It is only since 1970 that sports sociology has gained significant attention as a serious area of study. This is in part owing to the increasing major role sports play in our lives and the intellectual traditions in both physical education and sociology. In 1978, the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport was organized as a professional association; and its scholarly outlet for research, the Sociology of Sport Journal, was established in 1984. The International Committee for Sociology of Sport is acknowledged within the International Sociological Association, and both groups co-sponsor the International Review for the Sociology of Sport. Another scholarly publication for sports sociology research is the Journal for Sport and Social Issues, thus confirming support for and the growth of this subdiscipline of exercise science.
Ways to study sociologic phenomena in sports rapidly became an issue with scholars as sports sociology was striving for legitimacy within the academic community. Kenyon and Loy defined sports sociology as the "study of social order"; and in later works, Kenyon set the tone for sociology of sports to take a positive perspective, noting that sports sociology is a "value-free social science" in which the researcher is to describe and explain values and attitudes not shape them. However, value-laden research is also undertaken when various perspectives and theories are used to study sports. For example,
The feminist perspective as a part of critical theory is obviously a value-laden approach, as is the conflict theorist's approach; but bias is recognized, acknowledged, and analyzed carefully within these approaches.
Sociology of sports poses critical and controversial issues. Because sports are considered a microcosm of society, the same social issues that exist in larger society also exist in sports.
Sociology uses critical and conflicting approaches that force us...