The power and performance sports have long dominated American society and culture. And while these sports continue to do well and retain millions of fans, there are many people who are not interested in these types of sports. For the people who do not find interest and value in power and performance sports, there are alternatives that many turn to. These alternatives are the pleasure and participation sports. These sports attract people who wish to be themselves and to do their own thing. These people seek the freedom to participate in activities that they value and enjoy, on their own terms. The pleasure and participation sports are very different from the power and performance sports in their structure, management, decision making, participation guidelines and rules. While a person may not be able to make the cut for the football or basketball team, they can easily join and participate in a variety of pleasure and participation sports. These pleasure and participation sports are growing in popularity for many reasons. Some of the reasons include an increased interest in fitness and health, older people are seeking to be more active, and many people are seeking an alternative sporting activity that they are good at and enjoy. High pressure, high impact, competitive sports, like football, basketball and baseball, are not for everyone. Pleasure and participation sports are a great alternative for the people looking for something different (Coakley, 2015).
While there are various reasons for the growth in popularity of pleasure and participation sports, some reasons include gender and disability. While women have fought a long and hard battle to be recognized in sports, it is still a hard road for women to follow in the realm of power and performance sports. Many women seek to avoid this struggle and participate in activities that are friendlier to their gender. Disabled athletes have also fought a hard battle in their quest for equality in sports. Much progress has been made for both women and the disabled in power and performance sports. But there are still many who just do not want to or cannot, participate in power and performance sports. There are many opportunities for disabled athletes in pleasure and participation sports. Sports such as tennis, fishing, scuba diving, racing, water skiing and mountain climbing have become more popular in recent years, with many female and disabled athletes. The power and performance sports model emphasizes winning, competitiveness and very structured formats and rules which invariably impacts many female and disabled athletes. The pleasure and participation sports offer opportunities for all people to partake in activities without discrimination, pressure or overly rigid structures (Hardin & Hardin, 2005).
Another reason that pleasure and participation sports are growing in popularity in the United States is due to the influence of globalization and immigration. Millions of people from all over the world have been moving to the United States for decades. The sports and physical culture of different countries are very different from the traditional American model. Sports such as soccer are becoming increasingly popular in America, especially in the youth athletics category. The rise of pleasure and participation sports are beginning to challenge power and performance sports in a slow, yet growing manner. One area where the competition between the two sports models is having a bigger impact is with youth athletics. Little league baseball and T-ball have been popular with kids for many years. Now, millions of children can be found in greater numbers on the numerous, youth soccer league fields, across the country. Many other pleasure and participation sports such as cricket and tennis are on the rise, as well, due to a subtle influence by the millions of immigrants, in the United States (Foer, 2011).
Pleasure and participation sports are growing in popularity across the country. Organizations are being formed at a rising rate to promote these alternative sporting events. Associations like the Western Alternative Sports Association (WASA), promote different sports for the true pleasure and participation reason, which they claim is to have fun. That is hard to argue with as having fun with sports seems to be the least bit important with many power and performance sports. Winning and making billions of dollars has replaced the fun in many of these sports. With the pleasure and participation sports, everyone can find something they enjoy. It is becoming more available to those whose location, financial status and other variables would normally prevent them from sports participation. There is even a rise in women’s shooting sports and a gold medal has already been won by a female Olympic athlete. With the rise of pleasure and participation sports, people now have a choice between power and performance sports and the alternative, pleasure and participation sports. This is a great thing as it will allow people from all walks of life to be able to find a sport that suits them. Whether it is football or target shooting, there is now something available for everyone. While the power and performance sports may continue to reign supreme, pleasure and participation sports are growing in popularity, worldwide. And with the nation’s current obesity epidemic, anything that can help get more people active is a good thing (Kirkland, 2015).
Coakley, J. (2015). Sports in society: Issues and controversies (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Hardin, M., & Hardin, B. (2005). Performance or Participation: Pluralism or Hegemony? Disability Studies Quarterly. Retrieved from http://www.dsq-sds.org/article/view/606/783
Foer, F. (2011). Why Is Soccer Becoming Popular in the United States? IIP Digital. Retrieved from http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/article/2011/06/20110603114306ecurb5.794269e-02.html#axzz4GgJjBtkf
Kirkland, A. (2015). Shooting Sports are Becoming More Popular with Women. KOMU News. Retrieved from http://www.komu.com/news/shooting-sports-are-becoming-more-popular-with-women-69781/
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MS, ISSA Master Trainer