Jay Coakley, PhD


After 33 years in the Sociology Department at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Jay retired from full-time teaching to focus on research, writing, and speaking on issues related to sports.

The primary focus of Jay’s professional life continues to be revising Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies, with the 12th edition published in 2017 (McGraw-Hill Education).

To meet regional needs for a sociology of sport textbook, Jay partnered with Peter Donnelly (University of Toronto) to produce two Canadian editions of Sports in Society, the second of which was translated into Japanese; Elizabeth Pike (University of Chichester) and Jay produced two editions for students in the UK and Europe; and Chris Hallinan (Monash University), Brent McDonald (Victoria University), and Jay produced the second Australia edition of Sports in Society. Finally, a Southern African version of Sports in Society, coauthored with Cora Burnett (University of Johannesburg), was published in 2014.

Sports in Society is also translated into Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. Other books include the Handbook of Sports Studies, co-edited with Eric Dunning (Leicester University) and published by Sage in 2000; and Inside Sports, co-edited with Peter Donnelly (University of Toronto), published by Routledge in 1999 and translated into Korean in 2011.

Jay’s most recent research has dealt with sport mega-event legacy issues, sport and national identity, and sport and development. His long time concern about the state of youth sports in the United States led him to work with Project Play, sponsored by the Aspen Institute and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and others. The goal of Project Play is to reshape youth sports so they are organized in age appropriate terms and focused on the health and overall development and well-being of young people.  

Jay’s continuing engagement with issues and controversies in sports is focused on making sports more accessible, democratic, and humane for people of all ages. This is a message he has promoted nationally and worldwide through his writing and lectures.

Jay earned his M.A. (1970) and Ph.D. (1972) degrees in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, and completed an undergraduate degree in sociology and psychology at Regis University in Denver, Colorado (in 1966) where he played basketball for four years. He and his wife, Nancy, live in Fort Collins close to their daughter and three granddaughters.