chapter  7
20 Pages

A Parkboy Remembers Colts, Products of a Subculture of Sport

Can the concepts of opportunity and subculture help to explain the development of athletic ability? One statement from the study of sport and one from the delinquency literature suggest an answer in the affirmative, although sport and delinquency stand at opposite ends of the legal spectrum. Thus Stein (1988) says of some Peruvian soccer players in the 1920s: “In a society that continually denigrated their basic human worth, soccer was one of the few areas in which players who were poor could feel valuable, whole, accepted and even revered.” This observation is similar to that made by a member of an American conflict gang of the 1950s about why he and other boys became gang members: “Our principal reason for being together in gangs is that it gave us an opportunity to...prove that we were real men. Little else around us contributed to a positive self-image...” (Rettig, Torres, and Garrett 1977:28). Both statements point to restricted opportunities to engage in activities that promote self-esteem. But why would limited routes to self-esteem result in solutions that are so different?