The Emotional Value of Sports


The orchestration of emotions in sports begins with the arousal of expectations and then turns into a series of identifiable emotional displays. Elite athletes internalize a script, media pundits contribute to the management of fans’ emotions, and stage setters encourage a range of emotional displays during games. These processes help define the roles of players, coaches, and fans, and help forge the relationship between sports and national identity. But how can we measure the emotional value of sports?

While sports have long been associated with the pursuit of physical fitness, they can also be linked to nationalism. For example, some people see the association of sports with nationalism as being more than patriotism, chauvinistic, and xenophobic. These people point to football hooligans as evidence of the chauvinistic nature of the association between sports and nationalism. Other people, however, believe that sports have contributed to liberal nationalist political struggles. The 19th century Slavic gymnastics movement, called the Falcon, became an example of this phenomenon. Many northern Europeans emulated this form of movement as an art form.

Participation in sports has long been considered a form of socialization, and the socialization of children into sport was recognized for many years. Some students continue playing sports into adulthood. Others quit later. While some people develop a primary identity through sports, others abandon their athletic career due to injury, age, or a lack of motivation. Regardless of whether or not sports socialization occurs, it’s important to understand the role played by socializing agents.