Sociology and its application to sport

As social beings, we need to learn social behaviour to fit in and doing sport teaches us with confidence and co operation. By doing different activities you make new friends and learn to do new things. You get the feeling that you have a value to society. A common reason an individual does a sport or exercise of any kind is because he/she friends are participating in it as well.

Education A person’s education can have an effect on what sports they participate in because in different schools, they participate in different sports.

If it was a private school the sports that you are most likely to participate in are polo, rugby and badminton. If you went to a public school then you are most likely to play football, tennis and netball. Reasons for participation in sport and physical activity Individuals generally recognised there are health benefits of physical activity and sport.

Weight management, social interaction and enjoyment of exercise are also common reasons for participation.

 Concerns about body shape were the main reasons for the participation for women. A number of studies reported pressure to conform to popular ideals of beauty as important reasons for teenage girls being physically active. Girls were also more likely to participate if the activity emphasised fun and enjoyment and provided the opportunity for social interaction with friends.

Along with general health benefits, older people identified the importance of physical activity in staving off the effects of ageing. Social dancing was successful in maintaining participation in older people.

Participants described dance as challenging traditional expectations of older people being physically infirm. As people aged and became less physically able, graduated levels of dancing meant continued participation was possible.

Participation was also maintained across other major life events such as bereavement because other participants at dances provided a support network. Discuss the application of sociological theories of sport The sociology of sport is a sub-discipline of sociology that looks at the relationship between sport and society. Sport is a part of life; it has been created, shaped and sustained by members of societies. Sport is not separate from ‘real life’ it is part of it. Look at the attention, time and money we devote to sport and the myriad of activities it covers. Sport does not simply mean competing but we can participate in sport as players, spectators, officials, and business. In one way you can think of sport as a reflection of society but it is more than that in the fact sport and society interact. Why is sport so important? Why has sport changed and how is this change related to changes in society? Why do people enjoy sports? What are people’s experiences of sport?

Sociology is divided into a number of different theories, many of which work together, that try to explain the development of society and peoples behaviour. Marxism: (Conflict Theory) Well a Marxist viewpoint may concentrate on the economic and class structures of sport and set out to show how sports keep people in their places and the exploitative aspects of sport. Marxists may put forward proposals that they see make sport more equal to all. Conflict Theory: Are Sports All About Money and Economic Power? Is based on the idea of social control and manipulation by powerful group(s), the ultimate control of everything is based on money, wealth and economic power. Oriented toward change, not the status quo, it has the same goal as functionalism: general theory about everything in society:


Discipline Competitive success Conflict Theory and Research on Sports Conflict theorists look for: alienation athletes become alienated from their bodies (Jean-Marie Brohm, 1978) instrumental view of body, machine drug abuse coercion & control sport distorts people’s thoughts about their goals in life. Sport diverts people’s attention away from important issues:

Commercialism e.g. consumption e.g. materialistic dependence Nationalism & militarism too much encouragement of national pride Racism & sexism sport perpetuates racial and sexual stereotypes Conflict theory is very concerned with unequal distribution of power and economic resources ultimate conclusion: radical change (revolution?) Conflict theory is not comfortable for people; Using Conflict Theory in Everyday Life There is a bit too much orientation on economic matters; class inequality and radical change, there should be a call for more play and less business emphasis, union mentality (power to the people), more concern for “have-nots” and a call for fewer and/or less emphasis on spectator sports.

Weaknesses of Conflict Theory Excludes factors other than capitalism in explaining sport, assumes that sport is determined by the system of production. Overemphasizes extent to which sport is controlled by people in power (i.e. class relations and money) ignores the fact that people might define themselves on the basis of something other than class (e.g. gender, race, ethnicity, age)

Too much emphasis on spectator sports, Ignores the fact that sport participation can be a liberating, expressive, creative experience Interactionist theory Interactionist Theories: How Do People Experience Sports? Interactionist Theory focuses on meaning, identity, social relationships, and subcultures in sports. Interactionist Theory assumes: that behaviour involves choices, choices based on meaning of the situation. We behave -> behaviour impacts the world -> self understanding the self: formed through behaviour constantly changes.

Human behaviour is not governed by a cause-effect relationship … it is contingent, changeable and somewhat unpredictable, notions of identity: who we are what we do identities always changing. People assign meanings to things … then the things become associated with them notion of “social creation”. People as choice makers – not responders, avoidance of use of a cause-effect model.

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