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History of Sport

The History of Sport involves the study of the cultural, social, political, economic, and other historical forces that shape sport and physical activity. Scholars in this program focus primarily on modern sport, particularly as it relates to issues of culture, race, gender, and nationalism.

Philosophy of Sport

The Philosophy of Sport involves the examination of the nature and values of human movement utilizing the non-empirical methods of philosophers. Areas of emphasis include the ethics of sport, mind-body holism and its implications for professional practice, the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport, the ethics of public health interventions, and the unique values of games and play


The Penn State program in the History and Philosophy of Sport enjoys working relationships with the departments of History, Philosophy, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, American Studies, African American Studies, African Studies, and Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, as well as with the interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Sports in Society, the Bioethics Program, and the Rock Ethics Institute. In addition, our program has regular interchanges with faculty and graduate students from several colleges including other units of the College of Health and Human Development, the College of Liberal Arts, the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communication, the Smeal College of Business, the College of Education, and the Penn State College of Law.

The Penn State library has an outstanding collection of periodicals and books, and a significant collection of newspapers and magazines on microfilm and in digitized formats as well as archival materials. The newspaper and magazine collection is particularly strong in the Olympics, women’s sports, and intercollegiate college athletics. The library also contains a number of rare books in the area of sport and physical education philosophy and the Ronald A. Smith Sports History Book Collection contains one of the world’s most extensive holdings of monographs in the history of sport.

Beyond Penn State, our program has strong connections to the North American Society for Sport History and the International Association for the Philosophy of Sport, as well as ties to other scholarly associations in the history and philosophy of sport.

Program of Study

In the past decades, students in history and philosophy have had the opportunity to work with professors on both historical and philosophical grants, with topics ranging from the history of television and big-time college football to ethics in sport.

The Penn State program places strong emphasis on research and writing for the students who have a wide diversity of academic and cultural backgrounds both in America and internationally. Students are recruited from such academic areas as history, literature, philosophy, American studies, classics, geography, sociology, political science, as well as the more traditional fields of physical education and kinesiology.


Learn more about the faculty members who mentor History and Philosophy of Sport graduate students at Penn State:

  • Mark Dyreson, Professor of Kinesiology, courtesy appointments in History, Director of Research and Educational Programs for the Penn State Center in Sports and Society
  • Francisco Javier Lopez Frias, Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Research Associate in the Rock Ethics Institute, courtesy appointment in Philosophy.
  • Jaime Schultz, Professor of Kinesiology, courtesy appointment in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  • Michelle Sikes, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and African Studies, courtesy appointment in History
  • R. Scott Kretchmar, Emeritus Professor of Exercise and Sport Science