This study was designed to explore cognitive and motivational factors that underlie preferences for particular sports. Based upon self-presentational theory, it was assumed that sports constitute a symbol system that communicates something about the participant's personality and identity. Individuals may learn to prefer those sports whose symbolism is appropriate to their desired social identity. In order to explore this premise, subjects were asked to rate the participants of five different sports (bowling, skiing, golf, tennis, motocross) on 70 personality and identity dimensions. Results indicated that stereotypes concerning the participants in each sport are widely shared, and that specific identity dimensions are associated with each sport.