The SAGE Dictionary of Sports Studies


Dominic Malcolm

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      List of Contributors

      • Alan Bairner, Loughborough University, UK
      • John Bale, Aarhus Universitet, Denmark; Keele University, Staffordshire, UK
      • Celia Brackenridge, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK
      • Susan Capel, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK
      • Ben Carrington, University of Texas at Austin, US
      • Jay Coakley, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, US
      • Tim Crabbe, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
      • Garry Crawford, University of Salford, UK
      • Mike Cronin, Boston College, Dublin, Republic of Ireland
      • Paul Darby, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Northern Ireland
      • Peter Donnelly, University of Toronto, Canada
      • Simon Eassom, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia
      • Chris Gratton, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
      • Ken Green, University of Chester, UK
      • Patricia Griffin, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, US
      • Allen Guttmann, Amherst College, Massachusetts, US
      • John D. Horne, Edinburgh University, Scotland, UK
      • Barrie Houlihan, Loughborough University, UK
      • P. David Howe, Loughborough University, UK
      • Martin Johnes, University of Wales, Swansea, Wales, UK
      • Tara Magdalinski, University of Queensland, Australia
      • Louise Mansfield, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, UK
      • Andrew Parker, University of Warwick, UK
      • Dawn Penney, University of Tasmania, Tasmania, Australia
      • Emma Rich, Loughborough University, UK
      • David Rowe, University of Western Sydney, Australia
      • Kimberly S. Schimmel, Kent State University, Ohio, US
      • Andy Smith, University of Chester, UK
      • Jennifer Smith Maguire, University of Leicester, UK
      • Nigel Thomas, Staffordshire University, UK
      • Ivan Waddington, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway; University College Dublin, Republic of Ireland; University of Chester, UK
      • Mike Weed, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, UK
      • Belinda Wheaton, University of Brighton, UK

      List of Abbreviations

      AGILadaption, goal attainment, integration and latency (or pattern maintenance)
      ATPAssociation of Tennis Professionals
      BASEMBritish Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine
      BMIbody-mass index
      CARECharlton Athletic Race Equality
      CCCSCentre for Contemporary Cultural Studies
      CCPRCentral Council of Physical Recreation
      CCTcompulsory competitive tendering
      CCTVclosed-circuit television
      CPSUChild Protection in Sport Unit
      CSAchild sexual abuse
      DSODirect Service Provider
      FAFootball Association
      FAREFootball Against Racism in Europe
      FIFAFédération Internationale de Football Association
      FSAFootball Supporters' Association
      GAAGaelic Athletic Association
      GCSEGeneral Certificate of Education
      HREHealth Related Exercise
      HRPEHealth-Related Physical Education
      ICFInternational Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health
      ICIDHInternational Classification of Impairment, Disability and Handicap
      IGBinternational governing body
      IMUSAIndependent Manchester United Supporters' Association
      IOCInternational Olympic Committee
      ISAindependent supporters' association
      ITEInitial Teacher Education
      LGBTlesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual
      MCCMarylebone Cricket Club
      MMSLmultidimensional model of sports leadership
      NBANational Basketball Association
      NCAANational Collegiate Athletic Association
      NCPENational Curriculum for Physical Education
      NFLNational Football League
      NHLNational Hockey League
      NOCnational olympic committee
      NSPCCNational Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
      PEphysical education
      PESSCLPhysical Education and School Sport Club Links
      PFAProfessional Footballers Association
      POMSprofile of mood states
      RFURugby Football Union
      SANROCSouth African Non-Racial Olympic Committee
      SENspecial educational needs
      SSCSpecialist Sports College
      TOPThe Olympic Partner Programme
      UCIUnion Cycliste International
      UEFAUnion of European Football Associations
      UPIASUnion of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation
      WADAWorld Anti-Doping Agency
      WHOWorld Health Organization
      WTAWomen's Tennis Association
      YMCAYoung Men's Christian Association


      Sports studies is an emerging academic discipline, reputed to be the fastest growing subject area in the UK. The impetus for this growth appears to be market driven. In part this is a consequence of the expansion of employment opportunities in the sport and leisure fields. Gratton and Taylor (2000: 19) note that employment in sport in the UK rose by 28 per cent between 1985 and 1995, and that by the end of that period sport accounted for 1.61 per cent of the total UK workforce. By 2003 the figure for sports-related employment had risen to 2 per cent (or approximately 515,000 jobs). The leisure industry (much of which is sporting or sports-related) is even larger, employing 13.5 per cent of UK workers (

      But this growth in employment is itself partly a consequence of the increasing cultural centrality of sport in Western cultures in recent years. Once a peripheral or playful aspect of social life, sport is now centre stage. Almost a third of the UK population tuned in to watch Portugal knock England out of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Finals. But sport is more properly a global phenomenon. An incredible 1.5 billion television viewers worldwide are estimated to have watched the tournament's opening match and FIFA estimated that over 30 billion people would watch some television coverage of the tournament.

      This dictionary is another consequence of the growing recognition in recent years of sport's social significance. A number of the entries contained herein describe this growth in more detail. Some bring these modern phenomena into sharper relief by providing comparisons with the sports forms of previous eras and some highlight the social issues that have arisen in conjunction with these changes. Other entries look at the psychological techniques and the social policies used to make sport ‘work’ more effectively for us as participants and citizens, while others detail the methods by which researchers have attempted to understand more about the social world of sport. And some entries introduce the reader to the theoretical concepts that are being used to make sense of these developments. Sports studies is an emerging discipline, and thus much of the clarification, definition and consolidation that other subjects take for granted, still needs to be achieved. This dictionary is intended as a tool to be used for this end; an educational resource for all those interested in the study of the social aspects of sport.

      As with all emerging disciplines subject to relatively rapid change, it is difficult to define clearly where the boundaries lie; to pin down exactly what sports studies is. The one thing that is clear about sports studies is that it is, fundamentally, a multidisciplinary subject; however, from this consensus there are many points of departure. Indeed, like the folk games played in England during medieval times, the same name may be given to degree courses (or games) with radically different structures and contents, and a range of different names can be given to courses (or games) that are essentially the same. For instance, some courses labelled ‘sports studies’ retain significant elements of the natural scientific study of sport; what I will refer to here as ‘sports science’. Others labelled ‘sports studies’ have a not dissimilar content to those labelled ‘sport, leisure and culture’ or ‘sport, culture and the media’. Such variation makes the decision over what (sub-)disciplines to include far from easy. For better or worse the main categories used when drawing up the list of entries have been: sociology; history; psychology; economics, management and business; politics and policy; physical education and health; and research methods. There is also a passing mention of sports geography and sports anthropology.

      However, the challenge for students of sports studies is not to see these areas as compartmentalized, but to embrace the interdisciplinary nature of the subject. Many entries contained in the dictionary cut across these disciplinary boundaries. Only once was it necessary to include entries from different disciplines for a single subject - for both psychologists and sociologists emotion was too significant a topic to be covered adequately in one entry. More commonly, it has been possible to include a number of different disciplinary perspectives in the same entry (e.g. the entry for broadcasting rights contains a discussion of both economic and sociological approaches). My hope is that such an approach will help students to reflect more critically on sporting phenomena.

      Once the general areas of study were decided upon, the next challenge was to draw up a list of entries which was broadly representative of these different approaches, and to write entries which were inclusive of the range of views on, and approaches to, particular subjects. In this respect a dictionary entails different challenges to many other forms of academic writing. For most researchers, their discipline and particular theoretical orientation exerts a significant influence upon which research path they forge. My training as a sociologist, and in particular a sociologist who is largely known for his work within the figurational sociological tradition, is both constraining and enabling in this respect. Regardless of the subject matter, it is impossible to put one's ‘sociological imagination’ to one side; thus, whilst this dictionary is multidisciplinary, inevitably there is a bias towards sociology. To some degree this is a constraint but if any discipline should dominate it is probably appropriate that it should be sociology. As Coakley and Dunning argue, sociology was the first sport-related sub-discipline to emerge in an institutionalized form and is now the best established (2000: xxi).

      But my particular sociological approach also lends itself to the multidisciplinary nature of sports studies and the production of the kind of publication attempted here. Elias, upon whose work figurational sociology is largely founded, considered himself not simply as a sociologist, but as ‘a human scientist … (who) concerned himself with studying humans “in the round”; that is, in their bio-, psycho, socio-historical aspects and with the complex … ways in which these aspects are interconnected’ (Dunning, 2002: 215).

      The dictionary, however, is not solely the product of my labours. I am very grateful to the 33 guest authors who have provided 41 different entries. This has been invaluable in helping me to bridge those areas where my understanding was not so thorough. Whilst they largely determined the content of and deserve the credit for those entries, the overall selection, and the breadth and comprehensive nature of the coverage of the dictionary as a whole, have been my responsibility. The degree to which I have been successful in this endeavour can be judged only by the degree to which students who use this text find it useful, and by the extent to which other teachers of sports studies recommend the dictionary to their students because they feel that subjects have been presented in a fair and even-handed way.

      What can readers expect from the dictionary and how should it be used? It should be reiterated that the focus of this dictionary is the social aspects of sport: on the whole it does not report on particular sporting feats or contests. The exceptions to this - such as entries for Heysel and Hillsborough - concern events that had a broader social impact, that evoked changes in policy or altered perceptions about sport, its participants and spectators. Similar criteria were applied to the selection of individuals. Again, the remit of this dictionary was not to include the biographies of the great and the good of sport. However, a few individuals - notably David Beckham and Michael Jordan - have been included. These people have been included not because they have been particularly successful in their fields (though, of course, this is often the case) but because their broader social impact has subsequently become the focus of academic research in sports studies. Finally, while it has not been my intention to provide a comprehensive coverage of key texts in sports studies, some classic works have been included as entries. My reason for doing this was that some texts have become so seminal that often writers refer to them without fully describing to the reader what ideas that text conveyed. This, my teaching experience has shown me, can sometimes cause problems for those who are relatively new to the area.

      Particular texts, events and individuals, however, rarely form the focus of academic curricula or modules of study. My intention in compiling this dictionary has been to provide something which will be directly relevant to students' programmes of study. To this end, I hope that the dictionary will be used in a number of ways: as an essential tool for students of sports studies to turn to when, in the process of reading and researching, concepts and ideas are raised, about which they wish to know more or simply clarify meaning; as a reference source, providing a quick source of factual information; and as a means to obtain a baseline of knowledge, a grasp of the essential points related to a particular area. But the dictionary is also intended to be used at the start of the research process and consequently most entries not only provide a concise definition, but highlight the key debates and the main research topics on a particular theme. In this respect the dictionary also provides an entry point into the field and this is the rationale behind providing a short list of key readings for all, or almost all, entries. In addition to this, most entries include links to other entries in the dictionary (signalled by the use of bold type). These links are designed to encourage ‘joined up’ thinking and enable the dictionary to be a research resource in itself. By consulting a range of different entries the reader will be able to gain a broader appreciation of a topic and its many related facets.

      However this dictionary is used, I hope that the reader finds it informative and enlightening. Most of all, however, I hope that students of sports studies who use the dictionary find it a stimulating experience, and are encouraged to continue their engagement with the field. Sports studies is not only an area that I myself have enjoyed studying, but one which is increasingly gaining recognition for its importance, and its ability to help us understand the social world in which we live.

      Coakley, J. and Dunning, E. (2000) Handbook of Sports Studies. London: Sage.
      Dunning, E. (2002) ‘Figurational contributions to the sociological study of sport’, in J.Maguire and K.Young (eds), Theory, Sport & Society. London: Jai. pp. 211–38.
      Gratton, C. and Taylor, P. (2000) Economics of Sport and Recreation. London: Routledge.
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