The Sports Hero in the Social Imaginary. Identity, Community, Ritual and Myth

Luca Bifulco, Mario Tirino


This paper aims to introduce the sociological processes and mechanisms defining the social imaginary of sports hero, who is a sportsperson acquiring a special status by virtues of his/her extraordinary and exemplary skills, achievements and biography. The sports hero inspires long-term identification and he is symbol of a community, of its values, ideas and collective meanings, while his body incorporates socially appreciated and celebrated qualities. In the dramaturgical and ritual dimension of sport, an athlete can become a collective symbol, and, over time, an hero with mythical features. However, it is only through media narratives that a sportsperson can be heroic and mythical. Thus, the social imaginary in the narrative construction of the sports hero as a central role. The stories revitalise myths, archetypes and beliefs displaying human passions, ambitions, contradictions, conflicts and so on.


Sports Hero; Media Narratives; Rituality; Community; Myth

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Im@go. A Journal of the Social Imaginary - Biannual - Edizioni Mimesis