Show Summary Details

Page of

 PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, CRIMINOLOGY AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE ( (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2016. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited. Please see applicable Privacy Policy and Legal Notice (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 22 February 2018

Sports Crime and Popular Culture

Summary and Keywords

Sport is a part of our shared global and separate national popular cultures. Understanding of baseball may be low in the United Kingdom and may come from films like Field of Dreams, but the phrase “three strikes and you’re out” has entered English and Welsh Criminal Justice practice. Such mandatory sentencing for repeat offenders are, like “zero tolerance” or “the war on drugs,” often seen as imports from the Unites States. The popularity of baseball in Japan may be known to only a few outside that country. Many will associate Sumo with Japan, fewer will know of corruption and betting scandals (on baseball!) in the sport. The global sports of football and athletics/track and field have seen major corruption scandals. In athletics, that corruption may also involve the covering up the use of performance enhancing drugs. The sport most associated with drugs is cycling. The premier cycling—and popular cultural, event—the Tour de France, has seen occupational drug taking on a considerable scale, with the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong being the only knowledge of the sport that many will have.

All these sports have waged their “war on drugs” or corruption, and these have entered popular culture through books and films. Yet many still believe sport to have noble roots and beneficial outcomes. Projects set up to prevent crime or encourage desistance from it are popular around the world; examples being soccer or rugby for prisoners, car racing for “joyriders,” or challenging adventure trips. Even tennis, golf, and video games have their supporters. Many successful boxers speak of troubled pasts from which their sport (and popularity) has saved them. However, many have found that fame (or loss of fame) and physical prowess have led them into trouble. There are also political and moral objections to sport. Specifically, there are feminist objections to the violence of some sportsmen towards women, as shown by stars of the NBA and NFL, NCAA athletes, and even local college teams. The occasional violence of sportswomen is treated, like women’s crime, as doubly deviant and especially newsworthy.

Keywords: sport, popular culture, corruption, doping, performance enhancing drugs, violence, violence against women, media, film, sports films

There may be as many sports as there are countries, and even more crimes. Some sports and most crimes are global. Some sports may be national, but knowledge of it may be global, as we shall see, for instance, in baseball. Sport is arguably a part of popular culture, and we might simply retail the many crimes within, attached to, or associated with sport (Groombridge, 2016). Such crimes range from stealing signs and deflating the football (“Deflategate,” of New England Patriots fame) to more problematic behavior such as bounties for hurting opposing players (“Bountygate,” New Orleans Saints, 2012), and sexual abuse and domestic violence by athletes, such as Jameis Winston, a college football quarterback (Florida State University), who allegedly raped a women, but the Tallahassee, Florida police did not even investigate the case. This was one of the cases that began the now visible discussion about cover-ups of rape on college campuses. Elements of such true stories or even whole episodes may become films, books, TV shows, or videogames. However, “sport crimes” have been chosen that resonate further within popular culture, sometimes from books, sometimes TV, but mostly in movies (themselves often based on books). It is through these media that sport has entered global popular culture. The rules of various sports may not be known around the world, but the narrative arc is more easily followed and involves good and bad, heroes and villains.

The law, as with public, moral, and political discourse, likes to be clear on the lines that divide good and bad, hero and villain. The media can often be harsh on the “cheat,” and yet the Gay Future case in 1974 shows this is not always the case. That story became a TV film—Murphy’s Stroke (Cvitanovich, 1980), starring Pierce Brosnan. Our love (or tolerance) of sporting criminals is a theme throughout.

An Irish gang, led by millionaire builder Tony Murphy, arranged for a good horse to be trained in Ireland. It was entered into a race in Cartmel, in the north of England, chosen for its distance from cities and its poor communications. At the same time, a poorer horse was placed with an English trainer with a poor record, and betting reflected this. The horses were switched on the day of the race, and Gay Future won by 15 lengths. Multiple bets had been placed disguised in the sort of combined bets that “mug punters” might typically make.1 The starting price odds were also raised artificially by declaring a poor amateur rider—substituted for the horse’s usual rider on the day—and rubbing soap powder on the horse so that he appeared to be sweating up in the ring. Some bookmakers paid out on the winning bets, but not all, and the plot unraveled when a journalist discovered that other horses named in the bets had never left their yards. In other words, these horses were never intended to run and were only entered as a cover. Their subsequent withdrawal turned a combined bet into single one on Gay Future to win at 10 to 1, which, if successful, would have been worth about £300,000 (more than £3m now). At Preston Crown Court, Murphy and the trainer were fined. The Jockey Club (then the disciplinary authority) also issued a fine and banned them from racing for 10 years.

Forty years on, the trainer, old Harrovian (past member of the elite Harrow School) Tony Collins, was welcomed to the Cartmel racecourse, wined and dined, and invited to regale the crowd. He was also introduced to Michael Caulfield, an ex-chief executive of the Jockey Club. This heart-warming tale of bygone roguery says much about the sort of admiration for “capers” that movies tap into, as well as the English class system and ideas of victimhood. Because the bookmakers were the victims in this case, many racing aficionados would forgive the plotters. Incidentally, Collins’ golf club expelled him as a result of the case, and has not readmitted him to this day.

Sumo, religion, and the royal family are bedrocks of Japanese society, yet Manzenreiter (2014) notes that allegations of drug abuse, corruption, and betting (on baseball) have recently tarnished its reputation and appeal. So crime may make us fall out of love, but we continue to dream.

Our Dreamy Fields

Globalization is a contested and resisted term. Contested in that there is no agreement as to what it means precisely, when or whether it has started, and how ubiquitous it is. Where globalization means the invasion of a local market by an international brand—“Cola-ization”—it might be resisted, but that resistance may maintain the structural power of the brand even through the symbols of resistance—for instance “Mecca Cola” (Ram, 2007). There are brands within sport and brands of sport. Association football, or “soccer,” can claim to be a global brand on the basis of viewing figures for the World Cup and worldwide membership of its representative body, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA. Major League Baseball’s “World Series” may have less claim to global representativeness than the “World Conker Championships” played in a village in Northamptonshire, England, but it has far greater numbers of players, spectators, and brand recognition globally.2 Baseball is embedded in American culture to the extent that it has special protection in law. Thus, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun opened the decision in Flood v Kuhn, 407 U.S. 258 (1972) with a statement maintaining baseball’s unique exemption from anti-trust legislation with an elegiac history of baseball:

It is a century and a quarter since the New York Nine defeated the Knickerbockers 23 to 1 on Hoboken's Elysian Fields June 19, 1846, with Alexander Jay Cartwright as the instigator and the umpire. The teams were amateur, but the contest marked a significant date in baseball's beginnings. That early game led ultimately to the development of professional baseball and its tightly organized structure. The Cincinnati Red Stockings came into existence in 1869 upon an outpouring of local pride. [. . .] Shortly thereafter, on St. Patrick's Day in 1871, the National Association of Professional Baseball Players was founded and the professional league was born.

He then lists, in the judgment, “the many names, celebrated for one reason or another, that have sparked the diamond and its environs and that have provided tinder for recaptured thrills, for reminiscence and comparisons, and for conversation and anticipation in-season and off-season.” He lists over 70 players, including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. He declares, “all the other happenings, habits, and superstitions about and around baseball that made it the “national pastime.”

Support for the national pastime may now be waning in favor of basketball and American football, or, indeed, various motorsports. In popular culture, films like Field of Dreams, retain the elegiac, mythic approach to baseball by evoking the “Black Sox” scandal. Eight Men Out (Sayles, 1988) more squarely addresses the issue of that historic incident of the corrupt fixing of games. Crime is in the background/backstory of Field of Dreams, yet it has attracted “pilgrims.” That should be no surprise given that Mosher argues:

The extent and depth of the penetration of language, images, and metaphors of this film into ordinary American culture speaks to the power of myth told right. Indeed, the redemption myth of Field of Dreams may be as powerful as the creation of Cooperstown that so dominates baseball.

(Mosher, 1991, p. 272)

The reference to Cooperstown is to the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame museum, which itself references the film on their website’s Museum Facts: “It is every fan's ‘Field of Dreams’ with its stories, legends and magic to be passed on from generation to generation.”3 Yet “Shoeless Joe” Jackson is disbarred from the Hall of Fame because of his part in the World Series 1919 where Chicago’s White Sox lost to the Cincinnati Reds unexpectedly. Joe is one “he” that comes when the baseball diamond is built in the cornfield; subtextually, the hero’s father is another, but the film’s fans come too.

Mosher visited the “field” at Dyersville, Iowa, where the film was made, in the year after it was released. It still operates as an attraction, and its website claims over a million visitors to date.4 Mosher asked 77 people of the 257 registered as visitors (including two from Canada, one from Japan, and one from Germany) from 10:30 to 2:30 on a day in August 1990 four questions: first, what was their favorite ball park; second, their opinion on artificial turf (these to get a sense of their relationship to baseball); and last, why they had come? This question was most significant for his purposes. It is his third question that is significant for ours. It was contemporary then, related back to the Scandal, and is still pertinent today.

In the third question, he asked whether Pete Rose’s lifetime ban of involvement in baseball for betting on the result of games when he managed the Cincinnati Reds should be lifted (and with it the possibility of admission to the Hall of Fame) and about his future in general. All 77 of his respondents felt Rose should be in jail and all but two that he should remain banned from baseball indefinitely. Yet 75 also believed he should be admitted to the Hall of Fame. It would be interesting to carry out a similar survey again and at different shrines to sporting heroes—some of whom turn out not to be, or never were, the model citizens that myth, promoters, or advertisers peddle.

It is a mark of the power of such myths, particularly when wafted across the Atlantic by Hollywood, that an English academic can write about this pausing only to find quotes and check references save to look up Rose.

At the time of Mosher’s visit to Dyersville, Rose had been retired 4 years. He had become the player with the most baseball statistics, including career hits (4,256). Rose poses a problem. Since his ban from baseball, others have been enrolled in the Hall of Fame despite steroid use. He poses the dilemma of whether their crimes against baseball (or the law) are worse than his. For our purposes, we should note Rose’s ascent not into the Hall of Fame but entering the Cave of Celebrity.

Rose is now a fixture of American popular culture, summarized by Kennedy thus:

What do we think of him now, in his 70s and deep into a strange, sometimes slapstick post-baseball tourney that has led him to prison for tax fraud; to the pro wrestling ring; to the dog track; to divorce from his second wife; to a reality television series pinned in part to the surgical fate of his young girlfriends breasts; and to so many instances of hawking one thing or another, selling his signature, his story, himself? (Kennedy, 2014, no page, Intro to Kindle edition)

Apologies to American readers for whom this may be very old news, but hope they’ve been reminded of the crime and justice elements of these sports tales that have become obscured by their mythic assimilation into national popular cultural consciousness. While all sports have crime and overlapping popular cultural representations, few have achieved the status of the Black Sox affair with many films, books, and references in other media. Thus:

Every time a Black Sox storyteller says it’s so provides us with an opportunity to better understand and critique the past and the present, to participate in ongoing conversations about myriad subjects: crime and punishment, myth and memory, labor-management relations, and the fate of a long gone ballplayer with a lyrical name.

(Nathan, 2002, p. 221)

Criminality in sport is overlooked or condoned (Groombridge, 2016), so it is not surprising that many of the cultural products discussed here involve crime or deviance but may be thought of simply as sport. There may be cultural differences too. Gifford (1996) catalogues British film and says this of sports movies, “a dramatic film, usually involving crime, in which the central theme is a sport such as boxing, football, horse racing, etc.” (p. xiv) However, the polysemic nature of texts means that one might re-examine much of the same material and declare it to be about masculinity, race, or national identity. To turn his assertion around, one might say many crime movies, particularly the heist sub-genre, are sport-like or ludic in pitting police and thieves against each other with a prize at stake. Thrasher (1927) is very fond of using the word sport. Sometimes the use is literal and sometimes metaphorical; some references might be seen as provocative. Thus a gang of pickpockets is said to “find excellent opportunity for sport” (Thrasher, 1927, p. 12) at a local market, and he also asserts that stealing “is as much a result of the sport motive as of a desire for revenue” (p. 92).

What counts as sport is subject to debate. In England, recently, both bridge, the card game, and bell ringing have sought to argue that they are sports.5 Legally what counts as crime would be clearer, but criminologists are wont to point out changing definitions over time and place. Furthermore, incorporation into popular culture frequently occludes any criminality involved. Further distancing can occur when the two are bought to together in the area of fantasy. Thus the rampant criminality of all contestants in the Wacky Races (Barbera & Hanna, 1968–1970) becomes “cheating” in the keywords used by IMDB to describe the series. It may be ironic that criminologists, Ekblom and Pease (2014), gloss over the competitors’ criminality (or Mertonian “innovation”) to deploy it as a metaphor for crime prevention!

But, like Dick Dastardly in the Wacky Races cartoons covertly tying an anchor behind competitors' vehicles, it may be possible to thwart offenders by actively disrupting their innovative capacity.

(Ekblom & Pease, 2014, p. 2530)

Wells notes, in a discussion of Hanna and Barbera’s Scooby’s Laff-A-Lympics (1977), that it echoes “models of sports broadcasting, and indeed the competitive dynamics of Wacky Races [. . .], the currency of the narratives is always concerned with the moral and ethical premises that legitimise winning” (Wells, 2014, p. 154). These matters are not just for sports ethicists, they touch on criminology too. As the villain, Dick Dastardly always lost, usually tragicomically, but his rivals were often equally innovative in their approach to winning, though occasionally cooperative with each other in foiling his moustache-twirling plans.

Bridge may not have the popular cultural reach of poker and many may only know of bell ringing from Sayers’ (1934) detective novel, The Nine Tailors, (and BBC TV and radio adaptations), which features bell ringing as an integral part of the plot and even as the means of one death. In the tradition of the English detective genre of the time, the coziness of the milieu contrasts with the gruesomeness of the crime. Moreover the bell ringing is very traditional; that is, purely for civil and religious purposes, not competitive ones. There are competitions amongst bell ringers for musical quality but also record attempts at particularly complex peals the working through of which might take many hours, even for six bells, and considerably longer for each additional bell.

Bridge lost its attempt to be counted as a sport.6 Facetiously, Groombridge (2016) suggested that the existence of cheating, rather than physicality, was the mark of competitive sport. Bridge has had some cases of cheating, and much popular cultural material features cheating at cards. Some even suggest that the hero of Sayers’ novel is engaged in cheating by replacing one of the bell ringers during the peal! For the purist, no substitute is allowed.

Boxing is a sport with a long history of being illegal or involving illegality, and it continues to attract calls for its renewed criminalization. Boxing’s home may now be in the United States, but its origins are in the United Kingdom. Even where it is legal, illegal versions still occur. Popular culture has continued to engage with both. Thus, Rocky (Avildsen, 1977) and the multiple ongoing sequels lionize the brutality of legal boxing, and Fight Club (Fincher, 1999) glorifies the illegal—and illegality surrounds even the legitimate. Though a case might be made that sport is only the vehicle but the subject is actually masculinity—damaged and damaging.

More positively, Harrow (2015) notes that Daniel Mendoza’s popularity as a boxer brought him to the attention of George III and is said to have ameliorated the standing of his fellow Jews, which bears testimony to the power of sport. Mendoza was discovered in a street brawl, and many of his fights were occasioned by the abuse he received. He was portrayed by the cartoonist Gilroy in heroic pose.

Picking up on Nathan’s referencing of what a small boy is said to have asked “Shoeless Joe,” we might simply say in respect of sport, and admit fully to ourselves that “It is So.” Even if Joe himself may have been innocent.

Baseball may speak to the soul of America, and its crimes break its heart, but other sports have their national importance too. The tale of Gay Future feels very English despite the Irish connection, but cricket in the United Kingdome might be seen to hold the place of baseball in the United States and Sumo in Japan. In cycling, the Tour de France reigns supreme amongst cycle races, is third only to the Olympics and the World Cup in international coverage/viewing, but it is also of profound national pride and disappointment to the French. Pride in the event but hurt at the failure to win it recently.

“War on Drugs” or Corruption

Penfold-Mounce (2009) notes how crime can make celebrities of criminals and how criminality can impact the standing of existing celebrities. Many of her examples are of sports stars, yet sport gets no separate discussion, nor index entry, in her work. Yar (2014) examines some of the autobiographies of sports stars whose fame has suffered from the specific sports crime of “doping.” The example of Pete Rose shows how official attitudes may differ from the popular, and how stigma can sometimes be managed, even monetized.

While doping can be seen to be a “sport crime”—“criminal” only within sport—it is often criminalized or may require attendant criminality (the importation of steroids, the fraudulent manipulation of tests, or bribery of officials). Yet these may still be the basis for comedy and drama. In Hold That Line (Beaudine, 1952) comic stalwarts, The Bowery Boys are enrolled in University in a nature versus nurture experiment that sees them become stars of the football team using “vitamins” so successfully that a bookmaker kidnaps the “vitamized” quarterback in an attempt to influence the game. Arriving late at the game, the quarterback, his performance no longer enhanced, requires trickery for the team to triumph.

The 2015 film The Program (Frears) focuses on Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France cyclist who eventually admitted to taking drugs.7 In publicity for the film, the actor Ben Foster described taking part in a rigorous training regime and spending time on the U.S. Pro Challenge cycle tour in preparation for playing the lead role. Foster also admitted to having taken performance-enhancing drugs, a confession that was treated as indicative of his commitment to his art. Such behavior is not necessarily healthy or beneficial to an actor or to those they play. Actors playing drug-taking music stars might not feel the need to take method acting so far but would seek to emulate the performance. There is often discussion about the role of drugs, including alcohol, in art but no suggestion it should be banned specifically within music or theatre beyond any societal sanction. Artistic depictions of drug taking within artistic communities is never seen as cheating, but as just par for the course or regrettable.8

In the build up to the Olympic Games in Brazil (2016), much was made of putative bans against countries that failed to put sufficiently robust testing systems in place. Urine and blood samples from the London and Beijing Games were retested using updated methods. Bans for individual athletes resulted. However, just as much attention was paid in the media to alleged corruption in the International Athletics Associations Federation and the International Olympic Committee in overlooking doping in the past or favoring certain bids to host the games. The governing body of Association Football (FIFA) has had similar problems with respect to accusations about the staging of events. Such high level and institutional accusations are less likely to be the subject of popular cultural productions like Hollywood film, but they do feature in print media and documentaries. Even so, concentrating on the lower levels is easier. Arnold Schwartznegger may be seen smoking marijuana in Pumping Iron (Butler & Fiore, 1977) and has since admitted to steroid use, but Bigger, Stronger, Faster (Bell, 2008) specifically examines steroid use by individuals.9

Examples of corruption and other crime can be found in other movies, For instance, rampant use of ringers in American football games in the Marx Brothers’ Horse Feathers (McLeod, 1932) and Altman’s (1970) M.A.S.H. Criminal deception can be seen in The Ringer (Blaustein, 2005), where our hero enters the Special Olympics though he has no mental impairment. He intends to win a race so his uncle can bet on it and clear a gambling debt and fund the medical treatment of a friend without health insurance who he feels guilty about. He loses, but the bet is won, and we see him later using his drama skills to work with those who properly qualified for the Special Olympics. A heart-warming story unless you are a bookmaker. Interestingly, the Special Olympics eventually endorsed the film. They might be less likely to endorse the story of how a Spanish team that only included two players with low IQs won the gold medal at Sydney in 2000.10

Sport Prevents Crime or Encourages Desistance

The sheer extent of criminality and sports criminality set out in this article might suggest that sport would be the last thing that might be recommended to prevent or deter crime or to encourage desistance from it. Yet many sports are promoted for use in prison or as an alternative to prison. Some of those sports have a history of being illegal, like boxing or Association football, and few sports have not had a scandal or two. While official schemes seem not to have entered popular culture, they rely on common-sense, non-evaluated notions of what works. However, the underlying theme of many sports movies is triumph over adversity. That adversity may be crime or victimization, and metaphorically, the hard times might suggest that sport offers opportunities for “improvement.”

It might be argued now that the open air prison gym or basketball court is the chief signifier of prison movies, though funding for muscle building equipment was cut by Federal and most States over twenty years ago (Felkar, 2014).

As Tepperman (nd, p. 8) says:

Politicians passed many of these measures as a response to popular portrayals of prison weightlifting in the media. Certainly Hollywood blockbusters often suggest a ubiquity of sports in prison, as nearly every major film concerned with life in prison features sports, whether it is as fundamental as the role of football in The Longest Yard or bull riding in Stir Crazy, or as casual as a game of catch in The Shawshank Redemption.

But, he adds:

These images impart to the millions of people who see these movies that sports is an ever-present part of an American prisoner’s life. In actuality, prisoner health often tends to suffer due to a lack of access to yards, weight rooms, and gymnasia.

National, state, and county bans in the United States for muscle building equipment (and some other sports facilities) came about, argue Felkar (2014) and Tepperman (nd), because of concerns about the muscular bodies of male prisoners. Such “panics” hark back to somatotyping of early—and common-sense—criminology that associated the mesomorph body with criminality. Movies and other media played their part in the promulgation of the view of prisons as fitness centers then and now.

We might understand that sport is important to prisoners in these movies, but it is as recreation or plot device whereby they outwit authority, as in The Longest Yard (Aldrich, 1974) or Escape to Victory (Huston, 1981). If sport is provided at all by such authorities it is often in pursuit of their own motives or because it is considered generally and unproblematically “a good thing” and is legally required in the United States. Now standard gym equipment, the treadmill (and hand crank) was once used in prison as punishment. Many now recommend sport—particularly team sport—as part of rehabilitation (see Meek, 2014). Prison movies are good at showing how sport engages prisoners—and viewers—but normally rehabilitation is shown by the presence of the kindly (but naive?) Warden. Prison Ball (Moriarty, 2004) documents the importance of basketball to prisoners and to the prisons themselves. But Hooked: The Legend of Demetrius Hook Mitchell (O’Neill & Skolnik, 2003) records the prodigious feats of “Hook” on the basketball court, in demonstration trick shots (over people or objects while dunking) and initially on the street. Much of the film was recorded in prison but features friends from Mitchell’s school and neighborhood who did go on to succeed in the NBA. They say that had he not gone to prison he would have made it too.

A U.K. TV comedy from the 1970s, Porridge (BBC, 1974–1977), features boxing in prison, although this cannot be taken as a true reflection of reality. In the episode entitled “The Harder They Fall” (1975), two prisoners are matched up for a fight. Both are bribed to take a “fall,” which they do in the first round. This result pleases only the protagonist Fletcher, who had bet on a draw. Many people in the United Kingdom still get their idea of prison from this oft-repeated series (Wilson & O’Sullivan, 2004).11

It is difficult to believe that the modern U.S. prison system would now countenance the events that brought Dwight Muhammad Qawi together with James Scott in Rahway State Prison, New Jersey, on September 5, 1981, in a televised contest. Butler and Emhoff (nd) set out the whole tale. Both fighters were prisoners at Rahway. Qawi was then known as Dwight Braxton and had been taught to box by Scott. Scott had had a promising career as a lightweight when he was convicted in late 1975 of a violent armed robbery. He was cleared of murder, but was given a sentence of 30–40 years. In late 1978, he challenged Eddie Gregory (now known as Eddie Mustafa Muhammad) to a boxing match in prison. Gregory, himself an ex-prisoner, was a contender for a title shot, but with the promise of an easy purse, and with Home Box Office offering TV coverage, he agreed to the challenge. Scott had learned his craft in the juvenile and prison systems. He had even gone rounds with Rubin “Hurricane” Carter—the subject of a Bob Dylan song—and had become the New Jersey prison champion. Scott’s boxing was nominally part of the Warden’s rehabilitation schemes, but the televised fights might also be seen as part of his self promotion, as he was also behind the Scared Straight programs that were also filmed at the prison. These have entered the popular culture—ensuring continued support—despite evaluations casting doubt on their effectiveness.

Scott also hoped that success might lead to parole. In Thailand, Muay Thai (Thai boxing) is used as a method of rehabilitation and holds out the possibility of amnesty to fighters; by a quirk in Thai law, all inmates have a chance at an amnesty if they achieve a great sporting achievement. The law dates back to 1767, when the Burmese took thousands of Thai soldiers prisoner after the capture of the country’s then capital, Ayutthaya.

These examples of boxers seeking to leave prison through amnesty or rehabilitation may draw individual criticism without the sport suffering quite the same censure. The media have covered incidents of violence by Floyd Mayweather against five different women over 14 years—on one occasion he served 90 days—but this seems not to have diminished his ticket-selling power. His public sporting violence is heralded but not the domestic violence. Stansfield (2015) argues that sport fails in the sort of social control that some claim for sport, and that it does spillover into criminality, as we shall see.

The Violence of Some Sportsmen Towards Women

As we have seen some promote sport as good and wholesome, the opposite of, and therefore useful against, crime. Others concentrate on the violence of sport and see it spilling over into violence on the streets (particularly football hooliganism) or in relations with women (rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence). Like the concerns about body building by prisoners, there may also be residual concern about the muscular male body.

Waterhouse-Watson (2013) shows how, within popular culture, a “narrative immunity” is given to Aussie Rules (and Rugby League) players accused of sexual assault to the extent that, at the time of writing, no successful prosecution had occurred of such a sportsman. She notes the narratological and general ideological work of newspapers and male-oriented TV sports programs that denigrate women.

Bissinger’s (2005) book, Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream, covers the 1988 season of the high school football team Permian Panthers. The book explores the significance of the football team in a small town. Two TV series and a film semi-fictionalized the book and have become a part of the wider popular culture. While the book might be seen as a sports fan ethnography, the screen versions emphasize drama and entertainment, but all feature harms like illegal career-ending tackles and off-field criminality like fights and drinking. The town has a high crime rate, and some of the Dallas team they face turn out to have been carrying out armed robberies. The judge specifically references NFL players who had won Super Bowl rings but spent time in prison and declares that the status of the boys as town icons could not prevent them from receiving lengthy custodial sentences. Their ethnicity and offences against property might be issues here, as it is suggested that in some small towns offences by privileged sports stars against women, particularly those of color, rarely lead to jail. Some recent cases in the United Kingdom suggest that such immunity is fading in law, but women victims and their supporters can expect trolling on social media.

Research into violence by sportsmen or attitudes towards women is made difficult by the masculinity of the participants and its hegemony. That is, is it a sports effect being measured or a gender effect? Sport is gendered and gendering, and the popular culture reflects that. Films about women sports stars are less common. But even male sports (and stars) are not covered equally. Didinger and Macnow (2009) show boxing, baseball, basketball, and American football to be the most popular. Some (Messner, 1990) suggest that these sports are central, and more violence against women might be found than in track and field or tennis, say. Some even examine if the position on the football field correlates with violence of the field (Welch, 1997). Sports films generally concentrate on central players on the team. The case of paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius should remind us, too, that non-violent sports may see their stars involved.

One persistent criticism voiced by campaigning groups and picked up by the media is the “Super Bowl” effect, where the violence of the sport is associated with violence by fans at home towards those who share their domestic space. An equivalent in Britain is the claim that violence against women arises in the build up to and during the “Old Firm” games between Glasgow’s soccer teams, Celtics and Rangers, associated respectively with Catholic and Protestant supporters. Whether these matches are to blame is moot, but the violence against women cannot be denied (Gantz et al., 2009). Numbers and methods are debated, and alternative triggers like alcohol or the holidays are suggested (Crowley, Brooks, & Lombard, 2014; Williams, Neville, House, & Donnelly, 2013.)

Violence Of Sportswomen

If the violence of sport causes violence, then does the rising participation of women in sports, including violent ones, presage a rise in wider societal violence by women? And has this impacted upon popular culture? Toffoletti and Mewett (2012) and their contributors examine sport and female fans, but most violence mentioned is that of men (a deterrent to attending matches). Women experienced being “othered” simply for attending matches or being a fan—playing and watching sport was for men. Violence would have been a further deviance. If research on violent women fans is sparse, what of violence by sports women?

Feminists within criminology rightly argue that “malestream” criminology tends to ignore women or theorize badly about them, but “cultural spillover” might explain the case of Hope Solo, goalkeeper of the U.S. women’s soccer team, who in 2014, faced charges of assaulting her sister and 17-year old nephew in a drunken, violent outburst. The social control that keeps women away from crime is that which kept them from sport too (Heidensohn, 2000).

So, if criminology, even sports criminology has failed to examine sportswomen’s violence, then we are thrown back on popular cultural representations, although women’s inclusion in the Olympic boxing program should be noted. As Lindner says, “Women’s engagement in boxing is ‘troubling’ since female boxers’ embodied performance of masculinity threatens to blur already destabilised gender boundaries” (Lindner, 2012, p. 466). Best known might be multi-Oscared and commercially successful, Million Dollar Baby (Eastwood, 2004), although a historical example might help:

two Amazons stripped to the waist, tied up their hair . . . For 20 minutes they fought fiercely, with an excited crowd cheering them on . . . Savage though they were, the two females (we cannot call them women) restrained their natural inclination to tear and claw, and standing up like men punched each other with their fists till the blood ran in streams down their faces and breasts.12

Such events were put on in the Georgian era by publicans as entertainments, often featuring their wives. They even paired with their wives for some fights, or pitched a number of women against a man.

Million Dollar Babe follows a more typical sports movie narrative, with women fighting women in the ring, but often against patriarchal norms outside it. The ending is tougher than most boxing films and offers no hope of a series like Rocky. Caudwell (2008) introduces us to Sundance Festival award winner, Girlfight (Kusama, 2000) in which the protagonist gets to fight men (including her own father, at home in an argument). Boxing is also shown as a way for her to channel her anger.

Whip It (Barrymore, 2009) contains much violence by and against women in roller derby races. Carlson (2010) references the film, but argues that real-life roller derby can provide a way in which to interrogate femininity even in such an aggressive, high-contact environment. In the film, a contrasting femininity of the beauty pageant is rejected with the help of her skater friends and sports loving father. But to conclude, we return to men.

The Longest Yard and Loneliness—Some Cultural Differences

Many of the themes of this article coalesce in The Longest Yard (Aldrich, 1974). Opening with violence against his girlfriend, then theft of her car under the influence of drink, our “hero” Paul Crewe, played by Burt Reynolds, finds himself in prison. Is his violence the result of drink, his wounded masculinity (as a former star), or associated (a cultural spillover) with having been a footballer and specifically a quarterback?

In prison, the Warden and guards conform to the prison movie genre stereotypes of malign brutishness. The Warden runs a semi-pro American football team made up of guards who do well in, but never win, the local league. The Warden asks Crewe to coach the team and suggests things will go well for him if he accepts. He throws the offer back in the Warden’s face and is punished and told to make up a team of prisoners instead, to give the guards a practice game.

Crewe is reluctant to do it for himself, and the guards are not keen either, but the Warden suggests he might get parole, and Crewe eventually sees that the prisoners might welcome the chance. Moreover, as one (“Caretaker”) reminds him:

All I’m saying is you could’ve robbed banks, sold dope, or stole your grandmother’s pension checks, and none of us would’ve minded. But shaving points off a football game? Man, that’s un-American.

(Aldrich, The Longest Yard, 1974)

Crewe’s career ended because of the crime of shaving points, and it returns to haunt him in a dramatic mirroring. Much the second half of the movie is taken up with the big game between the prisoner’s Mean Machine and the guards, who lead 15 to 13 at half time. The Warden becomes concerned that a loss for the guards might upset the order of the prison so threatens Crewe with being framed for the murder of Caretaker (who’d been killed by another prisoner) if he doesn’t throw the game (shave some points!). The Warden also promises that guards will go easy once they have a good lead, but once they are three touchdowns up (and Crewe has left the field), they hand out injurious treatment to the prisoners. Sensing he has been double-crossed, he returns to the field for the fourth quarter and overcomes the suspicions of his team that he has let them down. They turn the game around, and Crewe wins it with the last play from one yard—the longest yard—played out over 1 minute 50 seconds of super, super slo-mo. He hands the ball to the Warden at the end inviting him to, “stick this in your trophy case,” and walks off down the tunnel.

IMDB assigns the film a “comedy” genre keyword, and the film regularly appears in lists of best sports films as well as prison ones—though Cecil (2015) declares the 2005 remake to be just a sports film (Segal, 2005). It has authenticity in that several ex-NFL players feature on both teams, Reynolds played college football, and it was filmed at the operational Georgia State Prison. Moreover the film was premiered there and several prisoners were used as extras, including “twice pardoned” author Harold Morris (1986), himself a State level high school athlete.

It requires no particular knowledge of American football (or prisons) to understand the movie’s drama but it does illustrate some national specifics. When the film was remade in the United Kingdom as the Mean Machine (Skolnick, 2001), it starred ex-soccer player and celebrity “bad-boy” Vinnie Jones, who had a long list of on- and off-field disciplinary offences. He also has convictions for assault and criminal damage and was involved in an air rage incident. The sport was changed to Association football, and the film featured some ex-soccer players but was filmed in a disused prison.

It maybe a cultural difference of the likes noted by Gifford (1996), or changes in attitudes to authority, but this film ends with the corruption of the governor of the prison (he had bet on the result of the game) being rewarded by having his car blown up. Nellis (1988) argues that the prison movie is quintessentially American and argues this colors images of prison elsewhere. He notes a British prisoner who found prison to be as he was expecting it from the products of Hollywood save the machine guns. An early British prison comedy Convict 99 (Varnel, 1938) seemed to mock the pretensions of reforming Governors in the American mold with sets that aped the look of U.S. prisons from film.

A more clear cultural difference might be seen in the ending of The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Sillitoe, 1959). Crewe invites the Warden to “stick” the trophy the team won, but in The Longest Yard, the hero of Loneliness loses the trophy to make his point with authority. In this film, Colin (played by Tom Courtney) is in borstal13 for robbery. The Governor is keen on cross country running as part of a rehabilitative regime, though the film also shows much non-rehabilitative violence visited on the inmates by the regime. Colin’s talent for running is such that the Governor eventually allows him to train outside the perimeter, despite an earlier protégé abusing the privilege to escape briefly. Colin’s part in a riot is overlooked too, such is the potential he is seen to have. Colin is being trained (socialized?) to beat the champion of the local private school.

He shakes hands with his upper class opponent before the race but is asked by his friend and co-offender, whose side he’s on. In the race, he takes the lead and looks set to win by a long distance, but he stops just short of the line and allows his rival to pass for the victory. Bowden (1994) sees the film as a neo-Marxist critique of sport as Colin regains his class-consciousness just in time to rile the authority figures of Church and State, lined up to see the Governor’s victory. Colin is like a thoroughbred racehorse bred and trained to win the Derby. However, unlike a racehorse, his jockey is his conscience. Bowden avers that Colin is forced to run but it is the competition that is forced on him which he finds a way to subvert through refusing to win.

Though Alan Sillitoe wrote both the novella and the film’s script, there is a major difference. In the book, the competition is between borstals. The change ramps up the class aspects. In the United States or South Africa, one might imagine The Longest Yard or Mean Machine being remade to emphasize race as the central issue. Neither the extant or imagined versions of these can compete with the story in which the White Sox become the Black Sox. It is sheer longevity, as an issue and as cultural reference, from the Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald, 1994) to Boardwalk Empire (HBO, 2010–2014), to popular music.

A variety of sources have been used to construct the argument here. Part of the argument of Sports Criminology (Groombridge, 2016) is that, while many sports autobiographies and works of sports sociology implicitly or often explicitly are about crime and deviance, these elements are played down or not seen for what they are. Criminology itself has yet to tackle the issue. Hence the need to trawl histories of sport and cultural studies for references to crime in sport and popular culture. Nathan (2002) is particularly useful in combining both and not shying away from using the term crime to describe some of the activities under discussion.

Review of the Literature and Primary Sources

There is a large and constantly growing academic, journalistic, and novelistic treatment of sport that has not exhausted the desire to consume sport beyond the confines of the pitch, field, or court. While much of that seeks to explain sport, sport itself only requires that someone win. Attempts to explain crime in sports are extensive, yet they remain inconclusive. There is also growing interpretation of crime as a cultural product, and sport can clearly be covered in this way. However, much sports crime might also be covered under white-collar or organized crime, so readers are directed to the sources and further reading suggested by other articles. That is, there is a literature for this area, but it is dispersed across a number of literatures and disciplines. Film books usually mention crime and sport separately, and crime books usually ignore both. Books on the sociology of sport prefer to talk of deviance. This article attempts to gather some of that literature and recruit some of those disciplines to contribute in a more coherent manner.

Further Reading

As might be clear, there can be no go-to book or set of books that covers this emergent field; in addition to the Reference section below, these books offer a variety approaches to the subject.

Atkinson, M., & Young, K. (2008). Deviance, sport and social control. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.Find this resource:

Blackshaw, T., & Crabbe, T. (2004). New perspectives on sport and “deviance”: Consumption, performativity and social control. London: Routledge.Find this resource:

Blake, A. (1996). The body language: The meaning of modern sport. London: Lawrence & Wishart.Find this resource:

Boyle, R., & Haynes, R. (2000). Power play: Sport, the media, and popular culture. Harlow, U.K.: Longman.Find this resource:

Briley, R., Schoenecke, M. K., & Carmichael, D. A.(Eds.). (2008). All-stars and movie stars: Sports in film and history. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.Find this resource:

Carter, R. (2011). Eye of the hurricane: My path from darkness to freedom. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books.Find this resource:

Jarvie, G. (2006). Sport, culture and society: An introduction, Abingdon, U.K.: Routledge.Find this resource:

Smith, E. (2009). Race, sport, and the American dream (2d ed.). Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.Find this resource:

Messner, M. (1992). Power at play: Ports and the problem of masculinity. Boston: Beacon Press.Find this resource:

Rowe, D. (2004). Critical readings: Sport, culture and the media. Berkshire, U.K.: Open University Press.Find this resource:

Welsh, J. M., Edgington, K., & Erskine, T. L. (2011). Encyclopedia of sports films. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.Find this resource:

Whannel, G. (2002). Media sports stars: Masculinities and moralities. London: Routledge.Find this resource:


Aldrich, R. (Director). (1974). The Longest Yard [film]. Hollywood, CA: Paramount Pictures.Find this resource:

Altman, R. (Director). (1970). M.A.S.H. [film]. Los Angeles: 20th Century Fox.Find this resource:

Avildsen, J. G. (Director). (1977). Rocky [film]. Los Angeles: United Artists.Find this resource:

Barrymore, D. (Director). (2009). Whip It [film]. Century City, CA: Fox Searchlight Pictures.Find this resource:

BBC. (1974–1977). Porridge [TV]. London: BBC.Find this resource:

Beaudine, W. (Director). (1952). Hold That Line [film]. Hollywood, CA: Monogram Pictures.Find this resource:

Bell, C. (Director). (2008). Bigger, Stronger, Faster [film]. Santa Monica, CA: BSF Film.Find this resource:

Bissinger, H. G. (2005). Friday night lights: A town, a team, and a dream. London: Yellow Jersey Press.Find this resource:

Blaustein, B. W. (Director). (2005). The Ringer [film]. Santa Monica, CA: Conundrum Entertainment.Find this resource:

Bowden, M. J. (1994). Jerusalem, Dover Beach, and Kings Cross: Imagined places as metaphors of the British class struggle in Chariots of Fire and the Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner. In S. C. Aitken & L. E. Zonn (Eds.), Place, power, situation and spectacle: A geography of film. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.Find this resource:

Butler, B.-J., & Emhoff, K. (n.d.). Gold in the mud: The twisted saga of jailhouse boxer James Scott’s battle for redemption.

Butler, G., & Fiore, R. (Directors). (1977). Pumping Iron [film]. New York: White Mountain Films.Find this resource:

Caudwell, J. (2008). Girlfight: Boxing women. Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics, 11(2–3), 227–239.Find this resource:

Carlson, J. (2010). The female significant in all-women’s amateur roller derby. Sociology of Sport Journal, 27, 428–440.Find this resource:

Cecil, D. K. (2015). Prison life in popular culture: From the Big House to Orange Is the New Black. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.Find this resource:

Crawford, S. A. G. M. (1998). Field of dreams. The International Journal of the History of Sport, 15(3), 150–153.Find this resource:

Crowley, A., Brooks, O., & Lombard, N. (2014). Football and domestic abuse: A literature review report No.6/2014. Glasgow, U.K.: Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research.Find this resource:

Cvitanovich, Frank. (Director). (1980). Murphy’s Stroke [film]. London: Thames Television.Find this resource:

Didinger, R., & Macnow G. (2009). The ultimate book of sports movies: Featuring the 100 greatest sports films of all time. Philadelphia: Running Press.Find this resource:

Eastwood, C. (Director). (2004). Million Dollar Baby [film]. Burbank, CA: Warner Brothers.Find this resource:

Ekblom, P., & Pease, K. (2014). Innovation and crime prevention. In G. Bruinsma & D. Weisburd (Eds.), Encyclopaedia of criminology and criminal justice (pp. 2523–2531). New York: Springer New York.Find this resource:

Fincher, D. (Director). (1999). Fight Club [film]. Los Angeles: 20th Century Fox.Find this resource:

Fitzgerald, F. S. (1994). The great Gatsby. London: Bloomsbury Classics.Find this resource:

Felkar, V. (2014). The iron bar: Episodes in the modern history of prison physical culture, body typing & the ban on weight lifting in American correctional institutions. (Masters dissertation) University Of British Columbia.Find this resource:

Frears, S. (Director). (2015). The Program [film]. London: Working Title.Find this resource:

Gantz, W., Wang, Z. & Bradley, S. D. (2009). Televised NFL games, the family, and domestic violence. In A. A. Raney & J. Bryant (Eds.), Handbook of Sports and Media. Abingdon, U.K.: Routledge.Find this resource:

Gifford, D. (1996). The British film catalogue. London: BFI Publishing.Find this resource:

Groombridge, N. (2016). Sports criminology. Bristol, U.K.: Policy Press.Find this resource:

Barbera, J., & Hanna, W. (Directors). (1968–1970). Wacky Races [TV]. Los Angeles: Hanna Barbera.Find this resource:

Harrow, S. (2015). Boxing for England: Daniel Mendoza and the theater of sport. In S. Harrow (Ed.), British sporting literature and culture in the long eighteenth century (pp. 153–178). Abingdon, U.K.: Routledge.Find this resource:

HBO. (Distributors). (2010–2014). Boardwalk Empire [TV]. New York: Home Box Office.Find this resource:

Heidensohn, F. (2000). Sexual politics and social control. Philadelphia: Open University Press.Find this resource:

Huston, J. (Director). (1981). Escape to Victory [film]. Los Angeles: Lorimar Film Entertainment.Find this resource:

Kennedy, K. (2014). Pete Rose: An American dilemma. New York: Sports Illustrated Books.Find this resource:

Kusama, K. (Director). (2000). Girlfight [film]. Culver City, CA: Screen Gems.Find this resource:

Lindner, K. (2012). Women’s boxing at the 2012 Olympics: Gender trouble? Feminist Media Studies, 12(3), 464–467.Find this resource:

Manzenreiter, W. (2014). Cracks in the moral economy of sumo: Beasts of burden, sport heroes, national icons, and living gods in disgrace. International Journal of the History of Sport, 31(4), 459–473.Find this resource:

McLeod, N. (Director). (1932). Horse Feathers [film]. Hollywood, CA: Paramount Pictures.Find this resource:

Meek, R. (2014). Sport in prison: Exploring the role of physical activity in correctional settings. Abingdon, U.K.: Routledge.Find this resource:

Messner, M. A. (1990). When bodies are weapons: Masculinity and violence in sport. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 25(3), 203–220.Find this resource:

Moriarty, J. (Director). (2004). Prison Ball [film]. Boston: Peak Productions.Find this resource:

Morris, H. (1986). Twice pardoned: An ex-con talks to parents and teens. Pomona, CA: Focus on the Family.Find this resource:

Mosher, S. D. (1991). Fielding our dreams: Rounding third in Dyersville. Sociology of Sport Journal, 8(3), 272–280.Find this resource:

Nathan, D. A. (2002). Sport and society: Saying it’s so: A cultural history of the Black Sox scandal. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.Find this resource:

Nellis, M. (1988). British prison movies: The case of Now Barabbas. The Howard Journal, 27(1), 2–31.Find this resource:

O’Neill, W., & Skolnik, M. (2003). Hooked: The Legend of Demetrius Hook Mitchell [film]. Rye, NY: Kicked Down Productions.Find this resource:

Penfold-Mounce, R. (2009). Celebrity culture and crime: The joy of transgression. London: Palgrave.Find this resource:

Ram, U. (2007). Liquid identities: Mecca Cola versus Coca-Cola. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 10(4), 465–484.Find this resource:

Robinson, P. A. (Director). (1989). Field of Dreams [film]. Universal City, CA: Universal Pictures.Find this resource:

Sayers, D. L. (1934). The nine tailors. London: Victor Gollancz.Find this resource:

Sayles, John. (Director). (1988). Eight Men Out [film]. Los Angeles: Orion Pictures.Find this resource:

Segal, P. (Director). (2005). The Longest Yard [film]. Los Angeles: MTV Films.Find this resource:

Sillitoe, A. (1959). The loneliness of the long-distance runner. New York: Signet Books.Find this resource:

Skolnick, B. (Director). (2001). Mean Machine [film]. Hollywood, CA: Paramount Pictures.Find this resource:

Stansfield, R. (2015). Teen involvement in sports and risky behaviour: A cross-national and gendered analysis. British Journal of Criminology.Find this resource:

Tepperman, A. (nd). We will NOT pump you up: Punishment and prison weightlifting in the 1990s.

Thrasher, F. M. (1927). The gang: A study of 1,313 gangs in Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Find this resource:

Toffoletti, K., & Mewett, P. (2012). Sport and its female fans. New York: Routledge.Find this resource:

Varnel, M. (Director). (1938). Convict 99 [film]. London: Gainsborough Pictures.Find this resource:

Yar, M. (2014). Crime, deviance and doping: Fallen sports stars, autobiography, and the management of stigma. Basingstoke, U.K.: Palgrave Pivot.Find this resource:

Waterhouse-Watson, D. (2013). Athletes, sexual assault, and “trials by media”: Narrative immunity. Abingdon, U.K.: Routledge.Find this resource:

Welch, M. (1997). Violence against women by professional football players: A gender analysis of hypermasculinity, positional status, narcissism, and entitlement. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 21(4), 392–411.Find this resource:

Wells, P. (2014). Animating sporting morals, ethics and politics: Thinking and hitting at the same time: Yogi Berra or Yogi Bear? In P. Wells (Ed.), Animation, Sport, and Culture (pp. 153–176). London: Palgrave Macmillan.Find this resource:

Wilson, D., & O’Sullivan, S. (2004). Images of incarceration: Representations of prison in film and television drama. Winchester, U.K.: Waterside Press.Find this resource:

Williams, D. J., Neville, F. G., House, K., & Donnelly, P. D. (2013). Association between old firm football matches and reported domestic (violence) incidents in Strathclyde, Scotland[Association between old firm football matches and reported domestic (violence) incidents in Strathclyde]. SAGE Open, 3(3).Find this resource:


Aldrich, R. (Director). (1974). The Longest Yard [film]. Hollywood, CA: Paramount Pictures.Find this resource:

Altman, R. (Director). (1970). M.A.S.H. [film]. Los Angeles: 20th Century Fox.Find this resource:

Avildsen, J. G. (Director). (1977). Rocky [film]. Los Angeles: United Artists.Find this resource:

Barbera, J., & Hanna, W. (Directors). (1968–1970). Wacky Races [TV]. Los Angeles: Hanna Barbera.Find this resource:

Barbera, J., & Hanna, W. (Directors). (1977). Scooby’s Laff-A-Lympics [TV]. Los Angeles: Hanna Barbera.Find this resource:

Barrymore, D. (Director). (2009). Whip It [film]. Century City, CA: Fox Searchlight Pictures.Find this resource:

BBC. (1974–1977). Porridge [TV]. London: BBC.Find this resource:

Beaudine, W. (Director). (1952). Hold That Line [film]. Hollywood, CA: Monogram Pictures.Find this resource:

Bell, C. (Director). (2008). Bigger, Stronger, Faster [film]. Santa Monica, CA: BSF Film.Find this resource:

Blaustein, B. W. (Director). (2005). The Ringer [film]. Santa Monica, CA: Conundrum Entertainment.Find this resource:

Butler, G., & Fiore, R. (Directors). (1977). Pumping Iron [film]. New York: White Mountain Films.Find this resource:

Cvitanovich, F. (Director). (1980). Murphy’s Stroke [film]. London: Thames Television.Find this resource:

Darabont, F. (Director). (1994). The Shawshank Redemption [film]. Los Angeles: Castle Rock Entertainment.Find this resource:

Eastwood, C. (Director). (2004). Million Dollar Baby [film]. Burbank, CA: Warner Brothers.Find this resource:

Fincher, D. (Director). (1999). Fight Club [film]. Los Angeles: 20th Century Fox.Find this resource:

Frears, S. (Director). (2015). The Program [film]. London: Working Title.Find this resource:

HBO. (Distributors). (2010–2014). Boardwalk Empire [TV]. New York: Home Box Office.Find this resource:

Huston, J. (Director). (1981). Escape to Victory [film]. Los Angeles: Lorimar Film Entertainment.Find this resource:

Kusama, K. (Director). (2000). Girlfight [film]. Culver City, CA: Screen Gems.Find this resource:

McLeod, N. (Director). (1932). Horse Feathers [film] Hollywood, CA: Paramount Pictures.Find this resource:

Moriarty, J. (Director). (2004). Prison Ball [film]. Boston: Peak Productions.Find this resource:

O’Neill, W., & Skolnik, M. (2003). Hooked: The Legend of Demetrius Hook Mitchell [film]. Rye, NY: Kicked Down Productions.Find this resource:

Poitier, S. (Director). (1980). Stir Crazy [film]. Culver City, CA: Columbia Pictures.Find this resource:

Robinson, P. A. (Director). (1989). Field of Dreams [film]. Universal City, CA: Universal Pictures.Find this resource:

Sayles, J. (Director). (1988). Eight Men Out [film]. Los Angeles: Orion Pictures.Find this resource:

Segal, P. (Director). (2005). The Longest Yard [film]. Los Angeles: MTV Films.Find this resource:

Skolnick, B. (Director). (2001). Mean Machine [film]. Hollywood, CA: Paramount Pictures.Find this resource:

Varnel, M. (Director). (1938). Convict 99 [film]. London: Gainsborough Pictures.Find this resource:


(1.) British slang for ignorant or foolish gamblers.

(7.) Ryan Gilbey, (2015), Ben Foster on playing Lance Armstrong: “Doping affects your mind.” The Guardian. September 10.

(8.) No performance drugs were taken to finish this essay.

(9.) Schwartznegger promotes his own legal supplements.

(11.) Porridge is British slang for doing time in prison.

(12.) Anna Freeman, (2014), Revealed: The bloody world of Georgian female boxing. BBC HistoryExtra, August 25.

(13.) A young offender institute, in part modeled on British Public Schools, named after the town in which the first one was “opened.”