Sports and Emotions


Sports are a ubiquitous feature of social life, yet it is an arena that has not received systematic study. Over the past several decades, there have been a number of studies that have worked to connect sports and emotions, but sociologists of emotions are uniquely positioned to lead research in this area. Early work connecting sports and emotions drew from the perspectives of Elias and Scheff and focused on the arousal of pleasurable excitement and on catharsis. Since these early works, research has addressed emotion management by athletes and emotional labor in sports industries. Both athletes and sports spectators are involved in developing sports identities and communities. Indeed, the rituals associated with sports fandom and involvement as a spectator create an identity for people and lead to the development of community. Further consideration in this chapter is given to the role of gender in the connection between sports and emotions as well as to how sports performance leads to emotional reactions. Ultimately, the connections between sports and emotions should be made both through the sociology of sport and sociology through sport. While emotions theories can be brought to bear upon the arena of sports to better understand that arena, sports can also provide a venue for applying and extending theories of emotions.

Publication Title

Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research