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Social and Cultural Aspects of Sport


Traditionally, sport was an essential part of human life. However, today, sport plays increasingly more important role since people grow more and more concerned with their health and body shape. At the same time, the existing interest of people in regard to sport is not a tribute to a tradition, but it is rather a modern trend which is widely promoted via mass media, to the extent that it is possible to speak about sport as a kind of fashion. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that sport in the contemporary society could be viewed rather as a trendy activity than a part of a traditional culture because a few decades ago sport was just a kind of entertainment, while today it is a part of an active lifestyle. Moreover, the growing interest to sport is, to a significant extent, determined by the progressing significance and popularity of the healthy lifestyle since, today, people are willing to be healthy above all, while a few decades ago people paid little attention to their health and the consumption of alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, etc. was a norm. In fact, the contemporary society tends to change a traditional lifestyle and develop a new, healthy lifestyle. In such a context, sport is promoted by media as the major tool with the help of which people can really improve their health and their physical shape. However, in spite of the impact of media, views of people on sport and sport exercises can vary consistently depending on the gender of an individual that makes it possible to view sport as a gender-distinguishable activity.
On analyzing the current development of sport, its role in the modern society and views of people on sport, it is important to underline a significant social and cultural role sport plays in the modern society. In actuality, sport constitutes an essential part of the modern culture and the number of health and fitness clubs, strength training rooms, etc. is growing progressively. At the same time, the growth of health and fitness club and other facilities where people can practice sport activities is determined by the growing demand on such services. In fact, people are extremely concerned with their health and they are willing attend various fitness clubs or even practice sport professionally because they associate strongly sport with health.
On the other hand, the current environment and lifestyle also stimulate people to practice sport. For instance, many of those people who attend strength training room remark that they spend their life “working in the office and sitting on a couch”. In such a context, sport is the only or, at least, the main way to make the lifestyle of modern people more active. What is meant here is the fact that due to the development of modern technologies, the progress of human society, cultural changes led to the dramatic changes in the lifestyle of modern people, which have little in common with a natural lifestyle of a human being (Free and Hughson, 2006). What is meant here is the fact that modern people lead a sedative lifestyle since, while they work in an office, they are deprived of an opportunity to exercise any substantial physical activities, while coming home they do not need make any significant physical efforts (Petersen, 1996). Moreover, even while going from home to work and from work to home, people do not make any substantial physical efforts since they use their cars or other transport. In such a way, the sedative lifestyle in a combination with unhealthy nutrition contributes to the deterioration of health and lead to such problems as obesity, cardio-vascular diseases and others.
In such a situation, the active promotional campaign in the modern media concerning the necessity to practice sport is very important. Moreover, many people who attend fitness clubs and strength training rooms agree that it is media that make them attend sport facilities. For instance, one of the interviewed respondents has remarked that she attends a fitness club because she wants to be “like those stars, who are always in the excellent shape and just radiate energy and health”. Another interviewed person, being in his late thirties, said he had decided to visit a strength training because he admired Arnold Schwarzenegger and, as he said, “as I watched his rippled muscles I always wondered whether there is a limit to human capabilities and why so many people are wasting their life sitting with a can of beer and chewing their hamburger, instead of going to a strength training room as I do now”.
Hence, it is obvious that the mass media is a powerful tool which make people attend fitness clubs, strength training rooms and other facilities where they can exercise sport. However, the pop or movies stars as well as media at large are not the only reason why people are practicing sport. For instance, an interviewed woman who attends a fitness club states that she gets used to attend the fitness club and practice various exercise together with her friends. Moreover, she said that “it was of the friends of mine who had been attending this fitness club for a few weeks. She was so excited about all these exercises and the staff that she just forced me to join her”. In this respect, it should be said that this case is not exceptional since women often prefer to practice sport in groups. For instance, they enjoy various aerobic activities in groups (Leeds and Von Allmen, 2003). As for men, they interests and preferences are a bit different. For instance, a man attending a strength training room stated that his decision to practice sport was his own decision, which he made when he was about fifteen. Moreover, people practicing sport in a strength training room, who are men mainly, prefer individual training to any kind of group work.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that sport plays a very significant role in the life of modern people. On the one hand, the interest of people to sport may be determined by various factors and sports and activities they are practicing and interested in may vary depending on an individual and such factors as gender may be determinant in this regard. On the other hand, sport is an essential element of the contemporary culture and, what is more, it is a very significant activity which is perceived by people as an essential element of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, people closely associates sport with the concept of health and a healthy lifestyle often implies practicing sport.

References:
Free, M. and J. Hughson. (2006). “Common culture, commodity fetishism and the cultural contradictions of sport.” International Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 83-104
Leeds, G. and B. Von Allmen. (2003). The Economics of Sports. New York: New Publishers.
Petersen, D. C. (1996). Sports, Convention, and Entertainment Facilities. Washington, DC: Urban Land Institute.


 
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