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This week on the Way of Champions Podcast, John talks with Sport Sociologist Jay Coakley, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. The conversation is full of great topics, including why we should punish our kids with conditioning, the three models of youth sports, and the emergence of alternative sports.

Highlights from the Discussion:

  • Youth development over highly structured practices mimicking professional organizations
  • Setting expectations for kids without helping them understand the value of reaching those expectations
  • Why we shouldn’t punish our kids with conditioning
  • Jay discusses the 13th edition of his textbook “Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies
  • The three models of youth sports: Skills and Excellence; Physical Literacy and Lifelong Participation; & Growth and Development.
  • Is sport fundamentally positive?
  • Do sports really teach character?
  • What is missing from coach education?
  • What happens when athletes are sponsored by parents instead of the community?
  • When 30-40% of families in any given community cannot afford for their kids to play sports, how does that affect everyone?
  • The emergence of alternative sports

Jay Coakley, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, has for 45 years done research on connections between sports, culture, and society with much attention given to the play, games, and sports participation of young people. Coakley is an internationally respected scholar, author, and journal editor and has received many professional awards. His book, Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies, soon to be in its 13th edition, has been translated into 4 languages and adapted for readers in Canada, the UK & Europe, Australia & New Zealand, and Southern Africa. He continues efforts to make sports more humane, inclusive, and democratic and for people of all ages and backgrounds.


Resources Mentioned:

Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies by Jay Coakley

Moving Boarders: Skateboarding and the Changing Landscape of Urban Youth Sports by Matthew Atencio

69 Why more Physical Education and recess are the keys to better students in schools, with Paul Zientarski, TED Speaker and 40-year veteran Physical Education teacher (WOC Podcast)

Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World with David Epstein, NYT bestselling author of Range and The Sports Gene (WOC podcast)

Range by David Epstein 

Recent Publications

  • Coakley, J. (2015). Drug use and deviant overconformity in sport: A sociological approach. In John Hoberman, Ivan Waddington & Verner Møller, eds., The Routledge Companion to Sport and Drugs. London: Routledge.
  • Coakley, J. & de Souza, D. (2013). Sport mega-events: Can legacies and development be equitable and sustainable? Motriz, Rio Claro 19(3): 580-589.
  • Coakley, J. (2012). Ideology doesn’t just happen: Sports and neoliberalism.” ALESDE Revista 1(1): 67-84. Open access online,

Connect with Jay Coakley

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Tagged under: athlete development