Sport plays a massive role in today’s society. It is recognized as a means of making social changes. Fans become so emotional over their teams that they have been seen to trash a stadium if their team loses.
The sports sociologist looks at relationships between sport and the public and how sport influences so many areas of life.
Sport goes deeper than just taking part
Sport is tricky as the sociologist has to also look at how media portrays biases in sports. All sport is an important part of culture, and this differs from country to country. How the different sports are defined and integrated into social life differs from one society to another.
Being a sports sociologist is no easy task and they also have to look at all the costs involved with sport, focus on the performance of elite athletes and examine the whole meaning of sport in the lives of societies.
A large area that has required the involvement of a sports sociologist is gender inequality. It is crazy to think that in sport, the participation of women was banned. It was only in about 1850 that physical education was introduced for women in colleges.
Certain sports were considered too masculine for women and right up until the 1970s, women were banned from taking part in the marathon at the Olympics. The ban was lifted in the 1980s.
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Changing gender inequality
Despite the advancement of women in sports and some of them being role models, a sports sociologist has to tackle the fact that these athletes in the media are often ignored and made invisible when making the headlines in the newspaper or on television.
Even in the 21st century, this is noticeable when compared to male sorts. Yes, there has been an increase of interest in sports where females take part, they are still considered inferior to male athletes and this is the realm of the sports sociologist – to change this.
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Socialization into sports
One has to look at how young people are socialized to become involved in sports. Why do some with talents continue to be involved in them while others fall by the wayside? Is it the way young people are socialized into sports and how do they behave when an injury or even age brings their sports career to an end?
Socialization is when a child is familiarized with the way people ought to behave. Sport plays a part in the socialization process and sociologists have identified two stages in childhood socialization, one of which is to be competitive and to understand rules and regulations.
How emotions influence sport
Can you see all that the sports sociologist has to contend with? Another aspect is emotion, and all the emotions of sportspeople are described in the media. Norms for the display of emotions vary a lot and rugby players, for instance, are ’allowed’ to express their feelings while tennis players and golfers have a quieter way.
Emotion is important in sports, and athletes use them to convey certain information to their coaches and their opponents. Sportspeople can use these emotions to their advantage because the way they or their opponent reacts can impact performance and the result.
Sport is a major contributor to economic and social development too. The world over, we’ve seen how the COVID-19 pandemic, with its social distancing measures, has disrupted sport. To safeguard the health of sportspeople, most sporting events at every level have been canceled or postponed – even the Olympic games, which will now be held in 2021.
There are social benefits that come with sports events and sports organizations are looking at ways that they can respond to problems faced by vulnerable people who usually participate in sporting programs in low-income communities, but who are now unable to. Also, the closure of educational institutions has impacted the sports education sector.
Sport in the 21st century has become massively politicized and people are reading books such as Sport and the Sociological Imagination by Nancy Theberge because they want more information on things such as the rights of athletes, the relationship between sports and politics, what political stances some athletes take as well as the relationship between sports and society.
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