patterns of limited involvement in sport by visually impaired children. Implications of these findings for mainstreaming and appropriate integration also are considered.

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Howard L. Nixon II

The main purpose of this paper is to consider the extent to which college coaches subscribe to a set of beliefs in the culture of sport concerning risk, pain, and injury. These beliefs were derived from a prior content analysis of Sports Illustrated. A secondary purpose of this paper is to consider whether gender makes a difference in how coaches think about risk, pain, and injury. The data are from a survey of coaches at a medium-size (11,500-student) comprehensive university in the southeastern United States. The results showed ambivalence among coaches in their views of risk, pain, and injury, which suggested the existence of a risk–pain–injury paradox.

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Howard L. Nixon II

The development of “a sport sociology that matters” requires sport sociologists to confront and make fundamental decisions about major imperatives and challenges that implicitly or explicitly can be found in recent work in the field. Five major imperatives are discussed: the relevance imperative, the cultural interpretive imperative, the critical imperative, the engagement imperative, and the application imperative. While the list is not assumed to be exhaustive or definitive, these imperatives are believed to be sufficiently provocative to pose significant challenges to conventional approaches to sport sociology and perhaps general sociology as well. The imperatives are discussed in relation to two major recent controversies in and about sport sociology, concerning the need for a cultural studies approach and the need for a more applied sociology of sport. The implications and risks of accepting the challenges implied or stated in the imperatives are assessed.

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Howard L. Nixon II

Firsthand observations of recreational swimmers in a university pool are used to show how leisure participants, informally and largely nonverbally, structure and maintain their interaction in predictable and sociable patterns. The paper builds on these observations to show the kinds of social norms, statuses, and roles that constitute basic elements of social structure in the leisure setting of a pool, and it examines how regular leisure participants in such a setting maintain their informal social order through subtle or obvious, but usually nonverbal, means of social control. Analysis of the construction and maintenance of informal social order in a pool is presented here as a spring-board for enriching our understanding of patterns and processes of informal, nonverbal social organization and social control in other settings.

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Howard L. Nixon II

Despite the stigma usually attached to disabled people, and the attendant difficulty in picturing disabled people in “normal” societal roles interacting and competing with nondisabled people, a mandate for integrating disabled and nondisabled people in all areas of society has been thrust upon Americans during the past decade through judicial, legal, and social pressures and political action. This paper focuses on the appropriate integration of disabled and nondisabled people in sport. It considers some potentially salient personal attribute and background parameters (i.e., type and severity of disability and amount of sports background) and sports structure parameters (i.e., type of sport, amount of disability adaptation, and degree of competition) that could affect the extent to which integration efforts in sport result in genuine integration and a reduction in the stigmatization and handicapped minority status of disabled people. It is hoped that this paper, and the general hypotheses it proposes about appropriate integration, will serve to guide future research and informed action in program planning and implementation aimed at integrating disabled and nondisabled people in sport.

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Howard L. Nixon II

This paper considers the nature and implications of cultural messages about risk, pain, injury, and comebacks in sport that are mediated by a popular American sports magazine. The analysis is based on evidence from a content analysis of Sports Illustrated articles, the results of which suggest that athletes are exposed to a set of mediated beliefs about structural constraints, structural inducements, general cultural values, and processes of institutional rationalization and athletic socialization that collectively convey the message that they ought to accept the risks, pain, and injuries of sport.

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Howard L. Nixon II

The purpose of this paper is to focus more attention on the potential value of a structural social network approach for understanding social interaction, relationships, structures, and change in sport. Despite growing interest in this approach in sociology in general, little attention has been paid to it by sport sociologists. Examples of applications to sport are presented concerning the study of pain and injury, small groups and subcultures, organizational relations, coaching burnout and deviance, and managerial recruitment and stacking.