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 various socio-cultural structures, patterns, and organizations or groups involved with sport.

There are many perspectives through which sport can be viewed. Therefore, very often some binary divisions are stressed, such as: 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). Following feminist or other reflexive and tradition-breaking paradigms sports are sometimes studied as contested activities, i.e. as activities in the centre of various people/groups interests (connection of sports and gender, mass media, or state-politics).

In most premodern societies, the gender role for females and males in sports was reinforced at a young age. The sociology that formed surrounding sports enforced the idea that sports were too masculine for women and are encouraged to play noncompetitive games while men were able to compete.[1] The impact of sports and games was to prepare young children for adulthood. 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.[2] For males the sports typically include football, hockey, baseball, soccer, basketball, pro wrestling and boxing,[3] while women's sports covers figure skating, gymnastics, skiing, and diving.[4] There is a contrast in the sports for each gender: the men's sports include confrontative, combative coordination and the women's sports are less aggressive and more individual and stylish. Participation in “masculine” sports creates gender identity conflict for females, likewise participation in “feminine” sports creates gender identity conflict for males.

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] 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.

Today, most sports sociologists identify with at least one of four essential theories that define the relationship between sports and society, namely structural functionalism, conflict theory, critical theory, and symbolic interactionism.

Alternative viewpoints

Jean-Marie Brohm in "Sport: A Prison of Measured Time"[7] presents a Marxist critique of organized sport as an instrument of indoctrination and subordination.[8]

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