The development of “a sport sociology that matters” requires sport sociologists to confront and make fundamental decisions about major imperatives and challenges that implicitly or explicitly can be found in recent work in the field. Five major imperatives are discussed: the relevance imperative, the cultural interpretive imperative, the critical imperative, the engagement imperative, and the application imperative. While the list is not assumed to be exhaustive or definitive, these imperatives are believed to be sufficiently provocative to pose significant challenges to conventional approaches to sport sociology and perhaps general sociology as well. The imperatives are discussed in relation to two major recent controversies in and about sport sociology, concerning the need for a cultural studies approach and the need for a more applied sociology of sport. The implications and risks of accepting the challenges implied or stated in the imperatives are assessed.
This Presidential Address was delivered to the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport, Denver, Colorado, November 1990.
Howard L. Nixon II is with the Department of Sociology and Social Work at Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608.