Sport, Theory and Social Problems: A Critical Introduction, 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Sport, Theory and Social Problems

A Critical Introduction, 2nd Edition

By Eric Anderson, Adam White

© 2018 – Routledge

198 pages | 12 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2017-07-27
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In a revised, updated, and considerably expanded new edition of Sport, Theory and Social Problems, authors Eric Anderson and Adam White examine how the structure and culture of sport promotes inequality, injury, and complicity to authority at the non-elite levels of play in Anglo-American countries. By introducing students to a research-led perspective on sport, it highlights the operation of power, patriarchy, and pain that a hyper-competitive sporting culture promotes.

Each chapter includes at least one key social theory, which is made accessible and pragmatic. The theory is then infused throughout the chapter to help the student engage with a deeper understanding of sport. In addition to examining how sport generates otherness, distracts children from education, and teaches the acceptance of emotional and physical violence, this new edition also examines how organized, competitive sport divides us by race, denies children the right to their own governance, and promotes brain trauma and chronic traumatic encephalopathy in those who are too young to consent to play contact sports.

Sport, Theory and Social Problems: A Critical Introduction is an essential textbook for any sport studies degree with a focus on the sociology of sport, sport and social theory, children’s health and wellbeing, or sport and gender studies.


‘Anderson and White expose long-ignored problems in organized, competitive youth and school team sports in an effort to elicit transformational actions on the part of readers. They challenge readers to view sports critically, to be aware of empirically unsupported myths about sports, to review research documenting problems in these sports, and to develop strategies that convert sports into activities that foster compassion, cooperation, and consistently positive health outcomes for all participants. As the authors explain, with the mythology and vested interests associated with current sport structures, it will take a long, heated struggle to achieve such outcomes.’ – Jay Coakley, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, USA

This is an important book which everyone studying, playing and administrating sport should read. Academically rigorous, intellectually challenging and very well written this book changed the way I think about sport and what I teach. Undergraduates will find this book accessible and the case studies illuminating and thought-provoking. All readers will find the content provocative, interesting and insightful. The work is relevant to sport both in the UK and the USA and more widely. At a time when sport faces so many challenges this book helps us understand why and is seminal in the critical analysis it presents.’ – Andy Smith, Professor and Founding Head of the School of Sport, York St John University, UK

Table of Contents


1. Why We Value Organized, Competitive Sport

2. Sport’s Use in Teaching Obedience to Authority and Complicity to Abuse

3. Learning to Accept, Inflict, and Enjoy Violence and Injury

4. Head Games: Brain Injuries and Youth Sport

5. The Governance of Youth Sport: Rights, Representation and Consent

6. Sport’s Use in the Maintenance of Class

7. Sport’s Use in Stratifying Men

8. Sport’s Use in Marginalizing Women

9. Sport’s Use in Subordinating Racial Minorities

10. Sport’s Use in Excluding, Reproducing Stereotypes, and Othering

11. Changing Sport

About the Authors

Eric Anderson is Professor of Sport, Masculinities and Sexualities at the University of Winchester, UK. He holds four degrees, has published 17 books, over 60 peer-reviewed articles, and is regularly featured in international television, print, and digital media. Professor Anderson is recognized for research excellence by the British Academy of Social Sciences and is a fellow of the International Academy of Sex Research. His work shows a decline in cultural homohysteria and promotes inclusive attitudes toward openly gay, lesbian and bisexual athletes as well as a softening of heterosexual masculinities.

Adam White is a Lecturer at the University of Winchester, UK. In addition to publishing on the social inclusion of sexual minorities in sport, his doctoral research examines the structural and cultural matrix that promotes head trauma. He runs the Sport Collision Injury Collective and is a public-activist for protecting children from sport-induced brain damage.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SPORTS & RECREATION / Sociology of Sports