Recent years have seen a burgeoning in phenomenological research on sport, physical cultures and exercise. As editors and reviewers, however, we frequently and consistently see social science articles that claim to be ‘phenomenological’ or to use phenomenology, but the reasons for such claims are not always evident. Indeed, on closer reading, many such claims can often turn out to be highly problematic. At this point, we should clarify that our ‘terrain de sport’ constitutes what has been termed ‘empirical phenomenology’ (Martínková & Parry, 2011) and more specifically from our own ‘home’ discipline, a phenomenologically inspired form of sociology. This latter tradition was developed in North America by Alfred Schütz (1972). By this, we do not mean philosophical phenomenology in all its rich and varied strands, the modern form of which was inspired by Edmund Husserl’s (1913/2002) descriptive and/or transcendental phenomenology. The term itself is derived from the Greek phainomenon, from the root phôs, meaning ‘light’, thus referring to something that is placed in the light, made apparent or shown. Phenomenology is therefore the study of phenomena, things as they present themselves to, and are perceived in consciousness. Importantly, it is not just another form of qualitative research; a point which we discuss later.