The Sociology of Sports


Sports involve a great deal of emotion, which can be both positive and negative. Athletes’ emotions reflect how they perceive their performance and how they believe others perceive them. These feelings can be experienced prior to a performance, during it, or afterward. The way athletes handle their emotions is also heavily influenced by the subculture of the sport. For example, athletes may be expected to behave in a certain way during the national anthem, or during postgame celebrations after a win.

While the aesthetic element remains in some sports, the focus of the modern era is more on quantitative achievement. One of the most striking differences between Renaissance and modern sports can be seen in the semantic shift that occurs with the word “measure”. Before, the word “measure” meant a sense of proportion or balance; after the Renaissance, the word began to refer to numerical measurements.

In the late 17th century, the concept of a sports record appeared. Puritans were against traditional pastimes, and drove them underground. In response, organized games began to emerge under the leadership of the Marylebone Cricket Club, which was established in 1787. These clubs helped develop sports such as cricket and rationalized competition.

As a form of nationalism, sports have served as a political and social platform for the establishment of national identities. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union suppressed the reformist movements in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and used sports as a tool to reinforce their national identities. Today, many universities have established sociology of sports departments.