Sports, Games, and Play: Social and Psychological Viewpoints

By Jeffrey H. Goldstein | Go to book overview

Preface

It has been nearly 10 years since the first edition of this book was published, and much has changed in the interim. The American Psychological Association has a new division of sports psychology, several excellent textbooks are now available for undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology of sport, and handbooks summarizing the growing, increasingly sophisticated literature in this exciting area have recently appeared. The social sciences have always shown some slight interest in the functions, effects, and social psychological dynamics of sport, but they regarded sport more as a curiously eccentric cousin than as a son.

Yet sports have a noteworthy past in social science history. Sports, games, and play have figured prominently in cultural anthropology, sociology, and psychology. Anthony Radcliffe-Brown's notion of the "joking relationship" and the field work of Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, and other early anthropologists contributed greatly to our understanding of culture. The current interest in folklore and popular culture has its roots in this work. In sociology, George Herbert Mead and others used play both as a metaphor for social development and as an inherent part of the social self. In psychology, where until recently there has been less explicit concern with play and recreation, there have nevertheless been important theories -- such as Berlyne's views of exploratory behavior, Piaget's analysis of children's play, and White's concept of competence -- in which games and play figure in prominent ways.

Today there is greater agreement among social scientists that sports provide both a "natural laboratory" in which to conduct ecologically valid research, and themselves contain a rich array of interesting social and psychological phenomena. Not only do sports provide opportunities for research and theory, but they influence what we believe, how we feel, and who our friends are. And millions of people, from every country, of nearly every age, of every ideology, love sports.

The purpose of Sports, Games, and Play ( Second Edition) is, as with the first edition, to bring together a variety of viewpoints and approaches to the study of these activities. No attempt has been made to present any single theoretical or methodological point of view. On the contrary, the purpose

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