Sociology of Sport: Growth, Diversification, and Marginalization, 1981–2021

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This article tells the story of the sociology of sport over the last 4 decades. In the process, it identifies key developments and trends in the field, the questions and topics that have shaped research and the production of knowledge about sports as social phenomena, the challenges currently facing the sociology of sport, and what may happen to the field over the next 40 years.

This article tells a story about the sociology of sport as it matured and changed from 1981 to 2020.1 The origin and first 15 years of the field (1965–1980) were described by Greendorfer (1981), a noted scholar in physical education at the University of Illinois and one of the founders of the field. Her article “Emergence of and Future Prospects for Sociology of Sport” was a chapter in the book Perspectives on the Academic Discipline of Physical Education: A Tribute to G. Lawrence Rarick (Brooks, 1981). Greendorfer focused on how the field emerged in connection with social research on play, games, and sports in both traditional and contemporary cultures. She noted that this research—conducted primarily by sociologists, anthropologists, social psychologists, and physical educators—served as the foundation for fueling interest in the social dimensions of human movement, physical activities, and sports.

Capturing this interest and using it to create a new subdiscipline for scholars from multiple disciplines presented a significant challenge. The founders of sociology of sport/sport sociology2 struggled to achieve acceptance and academic legitimacy for the field and themselves. Progress has been made, but these struggles continue as the value of studying the social dimensions of sports and their relationship with society and culture is debated by colleagues in other disciplines, university administrators, and people who allocate funds for research.

Since Greendorfer wrote her article, there have been regular updates describing the status and development of the field (Coakley, 1987; Coakley and Dunning, 2000; Dart, 2014; Harris, 2006; Ingham & Donnelly, 1997; Montez de Oca, 2016; Pike et al., 2015; Seippel, 2018; Tian and Wise, 2020; Young, 2016, 2017). This article provides an overview of the sociology of sport after 1980 with an emphasis on the following four topics:

  1. Key developments
  2. Questions and topics that have shaped research and the production of knowledge
  3. Challenges faced by the sociology of sport
  4. Future directions and goals in the foreseeable future

Before discussing key developments, it is important to note that the sociology of sport is a relative newcomer among academic disciplines. Until recently, the body and physical activities were ignored by social scientists. Sociologists, like their peers in related disciplines, had long accepted Cartesian mind–body dualism emphasizing that the mind took priority over the body, and the body was a hand servant of the mind—as Descartes proclaimed, “Cogito ergo sum: I think therefore I am.” As a result, bodies were ignored or relegated to “repair shops” in university medical schools or the physical sciences focused on body mechanics and performance.

In this context, the social dimensions of physical activities, from play to organized sports, were not taken seriously. Sports and other forms of physical culture were risky topics among scholars concerned with professional recognition, status, and security in their universities. In addition, there was little or no institutional or external support for studying sports or forms of human movement as social phenomena. But this did not deter a diverse collection of European and North American scholars who initiated research and supported each other in their desire to study the social dimensions of physical activities and sports. As Greendorfer explained, this began during the 1960s and gradually caught on among others who understood that studying embodied activities could contribute to knowledge about society and culture as well as the organized sports that were becoming increasingly visible and important in many societies.

This brings our story to the 1980s during which more scholars were attracted to studying sports in a social and cultural context. Few of them saw the sociology of sport as central to their academic careers, nor did they think that their academic status would increase for using the sociological imagination to study sports as social phenomena. But a segment of those scholars was excited to study sports and physical activities and produce knowledge about a previously neglected sphere of society and culture.

At this point, the story turns to key developments as the sociology of sport matured and became widely recognized at the same time that it continued its struggle to find a home in the academic world.

Key Developments

Identifying key developments over the past 40 years requires the use of sociological imagination to visualize how the sociology of sport has matured. All academic disciplines exist in context—that is, they are influenced by external factors at the same time that the knowledge they produce influences the surrounding world.

Four key developments—global growth, creation of an organizational infrastructure, the production of significant knowledge, and the diversity of scholars—are identified in this section and discussed in connection with the external factors that have influenced them and the sociology of sport.

Global Growth

Over the last 40 years, the sociology of sport has attracted more scholars and become a recognized field of study in many universities worldwide (Pike, 2021; Pike et al., 2015; Young, 2016). As the global awareness of scholars has increased due to travel and access to international journals and conferences, the sociology of sport has produced useful knowledge about the organization and dynamics of sports and their relationship with the societies and cultures in which they are played.

Interest in the sociology of sport has expanded due to external factors that have led people to seek knowledge about the social dimensions of sports. For example, knowledge produced by sociology of sport research has become more widely recognized as important in connection with the following changes:

  1. Sports have become more visible, culturally important, and commercially profitable.
  2. Social issues and problems in sports are more often covered by mainstream media.
  3. Falling rates of general participation in physical activities and sports are correlated with obesity-related diseases that diminish quality of life and drain health care resources.
  4. Business and political leaders use sports to increase profits and expand personal power.
  5. Athletes have become more concerned about their rights in sport organizations and more socially and politically active in their communities and nations.
  6. A growing belief that sports and sport participation are likely to produce positive outcomes when they are organized and played under certain conditions.

These factors have increased interest in and the legitimacy of sociology of sport research. Journalists now see the usefulness of this research and seek out scholars who can help them as they create media content. Similarly, sport managers, especially in Europe, see sociology of sport research as useful when identifying organizational issues and developing effective management strategies. Public health organizations and foundations dedicated to health improvement have used findings from sociology of sport research as they make policy decisions and allocate money to physical activity programs. As sports have become more important in local and national economies and taken on more political importance, knowledge about sports as social phenomena has become more practically useful. Finally, critical research on the social dimensions of sports has become more important to those wanting to identify issues and make changes in sport organizations, society, and culture.

It should be noted here that the growth and vitality of the sociology of sport have been and continue to be limited by language barriers (Földesi, 2015). Because the English language is widely used in the university systems of most wealthy countries, scholars lacking English proficiency cannot participate in North American, European, and most international conferences. Nor can they read or publish articles in the most widely read and prestigious journals in the field. Although some multilingual scholars have worked with peers and studied sports in countries where little English is spoken, sociology of sport knowledge as discussed in this article represents about 20–30% of the world’s population—that is, no more than 2.3 billion out of 7.7 billion people as of 2021. This means that few scholars in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand know much about research in South Korea, Japan, China, India, and other Asian countries; Latin America; and most of Africa. Future growth of the field depends on overcoming these barriers with effective and widely available translation technologies for text and speech.

Creation of an Organizational Infrastructure

A second key development has been the creation of an organizational infrastructure that supports research and teaching in the sociology of sport. This infrastructure consists primarily of professional associations that regularly sponsor conferences and publish journals. The reach of these associations and journals is partly dependent on academic publishing companies located mostly in North America and Europe. These companies recruit, edit, publish, and promote journals and books dealing with the social dimensions of physical activities and sports. Publication adds legitimacy to the field and introduces research findings and knowledge applications to a wider audience associated with sports and sport organizations.

The story of sociology of sport infrastructure development is a continuing one. As of 1981, the field was organized around the International Sociology of Sport Association that had held 15 annual symposia or conferences in European or Canadian locations between 1965 and 1980. The North American Society for the Sociology of Sport, formed in 1978, had held conferences in Denver (in 1980) and Fort Worth (in 1981) and attracted the attention of U.S.-based scholars who were interested in the field but found it difficult to attend international conferences. The International Sociology of Sport Association journal, International Review for the Sociology of Sport (IRSS), and the Journal of Sport and Social Issues (JSSI), first appearing in 1977, were the only major publications in 1981. At least two other journals, created during the 1970s, ceased publication during the early 1980s. When the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport established the Sociology of Sport Journal (SSJ) in 1984, it provided scholars with additional opportunities to publish peer-reviewed research in the field.

Physical educators from the United States were drawn to the field when the National Association of Sport and Physical Education supported the Sport Sociology Academy that published a newsletter and coordinated sessions at the annual conferences of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD). This increased the critical mass of scholars in the field, boosted membership in professional associations, and increased attendance at related sociology of sport conferences.

The European Association for Sociology of Sport was founded in 2001 and has published the European Journal for Sport and Society since 2004. At its annual conferences, this association brings together scholars mostly from the European Union (EU). This is important because the EU often funds multinational research that is jointly conducted by scholars from the EU. Also contributing to the sociology of sport infrastructure in Europe and globally is Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics, a journal founded in 1998 and managed by editors and editorial board members from at least 10 different nations.

Infrastructure development has not been limited to North America and Europe. The Korean Society for the Sociology of Sport and the Japan Society of Sport Sociology were formally established in 1991, and each publish journals in their native languages: the Korean Journal of Sociology of Sport and the Japan Journal of Sport Sociology. Most recently, scholars in Latin America founded the Asociacion Latinoamerican de Estudios Socioculturales del Deporte (Latin American Association of Sociocultural Studies of Sport) in 2007 and sponsored publication of The Journal of the Latin American Socio-cultural Studies of Sport (Asociacion Latinoamerican de Estudios Socioculturales del Deporte Revista) from 2011 to 2019. Due to the time and expense of translating academic articles, most of the publications in this journal appear only in Portuguese or Spanish (Gomes et al., 2021).

Sociology of sport research is also conducted in other regions of the world. For example, China has an infrastructure supporting over 500 scholars who publish articles in 15 journals dedicated to knowledge production related to sports (Jinxia & Lingnan, 2016). Sport sociology is not a major topic in this work, nor is it included in mainstream sociology; but, research may be funded by national and regional governments seeking information to guide policy and decisions about sports programs and training. Infrastructure is largely absent in India as well as nations in East Asia and Africa. A few scholars in these regions conduct sociology of sport research but they are generally from areas where they learn English in school and can publish in English-language journals. As in other nations and regions, their research focuses on local issues that may not have immediate relevance in wealthy nations where English is a primary academic language.

Significant Knowledge Production

A third key development is that scholars in the field have participated in significant knowledge production over the last four decades. Research on the social dimensions of physical activities and sports has expanded dramatically with the creation of journals dedicated to publishing peer-reviewed articles on a wide range of topics ranging from leisure and recreation to elite sports. This is closely linked with infrastructure issues because professional associations and journals are catalysts for research and publication as scholars have opportunities to present papers and receive constructive feedback from colleagues and submit their manuscripts to journals. For example, in addition to the five major English-language journals dedicated to publishing sociology of sport research (IRSS; JSSI; SSJ; Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics; and European Journal for Sport and Society), there are dozens of other journals that now publish English-language articles on sports and sociocultural issues.

The quality and quantity of sociology of sport research have increased significantly during the last four decades. Early on, much research was descriptive and identified how sports were organized and governed and how they were linked with other institutional spheres, such as governments, the economy, education, and media. But research quickly became more interpretive and critical in terms of the methods and theories used to guide the formation of research questions, the collection and analysis of data, and the discussion of research findings.

Interpretive research has focused on subjective experiences among participants, fans, and others linked to the social worlds created in and around sports. This provides valuable insights and knowledge about patterns and differences in sport-related experiences. For example, the findings of interpretive research indicate that the social implications of sport participation are influenced by gender, sexuality, race, social class, place of residence (e.g., urban versus rural), (dis)ability, and relationships with peers, coaches, and family members, among other factors. As a result, participation involves a wide range of subjective experiences and personal outcomes. It is clear now that patterns of experiences and personal outcomes depend on the social and cultural conditions under which sports are organized, played, given meaning, and integrated into social life and people’s lives and identities. Interpretive research has over the past half century discredited for many people the essentialist belief that sports and sport participation are essentially pure and good and always produce positive outcomes for individuals and communities.

Critical research has focused on understanding how social conditions impact people’s ideas, beliefs, and actions related to sports and how those conditions systematically advantage some people and disadvantage others. Studies usually involve a critique of power relations in a group or society with an eye to the need for changes that eliminate forms of oppression and promote social justice. Critical research often deals with why physical activities and sports are organized, controlled, and played in certain ways; who is advantaged and disadvantaged in different sport systems; and how the prevailing forms of sports influence ideas and beliefs that maintain the status quo or inspire structural changes in society. Scholars conducting this research also ask why some people have more power and control than others in sports organizations. They identify who is included and excluded from various sports, and they study relationships between sport participation and other aspects of people’s lives. They also study how everyday life is influenced by the narratives and stories that originate in connection with sports, especially mediated sports.

Interpretive and critical research tends to make some people uncomfortable as it exposes negative personal and social outcomes related to sports, inequalites related to gender and race, corruption, and forms of deviance, such as cheating and taking performance-enhancing substances. At the same time, it supports athletes and others who speak out and take action on behalf of those who are excluded or disadvantaged in or by sports.

The priorities given to sociology of sport research topics vary by society. This is because sports are integrally linked with local and national contexts. For example, in European nations, where centralized sport ministries fund and set standards for most sport programs, there is a strong research emphasis on organizational questions and issues. The European Association for Sociology of Sport sponsors the Sport Organisation Research Network that brings scholars together to collaborate, share information, and compare research findings related to the structure and decision-making processes of major sport organizations in EU nations. In the United States, where there is no central government-based sport ministry that sets national standards, research is more likely to focus on how family and community resources influence sport experiences and programs. This means that U.S. sport programs have diverse goals and forms of organization.

Diversity of Scholars

A fourth key development is the expansion of diversity among scholars in the sociology of sport. This means that research in the field is conducted from a range of disciplinary, personal, and cultural perspectives. For example, the five most widely cited journals in the field—the IRSS; SSJ; JSSI; Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics; and European Journal for Sport and Society—published during 2020 a total of 34 journal issues containing 270 articles written by authors from 54 nations and multiple disciplinary affiliations; and 70 articles were authored jointly by scholars from two or more different nations. As these scholars participate in professional associations, serve on journal editorial boards, and publish articles in the field’s journals, they complement each other by introducing and developing new ideas and interpretive perspectives. The most common disciplinary affiliations include kinesiology, sport and exercise science, sport and health, sport management, physical education, sociology, sports studies, and media studies.

Ironically, this diversity exists, in part, because professional associations in mainstream sociology have not formally embraced the field and imposed their expectations on it. If they had embraced the sociology of sport, those with nonsociology backgrounds may not have felt comfortable attending conferences and submitting manuscripts to journals in the field. To sustain this diversity, the professional associations and journals in the field have more recently chosen names that refer to sports and society rather than the sociology of sport. This is intended to create more space for scholars studying various topics and using a range of research methods and theories.

Maintaining disciplinary diversity is a continuous process that requires attention and commitment so that scholars feel welcome and meaningfully included professionally and socially. When diversity creates tensions around whose conceptual perspectives, research methods, and theories count and whose are marginalized, there is a need for institutionalized strategies that facilitate inclusion, especially in connection with accepting papers, mutual social engagement at conferences, and providing constructive feedback for conference presentations and journal submissions. This also applies to maintaining and expanding identity diversity among scholars in the field. Initially based on the values, experiences, and interests of White men from Europe and North America, the sociology of sport has not been seen as actively committed to openness by many female scholars, scholars of color, and LGBTQ+ scholars. There is currently variation in the degree to which each of the professional associations and journals take action to achieve a culture of inclusion in which colleagues in the field take each other seriously as scholars. This continues to be an important storyline in the sociology of sport.

Sociology of Sport Research Questions and Topics

The sociology of sport story, especially when told to people outside the field, is interwoven around the central questions and topics that attract research attention. When a few scholars, mostly from physical education and sociology, first turned their attention to the social dimensions of sports during the 1960s and 1970s, there were boundless questions to be asked and topics to be studied.3 It was like they were entering an untouched and unexplored terrain. Publications during this time were inspired by questions about socialization into, out of, and through participation in sports; sport as a social institution and a social system, sports and social problems, race and sports, and women in sports (Greendorfer, 1981).

It is important to note that the sociology of sport in the United States was heavily influenced by scholar–activists with experiences in sports. They asked critical questions about the organization of prolympic sports—that is, those representing or merging the organization and cultures of professional and elite international sports (Donnelly, 1996)—and the impact of that organization on athletes. It was the critical scholarship of sociologist Edwards (1969, 1976), educator Scott (1969, 1971), and political scientist Lapchick (1979, 1984), among others, who attracted many people to the field. Their critiques of sports increased our awareness of inequities, racism, exploitation, and other problems in sports and inspired us as we taught courses and conducted research (Coakley, 1987). For example, Lapchick founded ARENA: The Institute for Sport and Social Analysis and the ARENA Review, both of which focused on problems in sports and how they were linked with U.S. culture and society. The JSSI, first published in 1977, was sponsored by The Institute for Sport and Social Analysis, and it continues to publish critically-oriented research articles.

Questions about sports were also raised by former elite athletes who used their experience to write exposés describing the distorted priorities, unethical actions, and multiple forms of exploitation in prolympic sports, especially in the National Football League and big-time intercollegiate football (Gent, 1973; Hoch, 1972; Meggyesy, 1971; Shaw, 1972). When these critiques and other media coverage of social problems in sports were paired with the work of scholars mapping out sociology of sport subject matter, there was an urgency, passion, and direction given to research and teaching in the field. This was certainly the case in North America where sports were shaped primarily by economic interests and largely unregulated power relations favoring those with money and political influence. Complicit in this system were major U.S. universities where administrators and faculty became uncritical fans of sports that produced public relations and attracted the attention of legislators and donors who could bring resources to campuses.

It is difficult to represent the full range of topics studied in sociology of sport over the last four decades. Doing so involves methodological challenges because published articles often deal with multiple interrelated topics in addition to using multiple theories and methods. A journal article may deal with culture, media, gender, discrimination, and power while using both discourse and quantitative analyses, feminist theory, and Foucault’s theory of power relations. This makes it difficult to identify central topics or themes. In addition, scholars studying certain combinations of topics often choose to publish in journals other than sociology of sport journals and are excluded in research attempting to identify topics and trends in the field. This is often the case with Black, Asian, Latin American, and Indigenous scholars studying the experiences and status of marginalized and underrepresented racial and ethnic populations in sport contexts. Similarly, female and LGBTQ+ scholars in the field often submit manuscripts to a wide range of journals outside sociology of sport.

Despite these and other patterns related to the publication decisions of authors, three studies have attempted to identify and rank research topics in articles published in the top three sociology of sport journals—IRSS, SSJ, and JSSI—during the years 1977–2018 (Dart, 2014; Seippel, 2018; Tian & Wise, 2020). Excluded were Sport and Society and the European Journal for Sport and Society, which publish 16 issues annually but tend to include some articles outside the sociology of sport.

Dart from Leeds Metropolitan University (United Kingdom) used article titles, keywords, abstracts, subject terms, and geographical terms to identify and rank the themes of 1,939 “full-length research articles and/or communications, extended commentaries, perspectives and invited contributions” in the IRSS and SSJ (1984–2011) and the JSSI (1977–2011). The top themes in rank order were gender (a composite of sex/sexuality, feminism, and masculinity) followed by “race/ethnicity, education, media, politics and economy and globalization” (Dart, 2014, p. 652).

Seippel (2018) from the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo used a more complex topic modeling method to identify 1,923 full-text articles in the same three journals over the 30 years from 1984 to 2014. He concluded that culture, was the top-ranked central topic (a composite of “organization and politics, gender, race, and the body”). Highly ranked single topics were football/soccer, nationalism, and globalization. Also identified were topic differences between the journals showing that each has had self-perpetuating traditions and trends in topic coverage, as most journals do over three decades.

Tian and Wise (2020) used bibliometric visualization software, CiteSpace, to map European and North American-based knowledge domains in 870 articles in the same three journals from 2008 to 2018. The goal was to identify (a) the top academic institutions contributing to knowledge production in the field, (b) topics studied and research trends, (c) influential authors, (d) impactful papers and books, and (e) the patterns of each of these four domains in Europe and North America. They analyzed an impressive array of data focusing on keywords and the institutional affiliation of the first author for each article—446 authors from Europe and 425 from North America. Among other results, they identified the top 10 topics on both sides of the Atlantic.

Based on data in the Tian and Wise study, Table 1 shows considerable overlap in general themes, although there is variation in their rank order. For example, football (soccer), identity, culture, and globalization were more often keywords in articles by first authors from Europe; whereas race, women, and politics (including power) were more often a focus in North America. Beyond the top 10, the topics of physical activity and neoliberalism were featured more often in North America; whereas, sport participation among youth and other categories of individuals and groups were featured more often in Europe. The variations in rank order are related primarily to differences in the history, culture, and the control and organization of sports on both sides of the Atlantic. For example, most countries in Europe have central sport ministries that govern, guide, and fund sports with at least partial priority given to provision and participation access for the general population. In North America and especially in the United States, access to participation depends primarily on personal and family resources as well as neighborhood- and school-based patterns of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic segregation.

Table 1

Top 10 Keywords in Articles Published in the IRSS, SSJ, and JSSI by the Location of the Institutional Affiliation of Each Article’s First Author

RankNorth AmericaEurope
1SportSport
2GenderFootball
3RaceIdentity
4WomenGender
5MediaCulture
6PoliticsMasculinity
7IdentityBody
8BodyMedia
9MasculinityGlobalization
10FootballPolitics/race

Note. Adapted from Tian and Wise (2020). IRSS = International Review for the Sociology of Sport; SSJ = Sociology of Sport Journal; JSSI = Journal of Sport and Social Issues.

Tian and Wise also identified theorists and theories most often used by authors in North America and Europe. First authors in both regions were more likely to use European theorists to guide their research. Most widely used in North America were Michel Foucault’s poststructuralist theory and his concepts of discipline and surveillance, David Harvey’s conception of neoliberalism and the dynamics of imperialism, Stuart Hall’s cultural studies approach and the concepts of power and hegemony, and critical feminist theories. More widely used in Europe were figurational theory as developed by Norbert Elias and applied to sports by Eric Dunning and Irving Goffman’s theories of interaction. In both regions, there was widespread use of Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of action and practice organized around the concepts of habitus, field, power, and cultural capital, and Raewyn Connell’s theory of gender relations and the concepts of hypermasculinity and hegemonic masculinity.

Taken together, these three studies reveal much about the range of topics studied in sociology of sport research. However, what they do not reveal is also important in the story of the field:

  1. a.Research on sports is gaining recognition and growing outside the conferences and journals sponsored by professional associations in the field.
  2. b.Scholars in the field have substantive areas of interest that are equally or more important than the sociology of sport when it comes to career-related publication decisions.
  3. c.Some scholars have experienced marginalization or a lack of support in the field and decided that their best chances of publication is in journals outside the sociology of sport.
  4. d.A growing number of articles with authors from two or more countries and regions of the world suggests that the field is growing worldwide through the informal networks of scholars and academic departments.
  5. e.Sociology of sport research funded by government agencies and NGOs often appears in reports rather than journals.
  6. f.Sociology of sport scholars in nations where English is the primary language have little or no access to or knowledge of research published in languages other than English.

Future Topics in Sociology of Sport

Research topics in the sociology of sport over the next two generations will reflect global issues, changes in secondary and higher education, multiple definitions of sports, and the academic affiliations of scholars aligned with the field.

Global Issues

The urgency of global issues influences research in social science disciplines, including sociology of sport. Predictions are risky, but the United Nations has identified topics on which they will focus attention, and it is reasonable to use them as a basis for making informed guesses about topics that will attract sociology of sport research (https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/ and https://sdgs.un.org/goals). Variations will occur by region depending on needs and priorities, but research is likely to focus on the following: sport for development and peace programs; public health issues; human rights and social justice; citizenship, social movements, and political activism; eradication of poverty and food insecurity; eliminating inequities related to gender and gender-related identities; the intersection of nationalism and racism; individual and social structural development; environmental and community sustainability, and the impact of climate change on venues and conditions under which sports are played; the use of sports in political and economic contexts, including democracy, autocracy, oligarchy, and various forms of capitalism and socialism; support for migrants, refugees, indigenous peoples, aging populations, and people with disabilities; and creating resources for social and economic development.

Sociology of sport scholars have long been committed to activism and research on power relations and challenges faced by under-resourced populations and communities. To the extent that there is funding for studies that use sports and physical activities as facilitators of development, sustainability, and locally relevant education, research will be done on these topics. In addition, research teams addressing global issues may include sociology of sport scholars due to the widespread belief in “the power of sports”—misplaced or reasonably qualified—that inspires interest in how sports can and should be used in such research.

Apart from U.N. goals, prolympic sports will continue to attract research on multiple topics. These include the dynamics and consequences of increasing commercialization; the costs and legacies of sport mega-events, especially the Olympics and FIFA World Cups; athletes’ rights and the social and political activism of athletes and fans; the implications of injuries, especially concussions and the diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy among living athletes; the application of new performance-enhancing technologies, including new equipment and training methods, and performance-enhancing substances that boost strength, speed, endurance, and cognition; the impact of actual and anticipated terrorism at sport events; the uses of new communications technologies that alter relationships among athletes and between athletes, fans, and journalists as they also blur national boundaries in sport consumption patterns; and sport gambling and patterns of corruption on and off the field.

Numerous other forms of sports will also elicit research attention. These will become increasingly popular as the costs of many mainstream sports preclude or reduce participation or spectating. This will build on current studies of lifestyle, action, adventure, and recreational sports; folk games; and all forms of what can be described as “people’s sports” because they are created by and for participants and changed or abandoned due to changes in or among participants.

Secondary and Higher Education

As this article is written, secondary and higher education, especially in the United States, are facing financial, organizational, and pedagogical crises due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Although these crises constitute a threat to the sociology of sport, they also provide research opportunities addressing the role of sport and physical activities in the context of education and the role of education in sport development and training.

As educational institutions and their governing boards are forced to assess the social and educational implications of school-sponsored sport programs, research will be needed to decide whether high-cost interscholastic (i.e., “varsity”) programs should be eliminated, revised, or replaced with combinations of student-controlled lifestyle sports, action and adventure sports, and other forms of physical recreation that complement and extend the socialization and education that occur in the classroom. Research on the social, developmental, and educational value of activities and sports created by and for students will be important in the decision-making process.

The high schools and colleges that retain high-profile commercialized forms of varsity sports in the United States will continue to be fertile fields for research. Topics will include transparency, accountability, corruption, educational relevance, exploitation, and athletes’ rights. There is also the possibility that under these conditions, there may be pressure and support for sociology of sport scholars to focus on the social and organizational factors that develop and increase sport performance.

Definitions of Sports

During the sociology of sport’s initial phase of development (the 1960s and 1970s), much attention was given to defining sport in exclusive and precise terms. This was due to the quest for recognition and legitimacy in the field (Földesi, 2015). Without a well-defined subject matter, it was nearly impossible for the sociology of sport to claim scientific status. However, research conducted in traditional cultures and with indigenous peoples and other populations outside of dominant cultural contexts made it clear that sport was an elastic concept representing diverse lived experiences shaped by specific historical, cultural, political, economic, and environmental factors. Empirical verification of this elasticity encouraged scholars in the field to turn more attention to forms of physical culture that people in particular social worlds produce, maintain, and include in their collective lives.

Conceptualizing “sport” in these terms greatly expanded the range of research topics in the field. This approach takes into account differences between “official” definitions of sports that reflect the interests of people possessing power and influence, the reality of sports as social constructions shaped by diverse social conditions, and the fact that sports are contested activities with variations in (a) purpose, meaning, and organization; (b) who plays under what conditions; and (c) how governance and sponsorship structured.

This conceptual approach will lead to research on numerous topics—one of which is competitive virtual games aka esports. As high schools, colleges, organizations, and communities create esport teams and as game developers make profits, it will be difficult for the sociology of sport to ignore these and related activities that claim status or are perceived as a sport. Research associated with esports and related topics include virtual and virtually augmented sports as well as mediated simulations involving graduated degrees of immersive experiences and challenges—some of which we have not yet imagined. Scholars using figurational theory employ the concept of sportization when referring to the process through which an activity comes to be defined as a sport (Maguire, 2013). It has been applied in research on artistic and physical activities, such as breakdancing, rhythmic gymnastics, orienteering, climbing, Ultimate, Quidditch, and even competitive eating, among many other activities.

Academic Affiliations of Scholars

Research topics are chosen by scholars and choices are always made in context. This means that a sociology of sport scholar in a sociology department that has a culture of social activism is likely to choose different topics than a peer in a sport management program funded by a professional sport team committed to expanding its publicity, popularity, and profits. The point is that topic choices vary by academic departments and programs and how scholars are trained and personally oriented.

At present, there appears to be a diverse mix of scholars affiliated with the sociology of sport—a condition that maximizes the diversity of research topics in the field. However, if that mix is skewed so the shared research interests of one group dominate and discourage other interests, choices of topics would become more bounded and restrictive. For example, if the culture of higher education is increasingly organized around neoliberal orientations, and university positions in the sociology of sport are gradually filled with scholars willing to give priority to research that pays off with grants and other forms of financial support, choices of topics could be limited to the point that the field shrinks in numbers and relevance. In the long run, this would limit the growth and viability of the field.

Challenges Facing the Sociology of Sport

Despite the current vitality and relevance of the sociology of sport, the biggest future challenge for the field will be survival. This is not to say that individual scholars will abandon sociology of sport research or that the field’s infrastructure will disappear overnight. But it is likely that scholars who conduct research and sustain the field’s infrastructure will increasingly face a lack of administrative support in universities and academic departments. Without a dependable home and support, tenure will be difficult to achieve, positions will not be refilled as scholars retire, new positions will be rare, and those who conduct sociology of sport research will be compelled to focus on other areas of research to survive. If university administrators and funders of higher education—both public and private—use neoliberal (market-oriented) beliefs to guide decisions, scholars in the sociology of sport will face major challenges (Andrews, 2015; Andrews & Silk, 2012; Carrington, 2015).

Research, related curricula, and the existence of doctoral programs in all fields depend on trends and decisions in higher education. Furthermore, no field of study can survive apart from institutionalized processes that support a curriculum, a labor force with resources to pursue a research agenda, and a regular influx of new scholars willing and able to sustain infrastructures, attract graduate students, and cultivate a scholarly habitus valued by those who control resource allocation in departments and universities.

A continuing challenge for the sociology of sport is that disciplinary diversity also has a downside. Without the structural unity that comes with being employed in a specific department across universities, the field lacks leverage to lobby for support when resources are scarce and a strong case must be made for retaining courses, degree programs, and faculty positions. Because the sociology of sport is currently a low-priority topic in higher education, many scholars in the field currently have short-term academic appointments in kinesiology departments, physical education, sport and exercise science, sport studies, sport management, cultural studies, and sociology. Lacking general institutional support and even facing politically- and ideologically-based disapproval in some cases, scholars have fewer opportunities to obtain tenure-track appointments in the programs housing them. This makes the field vulnerable, especially when higher education or host departments face financial crises or lack public support.

The implications of a lack of structural unity were illustrated in 2013–2014 when the AAHPERD reorganized and became Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America). With this change, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education lost its longstanding affiliation with AAHPERD, and its Sport Sociology Academy and other subdisciplinary academies in sport history and sport philosophy faded away. This has harmed the field, even though the American Kinesiology Association and the National Academy of Kinesiology have officially listed the sport sociology/sociology of sport among its subdisciplines.

For many physical educators who taught combinations of courses in sport history, philosophy, and sociology, the reorganization of AAHPERD has created challenges. Gone are opportunities for attending and presenting papers at AAHPERD conference sessions and having articles published in AAHPERD journals. In the process, the legitimacy of those subdisciplines decreased. Physical educators who previously attended AAHPERD conferences and participated in the sport history, philosophy, and sociology academies now lack time and money to regularly attend separate conferences in the three areas in which they teach and do research. SHAPE America does not include sport in its mission, and this has hurt the sociology of sport in the United States.

Similar processes are occurring in kinesiology departments where a combination of factors has led them to focus on teaching and research topics related to health, human performance, health management, rehabilitation, and exercise. This is part of a larger effort to obtain research grants and attract students seeking courses and degrees that lead to postgrad occupational opportunities. This trend has accelerated in universities embracing a neoliberal approach to management where any discipline that cannot pay for itself or show a profit is in jeopardy (Andrews, 2015; Carrington, 2015).

A lack of structural unity is frequently accompanied by the intellectual isolation of sociology of sport scholars who are the only person in the field in their university. Unless they work with colleagues in sport psychology and the physical sciences, their ability to do valued research declines. In addition, many scholars in sport-related academic departments, as well as people in the general population, continue to accept the great sport myth based on the beliefs that sports are essentially pure and good and that participation in sports inevitably leads to individual and community development. As a result, they fail to see a need for critical research done by sport sociologists (Coakley, 2015). This way of thinking undermines the legitimacy of the field and locates it outside the boundaries of what counts as science.

A strategy for counteracting a lack of structural unity is for professional associations and journals to make a formal commitment to inclusion, identity, and diversity in the field. Like most academic disciplines, the sociology of sport emerged out of the values, interests, and experiences of White male scholars from Europe and North America (Földesi, 2015). Under these circumstances, the inclusion of diverse identities is a continuous process requiring institutionalized policies and practices that sustain a culture of listening to, learning about, and actively supporting colleagues. When this occurs, the field becomes a vibrant context for knowledge production and gains strength and political leverage in higher education.

A similar counteractive strategy is to create policies and practices that increase access to knowledge produced in diverse languages (Földesi, 2015). Failing to do this limits the growth of the field and risks establishing “Western hegemony” in terms of publication standards and priorities for choosing research topics and using specific concepts, theories, and research methods (Thompson, 2015). This challenge extends far beyond the sociology of sport and highlights the need to work with professional social science associations worldwide to modify or create translation software containing links to explanations of concepts and important terms used in different languages. Another step in this direction is to commission guides that explain the meanings of concepts used across major language groups and in different cultures.

The Future of the Sociology of Sport

Looking forward in time, it is risky to make predictions. However, it is likely that physical activities and sports in various forms will continue to be culturally important and have an impact on societies. The current trajectory of prolympic sports will be sustained by globalization, commercialization, and the quest for excitement. As people worldwide become increasingly sedentary, there is likely to be a public health emphasis on the need for physical activities. The practical need to produce knowledge about the dynamics and organization of physical activities and sports and how they are integrated into people’s lives will continue into the foreseeable future.

More difficult to visualize are who will produce sociology of sport knowledge under what conditions. Will it occur in educational institutions, state agencies, or corporations and other nongovernmental organizations? Will the sociology of sport remain a marginalized appendage of multiple academic disciplines or become a valued and integral teaching and research field in itself? Will it survive by asking critical questions that conflict with the interests of wealthy and powerful people or by serving those interests without question?

The answers to these and other important questions will determine the trajectory of the field. Answers will depend on how scholars set their research and teaching priorities and if they can remain unified and strategic as they make choices and lobby to have their choices respected. This is a political as well as an academic task. It involves an awareness of the conditions under which they work along with a commitment to modify or change those conditions so they align with the expressed principles of the scholars in the field and the mission statements of their professional associations.

The future of any field of study is created rather than predicted. It emerges as principles are put into action in contexts that are well understood. Given that sociology is dedicated to understanding social worlds, the sociology of sport stands a reasonable chance of survival, even if it does not thrive during certain periods over the next 40 years.

Notes

1.

This story of the sociology of sport is told from my vantage point. Others would tell different versions reflecting their vantage points.

2.

The terms sociology of sport and sport sociology are often used interchangeably, but their meaning has been debated as scholars formed and named professional associations and journals in the field. In this article, sociology of sport is used when the primary goal of research is to produce knowledge about social relationships, society, and culture. Sport sociology is used when the primary goal is to produce knowledge about the social dimensions of sports.

3.

Many citations could be listed here. Among the most influential were books by Brohm (1978), Dunning and Sheard (1979), Guttmann (1978), James (1963), and Ponomaryov (1974/1981); anthologies edited by Ball and Loy (1975), Eitzen (1979), Frey (1979), Gerber et al. (1974), Gruneau and Albinson (1976), Kenyon (1969), Loy and Kenyon (1969), Loy et al. (1980), Lüschen (1970), Lüschen and Sage (1980), Oglesby (1978), Sage (1974), Stone (1972), and Talamini and Page (1973); and textbooks by Edwards (1973), Coakley (1978), Eitzen and Sage (1978), and Snyder and Spreitzer (1978).

References

  • Andrews, D.L. (2015). On the hopes and fears for the sociology of sport in the US. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 50(4–5), 368374. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690214543125.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • And rews, D.L., & Silk, M.L. (Eds.). (2011). Physical cultural studies [Special issue]. Sociology of Sport Journal, 28(1). https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ssj/28/1/ssj.28.issue-1.xml

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ball, D.W., & Loy, J.W. (Eds.). (1975). Sport and social order: Contributions to the sociology of sport. Addison-Wesley Pub. C.

  • Brooks, G.A. (Ed.). (1981). Perspectives on the academic discipline of physical education: A tribute to G. Lawrence Rarick. Human Kinetics Publishers.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brohm, J-M. (1976/1978). Sport: A prison of measured time (translated by I. Fraser). Pluto Press.

  • Carrington, B. (2015). Assessing the sociology of sport: On race and diaspora. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 50(4–5), 391396. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690214559857

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Coakley, J. (1978). Sports in society: Issues and controversies. The C.V. Mosby Company.

  • Coakley J. (1987). Sociology of sport in the United States. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 22(1), 6379. https://doi.org/10.1177/101269028702200106

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Coakley, J. (2015) Assessing the sociology of sport: On cultural sensibilities and the great sport myth. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 50(4–5), 402406. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690214538864

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Coakley, J., & Dunning, E. (Eds.). (2000). Handbook of sport studies. Sage Publications.

  • Dart, J. (2014). Sports review: A content analysis of the International Review for the Sociology of Sport, the Journal of Sport and Social Issues and the Sociology of Sport Journal across 25 years. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 49(6), 645668. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690212465736

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Donnelly, P. (1996). Prolympism: Sport monoculture as crisis and opportunity. Quest, 48 (1), 2542. https://doi.org/10.1080/00336297.1996.10484176

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dunning, E., & Sheard, K. (1979). Barbarians, gentlemen and players: A sociological study of the development of rugby football. University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Edwards, H. (1969). The revolt of the Black athlete. The Free Press.

  • Edwards, H. (1973). Sociology of sport. Dorsey Press.

  • Edwards, H. (1976). Change and crisis in modern sport. Black Scholar, 8(2), 6065. https://doi.org/10.1080/00064246.1976.11413866

  • Eitzen, D.S. (Ed.). (1979). Sport in contemporary society. St. Martin’s Press,

  • Eitzen, D.S., & Sage, G.H. (1978). Sociology of American sport. Wm. C. Brown Co.

  • Földesi, G.S. (2015). Assessing the sociology of sport: On world inequalities and unequal development. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 50(4–5), 442447, https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690214547142

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Frey, J.H. (Ed.). (1979, September). Contemporary issues in sport. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 445. AAAPSS.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gent, P. (1973). North Dallas forty. Sport Media Publishing.

  • Gerber, E., Felshin, J., Berlin, P., & Wyrick, W. (Eds.). (1974). The American woman in sport. Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Inc.

  • Gomes, L.C., Moraes, L.C.L., Marchi Junior, W., & Moraes e Silva, M. (2021). A mapping of JLASSS: The academic consolidation of the socio-cultural studies of sport in Latin America. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 56(2), 276296. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690219893658

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Greendorfer, S. (1981). Emergence and future prospects for sociology of sport. In G. Brooks (Ed.), Perspectives on the academic discipline of physical education: A tribute to G. Lawrence Rarick (pp. 379398). Human Kinetics Publishers.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gruneau, R., & Albinson, J.G., (Eds.). (1976). Canadian sports: Sociological perspectives. Addison-Wesley.

  • Guttmann, A. (1978). From ritual to record: The nature of modern sports. Columbia University Press.

  • Harris, J.C. (2006). Sociology of sport: Expanding horizons in the subdiscipline. Quest, 58(1), 7191. https://doi.org/10.1080/00336297.2006.10491873

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hoch, P. (1972). Rip off the big game: The exploitation of sports by the power elite. Anchor Books.

  • Ingham, A.G. & Donnelly, P. (1997). A sociology of North American sociology of sport: Disunity in unity, 1965 to 1996. Sociology of Sport Journal, 14(4), 362418. https://doi.org/10.1123/ssj.14.4.362.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • James, C.L.R. (1963). Beyond a boundary. Stanley Paul & Co., Ltd.

  • Jinxia, D., & Lingnan, L. (2016). “Sociology of Sport: China.” In K. Young (Ed.). Sociology of sport: A global subdiscipline in review (Research in the sociology of sport, Vol. 9, pp. 2335). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kenyon, G. (Ed.). (1969). Aspects of contemporary sport sociology. Athletic Institute.

  • Lapchick, R. (1979). South Africa: Sport and apartheid politics. Annals of the American Academy of Political Science, 445, 155165. https://doi.org/10.1177/000271627944500116

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lapchick, R. (1984). Broken promises: Racism in American sports. St. Martin’s Press.

  • Loy, J., & Kenyon, G. (Eds.). (1969). Sport, culture, and society: A reader on the sociology of sport. The Macmillan Company.

  • Loy, J.W., Kenyon, G.S. &McPherson, B.D. (1980). The emergence and development of the sociology of sport as an academic specialty. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 51(1), 91109, PubMed ID: 6765897 https://doi.org/10.1080/02701367.1980.10609277.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lüschen, G. (Ed.) (1970). The cross-cultural analysis of sport and games. Stipes Publishing Company.

  • Lüschen, G., & Sage, G.H. (Eds.) (with the assistance of Leila Sfeir). (1980). Handbook of social science of sport. Stipes Publishing Company.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Maguire, J. (2013). Sportization. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781405165518.wbeoss242.pub2.

  • Meggyesy, D. (1971). Out of their league. Ramparts Press, Inc.

  • Montez de Oca, J. (2016). Sociology of Sport: United States of America. In K. Young (Ed.), Sociology of sport: A global subdiscipline in review (Research in the sociology of sport, Vol. 9, pp. 361375). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pike, E.C.J. (Ed.) (2021). Research handbook on sports and society. Edward Elgar Publishing.

  • Pike, E.C.J., Jackson, S.J., & Wenner, L.A. (2015). Assessing the trajectory and challenges of the sociology of sport. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 50(4/5), Special 50th anniversary issue.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Oglesby, C. (Ed.). (1978). Women and sport: from myth to reality. Lea & Febiger.

  • Ponomaryov, N.I. (1974/1981). Sport and society (translated by J. Riordan). Progress Publishers.

  • Sage, G.H. (Ed.) (1974). Sport and American society. Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.

  • Scott, J. (1969). Athletics for athletes. An Other Ways Book.

  • Scott, J. (1971). The athletic revolution. The Free Press.

  • Seippel, Ø. (2018). Topics and trends: 30 years of sociology of sport. European Journal for Sport and Society, 15(3), 288307, https://doi.org/10.1080/16138171.2018.1475098

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shaw, G. (1972). Meat on the hoof: The hidden world of Texas football. Dell Publishing, Inc.

  • Snyder, E.E., & Spreitzer, E. (1978). Social aspects of sport. Prentice-Hall.

  • Stone, G. (Ed.) (1972). Games, sport, and power. Dutton.

  • Talamini, J.T. & Page, C.H. (Eds.). (1973). Sport and society: An anthology. Little, Brown Company.

  • Thompson, L. (2015). Assessing the sociology of sport: On Western hegemony and alternative discourses. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 50(4–5), 617622. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690214539340

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tian, E., & Wise, N. (2020). An Atlantic divide? Mapping the knowledge domain of European and North American-based sociology of sport, 2008–2018. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 55(8), 10291055. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690219878370

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Young, K. (Ed.). (2016). Sociology of sport: A global subdiscipline in review (Research in the Sociology of Sport, Vol. 9), Emerald Group Publishing Limited. https://www.emerald.com/insight/publication/doi/10.1108/S1476-285420179

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Young, K. (Ed.). (2017). Reflections on sociology of sport: Ten questions, ten scholars, ten perspectives (Research in the Sociology of Sport, Vol. 10). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

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    • Search Google Scholar
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The author (jcoakley@uccs.edu) is with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, CO, USA.

  • Andrews, D.L. (2015). On the hopes and fears for the sociology of sport in the US. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 50(4–5), 368374. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690214543125.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • And rews, D.L., & Silk, M.L. (Eds.). (2011). Physical cultural studies [Special issue]. Sociology of Sport Journal, 28(1). https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ssj/28/1/ssj.28.issue-1.xml

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ball, D.W., & Loy, J.W. (Eds.). (1975). Sport and social order: Contributions to the sociology of sport. Addison-Wesley Pub. C.

  • Brooks, G.A. (Ed.). (1981). Perspectives on the academic discipline of physical education: A tribute to G. Lawrence Rarick. Human Kinetics Publishers.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brohm, J-M. (1976/1978). Sport: A prison of measured time (translated by I. Fraser). Pluto Press.

  • Carrington, B. (2015). Assessing the sociology of sport: On race and diaspora. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 50(4–5), 391396. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690214559857

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Coakley, J. (1978). Sports in society: Issues and controversies. The C.V. Mosby Company.

  • Coakley J. (1987). Sociology of sport in the United States. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 22(1), 6379. https://doi.org/10.1177/101269028702200106

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Coakley, J. (2015) Assessing the sociology of sport: On cultural sensibilities and the great sport myth. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 50(4–5), 402406. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690214538864

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Coakley, J., & Dunning, E. (Eds.). (2000). Handbook of sport studies. Sage Publications.

  • Dart, J. (2014). Sports review: A content analysis of the International Review for the Sociology of Sport, the Journal of Sport and Social Issues and the Sociology of Sport Journal across 25 years. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 49(6), 645668. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690212465736

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Donnelly, P. (1996). Prolympism: Sport monoculture as crisis and opportunity. Quest, 48 (1), 2542. https://doi.org/10.1080/00336297.1996.10484176

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dunning, E., & Sheard, K. (1979). Barbarians, gentlemen and players: A sociological study of the development of rugby football. University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Edwards, H. (1969). The revolt of the Black athlete. The Free Press.

  • Edwards, H. (1973). Sociology of sport. Dorsey Press.

  • Edwards, H. (1976). Change and crisis in modern sport. Black Scholar, 8(2), 6065. https://doi.org/10.1080/00064246.1976.11413866

  • Eitzen, D.S. (Ed.). (1979). Sport in contemporary society. St. Martin’s Press,

  • Eitzen, D.S., & Sage, G.H. (1978). Sociology of American sport. Wm. C. Brown Co.

  • Földesi, G.S. (2015). Assessing the sociology of sport: On world inequalities and unequal development. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 50(4–5), 442447, https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690214547142

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Frey, J.H. (Ed.). (1979, September). Contemporary issues in sport. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 445. AAAPSS.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gent, P. (1973). North Dallas forty. Sport Media Publishing.

  • Gerber, E., Felshin, J., Berlin, P., & Wyrick, W. (Eds.). (1974). The American woman in sport. Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Inc.

  • Gomes, L.C., Moraes, L.C.L., Marchi Junior, W., & Moraes e Silva, M. (2021). A mapping of JLASSS: The academic consolidation of the socio-cultural studies of sport in Latin America. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 56(2), 276296. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690219893658

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Greendorfer, S. (1981). Emergence and future prospects for sociology of sport. In G. Brooks (Ed.), Perspectives on the academic discipline of physical education: A tribute to G. Lawrence Rarick (pp. 379398). Human Kinetics Publishers.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gruneau, R., & Albinson, J.G., (Eds.). (1976). Canadian sports: Sociological perspectives. Addison-Wesley.

  • Guttmann, A. (1978). From ritual to record: The nature of modern sports. Columbia University Press.

  • Harris, J.C. (2006). Sociology of sport: Expanding horizons in the subdiscipline. Quest, 58(1), 7191. https://doi.org/10.1080/00336297.2006.10491873

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hoch, P. (1972). Rip off the big game: The exploitation of sports by the power elite. Anchor Books.

  • Ingham, A.G. & Donnelly, P. (1997). A sociology of North American sociology of sport: Disunity in unity, 1965 to 1996. Sociology of Sport Journal, 14(4), 362418. https://doi.org/10.1123/ssj.14.4.362.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • James, C.L.R. (1963). Beyond a boundary. Stanley Paul & Co., Ltd.

  • Jinxia, D., & Lingnan, L. (2016). “Sociology of Sport: China.” In K. Young (Ed.). Sociology of sport: A global subdiscipline in review (Research in the sociology of sport, Vol. 9, pp. 2335). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kenyon, G. (Ed.). (1969). Aspects of contemporary sport sociology. Athletic Institute.

  • Lapchick, R. (1979). South Africa: Sport and apartheid politics. Annals of the American Academy of Political Science, 445, 155165. https://doi.org/10.1177/000271627944500116

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lapchick, R. (1984). Broken promises: Racism in American sports. St. Martin’s Press.

  • Loy, J., & Kenyon, G. (Eds.). (1969). Sport, culture, and society: A reader on the sociology of sport. The Macmillan Company.

  • Loy, J.W., Kenyon, G.S. &McPherson, B.D. (1980). The emergence and development of the sociology of sport as an academic specialty. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 51(1), 91109, PubMed ID: 6765897 https://doi.org/10.1080/02701367.1980.10609277.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lüschen, G. (Ed.) (1970). The cross-cultural analysis of sport and games. Stipes Publishing Company.

  • Lüschen, G., & Sage, G.H. (Eds.) (with the assistance of Leila Sfeir). (1980). Handbook of social science of sport. Stipes Publishing Company.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Maguire, J. (2013). Sportization. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781405165518.wbeoss242.pub2.

  • Meggyesy, D. (1971). Out of their league. Ramparts Press, Inc.

  • Montez de Oca, J. (2016). Sociology of Sport: United States of America. In K. Young (Ed.), Sociology of sport: A global subdiscipline in review (Research in the sociology of sport, Vol. 9, pp. 361375). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pike, E.C.J. (Ed.) (2021). Research handbook on sports and society. Edward Elgar Publishing.

  • Pike, E.C.J., Jackson, S.J., & Wenner, L.A. (2015). Assessing the trajectory and challenges of the sociology of sport. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 50(4/5), Special 50th anniversary issue.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Oglesby, C. (Ed.). (1978). Women and sport: from myth to reality. Lea & Febiger.

  • Ponomaryov, N.I. (1974/1981). Sport and society (translated by J. Riordan). Progress Publishers.

  • Sage, G.H. (Ed.) (1974). Sport and American society. Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.

  • Scott, J. (1969). Athletics for athletes. An Other Ways Book.

  • Scott, J. (1971). The athletic revolution. The Free Press.

  • Seippel, Ø. (2018). Topics and trends: 30 years of sociology of sport. European Journal for Sport and Society, 15(3), 288307, https://doi.org/10.1080/16138171.2018.1475098

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shaw, G. (1972). Meat on the hoof: The hidden world of Texas football. Dell Publishing, Inc.

  • Snyder, E.E., & Spreitzer, E. (1978). Social aspects of sport. Prentice-Hall.

  • Stone, G. (Ed.) (1972). Games, sport, and power. Dutton.

  • Talamini, J.T. & Page, C.H. (Eds.). (1973). Sport and society: An anthology. Little, Brown Company.

  • Thompson, L. (2015). Assessing the sociology of sport: On Western hegemony and alternative discourses. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 50(4–5), 617622. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690214539340

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tian, E., & Wise, N. (2020). An Atlantic divide? Mapping the knowledge domain of European and North American-based sociology of sport, 2008–2018. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 55(8), 10291055. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690219878370

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Young, K. (Ed.). (2016). Sociology of sport: A global subdiscipline in review (Research in the Sociology of Sport, Vol. 9), Emerald Group Publishing Limited. https://www.emerald.com/insight/publication/doi/10.1108/S1476-285420179

    • Crossref
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  • Young, K. (Ed.). (2017). Reflections on sociology of sport: Ten questions, ten scholars, ten perspectives (Research in the Sociology of Sport, Vol. 10). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

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