This paper examines the rise of modern social sciences that deal with sports phenomena. It begins with the first formula that paved the way for sports science to become an independent scientific field. This is found in European intellectual discourse in the first half of the twentieth century, which linked sport to what was then known as the "crisis of European values." It then deals with the endeavours of the social sciences to make sport a research and knowledge topic, which was devoted to and institutionalised in the 1960s. It investigates the first theoretical paradigms in the field, the first designed by Norbert Elias, and deals with the position of sport in the development of modern European societies. The other, designed by Pierre Bourdieu, is based on viewing sport as an independent social field. Finally, the paper looks at the interest in cultural studies in sports in the late seventies of the twentieth century, which saw it as a field revealing the distinctions on which Western societies are built.