The Correlation Between Art and Sports

Joelle Brassard
By Joelle Brassard December 8, 2023 13:41

According to a paper titled Confluences between Art and Sport published in Scientific Research: An Academic publisher by Danny Shorkend, it can be argued there are indeed overlaps between the world of the arts and sports and suggests “a complimentary pairing between the two.” 


“Art and sports are both games within a certain defined cultural setting but also interlink,” said Shorkend. 

The paper looks at the correlations with movement, physicality, aesthetics, emotion, game play and culture.  

Shorkend said there are different methods of movement when making art, for example a painter’s different strokes and in the world of sports there are also complicated movements that differ from sport to sport. 

“When the painter makes a certain stroke, instantiates a skill, it involves the mind and the body guided by a certain will, albeit at times a sub-conscious impulse,” said Shorkend. “Similarly, a good sportsperson is said to be “in the zone” when engaged in a particular play. The success of both artist and sportsperson then is the application of learned behaviors in changing circumstances within the game, the game defined as a particular art form or sport.” 

Shorkend said it is clear for an audience to be receptive to an art form there must be a certain physicality required to create that.  

“Sports’ physicality expresses and communicates in ways easily understandable the idea that life itself is one of both play and struggle,” said Shorkend. “While one may perceive this in an artwork, the fact that sports perhaps more than the arts is a matter of entertainment, communicates certain values to a larger audience than the arts. The physicality may mask these values in the same way an artwork’s underlying message is “beneath” the physical movement, sound and image.” 

The philosophical perspective argues “an experience” as distinct from just ordinarily doing or experiencing things, is an experience of a certain “intensity”, “closure” and “heightened sensibility” which accordingly can apply to a number of experiences and not that of just art. 

“Art is not only something intellectual, a logical abstraction. Neither is it simply meaningless physical labor,” said Shorkend. “Art is rather the bridge connecting concept and physicality, the extra-aesthetic and the aesthetic. It is a kind of creation that energizes matter; matter itself that obeys seemingly fixed laws. In the process of creation, emotions are born, the energy that brings together concept and percept.” 

In contrast, Shorkend said sports are also not only something intellectual but a logical abstraction and neither is it simply meaningless physical labor. 

“Sport is rather the bridge that connects concept and physicality, the extra-aesthetic and the aesthetic, said Shorkend. Sport is like a bridge in that it brings people together, the heart overcomes perhaps national, racial, gender and other differences and unites.” 

If we look at the institutional theory of art by Dickie (1969,1971,1974), it said “the definition of art requires in some way or other the presentation of an artefact. This idea can be thought of as a rule,” and that the artefact must be presented to the so named art world.  

“The upshot of this is  1) The rule that an object needs to be presented and 2)  this takes place within a certain art and (other) context(s) may be another way of saying that art is a game that is played; it is a social practice,” said Shorkend. 

In an informal survey put out on Survey Monkey which asked questions targeted at athletes’ opinions on the correlation of arts and sports, 88 per cent of respondents said they had participated in the arts before and 100 per cent responding that they enjoy consuming the arts. 88 per cent of respondents said the arts were very important in their lives and 11 per cent answered they were somewhat important.  

When asked if they believed there was a correlation between the arts and sports 47 per cent answered yes while 47 per cent answered sometimes with only five per cent of respondents saying no. When asked if the arts provide an opportunity for someone to become a better athlete, 52 per cent answered yes, 41 per cent answered sometimes and only five per cent saying no.  


Current competitive rock-climbing athlete and former varsity track athlete Nich Bohn said that he has participated in the arts since age 13 with playing drums, concert band, jazz band, musicals and choir while also teaching himself acoustic and bass guitar. 

“There isn’t an athlete I know who doesn’t have a gameday playlist,” said Bohn. “A motivational song or a song that gets you going in general can feel totally different to you when the butterflies are in your stomach and showtime is on the horizon,” 

Bohn also said he consumes the arts on a regular basis with music, watching anime and musicals and said the arts are very important to him, not being able to imagine his life without them. 

“I think one of the most important characteristics of art is it makes people emotional,” said Bohn. “I do think there is a correlation between the arts and sports in that respect as I’ve seen people get really happy and excited listening to music or watching movies and I’ve seen the same thing from people who watch or participate in sports. I would even go as far as to say sports could be considered art themselves.” 

Bohn said that from playing instruments he learned muscle memory, discipline and dedication which he believes definitely translates over to the art world.  

“I know I have to practice the drums so I can improve my ability to play, and you can translate that to practicing for any sport,” said Bohn. “Maybe you’re going to play in a recital. Practicing for that is basically the same as going to track practice every day because you have a big meet coming up. With that in mind, it’s clear you can apply that principle the other way around and say being an athlete can also create opportunities to become a better artist.” 

Current competitive jiu jitsu athlete and former track and field athlete Justuce Ceasar, said he participates in the arts regularly with photography and videography and consumes the arts on a daily basis especially music. 

“Arts are very important in my life because I feel art can create, amplify and connect emotions to situations,” said Ceasar.  

Ceasar has found a big correlation in his life between the art he participates in as well as the sports. 

“Using photos and videos allows for me to analyze sequences and situations in my sport in more dept.” said Ceasar. “Music allows for me to get into the zone when I’m competing and training,”  

Ceasar believes the arts can create opportunities to become a better athlete “because it allows athletes to think more creatively, analyze situations in more depth and gain control of their emotions easier,” 

Head coach of the St. Clair College football team Mike LaChance said he can definitely see a correlation between the arts and sports. 

“Whether it be training or establishing a mental mindset would be the biggest thing, before a game or trying to work out,” said Lachance. “I’ve always seen that during my 20 years of coaching but it’s even more prevalent now than it’s ever been.”  

Lachance said he also believes the arts can help maximize one’s athletic potential. 

“Taking yourself to a level you didn’t think you could, getting over a mental block, getting over an injury, a workout session to get yourself that extra rep,” said LaChance. “I think it can help you in that aspect. Sometimes I think it just calms your nerves as well and takes your mind off the bigger picture. Maybe there’s a big game and they’re nervous but they can use music to take themselves to a different place in their head.” 

Lachance also believes that there’s a lot of similarities between the arts and sports. 

“I think creativity and being athlete whether you’re a musician or theatre or visual arts, I think there’s a lot of similarities there with the creativity,” said Lachance. “At times people can see the creativity of the arts but don’t see the creativity behind sports. There is a lot of creativity in sport, especially my sport, football. There’s lot of individuality within the team.” 

Overall, it can be seen that there are many correlations and parallels between the world of the arts and sports through scientific research, studies and testimonials from athletes and coaches. The two worlds have a lot in common from physicality to the emotional impact of the activity. The connections can be seen in many ways and are amplified by the voices of those involved in the sports community.

Joelle Brassard
By Joelle Brassard December 8, 2023 13:41

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