Psychology & Sociology of Sports

Sports are competitive physical activities with official rules. Internal and external rewards motivate sport participants. Sport sociology refers to the relationship between sports and society or social groups. Psychology involves your individual mental and behavioral adaptations to participating in sports. The psychological aspects of sports form the sociology of sports, because the thoughts and behavior of multiple individual participants help define a group of participants as a whole.

Good Character

Morality and good character derive from a code of conduct introduced by society or groups in society, Stanford University's online Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains 2. Participating in sports helps develop good character. Athletes must make sacrifices for the game, and strive for honors and awards in their chosen sports. Participating in sports requires that you accept risks — such as the risk of losing — and overcome pain, doubt or negative impulses. Sport participation encourages optimism and discourages pessimism among participants by promoting positive possibilities and discounting limitations to possibilities.

Achievement Motivation

Sports motivate achievement by directing your behavior toward optimistic results and away from damaging outcomes. Participants develop cognitive representations that point you toward achievement goals. Study results published in 2001 in the “European Journal of Sport Science” suggest that achievement goal theory explains motivation in sports 1. Mastery goals motivate sport participants to develop new skills, understand practice tasks, improve competence or achieve a sense of mastery. Social comparison goals emphasize outperforming other participants or opponents, distinguishing yourself and surpassing normal performance or achieving success with little effort.

Social Integration

Agents of social integration in sports may include significant others, family, peers, teams and coaches. Your emotional relationship to these people may encourage you to participate or perform acceptably in sports. Psychological aspects of sports support social integration. Sports enforce rules of conduct and violating sporting rules prevents you from participating in sports with others. Cheating, fouling, bad sportsmanship and violence are examples of rule violation in most sports. Violating sporting rules suggests that you are disruptive for the group.

Survival Skills

Playing sports invokes and develops survival skills that are unique to humans. Sports may introduce chasing or rough-and-tumble play that helps you develop a strong body and perform coordinated movements. Sports that involve game planning like football or basketball require constructive play. We are social creatures and sports teach us to overcome impulses by requiring cooperation with others, "Psychology Today" magazine explains. Sports may build your imagination by requiring you to think about things that are not immediately present. Athletes may imagine by visualizing successful performance, game strategies or improving skills.