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Sociology of sport

Sociology of sport, alternately referred to as sports sociology, is a sub-discipline of sociology which focuses on sports as social phenomena. It is an area of study concerned with the relationship between sociology and sports, and also various socio-cultural structures, patterns, and organizations or groups involved with sport. This area of study discusses the positive impact sports have on individual people and society as a whole economically, financially, and socially. Sociology of sport attempts to view the actions and behavior of sports teams and their players through the eyes of a sociologist.[1]

The emergence of the sociology of sport (though not the name itself) dates from the end of the 19th century, when first social psychological experiments dealing with group effects of competition and pace-making took place. Besides cultural anthropology and its interest in games in the human culture, one of the first efforts to think about sports in a more general way was Johan Huizinga's Homo Ludens or Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class.[5] Homo Ludens discusses the importance of the element of play in culture and society. Huizinga suggests that play, specifically sport, is primary to and a necessary condition of the generation of culture. These written works contributed to the rise of the study of sociology of sport. In 1970, sports sociology gained significant attention as an organized, legitimate field of study. The North American Society for the Sociology of Sport was formed in 1978 with the objective of studying the field.[6] Its research outlet, the Sociology of Sport Journal, was formed in 1984.

Binary Divisions Within Sports

There are many perspectives through which sport can be viewed. Therefore, very often some binary divisions are stressed, and many sports sociologists have shown that those divisions can create constructs within the ideologies of gender and affect the relationships between genders, as well as advocate or challenge social and racial class structures.[2] Some of these binary divisions include: professional vs. amateur, mass vs. top-level, active vs. passive/spectator, men vs. women, sports vs. play (as an antithesis to organized and institutionalized activity).

Not only can binary divisions be seen within sports themselves, but they are also seen in the research of sports. The field of research has mainly been dominated by men because many believe that women's input or research is inauthentic compared to men's research. Some women researchers also feel as though they have to "earn" their place within the sports research field whereas men, for the most part, do not. While women researchers in this field do have to deal with gender-related issues when it comes to their research, it does not prevent them from being able to gather and understand the data they are collecting. Sports sociologists believe that women can have a unique perspective when gathering research on sports since they are able to more closely look at and understand the female fan side of sporting events.[3]

Following feminist or other reflexive and tradition-breaking paradigms, sports are sometimes studied as contested activities, i.e. as activities in the center of various people/groups interests (connection of sports and gender, mass media, or state-politics). These perspectives provide people with different ways to think about sports and figure out the differences between the binary divisions. Sports have always been of tremendous impact to the world as a whole, as well as individual societies and the people within them. There are so many positive aspects to the world of sport, specifically, organized sport. Sports involve community values, attempting to establish and exercise good morals and ethics. Spectator sports provide watchers with an enlivenment through key societal values displayed in the "game". Becoming a fan teaches you a large variety of skills as well that are a very important part of everyday life in the office, at home, and on the go. Some of these skills include teamwork, leadership, creativity, and individuality.[citation needed]

Gender in Sports

Sports need to involve sociology for several reasons. Problems such as injuries in the world of sports are inevitable. When there are recurring problems within a sports team or individual, you need to understand how to manage and deal with it in the safest, most efficient way possible. Sociology can help explain reasons for which the problem occurred, which can be very beneficial. In this way it can function as a constructively critical friend, rather than you being in the shadows.[citation needed] In most premodern societies, the gender role for females and males in sports was enforced at a young age. The sociology that formed surrounding sports enforced the idea that sports were too masculine for women and were encouraged to play noncompetitive games while men competed. One of the initial purposes of sports and games was to prepare young children for adulthood. Another purpose of organized sports and games is to teach life values and good morals through practice, teamwork, discipline, and much more. The separation between the roles of men and women in a society of sports is expressed through media and gender identity. On media, the sports viewership varies by gender. Men's sports are more prominent in the media versus women's sports and the sports broadcast vary. On NCAA news, the text and text space greater than 2:1 coverage of men’s sports over women’s, the pictures are around 2:1 male athletes over female athletes. From this study, it can be found that men have an advantage over women in sports. For males the sports typically include football, hockey, baseball, soccer, basketball, rugby, pro wrestling and boxing. However, women's sports typically include figure skating, gymnastics, skiing, and diving. However, both men and women do play every sport that exists today[citation needed], but on the sport side there are still have gender stereotype.

There is a contrast in the sports for each gender: the men's sports generally include confrontational, combative coordination and the women's sports typically are less aggressive and more individualized. Over the past century, women have been given more opportunities to participate in sports, and not just in sports that are considered more "feminine." Lyndsay MC Hayhurst, a Faculty of Physical Education and Health at the University of Toronto, states that research on women and girls who participate in sports has shown to "lend [them] the opportunity to challenge and resist their domestic duties, improve their social networks and relations with communities, confront gender norms, boost self-confidence, advance communications skills, and increase their ability to make decisions regarding their own well-being." [4] However, some sports sociologists question whether these programs for women are more focused on the masculinity and male-oriented view of sports rather than actually pushing it more towards a female-oriented view. Participation in “masculine” sports creates gender identity conflict for females, likewise participation in “feminine” sports creates gender identity conflict for males. This is something that is being reduced year by year, as society advances towards gender equality and closing the wage gap.[5]

Theories in Sociology of Sport

Today, most sports sociologists identify with at least one of four essential theories that define the relationship between sports and society, namely structural functionalism, social conflict, feminism, and symbolic interactionism. Theories attempt to explain why groups of people elect to perform certain actions and how societies, or teams, react or change in a certain way. Structural Functionalism views society, or the world of sport, as a complex, but interconnected system, where each part works together as a functional whole. Social conflict theory views society, or the world of sport as a system of groups that are not equal, and therefore consistently generate conflict and change. Feminism if often associated with a group of women trying to overpower men, but that is simply not true! It views society as traditionally being unequal in the favor of men, while society strives for equality between the sexes. Lastly, symbolic interactionism is the view of social behavior that emphasizes gestural and linguistic communication and its subjective understanding, especially the role of language in the development of a child as a social being.[6]

Emotion in Sports

Emotion has always been a huge part of sports as it can affect both athletes and the spectators themselves. Theorists and sociologists who study the impact of emotions in sports try to classify emotions into categories. Controversial, debated, and discussed intensely, these classifications are not definitive or set in stone. Emotion is very important in sports; athletes can use them to convey specific and significant information to their teammates and coaches and they can use emotion to send false signals to confuse their opponents. In addition to athletes using emotion to their advantage, emotion can also have a negative impact on athletes and their performances. For example, "stage fright," or nervousness and apprehension, can impact their performance in their sport, be it in a positive or negative way. [7]

Depending on the level of sports, the level of emotion differs. In professional sports, emotions can be extremely intense because there are a lot more people in lots of different roles who are involved. There are the professional athletes, the coaching staff, the referees, the television crew, the commentators, and last but not least, the fans and spectators. There is a lot more public press, pressure, and self-pressure. It is extremely difficult to not get emotionally invested in sports; sports are very good at bringing out the worst qualities in people. There have been violent brawls when one team beats another in an intense game, loud fighting and yelling, and intense verbal arguments as well. Emotion is also highly contagious, especially if there are a lot of emotional people in one space. [8]

Alternative viewpoints

Jean-Marie Brohm in "Sport: A Prison of Measured Time"[9] presents a Marxist critique of organized sport as an instrument of indoctrination and subordination.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Macri, Kenneth. "Not Just a Game: Sport and Society in the United States". Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  2. ^ Eckstein, Rick; Moss, Dana M.; Delaney, Kevin J. (1 September 2010). "Sports Sociology's Still Untapped Potential". Sociological Forum. 25 (3): 500–519. doi:10.1111/j.1573-7861.2010.01193.x.
  3. ^ Richards, Jessica (1 March 2015). ""Which player do you fancy then?" Locating the female ethnographer in the field of the sociology of sport". Soccer and Society. 16 (2/3): 393–404. doi:10.1080/14660970.2014.961379.
  4. ^ Hayhurst, Lyndsay MC (April 2011). "Corporatising Sport, Gender, and Development: postcolonial IR feminisms, transnational private governance and global corporate social engagement". Third World Quarterly. 32 (3): 531–549. doi:10.1080/01436597.2011.573944.
  5. ^ "Why Sport Needs Sociology and Why Sociology Needs Sport". Western Sydney University. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  6. ^ Study []. Retrieved February 25, 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Sports Emotions - Sports Psychology - IResearchNet". Retrieved 2019-10-30.
  8. ^ "Sports - Sociology of sports". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-10-30.
  9. ^ Jean Marie Brohm (1978). Sport, a prison of measured time: essays. Ink Links Ltd. ISBN 0906133017.
  10. ^ "Sport: A Prison Of Measured Time: Essays by Jean-Marie Brohm". Goodreads. Retrieved February 4, 2017.

Further reading

External links