Online course: Sports and Society

Dates: any time

Duration: 12 hours

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 out of 909 ratings (see top rating courses here)

Participating countries: any country

Apply hereApplication form

Organizer: Duke University at Coursera


  • FREE
  • $49 with sharable certificate

Sports and Society

Sports play a giant role in contemporary society worldwide. But few of us pause to think about the larger questions of money, politics, race, sex, culture, and commercialization that surround sports everywhere. This course draws on the tools of anthropology, sociology, history, and other disciplines to give you new perspectives on the games we watch and play. It’s the new and improved version of Professor Orin Starn’s original “Sports and Society” for Coursera, which drew more than 40,000 students. We will focus on both popular sports like soccer (or “football,” as anyone outside America calls it), basketball, and baseball, and also lesser-known ones like mountain-climbing and fishing. You will never watch or think about sports in the same way again.


WEEK 1: 3 hours to complete

Getting Started! Games, Play, and Sports

Understanding Play and Sports
Why Do We Like to Play?
The Origins of Modern Sports
The Sports and Society Book Club (optional)
The Sports and Society Movie Club (optional)

WEEK 2: 2 hours to complete

Globalization, Nationalism, and the Politics of Sports

The Globalization of Sports
Nationalism and Sports
Athletes and Social Activism
American Football

WEEK 3: 2 hours to complete

Race, Cultural Identity, and the Sports World

Race and American Sports
The Native American Mascot Controversy
The Social Demographics of Sports
Zidane and Bruce Lee

WEEK 4: 2 hours to complete

Gender, Sexuality, and the Rise of Women’s Sports

A Short History of Women’s Sports
Women’s Sports Today
The Long Sporting Life of Homophobia
The Transgender Athlete
The Fitness Revolution

WEEK 5: 1 hour to complete

Why Do We Care So Much about Sports?

The Phenomenon of the Fan
The Dark Side of Fandom
Father Time and the Athlete
American College Sports,

WEEK 6: 1 hour to complete

The Megabusiness of Sports

The Hypercommercialization of Sports
The Rise of Sports Video Games

WEEK 7: 1 hour to complete

Outdoor Sports, Extreme Sports, and the Search for Adventure
Outdoor Sports
The Strange Case of Extreme Sports