Adopted excessively, such an approach can be condemned as unscientific, impressionistic, narcissistic, and self indulgent.
Thus, professional athletes represent the alluring face of contemporary sports, behind which lies the ‘‘industrial’’ engine that produces it – including sponsors, advertisers, media companies, sports agencies, peak sports organizations, management, equipment and clothing manufacturers, privately and publicly funded sports educators, administrative and training bodies, and research scientists.
Systematic planning, design, and operation are central to contemporary sports, while retaining a crucial symbolic element of a spontaneous culture of play.
The analysis of sports in traditional macro sociological terms can still be productive, but a culturalist approach, appropriately informed by social theory, is able to draw on a richer, more contingent theoretical repertoire as well as a more intimate, ethnographic insight into how sports culture is ‘‘lived’’ as everyday practice.
This intellectual project does not necessitate the abandonment of formative sociological questions of structure, agency, and power, but helps to ‘‘rehabilitate’’ and extend them into hitherto neglected areas of growing prominence.