David Carver

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Jesser, Clinton J.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Sociology


Sports--Social aspects; Wrestling


Sport is an important facet in the lives of many Americans, but surprisingly few sociologists have examined it as a serious area of inquiry. Although there have been a few theoretical statements and quantitative studies, I have yet to discover any qualitative research reports that deal with sports groups and organizations. This study focuses on four major topics: (1) the definition of sport as a social institution and its relationship to several other American social institutions, (2) a review of the critical literature on sport, including discussions of authoritarian coaching, injuries, drug abuse, racism and other topics as they relate to various sports, (3) a discussion of the theoretical and methodological foundations of qualitative research, and my own use of qualitative techniques in studying a sports organization, and C4) an analytical description of the important concerns and problems faced by a collegiate wrestling team, along with my own theoretical insights and attempts at model building which are based upon over two hundred and fifty hours spent in interaction with the wrestlers. Some of the major concerns of the wrestling team members include: "making weight," injuries, the coach, relationships with other team members, meet and tournament competition, academic pressures, and identity. Wrestling is portrayed as a serious undertaking, one that rewards the participants in several ways but also causes certain role conflicts and strains. The team studied had a definite status hierarchy, and there were a number of different wrestling styles displayed in the mat room. Various levels of academic concern among the wrestlers were observed. Finally, I compared the wrestlers with some other all-male groups and found a number of similarities and differences.


Includes bibliographical references.


vi, 227 pages




Northern Illinois University

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