Inside Sports is a unique collection of stories about people involved in a wide range of sports, including baseball, football, golf, hockey, rugby, gymnastics, and skateboarding. Using field work, observations, and probing interviews that included both athletes and supporters of athletic events, researchers gathered data to investigate the influence of sports on individuals and society. Some of their findings challenge many popular beliefs about participation in sports and the associated impact on people’s lives.
Editors Jay Coakley and Peter Donnelly divide the book into four main sections that probe the major social processes associated with sports experiences: introduction to sports; becoming an athlete; participation in sports; and life after sports. Early experiences with sports clearly indicate that social factors greatly influence sports involvement. Choosing to become an athlete demonstrates not only athletic skills, but also social and cultural skills that are necessary for an individual to develop an identity through participation in sports.
By investigating the lives and experiences of athletes in a variety of sports, the researchers gained insights into both positive and negative facets of social interactions in a society. When the time arrives for athletes to make the transition from the athletic field to complete the rest of their lives, the most serious problems occur when an athlete has developed no interests outside of sports or has not produced the skills necessary to pursue another career. Discussion questions, suggestions for videos, and lists of further reading at the end of each major section are useful aids to help readers better understand the relationship between sociology and sports participation.