Spain’s defeat this week in the World Cup sees the World and European champions knocked out and booked onto an early flight home, in the biggest upset of the tournament so far. A team of erstwhile heroes and well-known names like Casillas, Alonso and Torres left the pitch last night looking dejected and hollow after their defeat to Chile. Spanish daily ‘Marca’ ran a headline titled, simply ‘The End’, as Spanish fans around the world come to terms with the fact that their glory days which have lasted since 2008, are over.

I am reminded of France’s early exit from the World Cup in 2002 when they were also world champions, having won the title in Paris only four years previously. Similarly, Italy crashed out early in 2010 after lifting the cup in Germany in 2006. How can heroes become zeroes in such a small amount of time? How can the golden days end so abruptly and cruelly? Perhaps the reason is that having created our idols we are then too unwilling to let go of them and allow a new generation to (try and) fill their shoes. Like a relationship which has run its course, we can’t seem to move on. more...

[By Porcielcrosa [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.]

Although soccer (or ‘football’ as it is known in most places globally) still lags behind the four ‘major’ sports of American football, basketball, baseball and hockey as a speactator sports, it does have a sizeable and growing following in the US. A recent interdisciplinary conference at Hofstra University explored the importance and meaning of soccer in society – beyond (but including) economics and market shares – and made the argument that soccer (and sports more generally) should be treated as a serious topic of academic study, a phenomenon worthy of our attention and a lens through which society can be understood. One sociologically relevant topic is that of fans, violence, politics and identity in soccer.


“Fans against Homophobia” display in the stadium of German soccer club Mainz 05, celebrating the 5 year anniversary of their LG(BT?)-fan club. [Source:]

In 2013, NBA player Jason Collins made headlines when he became the first active openly gay male* athlete in one of the major 4 men’s team sports in the US. A similar story made headlines this winter in Germany, when recently retired soccer player Thomas Hitzlsperger – who formerly played in the German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A and English Premier League as well as for the German national team – came out as gay in an interview with the newspaper Die Zeit, becoming the first openly gay male soccer player in Germany. Similar to Collins, Hitzlsperger tied his outing to the political project of starting a discussion about homophobia and notions of masculinity in soccer. And paralleling Collins’ story, Hitzlsperger’s outing raises the question of whether we will witness a transformation of the gender politics in big-time German professional sports.


By A. Smith [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Football season is upon us, and there are plenty of reasons why this moment in big time football is very intriguing from a sociological perspective. More specifically, most of the major offseason storylines of both professional and collegiate football tell us much about the racial politics in big time football and the negotiations of race and sports in the media.

Update: Johnny Manziel makes the cover of Time Magazine.


Source: LA Times

In the wake of the U.S. Superbowl on Sunday, news sources and social media outlets are reporting on the notorious commercials that accompanied the big game. With every year, the Superbowl commercials seem to become a bigger spectacle. Anticipation and expectations are always high. Viewers tune in to see commercials that are greater, funnier, and more elaborate. Perhaps not coincidentally, the commercials seem to become more controversial and even more offensive. Viewers, commentators, and journalists now are quick to note the sexist, racist, and generally problematic nature of these commercials.

For example, the Audi commercial has created controversy for its presentation of masculinity and its reference to sexual assault. In this commercial, a teenage boy is getting ready for his prom. It seems as though he is not a popular guy in his school and so he sets out for the prom on his own. Luckily, his parents lend him their Audi for the occasion. Once in the Audi, the teenager is transformed. Girls look at him differently. He feels powerful and self-assured. He arrives at the school, parks in the principal’s designated spot, and walks confidently into the prom. At this point, he finds a beautiful teenage girl, grabs her, and kisses her without her permission. Though she is surprised at first, she eventually appears to give in. The girl’s boyfriend, on the other hand, is not impressed. The final scene of the commercial is the teenage boy driving away with a black eye, probably given to him by the enraged boyfriend. Though he has a black eye, he seems triumphant with his conquest for the night.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this year, many retired football players and their families filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL. The complaint states that the NFL hid evidence of the dangers of the game, dangers like brain damage from repeat concussions and sub-concussive trauma. New research indicates that the repetitive beatings that football players experience over the course of their career causes irreparable damage to their brains, leading to cognitive, emotional, and functional problems similar to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Several players committed suicide after repeat concussions left them with depression and mood swings, and many others continue to suffer memory loss, cognitive impairment, and balance problems.