Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Physical Education

First Advisor

Barry C. McKeown


Human experience is a basic element of the gossamer thread that is life. Communication or response to experience relates human beings to one another. Humans have an inborn desire to "tell” their experiences. Words accompany actions. Movement is experience that, in general, evokes response and expression. In sport, language is part of the game. Microphones bring the guttural responses of the participants closer to the audience. But actual words--language in a more refined sense have been devalued in recent years, especially in the area of sport, which should be rich in language. Today's culture seems to assume that the only way to communicate the physical is by visual means. But sport should be able to reach other levels of understanding because it has become such a pervasive force in modern society. It catches the interest of the young and the old. It evokes excitement from the educated and the uneducated. It extracts devotion from the rural citizens and the city residents. Sport permeates all levels of human existence because it answers the innate need of all people to play. Sport calls forth the full range of human emotions. Sport gives man an ideal of excellence to cling to in an ever-changing world. Athletes occupy positions of great importance on the American scene. They are idolized and they are imitated. Their feats are replayed, rehashed, and re-interpreted. The athletes, and coaches, too, are considered the great achievers of society. But in another sense, some of them have failed. They have failed to express the inner thoughts and insights they have experienced. They have failed to transmit to others the understandings their experiences have given them. This failure is obvious when one listens to the banal, mediocre, trite comments made by some sports commentators, many of whom are former athletes. It is obvious in the co~~on and cliché filled language of the coaches and athletes in interviews. It is obvious from the misunderstandings that exist between the intellectual, artistic areas of culture and the sport world. 4Sport and poetry belong together. They share a sense of physical involvement, they share a love of life and an exaltation of life, they share a sense of craftmanship and creation, and they celebrate the total person in the totality of his existence. In the discussion which follows, sport and poetry will be shown to belong together in three ways: (1) both are expression and experience; (2) they have a shared vocabulary; and (3) the sports poem can effectively describe and communicate the sport experience. During the discussion of sport and poetry as expression and experience, it has seemed advisable to cite a great deal of literature research. The discussion progresses from meanings of movement, to the need for expression, to poetry's expressive qualities. The conclusion is that sport and poetry belong together. The section on vocabulary is used to show that two areas which have often been considered as opposites are actually related through their terminology. The third section illustrates that poetry has been effectively used to describe and celebrate sports. The term "poetry" is used by the writer as a generic term. It is meant to include poetic language a creative intensification of experience--rather than poetry exclusively. Poetry, then, is an art that can successfully describe and communicate the experience of sport and so belongs together with sports.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

American poetry -- History and criticism
Sports -- Poetry



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University