Sport and Society


Spring 2014 quarter

Taught by


This program will explore the role that sport plays in contemporary North American culture. It is a social phenomenon that provides opportunities for identity formation and personal development as well as for learning values about work, play, entertainment, and family. Sport is one of many arenas that reflect our society’s contestation surrounding race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.

The program will examine sport from multiple perspectives and genres. Through a close reading of sports literature, including informational texts, stories, poetry, film, journalism, and other media, we will explore the following social theories that offer various frameworks in which to study sport in society: Functionalist theory, conflict theory, interactionist theory, critical theory, and feminist theory.

Functionalist theory seeks to answer questions such as: How does sport fit into social life and contribute to social stability and efficiency? How does sport participation teach people important norms in society? Conflict theory seeks to answer questions such as: How does sport reflect class relations? How is sport used to maintain the interests of those with power and wealth in society? How does the profit motive distort sport and sport experiences? Interactionist theory seeks to answer questions such as: How do people become involved in sports, become defined as athletes, derive meaning from participation, and make transitions out of sports into the rest of their lives? Critical theory seeks to answer questions such as: How are power relations reproduced and/or resisted in and through sports? Whose voices are/are not represented in the narratives and images that constitute sports? Feminist theory seeks to answer questions such as: How are sports gendered activities, and how do they reproduce dominant ideas about gender in society? What are the strategies for resisting and transforming sport forms that privilege men?

Above all, sport offers a way to engage larger social issues in contemporary American culture. Some would argue sport personifies the American Dream through personal stories of sports champions, both in their accomplishments and in the barriers that they overcome. Sports champions and sports teams also produced sports fans, people who are fanatically loyal to those athletes and teams they cherish.

The primary objective in the program is for students to develop a greater sensitivity to the world of sport and the philosophical and sociological relationship between that world and contemporary society. Students will have opportunities to write personal narrative and critical analysis and produce in-depth research on a particular, self-selected sport sociology topic. 

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

American literature, education, cultural studies, and sports journalism.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online:


Date Revision
January 31st, 2014 New spring opportunity.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior; 25% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 24


Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 30404
So - Sr (16 credits): 30407
(1-16 credits): 30719

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