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What Is the Role of Sports in Society?

Author: LSU Online

Sporting events have played pivotal roles in communities around the world throughout history. Today, contests pushing physical limits are more popular than ever before. As interest in health and longevity continues to rise, and governments and businesses continue to see sporting events as sound investments, sports will play a vital role in society for the foreseeable future.

Sports As a Way of Life

At no other time in history have sports played such a dominant role in daily life. Thanks to the prevalence of the internet and television, adults and children alike consume sports at an astonishing rate. When we are not physically involved in sports, we play them via video games or in fantasy leagues, and we watch them on TV. The celebrity status of top athletes speaks to the importance we attach to sporting events.

Athletic endeavors, both amateur and professional, have a tremendous economic, political and cultural influence on our society. Watching and playing sports provide ways to escape the stress of our daily lives and come together as a community. Hosting sporting events can boost tourism and revenue for a city. Sports in society can even influence our understanding of gender roles and socio-economic issues, and they can help frame city-, state- and national identity.

Sports’ immense effect on culture is especially evident among those who may not enjoy playing or watching sports–these people often still know the names of key players, and they may still take national pride in Olympic medals. No matter your individual involvement, sports generally provide everyone in a society with some form of a shared story and a shared goal.

In fact, sports in society are so vital that the United Nations (UN) has declared them a human right: “Sport and play are human rights that must be respected and enforced worldwide; sport has been increasingly recognized and used as a low-cost and high-impact tool in humanitarian, development and peace-building efforts.”

While the UN recognizes that sports can also, at times, negatively influence society with corruption, scandal and the incitement of violence, their positive influence far outweighs their negative aspects: “Sport has a unique power to attract, mobilize and inspire. By its very nature, sport is about participation. It is about inclusion and citizenship. It stands for human values such as respect for the opponent, acceptance of binding rules, teamwork and fairness, all of which are principles which are also contained in the Charter of the United Nations.”

Physical activities like sports, whether for recreational, professional or educational purposes, are not merely about fitness or victory; above all, they are an essential building block of a prosperous and healthy society. Much like a country’s educational system, media or political and social movements, sporting events bring disparate people together by strengthening ties and celebrating the common ideals of fairness, sacrifice and hope. Sports in society remind us that following prescribed rules does not have to be boring and that we must always carve out a place for fun in our lives.

A Career in Sports

The importance of sports in society extends to those who make a career in sports in other ways than playing on a professional team. To follow this path, many professionals earn a master’s degree in sports management. The program is ideal for individuals who enjoy exploring the cultural, economic or sociological sides of sports. For example, in its online Master of Science in kinesiology with a specialization in sport management degree program, Louisiana State University offers a course titled “Social Issues in Sports,” which provides an in-depth examination of the role of sports in society and highlights key issues in professional sports.

A master’s degree in sports management could be a good choice for those who enjoy exercising their minds as much as their bodies.

Learn about the LSU online MS in Kinesiology with a Specialization in Sport Management program.


USADA: What Sport Means in America: A Study of Sport’s Role in Society

United Nations: Office on Sport for Development and Peace: Overview

Sport and Society

Psychology Today: Why Are Sports Important?

DMU Timestamp: February 08, 2018 18:47

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