Sociology of Sport

Sociology of Sport – Fitness – Physical activity

What does sociology have to do with sport? “Sociologists study social behavior of all kinds, from interpersonal social relations to group formations to formal social organizations. Sport is fundamentally a social phenomenon that encompasses all of these social forms of human activity. ... Sport is an extraordinarily popular and pervasive worldwide social endeavor, and therefore a suitable subject for study and analysis. ... Newspapers in North America devote more space to sports than any other topics, including business news, which would seem more important in a capitalist economy.” (Sage & Eitzen, 2013, 2)
The sociological imagination requires that we consider people in their social contexts. This means considering how historical, cultural and structural factors relate to and connect with each other. (Marjoribanks & Farquharson, 2012, 3)
Sport has become a major institution in the North American society, as well as in other highly industrialized nations. However, our understanding of it remains limited. There are many statements people make about sport that are either overstated, understated, misinterpreted or simply mythical. Can sport truly contribute to the improvement of modern society? It is certainly true that sport is a tremendous force for the status quo, and it distracts millions of people from more serious thoughts or painful existences. Does sport hold society together and does it empower women as much as it has men?
The question a sociologist might ask is: Why is social life organized in particular ways? Most people agree that the field of sport sociology “is the sub-discipline of sociology that studies sports as part of social and cultural life” (Coakley, 2004, 6). More recently, sport sociologists have also investigated the phenomenon of physical activity, fitness and health, and not only competitive, organized sports. In doing this research, people theorize about social life and the meaning of sport, fitness, and physical activity in it. Theorizing includes a combination of description, reflection, and analysis of social phenomena. This is based on the assumption that humans could make the world better; that is, more efficient, just and harmonious, as well as more controllable through the use of knowledge and science and technological advancements. Thus, sociologists first try to dissect what society is all about and what its various components are. It is assumed that social institutions, such as politics, education, media, and religion, are the general foundation and building blocks of a society.

The sociology of sport as an organized field of study is about 50 years old; it emerged around the same time that sport psychology, sport history, and sport philosophy arose as systematic academic disciplines of study applied to sport and most recently exercise and fitness as well. Sport sociologists are mainly employed at colleges and universities, teaching and publishing in this area, but they are also thought after “experts” and consultants by newspapers and sports television broadcasting when a story has sociological relevance. The field of sport sociology is organized nationally through the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport (NASSS) with about 400 members, and internationally through the International Sociology of Sport Association (ISSA), which was founded in 1965. These organizations hold annual conferences and sponsor scholarly publications and research journals, such as the Sociology of Sport Journal, the Journal of Sport and Social Issues, and the International Review for the Sociology of Sport.
“Sociology is the systematic study of social behavior, in groups, and in organizations. Sociologists are especially interested in the social patterns that emerge whenever people interact over periods of time” (Sage & Eitzen, 2013, 4). They study human groups that could be as small as a couple, a family, a business, a community or a nation. Similarities and differences exist in any of these groups, big or small, which are analyzed through a sport focus in the field of sport sociology. The human interactions in and through sport center on values, rules, hierarchical structure of ranks, power, prestige, criteria for evaluating people‘s behaviors, reward and punishment, and more. All social scientists are interested in the underlying order of social life, whether it is from a political perspective, historical, psychological, economic or anthropological venue. Each of these social sciences is useful to aid sport sociology research, since they are important indicators of the general social conditions people live under in a given period of time and place. Issues might include leisure time, inflation, unemployment, restricted opportunities for minority groups, and more. Furthermore, the meaning people attach to these external influences are important indicators of what constitutes culture (see Chapter 3).
Sociologists in general bring with them different viewpoints of the world, which then leads to several different interpretations and theories. Societies are complex phenomena; they have their own histories, dynamics and cultures, and they can be viewed from many different perspectives. It is recognized that no single perspective can tell us all we need to know about social life. Thus, we have a multitude of theories today. For example, feminist scholars have made very convincing arguments that theories based on men’s experience of the world do not tell us all about social life, because 50% of the population is left out of this equation. Global social changes have shown us that we are operating from a Euro-centric viewpoint that is irrelevant to other parts of the world.
Sociology of Sport Sociology of Sport Reviewed by mabelinter on mars 17, 2020 Rating: 5

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