Sports and Society

Sports play a giant role in contemporary society worldwide. But few of us pause to think about the larger questions of money, politics, race, sex, culture, and commercialization that surround sports everywhere. This course draws on the tools of anthropology, sociology, history, and other disciplines to give you new perspectives on the games we watch and play.We focus on both popular sports like soccer (or “football,” as anyone outside America calls it), basketball, and baseball, and also lesser-known ones like mountain-climbing and fishing.

The course features special guest lectures about the Olympics, skateboarding, and the Afro-Brazilian martial art of capoeira.  It also includes Google Hangouts with several prominent figures from the sports and sports studies world (guests in past courses included former major league baseball player and ESPN commentator Doug Glanville; the German soccer star and gay rights spokesperson Thomas Hitzlsperger; and leading sports journalist Selena Roberts). You will never watch or think about sports in the same way again.


  • Used video chat sessions to connect students with renowned athletics, sports writers and sports analysts (see an example).


Media & Publications



  • Cultural Anthropology

Project Use:


Launch Date:

  • April 2013

View the project