Butryn, Theodore M

Butryn, Theodore M

Professor of Sport Sociology & Sport Psychology
Interim Director: Institute for the Study of Sport, Society, and Social Change (ISSSSC)
Graduate Coordinator: Dept. of Kinesiology


Preferred: theodore.butryn@sjsu.edu


Preferred: (408) 924-3068



  • Doctor of Philosophy, Univ Of Tennessee-Knoxville, 2000
  • Master of Arts, Sport Psychology, San Jose State University, California, United States, 1997
  • Bachelor of Science, Human Performance & Sport Studies (Emphasis in Sport Psychology), University of Tennessee (Knoxville), Tennessee, United States, 1993


I am currently in my 18th year as a faculty member at San Jose State University. More specifically, I am a Professor of Sport Sociology and Sport Psychology in the Department of Kinesiology, and have recently begun serving as the Interim Director of the newly established Institute for the Study of Sport, Society, and Social Change (ISSSSC). In addition, along with KIN department chair, Dr. Matthew Masucci, I co-direct the Department of Kinesiology Qualitative Research Lab. 

Broadly speaking, my academic life involves the intersection between sport sociology, sport psychology, and cultural studies, and thus most of what I do comes from an critical interdisciplinary (or transdisciplinary) perspective. In fact, my colleagues and I recently published an article on the possibilities and challenges of doing research at the "sport psychology-sport sociology nexus." I teach a variety of courses in the graduate (sport sociology, qualitative research methods), and undergraduate (psychology of coaching, sport sociology)programs.

My primary research generally falls under the umbrella of Cultural Studies and sport. I am very interested in the application of cyborg theory to sport, and the relationship between "natural" and "artificial" aspects of contemporary societies and bodies. For example, 1) how can American cyclist Lance Armstrong be viewed as a postmodern cyborg hero instead of just a disgraced cheater? 2) How do NCAA DI coaches see the role of technology affecting their profession? I have also examined the psychology and sociology of MMA and the UFC, as well as the cultural meanings of professional wrestling. For example: 1) how do pro MMA fighters cope in and out of the octagon? 2) how does pro wrestling and the WWE relate to neoliberalism and global capitalism? 3) how do female MMA fighters like Ronda Rousey get represented in various media sources? In addition, along with colleagues Jay Johnson and Matt Masucci, I was the PI of a 2-year World Anti-Doping Agency grant looking at how elite, female triathletes come to know about various forms of doping and the anti-doping movement. Finally, I have published several articles and book chapters on issues related to racial and ethnic identities in applied sport psychology, drawing from the literature in whiteness studies. I am particularly interested in how white athletes construct and make sense of their racial identities, and how white privileges manifest themselves in sport and society.

My graduate students have worked on, and in most cases published, theses and projects across the range of sport psychology and sociology, including: DI female athletes experiences of bereavement following the death of a coach, low-socioeconomic status athletes and coping with injury, a critical spacial ethnography of Crossfit gyms, an existential phenomenological analysis of parkour, an existential phenomenological analysis of depression among female college athletes, experiences of parental support among predominately Latina high school athletes, and motivations of cyclists participating in caused-based (e.g., Team in Training) programs. Finally, I continue to do a small amount of work as a volunteer sport psychology consultant for SJSU athletes, most recently women's gymnastic and soccer. Please see the Sport Studies graduate program page for more details.