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In the last decade, the issue of relevance and application has become the focus of concern for many sport sociologists. The need for an applied sociology of sport has been discussed in the literature, and has been the subject of deliberation at three major national conferences. Yet, efforts to develop an applied sociology of sport are still hindered by widely held beliefs that such activity is not worthy of our best efforts. This paper explores issues that continue to hinder the development of applied work in sociology and sport sociology today. The discussion focuses on such issues as value neutrality, the relationship of theory to application, and problems of definition, among others, and provides a theoretical context for grounding the present discourse. The result is the development of a conceptual model that clarifies the transfer of knowledge from applied research to implementation in various physical education, coaching, marketing, policy analysis, and counseling contexts. Also identified is a variety of roles (e.g., applied researcher, knowledge broker, change agent) that an applied sport sociologist may legitimately engage in.
Andrew Yiannakis is with the Department of Sport, Leisure, and Exercise Sciences with a joint appointment in Sociology at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269.