Sunday, December 16, 2012

Serena Williams impersonation triggers stereotypical ideals about black women's bodies

Caroline Wozniacki, former No. 1 tennis player in the world,  decided to make fun of her friend, Serena Williams. Wozniacki stuffed towels into her top and skirt during an exhibition match in Sao Paulo, Brazil in attempt to illustrate Williams' bodily construction. It was supposed to be a well-meaning joke.

But the instance spurred a heated discussion in the U.S.-based media outlets. The question it raised was: Funny or racist?

Here is some context: Tennis players habitually poke fun at each other through imitation. I remember how much my friends and I imitated each other and other players at practice, making fun of our friends' shots, grunts, mannerisms. The pros do it too. Novak Djokovic became the joker of the circuit thanks to his famous impersonation of Maria Sharapova. Shortly thereafter, Andy Roddick took upon himself to make fun of Djokovic. It's all good. They are all friends.

But most of the imitations do not rely upon discriminatory cultural imagery about the bodies of one social group.

Wozniacki's imitation is problematic because it evokes  the image of Saartjie Baartman, the Hottentot Venus, whose body was hypersexualized and objected to the gaze of white Europeans. Baartman was displayed as an oddity, as a freak due to her supposedly disproportionate buttocks and breasts. The exoticization of black women lives on.

That, right there, is the problem of the way in which Wozniacki chose to make fun of Williams.

Anita Little, who wrote a blog post for Ms. Magazine highlighted the issue:

"Our [black women's] bodies are not caricatures. This incident did not happen in a societal vacuum where black women’s bodies haven’t been historically degraded as exotic objects."

But some prefer to see the incident in a vacuum and take the "get over it" approach: It's all just a joke between friends and, really, why can't we just laugh at ourselves and others?

Certainly, Wozniacki did not mean to be malicious, and --- not to make assumptions about her cultural awareness, but--- she probably had no idea how offensive her imitation might be.

"Many people don’t have the cultural awareness to be sensitive of the centuries-old portrayals of black women, so we continue to see bad gestures like this one," Anita Little added. "It’s easy to tell black people to just lighten up when you are never the butt of the joke."

Greg Couch from FoxSports acknowledged that the act evoked caricatures of black women, yet concluded said that proclaiming Wozniacki a "worldwide racist" is "just too much talk." Couch also recommended Wozniacki ask her friend, Williams to determine how racist her actions were.

Jemele Hill from ESPNW wants to "chuckle" at Wozniacki. Hill emphasized that Serena Williams saw her body as a source of empowerment, that surely Wozniacki knew that. And besides, "black women love their curves," Hill wrote.

Williams is certainly proud of her body, as she should be. In 2009, she appeared in the ESPN Body Issue; her cover sold the highest number of copies. Despite Williams' efforts to embrace "beauty inside and out," she has also been a target of discussion for her behavior, her clothing (see catsuit), and her hair.

(On a related note: My colleague, Steve Bien-Aimé recently wrote a post wondering why Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas got more attention for her hair than for her athletic accomplishments.)

Herein lies the other problem: In the United States, female athletes overall receive less coverage than male athletes. Black female athletes receive even less coverage than white female athletes. So it is that much more important to examine how the U.S. media engage in instances such as this one.

Precisely because of the lack of visibility of black female athletes, I was glad to see that the Huffington Post invited Swin Cash, a professional women's basketball player, to participate in an online conversation on the issue. The experts on this panel address the cultural and historical implications of such imagery. One panelist pointed out that critics are viewing Wozniacki's action through a U.S.-centric lens and emphasized that the imitation is likely to carry different cultural meanings based upon the context. The conversation is worth a look.

Wozniacki's imitation was plain insensitive. Evaluating her actions by saying "she didn't know" or "she just meant to be funny" reflects a total lack of awareness of the history behind such representations---a lack of awareness of the representations of black women's bodies.

It is important to have this conversation. The instance might take upon different cultural meanings in other countries, but in the U.S. it certainly triggered historically rooted racist ideas. And I'm glad that there is a conversation about this in U.S.-based media. If for no other reason, but to raise awareness of the portrayals that have for so long contributed to the subjugation of black women.

--- Dunja Antunovic

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Radio hosts' rude comments about transgender athlete highlights need for more diversity training

The recent suspension of two hosts of an ESPN Radio affiliate for insensitive comments about a transgender basketball player highlights that the lexicon journalists have needs to be burnished.

It is unknown whether the radio hosts consider themselves journalists, and I will not castigate all sports journalists for the actions of two individuals. However, the column by ESPN’s Christina Kahrl prompted me to tackle this from a different angle.

This post is a request for broadening the diversity training journalists receive. Being a former journalist and a member of different minority advocacy journalism groups, I believe that diversity is often thought of in terms of gender, race and now sexual orientation. While the categories appear varied, the groups in these categories are far from static.

People do not easily fit into the labels society provides. The article USA Today’s Eric Prisbell wrote about Gabrielle Ludwig explains this well. I also freely acknowledge that if I were copy editing Prisbell’s article, I would feel extremely underqualified to edit it without reading additional literature on transgender individuals.

Journalists are not sheltered people. They interact with various members of society, especially in sports where a huge cross-section of society sits. That cross-section is only going to become more diverse in the years to come.

The news media cannot ignore a group of people or act as if they do not exist. If work to broaden diversity training to include transgender athletes is not done soon, journalists will quickly find themselves ill-equipped in an ever-growing sports landscape.

-- Steve Bien-Aimé

Sunday, November 11, 2012

How do female athletes want to be portrayed?

More than 350 scholars gathered from all over the world for the annual meeting of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport (NASSS) in New Orleans, which concluded on Saturday. The conference offered valuable research for those concerned about the relationship between sports media and society. Steve Bien-Aime, my colleague from the The John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, extensively documented some of these discussions on this blog (see earlier posts here).

One main area of interest at NASSS is gender in mediated sport. While much research has been done on representation of female athletes, scholars have recognized the need to examine perceptions of female athletes about the ways in which they are portrayed in the media. Researchers from the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport took upon the task to explore how female athletes would prefer to be shown in the media. 

In the study titled "Exploring Elite Female Athletes' Interpretations of Sport Media Photographs: A Window into the Construction of Social Identity and 'Selling Sex' in Women's Sports,” Dr. Mary Jo Kane, Dr. Nicole LaVoi and Dr. Janet Fink (University of Massachusetts-Amherst) identified four ways in which female athletes typically appear in the media and asked female athletes to pick which representation they would prefer. The four representations were: 

     (1)    A woman in an action shot, participating in her sport (competency frame),
     (2)    A woman with some symbol of her sport (such as holding a ball in her hand), but outside of playing field (mixed message frame)
     (3)    A woman completely outside of her playing field with no indication of athletic participation (“sexy/classy lady” frame),
     (4)    A soft pornographic image of a nearly or completely naked woman

The researchers found through focus groups with Division I female athletes that most of them would prefer to be portrayed as the woman in the (1) frame – playing their sport. Some of them wanted to pick two representations as they identified with both the (1) frame and the (2) frame.

However, when the female athletes were asked which photo would bring most attention to their sport, one-third of them said that it would be the soft pornographic image. They picked this based upon the belief that hypersexualized images were more marketable to a male audience. 

Consistently with the Tucker Center’s previous research, Dr. Kane and her colleagues contested the “sex sells women’s sports” assumption, arguing that these hypersexualized, soft pornographic images are counter-productive as they do not foster respect for female athletes and women’s sports. 

According to the study presented at NASSS, female athletes prefer to see themselves portrayed in an athletically competent pose. Ultimately, Dr. Kane and her colleagues argued, only these types of portrayals will lead to change in cultural perceptions about women’s sports. 

For a summary of the “sex sells sex, not women’s sports” argument, see our earlier blog post. To see twitter updates from the conference, go to #NASSS12 @CurleyCenter. 

-- Dunja Antunovic

Friday, November 09, 2012

Studies challenge ideas of sport fandom

Two recent studies presented Friday at the annual conference for the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport in New Orleans challenged the concept of sport fandom.

Antunovic presents during the "Sport and Gender" panel.
Bloggers on women’s sports blogs appear to view fandom differently than common perceptions of fan behavior, said Dunja Antunovic, a researcher with The John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State. Bloggers on Women Talk Sports and BlogHer perceive sport often through a participatory perspective rather than an observatory lens, Antunovic said. In other words, instead of following teams many of the bloggers on these websites enjoy sport in terms of well-being and as a livelihood.

Antunovic and her research colleague Marie Hardin analyzed the bloggers’ profiles to gauge their views on sport and fandom. Many of the bloggers were not rabid fans of teams and did not focus on the more aggressive actions of fandom. They were more fans of the sports themselves and in terms of women’s sports, they worked on “bringing visibility” to them, Antunovic said.

Overall, the bloggers saw sport's purpose to be positive, inclusive and build relationships, she said.

But why do women need a separate space to discuss sports? Preliminary research by the University of Tennessee’s Traci Yates can perhaps help to answer this question.

Yates interviewed four women NFL fans to gauge their experiences as fans. A common theme among these women was the fact they had to verify their sports credentials, Yates said. Male sports fans often “tested” the women’s sports knowledge and acted as if they are the gatekeepers on determining genuine levels of fandom. One of Yates’ interview participants expressed embarrassment at this type of questioning and the overall challenge to her quality as a fan.

To that end, another one of Yates’ participants talked about how she had to change her language style to fit in when she watched sports among men. She never talked that way except in that sporting context among men, indicating that perhaps sports fandom is defined by aggressive men.

Both studies also more broadly discussed working to change the definition of fandom; that there should not be “fandom” and then a women’s style of fandom. Rather, the definition needs to encompass a wider segment of the population – one that likely includes the majority of male sports fans, who are people who like sports but are not the intense, face-painting, tribalistic individuals commonly portrayed as the typical sports fan.

-- Steve Bien-Aimé

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Is the regulation of celebrations in sports part of a larger battle?

"Control of the body is a political issue."

San Jose State's Vernon Andrews made that statement during presentations on the "African-American Experience" Thursday at the annual conference for the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport in New Orleans.

Andrews’ statement was part of a broader discussion regarding his research on how black expression is regulated in sports.

Thursday he focused mainly on the discourse surrounding end-zone dances in football. Why are these dances considered undignified, uncouth or unbecoming of an athlete? Andrews argues that white elites dictate the rules for behavior in social spaces.

During his specific presentation, Andrews introduced statements from media members questioning the celebrations of expressive athletes, with some even criticizing the now famous Tiger Woods fist pump.

Andrews said that there should not be a blind following to the notion: This is the way it’s always been done. Rather, it should be asked: Who did it “that way” first, and why should everybody else adhere to that? Perhaps there is a cultural significance to the behaviors performed by the small percentage of athletes who are expressive, Andrews said.

He also said the power to make the rules for social spaces should not rest with the owners, but with the players and fans instead.

“It’s not the owners’ sport. … It’s all of our sport,” he said.

-- Steve Bien-Aimé

Analysis of Sports Illustrated yields interesting data on portrayals of women athletes

A new study indicates that representation of women athletes is improving, but there’s a caveat to that point.

The University of Buffalo’s Kiera Duckworth analyzed Sports Illustrated issues during Olympic years and found that the majority of articles portrayed women athletes as “strong, competent athletes.” Her research was presented Thursday at the annual conference for the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport in New Orleans.

This is a positive signal for women’s sports because it is imperative that women athletes are recognized for their athletic prowess and not being sexualized.

However in her analysis of advertisements in the same issues, Duckworth found that there were differences in representation based on race. White women were portrayed as “the girl next door”, black females were shown predominately in a sporting context and Asian women were sexualized.

Taken together, Duckworth’s research indicates that the focus needs to be placed not just on journalists, but on advertising companies who also create societal representations of women athletes.

-- Steve Bien-Aimé

Study examines sports journalism, sexual orientation in sport

Sport is often linked to heterosexual masculinity, creating an uncomfortable atmosphere for those who do not fit in sport’s perceived mold, especially homosexual athletes. Much research has been done examining sport and sexual orientation in terms of athletes. Ted Kian of Oklahoma State University and the University of Alabama’s John Vincent decided to analyze sport and sexual orientation focusing on the content producers or more specifically sports journalists.

Presenting their preliminary findings Thursday at the annual conference for the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport in New Orleans, Kian and Vincent found that sports journalism appears to be an area lacking in people who are declared homosexuals.

Kian and Vincent interviewed seven veteran sports reporters, and all seven said they have never worked with other sports journalists whom they know are homosexual. This is not to say these reporters, who have more than 140 years of reporting experience among them, have not worked with homosexuals. They said they just have not worked with sports journalists whom they know are homosexual.

The findings of Kian and Vincent, though not definitive, raise interesting questions about the atmosphere in sports departments and the departments’ inclusiveness.

The journalists Kian and Vincent interviewed also said they believe society is ready for a major star in one the four dominant male team sports to identify as a homosexual. The reporters also said teammates’ acceptance of that individual could take some time.

-- Steve Bien-Aimé

Does the government need to protect NFL players?

Perhaps the U.S. government can play a role in protecting NFL players.

This idea was posited Thursday by York University’s Tracy Supruniuk during a session at the annual conference for the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport in New Orleans. The federal government regulates workplace safety through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The rate of injury among football players should potentially put the NFL in OSHA’s sights, Supruniuk said. He cited data that said the NFL players suffer injuries about 15 times more than the average worker.

The concern for players go beyond concussions, Supruniuk said.

“Head injuries are part of a larger problem in football,” he said. Injuries players suffer during their playing careers often have debilitating effects later in their lives, he said.

Whether OSHA has jurisdiction over the NFL is a murky issue, Supruniuk said. One of the questions is whether NFL players are employees or independent contractors, complicating who is responsible for player injuries, he said.

-- Steve Bien-Aimé

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Is more required of black male superstar athletes?

Yahoo! NFL blogger Doug Farrar summarized an interesting article did on Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who is an outspoken supporter of same-sex couples having the right to be married. Kluwe definitely adopted a clear position on what is a contentious issue in American society today.

Many athletes refuse to wade into political battles for fear of losing endorsements, popularity, etc. (Farrar did mention the Baltimore Ravens’ Brendon Ayanbadejo as a supporter of same-sex marriage, while Kluwe’s former Vikings teammate and Ayanbadejo's current teammate center Matt Birk opposes same-sex couples having the right to be married.)

Toward the end of the article, Farrar touched on the backlash that Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan receive for staying apolitical.

This raises an interesting question: Why should prominent black male athletes be the ones who have to speak out? I have heard scant calls for Peyton or Eli Manning to take social stands. Nil for Aaron Rodgers. Same goes for last year’s National League MVP Ryan Braun.

There is a romanticization in mainstream media with Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith? These men, along with many women, have gone against the grain to say what’s in their hearts and change the social landscape.

But why do LeBron James and other black male stars have to carry this legacy and not prominent athletes in general?

I write this warning of a little buyers’ remorse: Perhaps if more athletes do speak out, those “social activists” may not like what they hear.

-- Steve Bien-Aimé

Monday, October 15, 2012

"Remember the little moments" - John Amaechi talks to a PSU audience

Former Nittany Lion and NBA player John Amaechi visited the Penn State campus on Monday night to discuss the role of sports in the society.

"People have a hard time believing that I'm a psychologist because of the way I look," Amaechi said, signaling at his body. As a 6-foot-10 black man, people often have a hard time believing that currently his professional life is not being an athlete.

His opening stories subtly pointed to the stereotypes people hold about black men.

Amaechi, who is originally from Great Britain, talked about his upbringing and the influence his mother had on his values and his career aspirations. He also fondly recalled the importance of Star Wars, a movie that came out when he was 7 and inspired him.

Once Amaechi gave up on his dream to become a Jedi, he quickly turned to another, perhaps a slightly more realistic one: to play for the NBA. 

The first step in this process was coming to the United States to play at a high school level.

"I didn't realize sport was quite serious in America," Amaechi recalled as he expressed his confusion over terminology such as "preseason," "wights," and "individual practices."

He soon learned from his coach how serious sport actually was. Amaechi remembered his coach saying, "I hope you are enjoying this year, because this is the last time you are playing for fun."

In fact, as a varsity athlete at Penn State, Amaechi was very much aware that his performance had a much larger implication than just his own success. He knew that his coaches' jobs were on the line -- and that people's careers depended upon his play on the basketball court.

But, he had another issue to consider when playing for Penn State and that was whether to come out to his teammates and be openly gay. He names two reasons as to why he chose to remain silent about his sexuality.

One was that he felt that being gay on the Penn State campus at the time "didn't feel like a good idea." He recalled talking to Rene Portland, a former women's basketball coach, and feeling uncomfortable about people who she considered to be "different," as Amaechi put it.

The other reason he decided not to come out was that he was worried about his future career in the NBA. Amaechi said he wasn't "that good" and that he was convinced, at the time, that as a "not that good" player, he would not be offered an opportunity in the NBA as a gay man.

"I regret that I didn't come out while I was at Penn State," Amaechi said. "I knew there was a choice."

He choose the NBA.

As a former professional basketball player, Amaechi is concerned that athletes are not prepared to deal with the responsibility put upon them to serve as role models for kids.

"Sports doesn't teach people how to be good giants," Amaechi said.

He said athletes pick and choose when they want to be treated like "giants." An example would be when athletes are around people who don't ask for their autograph and adopt this "Don't you know who I am?" attitude demanding preferential treatment. When it comes to being socially responsible and answering questions about social issues, athletes, however, opt out.

The solution, Amaechi suggests, is to re-shift our focus upon the "little moments of interaction."

"Sport when it's great, attends to details," he said.

These details can be as small as giving a hi-five to a child, or making eye-contact with a player when coaching them, or reaching out to a family.

"In those little moments, we make people feel better," Amaechi said. And that, he suggested, make sports and psychology interact.

Most importantly, it is being consistent in the decisions you are making.

"You can't be a part-time person of principle," Amaechi said.

Amaechi seems to have found his way of being as close to a childhood dream of being a Jedi as he possibly could. But, as a retired NBA player, he emphasized that the success tied to performance on the basketball court and the fame passes quickly.

"One day nobody will care about these great sweeping moments," he said. But what people will remember are the "little moments."

He told a story of playing in a gym during his basketball career and seeing two kids -- brothers -- there. He came up to them, talked to them a number of times and a few months later brought them to his camp in England. To his surprise, one of the children asked Amaechi to adopt them.

Years later, one of the children asked him: "Do you know why we picked you to adopt us?" Amaechi thought they chose him because he was a famous basketball player. The kid responded: "Nah, you weren't that good," and added, "We picked you because you remembered our names."

Amaechi cherishes these little moments and strives to bring many of these into life through his work as a psychologist and activist in different organizations. He believes that the development of young athletes to become attentive and responsible human beings lies in early education and, particularly, the NCAA's power to prepare the athletes for success beyond their athletic careers.

Amaechi strongly believes in the power of sports to teach principles and values that make life better. He acknowledges so by recongizing the positive influence his coaches have had on him.

Yet, when asked about who taught him the values he holds so dearly now, he names a person who had nothing to do with sports and who barely saw him play.

"Most of my values come from my mom," Amaechi said. "I mean, I used to think she was a Jedi. That tells you something about her."

John Amaechi is an author of a memoir titled "Man in the Mirror," which was published in 2007.

-- Dunja Antunovic

Friday, October 12, 2012

PSU hosts workshop on national pastimes

What is a national pastime? Can a nation have more than one national pastime? Is a "pastime" national based upon spectatorship or participation, or both?

These are some of the questions that the acclaimed scholars will be addressing during a two-day workshop hosted by the Pennsylvania State University.

This morning, Mark Dyreson, Professor of Kinesiology, open the "The Lives (and Deaths) of American National Pastimes" workshop addressing the early tensions in the development of the function and cultural significance of national pastimes in the United States.

Additionally to the faculty from Penn State, the workshop welcomes scholars from the University of Maryland, Ohio State University, Purdue University and George Mason University, among others. 

On Friday, the workshop will encompass lectures on how basketball, baseball, and football became constructed as "national pastimes." The scholars will also address the role of the media in this process of construction, as well as the relationship between law and the emergence of these activities.

To close the first day of the conference, John Nichols, Professor Emeritus at the College of Communications, will offer a commentary.  He will be addressing a talk titled "Intercollegiate Sports as National Pastimes -- Why American Football Became the Dominant College Sport" by Ronald Smith, Professor Emeritus of Sport and Exercise Studies, at 4pm.

The workshop continues on Saturday at 9am with sessions on horse racing and prize fighting. In closing, the scholars will address how social identity -- based on gender and race -- allowed for/limited access to "national pastimes."

Marie Hardin, Associate Director for Research at the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism will be commenting on Jaime Schultz's and Andrew Linden's talk "Women and National Pastimes," which begins at 11am.

The workshop is held at 110 Henderson Building. On Friday, the sessions end at 5pm, while on Saturday, they conclude at 1pm.

For updates, go to @CurleyCenter on Twitter and check back to our blog.

-- Dunja Antunovic

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Recap: Past presidents disagree with sanctions

A panel including past presidents unanimously disagreed with NCAA sanctions placed upon Penn State late this summer, levying $60 million in fines, drastically cutting scholarships and keeping the team out of bowl contention for the next several years.
But they also agreed on this: Nothing can be done, and Penn State needs to move on.
“My heart goes out to you. This was a very unique situation and I hope it never happens again. No one has ever fired a president or athletic director over a football issue,” said Gene Corrigan, NCAA president from 1995 to 1997. “No one has certainly literally killed a football coach over one either.”
Corrigan and others spoke on the future of the NCAA to a crowd of about 500 on Thursday night in the State Theatre.
Penn State R. Scott Kretchmar, former NCAA faculty representative, drew applause when he expressed his disagreement with the level of the punishment by the NCAA and the level of evidence to support the punishment.
“Draconian penalties need to be supported by a high burden of proof. The evidence is not all in. Trials didn’t even happen yet. What happened to due process?” Kretchmar said.
Thomas O’Toole, assistant managing editor/ sports of USA Today, expressed his shock when the NCAA sent a letter to Penn State asking questions about the scandal.
“When I heard about the story, I thought there was no way the NCAA would or should get involved. When I heard the NCAA sent Penn State a letter, I was stunned,” O’Toole said.
After the panel had expressed its scrutiny of the NCAA’s involvement, university Board of Trustees member Anthony Lubrano addressed the panel.
“What can we do?” to address the sanctions, Lubrano asked.
Cedric Dempsey, NCAA president from 1994 to 2003, was the first to speak. He was blunt.
“There’s nothing you can do. You gave up your rights and therefore, your options,” Dempsey said.
According to the panel, Penn State would have had a case against the NCAA on procedural grounds, but since Penn State forfeited its right to appeal, there is nothing that can be done to overturn that decision.
Corrigan was even more blunt: “Bury it and move on,” he said.
Amanda Hommer is a student in the College of Communications. She can be reached at

Friday, September 21, 2012

What should the discussion be on performance-enhancing drugs?

After reading about how the Twitter-verse was all abuzz Thursday regarding the rumors surrounding New York Yankees star Robinson Cano and performance-enhancing drugs, it would seem appropriate to discuss doping in sport. (USA Today reported that Cano has not failed any drug test. A discussion about Twitter and journalistic ethics will be saved for a future blog post.) 
While the Cano rumors are false, the impact of performance-enhancing drugs on sport cannot be ignored. Within the past 30 days, Major League Baseball suspended two prominent players for doping, and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency moved to strip Lance Armstrong of his Tour de France victories.

The use of performance-enhancing drugs at one level can be traced to sport’s place in the global society. It is extremely capitalist in nature – extreme competition where there can be at most a few winners and plenty of losers. The resources (read money) go to the winners. There is a constant push for innovation. Innovation is a positive thing, but it can easily become warped as can be seen with doping in athletics.

The reward for doping seemingly outweighs the substantial health risks for some athletes. Opportunities for scholarships or multi-million dollar contracts provide big temptations that overwhelm a few competitors.

The genie is not going back in the bottle. For those who decry the win-at-all-costs nature of sport, there is too much money behind it to eliminate it from its prominence. The billions of dollars in ticket and merchandise sales, the billions spent on TV commercials, and the media industry created on the backs of the athletes are strong indicators that the capitalist nature of athletics is here to stay. ran a strong series of articles analyzing doping from a variety of perspectives: whether testing should even be done, the dangers to youth and society’s hypocrisy when it comes to cheating.

Jen Floyd Engel’s piece on hypocrisy is truly thought-provoking. Why does society place different levels on cheating? Some rule-breaking is OK, but others are not. This sliding scale indicates a society that encourages the bending or breaking of rules or norms to get ahead.

Maybe the discussion needs to shift away from improving PED testing to an honest discussion about why people permit violating some rules and not others.

But are capitalist societies destined to have cheaters because of the potential rewards? Are there any societies that do not have cheaters?

-- Steve Bien-Aime