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In taking a senior perspective, the author first steps back and offers an historical view and then offers her senior advice for moving forward. When the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA) was in its infancy (early 1970s), the psychology subarea was known as social psychology and physical activity, and our research largely followed social psychology theories and research methods. In subsequent developing years, our research split into sport psychology and exercise psychology, with more focused research lines that moved away from social psychology and physical activity. While the more focused research builds our evidence base, that research has little impact on the wide range of participants and professionals. To have greater impact, we can reclaim the “social,” and we can take a more inclusive view of physical activity. We must recognize and highlight the powerful and complex role of “social” context and relationships and directly engage with professionals and participants in those real-world settings. We need more scholars who partner with other (nonacademic) professionals, teach those future professionals, and engage with their community and the public to enhance our real-world impact.
The author is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC.