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Interactive comment 2.



Hi Tee,

I wanted to comment on this blog for one of my interactive comments as I found some aspects of your writing very interesting, particularly your points on Losi Filipo.

Within my violence and sport blog I spoke of multiple well known NZ rugby players who have avoided convictions for violent acts (such as George Moala and Julian Savea), I also went into detail about Filipo’s crime and the punishment he received. I found it very interesting your links between alcohol and Filipo’s actions, do you think alcohol and large consumptions of alcohol were the main reason behind his actions? I personally think that was part of the cause for his acts but also I took a look at the issue through the lens of an instinct theorist and that showed that Filipo’s actions may have been because of an innate predisposition for violence, hence why he was considered a very physical and aggressive rugby player as rugby was his catharsis for releasing his violent or aggressive tendencies. However, if I take off the instinct theorists glasses we know a shortcoming within instinct theory is that he may become more violent in society if involved in violent and aggressive sport (e.g. – rugby).

Another point you raised which really interested me was the State of Origin fight between Gallen and Myles, this is very similar to another sporting fight I witnessed in the UK between Leicesters Tuilagi and Saracens Ashton.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 8.23.39 PM.pngI believe that Tuilagi has been socialised into violence within this sport as he is a very aggressive player who has a history of violent conduct within his sport, my opinion could be seen as looking through a critical theorist’s lens. However, someone who is a functionalist would put the blame for Tuilagi’s actions solely on the player as they believe sport only reinforces positive social outcomes.

I really enjoyed reading your blog and thought you raised some great points, your conclusion about voicing our opinions on violence in sport was very powerful too. Looking forward to your response, all the best with future blogs.


Harry. 🙂




Race and ethnicity’s role in sport.


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Sport in New Zealand is something participated in by many people from all walks of life, from my experiences with sport in New Zealand we are a society of egalitarianism. Egalitarianism is the belief that all people are equal and deserve equal opportunities, equal status and life chances, I used the term ‘my experiences’ as people from different backgrounds may have a differing opinion on New Zealand’s sporting society based on their experiences. Race and ethnicity is always a touchy subject that people try to sway away from talking about to avoid ‘stepping on people’s toes’ but by taking a sociological view on this topic I aim to delve deeper into race and ethnicity’s role in sport with a look at the Vodafone Warriors and the 1981 Springbok rugby tour.

Before I discuss the role, race and ethnicity play in sport and how they impacted the 1987 springbok tour firstly let’s look further into race and ethnicity. Race refers to categories of people regarded as socially distinct because they share genetic traits believed to be important by people with power in society. Whereas ethnicity refers to categories of people regarded as socially distinct because they share a way of life and a commitment to the ideas and norms that constitute that way of life. The term racial ideology encourages people to see sports performances in ‘racialised’ terms (in terms of the athlete’s skin colour). Racialised terms in relation to sports performances can lead to sporting achievements such as Eliud Kipchoge’s two-hour marathon run attempt (Kenyan long distance runner) or Zhang Yining’s back to back Olympic gold medals in both singles and doubles (Chinese table tennis Olympian) being undermined and stereotyped as ‘natural’ due to their origins.

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Racial ideology is used in society sometimes to explain the success or failure of athletes with darker skin colour in racial terms, a prime example of this is the Vodafone Warriors. When the Warriors play well and win it is often discussed as being because of their exciting ‘Polynesian style’ of play, but when they lose it is discussed as due to unnecessary ‘Polynesian style’ of play, Skipwith (2015) states “Billy Moore’s ludicrous “coconut style” comment and the casual nature of its delivery reveals much about the everyday nature of racism in the NRL and typifies the narrow-minded ways in which the Warriors are commonly thought of and referred to.”

Perhaps one of the most controversial sporting event in terms of sport and racism/race & ethnicity for New Zealand was the 1981 Springbok rugby tour. the tour of 1981 divided New Zealand in two, those for the tour (not wanting to mix sport with politics) and those against the tour (people who thought it showed NZ supporting racism/apartheid). During the time of the tour South Africa was in the middle of a political policy known as apartheid (meaning apartness in Afrikaans), the policies intentions were to segregate the people of South Africa into two distinct groups based on ‘race’ – the people with the power or the ‘majority’ who were white/European South Africans and the ‘minority’ coloured South Africans. This policy was an obvious issue for New Zealanders due to the influence of native Maori rugby players within the All Blacks. The tour went ahead despite the views of many New Zealanders and the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) refused to remove Maori’s from the NZ teams despite requests from the South African Rugby Union (SARU) due to their apartheid policy. With the ‘all white’ South African team and media being a part of the tour there was always bound to be some controversy during the match versus the native NZ team, the ministry for culture and heritage (2016) states that one South African journalist was reportedly quoted to say that “it is bad enough having to play officially designated New Zealand natives (NZ Maori XV), but to spectacle thousands of Europeans frantically cheering on the band of coloured men to defeat members of their own race was too much for the Springboks who were frankly disgusted”. If we look at the tour through a functionalist lens we would most likely fall into the NZ population of people who were ‘for the tour’ as the functionalist believes that the tour would have (by not mixing politics with sport) had the possibility to unite cultures and bridge divides due to their belief that sport is egalitarian. Personally, I do not think that the functionalist view is valid in terms of the 1981 tour as the South Africans who were categorised as ‘minority’ were not given equal opportunities and were not seen as equal to the European South Africans as they were not even allowed to be involved on the tour despite how good they may have been at rugby. The 1981 Springbok rugby tour was a significant historical event in New Zealand’s sporting history, the fact the tour was allowed to continue despite mass protests led many other countries to boycott sporting events with New Zealanders due to NZ seeming to not be against apartheid by allowing an ‘apartheid policy – all white’ Springbok team to compete in a series of matches versus the All Blacks, it is an event still heavily debate today.

Race, ethnicity and sport have come a long way since the days of a controversial apartheid fuelled rugby tour. nowadays we celebrate athletes from many different backgrounds excelling in sports at the highest level, examples include – LeBron James (NBA – African American), Miguel Cabrera (MLB – Venezuelan) and Kei Nishikori (Tennis world number 7 – Japanese). However, there are still many cases of racism shown in sport, such as football and more recently rugby in Christchurch (Murphy, 2016). I believe to lessen the issues and hopefully one day end them we need to have stricter punishments such as one year suspensions and heavy fines for any act of racism within sport.

What are your thoughts on race, ethnicity and sport?Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 8.18.54 PM






Getty Images. (2008). Zhang Yining of China returns a ball. Retrieved from

Ministry for culture and heritage. (2016). Politics and sport. Retrieved from

Murphy, E. (2016) Investigation pending after another claim of racism in Christchurch club rugby match. Retrieved from

Rechenberg, T. (2014). FIFA and racism. Retrieved from

San Diego Museum of Man. (2017). Race: are we so different. Retrieved from

Skipwith, D. (2015). ‘Coconut’ remark reveals NRL’s casual racism. Retrieved from

Wilson, J. (2015). London Marathon contender Eliud Kipchoge reveals his childhood edge over rivals. Retrieved from

Sport and violence: When does ‘a bit of push and shove’ become assault?



Violence is unfortunately all around us, from a young age we can experience violence through bullying either physically or verbally, violence is creeping more and more into social media through txt bullying/online bullying and New Zealand is well known for domestic/family violence. Statistics provided by the Ministry of Social Development (2017) state that about half of all homicides in NZ are committed by someone who is identified as family. But when it comes to sport (especially rugby) we tend to look the other way or ‘sweep it under the carpet’, by taking a sociological view on the topic of violence in sport I aim to delve deeper into why this is through this blog.


Big name All Blacks such as George Moala (assault – with intent to injure), Julian Savea (domestic assault) and Sitiveni Sivivatu (domestic assault) are some of the stand out athletes involved in the long list of rugby players who have avoided convictions for violent acts. However, recently perhaps the biggest talking point in relation to violence within NZ rugby is Losi Filipo, Filipo’s committed an act of hostile aggression in 2016 assaulting four people including two females. Filipo was sentenced to nine months of supervision on the conditions that he attended anger management, alcohol and drug courses. According to 1News (2016) The judge who handed out these punishments was accused of glossing over the seriousness of the attack.


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Upon handing out the punishments for Filipo the Judge was also stated to have said “you have the opportunity to demonstrate that you are worthy of being a professional rugby player”, according to Mellissa Nightingale (2016). So, did the rugby potential of Filipo give him a ‘get out of jail free card’?

If we look at the Filipo incident through an instinct theorist lens we may believe that Filipo has a ‘killer instinct’ and rugby can act as a catharsis for his violent acts, or a place for him to release his violent tendencies in a socially accepted context. This lens may have been what the judge looked through when deciding the final sentence for Filipo and when he decided to comment on Filipo one day still becoming a professional rugby player. Instinct theory is often used to justify violent behaviour and phrases such as ‘it’s primal’ or ‘it’s in his blood’ can be used as complimentary rather than critical. However, this catharsis may not have been the best decision as some research suggests that people are more likely to be violent in society if involved in violent or aggressive sport.

I feel only time will tell if the judges possible instinct theory decision on Filipo’s future was the right choice, would a harsher sentence have helped to teach him more about his wrongdoings or does he need rugby as a safety valve?

Briefly before I classified Filipo’s violent act as ‘hostile aggression’, the reason I stated it as such is because his primary intention was to inflict physical harm on the victims, he was not motivated by rewards such as money or social approval but if he was I would classify it as instrumental aggression.


If we take a different approach to violence in sport and look through the lens of a social learning theorist we can understand that the beliefs of what we perceive to be both formal/informal norms in society can be learnt through observations and experiences we have in life. Sport (especially rugby in New Zealand) is viewed as a ‘separate reality’ (an example of ‘seperate reality’ is within a boxing match you get points for punching the other person but in reality, this is illegal to do on the streets). Because of this as a social learning theorist when we encounter violence in a sporting environment we may began to think this is a norm since on the sports field you do not really get punished in comparison to reality (jail sentences), this could be a factor between many elite athletes on and off field violent acts.


So, the question is where do we draw the line? How can one act in a sporting environment that is illegal to do in say a shopping mall not be punished the same way just because it is done during the 80 minutes on the field where everything outside of the boundaries of the pitch is forgotten? Also, do we let elite athletes get away with just a telling off in NZ because of the ‘high-profile’ sporting careers they have or could potentially have?


Violence is a ‘touchy subject’ in New Zealand but I believe improvements to how we deal with violent acts on the sporting field as well as sporting athletes committing violent crimes off the field need to be made. What are your thoughts on the issue?






1News. (2016). The moment judge tells disgraced Losi Filipo he isn’t going to jail for brutal attack. Retrieved from


Melissa Nightingale. (2016). Wellington rugby player Losi Filipo maintains guilty plea, is sentenced to supervision. Retrieved from


Ministry of social development. (2017) Family violence statistics. Retrieved from




Interactive comment 1 (UPDATED)

(To be assessed)

Hi Andy,

Just commenting on your blog in relation to a couple of aspects I found interesting.

Something that interested me was your comparison between how male and female sport is perceived around the world, your example was in South America – football is for boys and volleyball is for girls. Why do you think in South America this is socially accepted that boys are seen as playing one sport while girls stick to another? Do you think this would be accepted in NZ especially when certain female teams perform better on the international stage? (e.g. – NZ men’s 7’s rugby vs women’s 7’s rugby teams).

My thinking regarding this is that In New Zealand I believe we tend to look through more of a critical lens in terms of this issue. This is because a critical theorist would aim to eliminate unjust treatment of females not being able to play football, a critical theorist might also aim to investigate why this is the case in South America by asking questions such as whose voices & perspectives are represented? (E.g.- is it an all male governing body for the sport), and also what strategies can be used for people who are excluded from the sport? (Such as female football players in South America as was your example). Similarly we could also look through a feminist lens to explain in this situation how women have been disadvantaged and oppressed, and then focus on achieving an equality (not ‘bringing men down’) between the two sexes in your football example.

One other point that interested me was the picture (figure 2) of the babies, one dressed in blue and the other in pink. Do you think if we did not associate children with these stereotypical social norms such as – boys = blue colour, war toys, rugby balls etc. vs girls = pink colour, Barbie dolls, dresses etc., they may grow up to develop their own beliefs and values as opposed to how society believes they should act. I believe this is an act of ‘gender socialisation’. Gender socialisation is the process whereby people acquire the rules, beliefs, and attitudes ‘appropriate’ to their gender. Someone looking through a functionalist lens will try to reinforce that sport is a positive arena that challenges gender stereotypes such as males all having short hair or females should all be elegant and gentle.

Let me know your thoughts.

Gender issues and interesting aspects within sport in New Zealand.

(To be assessed)

When we as a sporting society think of males as opposed to females in sport or masculinity vs femininity, we think strength, deeper voices and not displaying emotions for masculinity whereas femininity is more caring, pretty and elegant. Sports such as Rugby or boxing are seen as more masculine whilst Ballet may be seen as more feminine, this is examples of ideas and beliefs that reflect the dominant norms within society related to gender otherwise known as ‘gender ideology’.

So straight away any female rugby athlete is looked at as more masculine, she may be called manly or butch, will be seen as straying away from the social norms of a female and may even be labelled as a lesbian despite society knowing nothing about her sexual orientation. These social norms and ideologies do not focus on empowering female NZ rugby athletes rather they tend to unfairly label them (yet this did not stop the women’s sevens team’s success – gaining a silver medal at Rio 2016, whilst the men’s team scraped into 5th place).  Throughout this blog, I aim to delve deeper into why women in sport are viewed differently to how men are viewed within sport, with my newly adopted sociological lens I have become more interested in the gender side of sport and aim to get a better understanding of the issues surrounding gender with a focus on New Zealand Sevens Rugby.

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From a young age children, both boys and girls are taught how to dress, behave and expectations on how you should act depending on your sex, factors such as boy/girl names and toys are also applied to the child (if the parents know the sex of the child this can even happen before birth). This is an example of gender socialization, which is the process whereby people acquire the rules, beliefs and attitudes appropriate to their particular gender. For boy’s things such as toys including action men, war heroes or rugby balls and for girl’s toys including doll houses, Barbie’s or pretty dresses can influence the way the child perceives how they should act and behave (either in a masculine or feminine way). Another example is how children play, from my childhood I remember playing pretend WWE wrestling with friends but then being told off for doing it with my younger sister as it was an expectation of how a boy should not behave towards girls as she was more delicate or it wasn’t ‘girly’.

Nowadays women’s sport is shown on television more and more, competitions such as Women’s NPC is occasionally televised, the Women’s ASB Classic NZ tennis tournament and Hong Kong Women’s Rugby HSBC sevens competition are both annually televised. It was not always like that, women’s sport was very rare if ever televised but since the early 1980’s it has increased dramatically to what it is now because of higher female participation in sport. This is in part due to new opportunities, global women’s rights movements, increased women in sport media coverage roles (examples include Melodie Robinson and Jenny-May Clarkson) and also government equal rights legislations. However, I believe that certain aspects are influencing female participation in sport and leading women to be cautious when wanting to play sport. These are aspects such as ignorant members of society resenting the change, few amounts of women represented in decision-making roles in sport (no female has ever been CEO for NZRU) and also the threat of homophobia from society making females less likely to want to participate in sport out of fear of being labelled a ‘lesbian’. The homophobia for women in sport is a barrier many may not think exists but it is a large influence according to an article by the board director of the Australian Womensport and Recreation association Danielle Warby who interviewed a female athlete who plays basketball for Australia (2014), this athlete stated, There is the stigma that all female athletes are or ‘get turned’ into lesbians anyway. It frustrates me that being someone who was in a heterosexual relationship for most of my life I am giving this stigma validity”.

If we take a critical lens approach in relation to gender in sport and look at this topic we can see that gender inequality is still a big issue and the sporting world remains a largely male dominated industry. Slowly but surely things are changing such as more women in sport reporting roles (examples include Hayley Holt co-anchoring The Crowd Goes Wild and Meghan Mutrie hosting segments on The Rugby Breakdown). As well as more Women’s sport being live and televised on Sky TV. As opposed to how a functionalist would think of only the positive things sport does for Women such as a sense of empowerment a critical lens of thinking has us question the taken for granted values and behaviours in sport (such as broadcasting rights, prize money, uniforms of team).

What are your thoughts regarding Women in sport and the current state of New Zealand’s male dominated sport industry? Are we happy to have ‘primetime’ Sky Sport 1 slots dedicated to only male sport? Or is it time for change and equality within New Zealand’s sport industry, after all the current HSBC Sevens rankings have NZ Men ranked at number four while the Women are number one.







Goodall, F. Getty Images. (2015). Steinlager awards. Retrieved on 04/04/2017. From

Harris, S. (2015) Portia Woodman wins World Rugby Award. Retrieved on 04/04/2017 from

Warby, D. (2014). Homophobia in sport and why it’s different for women. Retrieved from

Delving deeper into how New Zealand’s elite rugby athletes create a link between sport and social norms.

(To be assessed).


Earlier this month the New Zealand (and world) public learnt of the illegal activities of former All Black, world rugby’s highest ever point scorer and current highest paid New Zealand rugby athlete Dan Carter. Carter was caught in Paris drink-driving with a blood alcohol level 0.98g per litre above the French legal limit after a club dinner with his Paris based Racing 92 rugby team. With similar stories of New Zealand rugby stars caught in illegal/frowned upon acts in the past I have always brushed it to the side (as I believe many New Zealanders do) as we hold ‘our All Blacks’ in the highest regards within New Zealand society and prefer to think of them as hero’s/role models rather than people we look down on.

After some careful thought and a new perspective on sociological aspects within sport I have decided to delve deeper into why we place these athletes on such a high pedestal within society, so much so that society and the athletes involved believe that they are above the ‘laws of the land’ (such as drink-driving). Looking at this incident from a critical theorists lens we can see how someone who represents/has represented New Zealand sport at such a high standard for so long can be an influence to society through this act, Carter’s drink driving combined with New Zealand’s heavy drinking culture (often associated with club rugby) may lead people to believe that this behaviour is acceptable if he is not given the proper punishment. This is due to the fact that a critical theorist does not just see sport as a reflection of society but also recognises that the sport and how athletes conduct themselves influences society. However, if I look at this from a functionalist’s lens we would try to brush this incident to the side as Carter has long been seen as someone who improves social development and behaviour within sport for society. Also, Carters actions are something to overlook, as a functionalist does not recognise the possibility that sometimes sports (and behaviours associated with sports, such as drinking alcohol) reproduce negative social outcomes.

Carters act of formal deviance could also be seen as an act of socialization, an opportunity to learn how he fits within his new team in a new country (also a country with a heavy drinking culture). A wide range of factors may have influenced carter’s decision to ‘get behind the wheel’ after the Racing 92 dinner including showing off his masculinity to new teammates in how much he can drink, team-mates may have also done the same thing, the culture of drinking in relation to rugby and also how the media may perceive what he is doing, ultimately he decided to go ahead and drive whilst intoxicated. In what I believe to be an example of socialization, Carter posted on his social media a public apology for being caught drink driving and the mistakes he has made in this “error of judgement”, this is socialization in my opinion as he is trying to regain his foothold as a role model within sport and is showing his knowledge of how we fit/behave within society.


Dan Carter social media apology.


However, my real question is if he had not been caught would he have posted a similar apology, coming clean for his mistakes and would he do this again, the answer I believe is it is highly unlikely he would have owned up to his wrongdoings despite being 0.98g per litre above the French legal blood alcohol limit.

Along with Carter other rugby stars have been involved in acts of formal deviance going against the social norms recently, including another former All Black Ali Williams (cocaine possession), former Wallabies international James O’Conner (cocaine possession) and Julian Savea (current All Black – assault charge).

Upon looking deeper into these acts of formal deviance within rugby (with my new sociological view) I am curious to know how these acts straying away from social norms are starting to creep more and more into the identities of rugby players. As a national, treasured sport within New Zealand I am interested in finding out more about how the New Zealand public/society views these deviant acts if they continue to arise in the future. How long or what will it take before the New Zealand sports society will not continue to ‘sweep these issues under the carpet’?

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