The Social and Political Implications of Sports


Sports as a Social Process

As with most social processes, the emergence and diffusion of modern sports is bound up in complex networks and interdependency chains that are marked by unequal power relations. These processes, however, also have unintended consequences.

The Definition of a Sport

There is no single clear-cut definition of a sport, but most sociologists would agree that it is a physical contest played for its own sake. Archaeological evidence suggests that ball games have been common among peoples as diverse as the Chinese and the Aztecs.

The Role of National Identity in Sports

In the past, sports played an important role in the development of national identity. Their use of nostalgia, mythology, invented traditions, flags, anthems, and ceremonies have contributed to the search for nationalism.

The relationship between sport and national identity has been controversial. Some scholars have argued that the relationship between sport and national identity is chauvinistic and xenophobic; others have suggested that it serves as a vehicle for liberal nationalist politics.

Emotions in Sports

Fans experience a wide range of emotions during a sporting event, from despair when their favourite player is injured to ecstasy when they see their team score an historic goal. These emotions are structured by rules and scripts that help define the roles of players, coaches, and fans.

Students who play a sport have the advantage of learning time-management skills, concentration and focus, as well as other socially desirable traits that are helpful in the classroom. They can also gain confidence, determination and the ability to work as part of a team in order to win.