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The purpose of this article is largely to serve as an introduction to this special issue on sport, unity and conflict. This was the theme of the European Association for Sociology of Sport conference in 2015, held in Dublin, Ireland. The special issue contains articles by the three keynote speakers of the conference – Randall Collins, Anthony King and Roberta Sassatelli. Each dealt with the theme in different, yet compatible, and highly thought-provoking ways. This article will also attempt to elaborate on the theme and argue for the continued significance of the place of unification and conflict processes within sport, and in the relationship between sport and other fields of social life. The discipline of sociology, as is well known, has become more specialized and fragmented over time with distinct fields of research, such as sport, childhood, emotions, war, to name but a few. This process of academic specialization has also continued within these fields, so the sociology of sport now has distinct subfields such as social policy, sport governance, nationalism and sport, sport participation, sport for development, and so on. There is much to be gained from such specialization, such as the sustained examination of particular research problems, but potentially also much to be lost, such as a relatively encompassing theoretical frame that might guide or unify various research enquiries.