Term Paper: Sociology of Sport

Pages: 8 (3165 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sports  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Firstly, the overall values will be discussed.

It has been argued that what is valued in sport reflects what is valued in society, with American society valuing competition in sport because of its history as a society based on capitalism. Importantly, this model of business success is one based on achieving and succeeding, rather than achieving a greater purpose. While it may be argued that a business operates to provide for the people's needs, in reality a business is not going to continue unless it makes profit. Businesses therefore focus on succeeding and on beating competitors who are also trying to serve the same market. This is almost exactly what occurs on the sports field, two teams compete for one trophy. In the business world, that trophy is the ability to serve a market of consumers, with a company competing against others attempting to serve the same market. The difference is that this is not just one game, but a series of games with a series of trophies, where the trophies are each consumer. For example, IBM and Apple Macintosh compete to sell computers. When an individual buys an IBM, they are buying at the expense of Apple, meaning that IBM wins. This shows that sport is actually a fitting model for the competitive business world. Just like in sport, the focus is on winning while operating within the rules of the game.

Sport is also closely related to a person's life in society in a general way. In sport, people compete against each other to win. In a person's working life the same thing occurs. A person works against others in the workplace to earn individual rewards and promotions. A person also works as part of the company team, to grow the company. The same occurs in schools where students works in competition with each other to receive awards. Students then work to get into college, with the best students winning the college place. This illustrates one of the main aspects central to sports, the competition factor inherent to sport. This also shows how this competition factor inherent in sports is also one inherent in life. This is another major reason why sport reflects society.

Sport also mimics society because of the rules that are part of it. Sport is not a case of win at all costs, it is a case of win within a set of guidelines. It is seen as unfair or unethical to play outside of the rules. This is a mimic of our own society, where people compete against each other but only within the bounds of society. Sport can be seen as a much simpler representation of society, where the rules are clear and definite. In sport, an offside is an offside and a win is a win. In society, the rules are not so clear-cut and not so definite. There are exceptions to the rules, the rules that apply to each situation are not always known and it is not always clear who has won and who has lost. In this way, sport can be seen as an ideal representation of society, free of the complexity of real life. Sport then may not just represent the ideals of society, but also represent what society wants to be.

As well as representing overall concepts of society, sport also represents individual values. It has been said that, "For most people, sport represents the highlight of competition and symbolizes all the virtues of mateship, heroism and peaceful, civilized and law-abiding behavior." Sport then, represents fair competition, where people compete but only within the rules. One study investigated the increase in the use of performance enhancing drugs and found use increased in periods of commercialization where there was greater pressure on athletes. While the fact that performance enhancing drugs are used shows that people do not always act within the rules, it is equally important that society and the sports world do not agree with the use of drugs, with this being one of the ultimate sins a sports person can commit. This shows the emphasis placed on abiding by the rules and acting fairly.

Another key value of sport is teamwork, with sport representing that a group of individuals working effectively together can achieve as much as a group of more highly skilled athletes who are unable to work together. A common statement made about sports is that a champion team will beat a team of champions. Sport then, represents the value of working together with other people to achieve goals.

Another key value of sport is sportsmanship, with sports people expected not only to play fairly but to treat their opponents with a certain respect. A sports person who loses but loses with dignity can often be held in higher regard than the winner. This is another good aspect that is also a good personal quality when applied to society, with the focus being not only on the end results, but how a person responds to these end results, whether winner or loser.

Sport is also important as a means for inspiring people to be their best. Dimmick argues that competition in sport prepares people for competition in life:

In sport, as in any area of life, one should first attempt to be the very best that s/he can be. In sport, this is done by seeking the best coaching, using the best equipment, preparing physically and mentally (practicing) and then testing against another person, group, inanimate thing (e.g., a mountain) or time. That is, one submits the level of preparation to a test, with the opponent being the facilitator, who (or which) brings out our best."

Applying this idea to everyday life, this means that success can be related to the amount of preparation, the determination of the person and the amount of practice. Alfie Kohn argues that sport trains participants to accept a goal-oriented model that focuses purely on winning. While the focus on winning may be a problem, the goal-oriented focus is a positive thing. Sport represents taking action to meet goals. The successful sports person is not the one who was lucky, but the one who has focused on their goal, made sacrifices and achieved. This same value applies to everyday life. This communicates to people that life is not about being lucky but about deciding what you want and taking action to achieve that goal. Since society idolizes sports people that have done this, society also values this quality in individuals.

The final important value of sport is that it shows that anyone can achieve success. In work, at school and in love there are natural barriers that prevent people from being as successful as others. In work and school it may be the intelligence level or memory ability. In love it might be how the person looks. In sport, though, there is opportunity for everyone. This is because everyone has some unique skill and there are a wide range of sports to suit different skills. This communicates that everyone is capable of achieving success, with the emphasis on finding the right area to suit the individual.


It has now been seen that the interest in sport is something that develops early in life and continues throughout the lifespan. In this way, sport becomes an important part of society. Even individuals that do not play sport, continue to associate with it as spectators. This interest in sport is based on sport being a representation of society and a reflection of the values of society. The values of sport are the same values associated with life, with success in sport a representation of the ideal. This explains why sports people are idolized and why people have an interest in sport and associate themselves with a sports person similar to themselves either by culture, characteristics or team. In short, a sport can be seen as a minituar version of an ideal world. In sport, the rules are clear, people must follow the rules, people know the goals, people compete fairly and people know the difference between winning and losing. While society as a whole mimics sport, these aspects are not nearly as clear. Sport then, can be seen as a part of society that represents an ideal society, with people finding solace in this world that mimics society as a whole, though in a way that is far less complex and far less confusing. Finally, it has been seen that all the values of sport are the same ideal values of society. In this way, sport communicates to people the values that are important in life, this meaning enhanced by the fact that people are in contact with sport in some way from early childhood and onwards.


Dimmick, D. "Who Said Competition is Bad?" Penn State OpEd. Pennsylvania State University, July 2000. Retrieved December 3, 2002.… [END OF PREVIEW]

Four Different Ordering Options:

Which Option Should I Choose?

1.  Buy the full, 8-page paper:  $28.88


2.  Buy + remove from all search engines
(Google, Yahoo, Bing) for 30 days:  $38.88


3.  Access all 175,000+ papers:  $41.97/mo

(Already a member?  Click to download the paper!)


4.  Let us write a NEW paper for you!

Ask Us to Write a New Paper
Most popular!

Sports in Epic of America, James Truslow Term Paper

Sociology Who Am I? An Asian Looks Term Paper

Why Does Gender Matter in Sport? Research Paper

World Cup Unifying the Globe Research Paper

Sociologists) Protestant Ethic Played an Important Term Paper

View 95 other related papers  >>

Cite This Term Paper:

APA Format

Sociology of Sport.  (2002, December 5).  Retrieved June 20, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/sociology-sport-ideals/4786682

MLA Format

"Sociology of Sport."  5 December 2002.  Web.  20 June 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/sociology-sport-ideals/4786682>.

Chicago Format

"Sociology of Sport."  Essaytown.com.  December 5, 2002.  Accessed June 20, 2019.