Sample Sociology Essay Paper on Deviant Behavior in Kids Playing Sports

Deviant Behavior in Kids Playing Sports

All school going children are encouraged to take part in different sports activities because sports are attributed to psychosocial health benefits. However, some people who argue that high school students who take part in sports end up developing deviant behaviors. As a result, they consider sports participation for high school students to be a risk factor rather than a protective activity. On the other hand, some individuals argues that there is no correlation between adolescents taking part in sports activities and deviant behavior. Additionally, even when the deviant behaviors are observed among athletes, they are unintended or not consequences of sporting activities (latent function). It is crucial to take into consideration the self-identity and the social identity of teenage athletes to understand the causes of the deviant behaviors. Several literature works offer different views regarding this topic, and they should be thoroughly analyzed to determine if a correlation between deviant behavior and sports activity among high students exists.  High school athletes have a better chance at not being deviant while in school and in the long run compared to students who do not take part in sports because the athletes are taught to follow rules, norms, and societal values.

Research Question

Do high school students who participates in sports engage in deviant behavior less often than those who do not play sports?

The research question evaluates whether sports is a major contributing factor in high school kids developing deviant behavior as opposed to those who do not play sports. The subject matters to me because during the basketball team camp, some of the athletes were quite deviant while others were not. I intend to identify the difference in social behaviors among high school students who take part in sports and those who do not indulge in this activity.

Summary of the Existing Literature

Different empirical studies support the hypothesis that high school athletes do not always develop deviant behaviors. According to a study conducted by Hartmann and Massoglia (2007), the type of athletic activity that high school students engage in plays a crucial role in shaping their behavior. For instance, organized athletics deters crimes, deviance, and delinquency among high school learners. Distinct mechanisms such as self-discipline, strong self-esteem, and good character contribute to these positive results. At the same time, while taking part in sports activity, the high school students avoid being idle and bored, which dissuades them from involving themselves in deviant behaviors such as crimes. Spruit et al. (2016) posit that there is no correlation between sports participation and bad behaviors among adolescent athletes. Furthermore, sports is used as a mechanism for preventing juvenile delinquency, which is an indication that it does not contribute to negative behavior in adolescent athletes. Vermillion (2010) argues that the American society believes that extracurricular activities such as sports play a major role in keeping the adolescents out of trouble since they occupy their time and help in teaching the children values and discipline. Additionally, they provide the students a positive contextual environment that offers room for them to socialize with one another. Based on these studies, it is evident that there is no connection between sports and deviant behaviors in athlete in high school.

Analysis and Argument

As mentioned, while some believe that sports in high school encourage negative behavior among the students, others believe that it does the opposite. Usually, the activity is highly promoted due to its health and social benefits to the students. Indeed, some studies support the notion that spots encourage deviant behavior among high school students. They cite it as a major reason behind the increased rate of juvenile delinquency. Such studies also support the idea that the deviant behaviors acquired in high school persist to adulthood thus discourage students from taking part in sports activities. Nonetheless, these studies exhibit circular logic because individual behaviors tend to repeat across contexts (Sociological Research and Methods, 2019). As such, it is possible to make assumptions that repeated behaviors are functional even when they are not.

Based on developmental and functionalist theory, sports play a crucial role in instilling positive values and social norms in high school athletes. As such, the majority of these students have a strong build up character and positive social skills. At the same time, they are hardworking, self-disciplined, and effective in team-work. Functionalists consider these elements as positive integrational effects that high school sports significantly influence (Vermillion, 2010). The main reason sports reinforce positive norms and values in high school athletes is that they have specific rules and regulations that must be followed. As the student athletes learn the aspects of discipline, they end up repeating the same behaviors in their social life outside of sports. Following societal rules, therefore, is not a challenge because sports activities reinforced acceptable behavior in them.  It is evident that the function of sports activity on high school students is to contribute towards making social continuity and stability.

Sports participation tames the socio-emotional processes of the high school students. The assumption has made the local governments in different states in the U.S to consider offering sports activities as an intervention towards preventing deviant behaviors among the youths. Spruit et al. (2015) identified that sports activity has the ability to enhance significant social attachment for the youths. It is due to the fact that in sports, the students work as team who are under the supervision of a coach. At the same time, the activity contributes towards commitment which refrain the youths from engaging in deviant acts.  It also contributes towards their physical well-being majorly because participating in sporting activities breaks down the dysfunctional systems such as boredom and idleness that at times lead to deviant behaviors (Sociological Research and Methods, 2019). As mentioned, the high school athletes do not have time to take part in delinquent activities, especially those that may compromise their sports activity and desire to become successful athletes in the future.

Moreover, while taking part in sports, the students become fit health-wise since they burn the extra calories in their body thus reduce the chances of them developing lifestyle diseases. The majority of student athletes rarely develop obesity and the related chronic illnesses. Sports activity also cultivates positive human interaction that ends up shaping the social life of an individual (Sociological Research and Methods, 2019). Thus, it is difficult to find high school athletes taking part in delinquent activities such violence or shop lifting. It is an indication that the importance of taking part in sports activity in high school is to develop or build a strong character such as virtues and skills as a youth. The young athletes are expected to get committed to their goals and the sports standards, which are important virtues that they can easily reciprocate in their social lives.

Usually, when a high school athlete is involved in a conflict in school or with the community members, the issue is should not necessarily be attributed to their involvement in sports activity. Most of the time, such incidents are personal troubles that stem from individual challenges rather than social challenges (The Sociological Imagination, 2019).  In other cases, such conflicts may be attributed to the social structure or the process meaning that such a child could not avoid it. Based on the mentioned rationales, it is crucial to take into consideration all aspects of conflicts and identify the main factors that contributes towards them instead of assuming that such incidents are the result of sporting activities. According to Durkheim, the social factors and personal experiences of social cohesion and context can sometimes influence suicidal risks or conflicts in an individual (The Sociological Imagination, 2019). It is an illustration that deviant behaviors in kids playing sports is not contributed by the activity itself rather by the larger societal and individual factors.


It has been argued that participating in sports in high school influences students to misbehave. Nonetheless some studies indicate that sports do not influence bad behavior among students. Sports have strict rules and norms that participants have to follow thus sports promote discipline. When high school athletes internalize following rules and norms when playing sports, the behavior translates to other areas of society. In most cases, athlete students who have deviant behaviors do not develop them because of being part of a sports team rather due to the societal structure and personal issues. As such, the suggested connection between sports activity and deviant behavior in athletic students may not exist.


Hartmann, Douglas, and Massoglia, Michael. 2007. “Re-assessing the Relationship between High School Sports Participation and Deviance: Evidence of Enduring, Bifurcated Effects.” Sociol Q, 48(3): 485-505.

Sociological Research and Methods. 2019.

Spruit, Anouk, Vugt, V. Eveline, Van der Put, Claudia, Van der Stouwe, Trudy, and Stams, Geert-Jan. 2016. “Sports Participation and Juvenile Delinquency: A Meta-Analytic Review.” J Youth Adolesc, 45: 655-671.

The Sociological Imagination. 2018.

Vermillion, Mark. 2010. “Sport Participation and Adolescent Deviance: A Logistic Analysis.” Social Thought & Research, 28: 227-259.