Background Information

College of Applied Life Studies
Division of Intercollegiate Athletics
Department of Kinesiology
Department of Leisure Studies
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

The College of Applied Life Studies, in concert with the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Departments of Kinesiology and Leisure Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has established a Sport Studies Committee whose mission is to examine the role and significance of sport in contemporary society from a variety of different academic, clinical, and educational perspectives.

Vision Statement of the Sport Studies Committee:
Through joint efforts to promote, coordinate, and oversee projects in the area of sport-related research, education, and professional development, the Sports Studies Committee will facilitate cutting-edge research and development programs, offer mutually beneficial learning experiences for students and faculty, and advance pro-active community outreach projects that engage with policy-makers, civic leaders, and both amateur and professional organizations.

Rationale for establishing the Sports Studies Committee:
It is difficult to over-state the importance of sport in contemporary society. Millions of Americans participate in recreational sport on a regular basis, and tens of millions avidly follow professional and collegiate sports as both fans and spectators. The Sporting Goods Industry is big business with $40+ billion dollars spent annually in the US for the purchase of sports equipment, sports apparel, and athletic footwear. In 2000, Nike, Inc., alone recorded $9 billion in global revenue.

The following statistics serve to illustrate the relevance of various aspects of sport in contemporary society:

Sport Participation Rates:

* 26.5 million people indicated that they “worked out at club" in 1998
* 77.6 million reported “Exercise Walking” at least once in the preceding year
* 58.2 million reported Swimming at least once in the preceding year
* 43.5 million reported Bicycle Riding at least once in the preceding year
* 29.4 million played Basketball at least once in the preceding year
* 25.8 million participated in Aerobic Dance at least once in the preceding year
* 22.5 million reported Running/Jogging at least once in the preceding year

(Source: Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, 2000)

Sport Spectatorship Statistics:

* 363 million spectators attended amateur and professional athletic events in 1999
* 185 million Americans watched TV coverage of the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000
* 19.8 million viewers watched the University of Miami’s victory over Florida on Jan. 2, 2001
* Nearly 16.4 million fans bought tickets to NFL regular-season games in 2000
* NFL per-game average attendance last season was 66,078

(Sources: Fox Sport Business Review, 2000; Sport Business Journal, 1999)

Sport as a Business:

* The US sport industry generated $213 billion in 1999
* The US sport industry is one of the top 10 US industries in terms of GDP, ranking above several notable industries, including: agriculture, communications, and motor vehicles.
* In 1999 individuals attending organized sporting events spent $23 billion.
* In 1996, NBC paid approximately $4 billion for the broadcasting rights to the Summer and Winter Olympic Games through 2008.
* ABC paid $525 million for seven years of TV rights to the top four college bowl games
* The Staples Center in Los Angeles generated $58 million in gate and club seat revenue during last season's games (Staples Center is home to the National Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, as well as the National Hockey League’s Los Angeles Kings.
* Staples, Inc., paid $116 million in naming-rights fees for the Staples Center

(Sources: Fox Sport Business Review, 2000;and Sport Business Journal, 1999 )

The above data serve to illustrate the extent to which sport has permeated society both in the United States and the world as a whole. While there is room for debate about the merits of specific aspects of the evolution of sport in contemporary society (e.g., issues related to the commercialization and globalization of sport), there is little disagreement about the significance of sport as an economic and socio-cultural phenomenon.

Overview – Sports Studies Committee:

The Sport Studies Committee allows the College of Applied Life Studies, Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, Department of Kinesiology, and Department of Leisure Studies to develop cross-disciplinary research projects and capitalize on emerging opportunities within the University of Illinois. Long recognized as a world leader in numerous aspects of the study and performance of sport, the Departments of Kinesiology and Leisure studies have developed internationally-recognized research and educational programs in the areas of Exercise Physiology, Sport Management, Sport and Cultural Studies, Exercise and Sport Psychology, Physical Education, Coaching, and Athletic Training. Similarly, the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Illinois is recognized as one of the top 20 NCAA Division I athletic departments in the nation. Approximately 550 student-athletes participate in 19 different sports, and more than 340 student-athletes receive full or partial scholarships while pursuing their academic and sporting careers at the University. Illinois has similarly produced numerous national champions in both team and individual sports, and counts its alumni as among the most enthusiastic supporters of Illini sports with many hundreds of thousands of individuals attending Illini sporting events each season.

By jointly promoting excellence in research, education, and practice in the area of sport, the Sports Studies Committee at the University of Illinois endeavors to impact significantly our understanding of the role and importance of sport in the lives of citizens of the State of Illinois, the nation, and in society at large.


In order to facilitate collaborative projects in the area of sport studies, the Sport Studies Committee is constituted and charged with the responsibility of developing and overseeing such collaborations. The Sport Studies Committee consists of the Heads of Department and one faculty member from each of the Kinesiology and Leisure Studies departments, two Athletic Department personnel, one faculty member from a department outside of ALS, an undergraduate student-athlete, and a graduate student working in some area related to sport or sport studies. The Committee is currently chaired by the Head of the Kinesiology Department.

The Sport Studies Committee will assist in facilitating enhanced communication between individuals working in sport-related areas across the University. In both the Departments of Leisure Studies and Kinesiology a wide variety of research, teaching, and service programs examine issues related to sport from a variety of perspectives. Below we provide some examples of possible collaborations between DIA staff and faculty and students working in academic departments.


In the Department of Kinesiology, faculty and graduate students examine the scientific bases of human movement from a variety of physiological, psychological, and socio-cultural perspectives. Examples of sport-related research include the study of elite athletic performance in both the exercise physiology and the coordination, control and skill laboratories. In addition, sport psychology faculty study psychological factors related to competitive sport performance such as anxiety, stress, and arousal. Socio-cultural researchers study the role and meaning of sport in contemporary society from an interdisciplinary perspective that engages with the varied fields of Communications, Cultural Studies, Law, Marketing, Medicine, and Sociology. Physical Education faculty study issues related to successful PE teaching and coaching, while athletic training faculty and students assess new and innovative therapeutic modalities.

In the Department of Leisure Studies, faculty and graduate students in Sport Management examine a number of topics pertaining to the administration of sport and factors that influence the provision and consumption of sport services. Sport Management as an academic project investigates the provision of sport performance to consumers as a participatory or spectator product, the provision of goods and services for sport-related purposes, and the marketing and promotion of sports.

In many instances research collaborations will be developed between ALS faculty, graduate students, and DIA personnel. Possible research topics range from sport management, sport nutrition, body composition, athletic training, etc. When appropriate, student-athletes will be invited to volunteer to participate as research participants; in other instances, researchers can work with coaches to provide important scientific information that could enhance the effectiveness of training regimens. Care will be taken to ensure that all projects are approved by the University Institutional Research Board (IRB) for the protection of human research participants in research. The Sport Studies Committee will facilitate communications between researchers and DIA personnel.


In both the Kinesiology and Leisure Studies Departments a significant number of undergraduate and graduate courses focus on subjects directly related to sport. For example, in the Kinesiology Department, undergraduate students can select a coaching minor, and a number of sport-related courses are offered in the area of sport and cultural studies. In addition to those enrolling in the coaching minor, many other students also enroll in coaching courses at the University. Other courses examine sport and athletic performance from a variety of different perspectives. A partial listing of undergraduate and graduate courses in the area of sport can be found by following the “Courses” link.

In many instances DIA personnel have significant expertise in areas of coaching and/or sport management that are directly relevant to the subject matter taught in many undergraduate and graduate courses. Surprisingly, to date, DIA staff have only infrequently been called upon to share their experiences and perspectives with students enrolled in these sport-related classes. The Sport Studies Committee is charged with examining possibilities for arranging guest lectures, field visits, and other shared experiences between DIA staff and students enrolled in sport-related courses at the University.


There are a number of different internship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in sport-related majors at the University of Illinois. In the Department of Kinesiology, Athletic Training majors frequently participate in internship opportunities with DIA sport teams, working closely with DIA trainers and coaches while gaining extensive practical experience toward their Athletic Training certification. In Leisure Studies, both undergraduate and graduate Sport Management students regularly participate in internship experiences in the DIA. Often, graduate students in Kinesiology and Leisure Studies receive graduate assistantships from the DIA while serving as assistant coaches with athletic teams or while assisting with administrative and management tasks in the DIA office.

The Sport Studies Committee will examine possibilities for increased internship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in DIA. For example, one possibility is to place exercise physiology graduate students enrolled in the Sport Fitness Management concentration in conditioning and/or training programs under the direction of DIA coaches. Also, Sport Management graduate and undergraduate students can gain valuable management and administrative experience through internship experiences with DIA

The Sports Studies Committee will investigate the possibility of joint sponsorship of workshops. For example, the Partnership Illinois Initiative could potentially be utilized to develop opportunities to reach out to High School coaches in collaboration between UIUC and the Illinois High School Athletic Associations.

Sport In Contemporary Society Lecture Series:

In order to disseminate important information relevant to the study of sport in contemporary society, the Departments of Kinesiology and Leisure Studies and the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics will jointly sponsor a public lecture series in which high visibility athletes, coaches, scholars and other sporting figures will be invited to visit UIUC to discuss their involvement in sport in contemporary society. Lectures will be open to students, faculty, staff and the general public. When appropriate, events can be scheduled to coordinate with DIA events and/or specific team competitions. Each participating department will have the opportunity to nominate speakers on a rotating basis. Expenses will be shared between the participating units. For a list of previous speakers, follow the “Special Events” link.


© 2002 Sports Studies Committee @ UIUC