The “Plight” of Sport Management

Professor Earle F. Zeigler, Ph.D.

Posted: July 28, 2014

Sport is a societal institution that became an ever-more powerful social force in the 20th century.

In my book, I attempt to analyze philosophically and sociologically what I have called reluctantly the “plight” of sport management. Basically I am arguing that society is governed by strong, fundamental social forces or institutions. Among those social institutions are (1) the values (and accompanying norms devised), (2) the type of political state in vogue, (3) the prevailing economic system, (4) the religious beliefs or system present, etc. To these longstanding institutions I have added the influence of such other forces as education, science and technological advancement, concern for peace, and now sport itself. Of these, the values, and the accompanying norms that are developed, form the strongest social institution of all.

Whether we all recognize it or not, similar to all other professions today, the burgeoning sport management profession is presently striving to cross what has been termed the postmodern divide. An epoch in civilization approaches closure when many of the fundamental convictions of its advocates are challenged by a substantive minority of the populace. It can be argued that indeed the world is moving into a new epoch as the proponents of postmodernism have been affirming over recent decades. Within such a milieu there are strong indications that sport management is going to have great difficulty crossing this chasm, this so-called, postmodern divide.

A diverse group of postmodern scholars argues that many in democracies, under girded by the various rights being propounded (e.g., individual freedom, privacy), have come to believe that now they too require—and deserve!—a supportive “liberal consensus” within their respective societies. Conservative, essentialist elements prevail at present and are functioning strongly in many Western political systems. With their more authoritative orientation in mind, conservatives believe that the deeper foundation justifying this claim of a need for a more liberal consensus has never been fully rationalized. However, postmodernists now form a substantive minority that supports a more humanistic, pragmatic, liberal consensus in which highly competitive sport is viewed as an increasingly negative influence on society.

If this statement is true—there are strong indications that the present sport management profession—as known today—will have difficulty crossing this post-modern divide that has been postulated.

About Professor Earle F. Zeigler, Ph.D.

Earle F. Zeigler, Ph.D., LL.D., D.Sc. is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States. After 73 years of professional service divided equally between both countries, he writes primarily on North American human values, ethics, and personal decision-making. A past president (and Hetherington Award winner in 1989) of the National Academy of Kinesiology in America; an Honor Award winner of Physical & Health Education Canada (1975); a past president of the International Association for Philosophy of Sport; hon. past president of the North American Society for Sport Management (1986), and Recognition Award recipient of the No. Amer. Soc. For Sport History (2008), Zeigler was also Gulick Award winner (1989) and second Scholar-of-the-Year Award winner of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (1975-76).