SPORT IN A MULTICULTURAL WORLD
Gerald R. Gems
W: (630) 637-5502 Dept. of Health and Physical Education
H: (630) 264-1706 30 N. Brainard
Office Hours: By Appointment
The MALS program at
This course explores the function of sport in American
society as utilized by various constituencies.
It assumes an interdisciplinary format in that it draws from historical,
sociological, anthropological, and literary texts, as well as film analyses.
1. Students will be able to identify a set of core values in mainstream American society.
2. Students will determine the role of sport in the process of culture formation.
3. Students will be able to distinguish between acculturation and assimilation.
4. Students will discern power relationships between dominant and subordinate groups.
5. Students will assess the meanings of sport for sub-cultures within a society.
No books need to be purchased. All reading selections will be placed on reserve at the library. Selections marked by an asterisk can also be found in the listed anthologies.
Attendance is required for participation in class discussions Unexcused absences will result in a cumulative point reduction of 3 points per occurrence from the final point total, and may affect your grade.
Required: Personal History (Due Date: 2nd week) 25 points
Film Review (Due Date: 4th week) 25 points
Final Project (Due Date: 10th week) 50 points
Total 100 points
Typed Personal History Paper (Suggested, 10 pages)
1. Provide a concise biographical sketch of your family (including yourself) through both sets of great-grandparents, to include the following:
date and place of birth, occupation, race, ethnicity, gender and religious affiliation if any. If knowledge is unavailable for self, you may substitute spouse, friend, or consult the instructor.
2. Utilizing family records, photos, oral histories, or any other relevant resources examine and describe the ways in which you and your ancestors are the same or different.
a. Consider personal value systems, aspirations, skills, knowledge,
and sporting interests or practices.
b. If your ancestors did not participate in sport
activities, try to assess why they did not.
c. If you or they did participate in sports, who
or what organizations administered or directed
such programs, such as church, employer, club,
school or park district, etc.?
3. Did the organizing agencies, coaches, or instructors have any influence on you or your ancestors in such programs? If so, what did you/they learn from sports participation?
4. Using your own family's experiences, analyze how and why sport and society changed over time. Consider the effects of immigration, urbanization, industrialization, and modernization.
5. Did the factors of social class, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, or age affect development or value systems?
Film Review: 10 page typed comparative review of 2 sport films. Choose one
film from Group A and one from Group B and compare the two
according to the following criteria: (25 points)
1. How do you think sport was/is perceived by the producers
and viewers during the era in which it was made? Why?
Why did the producers pick this story to tell?
2. What values are projected in each film? Provide examples
to support your argument.
3. Are the characters in each film portrayed idealistically
or realistically? Why? Provide examples from each film
to support your conclusion.
4. Have the values portrayed in the films changed over time?
If not, why not? If so, provide examples of differences in each film.
5. To what effect is music used in the film?
6. Did the movies reinforce your own perceptions of sport as
a positive or negative experience, or did they cause you
to question the practices of players and coaches?
7. In what ways is the film maker interpreting rather than telling a story?
8. Can/Should an art form be used for political purposes?
Group A Group B
Rudy The Program
One on One Personal Best
Pride of the Yankees Youngblood
the Drum Slowly North
Chariots of Fire Cobb
Hoosiers The Babe
The Hustler The Great White Hope
Rocky I Golden Girl
The Natural Hoop Dreams
Field of Dreams Raging Bull
Remember the Titans Requiem for a Heavyweight
On Any Given Sunday
Final Project: Examine the uses and meanings of sport in the social construction of cultures. Some possibilities may include texts, works of fiction or poetry, films, art, photos, posters, music, food, architecture, materials (equipment, uniforms, etc.), or the study of individuals, particular groups, or the cultural process. You may choose one of the following suggestions for 50 points.
I. Submit a typed report (10 pages of text, not including title page) on one of the following sports biographies: (Other titles may be selected with the consent of the instructor)
John M. Carroll, Fritz Pollard: Pioneer in Racial Advancement (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1992).
Peter Levine, A.G. Spalding and the Rise of Baseball (New York: Oxford University, 1985).
Randy Roberts, Jack Dempsey, The Manassa Mauler (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1984).
Randy Roberts, Papa Jack: Jack Johnson and the Era of White Hopes (New York: Free Press, 1983).
William Baker, Jesse Owens (New York: Free Press, 1986).
Andrew Ritchie, Major Taylor: The Career of a Champion Bicycle Racer (San Francisco: Bicycle Books, 1988).
Marshall Smelser, The Life that Ruth Built (Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1993).
Michael Isenberg, John L. Sullivan (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1988).
Allen Guttmann, The Games Must Go On (Avery Brundage), (New York: Columbia University, 1984).
John Mac Aloon, This Great Symbol: Pierre de Coubertin and the Origins of the Modern Olympic Games (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1981).
Susan Cayleff, Babe: the Life and Legend of Babe Didrikson Zaharias (Boston: Little Brown, 1977).
Wiley Lee Umphlett, Creating the Big Game: John W. Heisman and the Invention of American Football (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992).
Ben Cramer, Joe DiMaggio (
David Maraniss, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999).
The book report should answer the following questions; but need not be limited to them in your analysis:
1. What was the purpose of the author?
2. Did the author fulfill his/her purpose? Provide support for your answer.
3. What were the dominant themes of the book?
4. What conclusions did the author make about the subject?
How did the author substantiate such conclusions?
5. Was the subject portrayed in an idealistic or realistic fashion? Support your answer with examples from the book.
6. Was the subject portrayed as a hero/heroine or a mere celebrity? Distinguish between the characteristics of a hero and a celebrity.
7. Was the status of the subject specific to time and place (i.e. would he/she still be important today?) Why or why not.
II. Submit a 10 page, typed report (not including the title page) on one of the following:
Steven Riess, City Games: The Evolution of American Urban Society and the Rise of Sports (Urbana : University of Illinois Press, 1991).
Benjamin Rader, American Sports: From the Age of Folk Games to the Age of Spectators (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1989).
Donald Mrozek, Sport and American Mentality, 1880-1910 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee, 1983).
Joseph Oxendine, American Indian Sports Heritage (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1988).
Melvin Adelman, A Sporting Time:
Allen Guttmann, From Ritual to Record: The Nature of Modern Sports (New York: Columbia University, 1978).
Allen Guttmann, Sports Spectators (New York: Columbia University, 1986).
Ronald Smith, Sports and Freedom:
The Rise of Big
Dominick Cavallo, Muscles and Morals: Organized Playgrounds and Urban Reform, 1880-1920 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1981).
Steven A. Riess, Sport in Industrial
Susan Cahn, Coming on Strong: Gender and Sexuality in 20th Century Women's Sports (New York: Free Press, 1994).
Randy Roberts and James Olson,
Winning is the Only Thing: Sports in
Gerald Gems, Windy City Wars: Labor, Leisure and
Sport in the Making of
Gerald Gems, For Pride, Profit and Patriarchy:
Football and the Incorporation of American Cultural Values (
John Watterson, College Football (
The book report should answer the following questions, but they need not limit your analysis:
1. What was the purpose of the author?
2. Did the author fulfill his purpose? Provide support for your answer.
3. What were the dominant themes of the book?
4. What sources did the author use?
5. What are the differences between pre-modern and modern sports?
Identify the characteristics of each.
6. What events signaled changes in the sporting culture during the chronological period covered in the book?
7. Why did changes occur in sporting practices, structures,
8. Have sports helped to establish a common, homogeneous culture? Why or why not?
III. Submit a typed report (10 pages, not including the title page) using literature, art, music, materials, etc. as a means of analysis on the role and meaning of sport in society.
IV. Synthesize the course readings into a thoughtful analysis of the role and meaning of sport in American society.
There are no simple answers. Your finished product should demonstrate a thoughtful analysis. Papers will be graded according to the following criteria:
1. Frame your argument within one of the theories presented in class.
2. Your ability to answer the questions in a comprehensive fashion.
3. Proper use of English (i.e. spelling, syntax, grammar, punctuation) Each error will constitute the loss of .1 point (i.e. 10 errors = loss of 1 point) Be sure to proofread or such errors can accumulate over 10 pages and lower your grade substantially.
*In Steven Riess, The American Sporting Experience (New York: Leisure Press, 1984).
*In Paul Zingg, The Sporting Image (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1988).
Meeting 1: Theories of Sport
contemplate: What are the values of
sports participation? Are the values of
individual and team sports different? Do
Americans hold common values about sport?
As conducted in the
Lecture: Theories of Sport: Creating a Framework for Analysis
Film: Trobriand Cricket (A documentary film that shows the adaptation of a foreign game to fit particular cultural needs.)
1. Allen Guttmann, From Ritual to Record (New York: Columbia University Press, 1978), 15-55.
2. John M. Carter and Arnd Kruger, Ritual and Record (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990), Chapter 2.
3. Melvin Adelman, A Sporting Time (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986), Introduction.
4. Kendall Blanchard and Alyce Cheska, The Anthropology of Play (South Hadley, MA: Bergin and Garvey, 1985), 33-60, 199-229.
Meeting 2: Family Biographies
Meeting 3: Sport and Religion
Questions to contemplate: What is the relationship of sport and religion? How do different religions view the body? How do such views affect sports participation? What role has science played in secularizing religious views of the body? Does sport promote any particular religious views? Does sport promote any common religious values? In what way are sport and religion alike or different? Is there a White Anglo Saxon Protestant male model of sport? Do alternative groups exhibit different styles of play? Has sport become a secular religion?
1. George Eisen, "Sport and Religion In America: An Overview," (unpublished), 1-10.
2. The following are contained in Shirl Hoffman, ed., Sport and Religion (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1992):
a. Michael Novak, "The Natural Religion," 35-42.
b. Hal Higdon, "Is Running A Religious Experience," 77-81.
c. Joan Chandler, "Sport Is Not A Religion," 55-62.
d. Robert J. Higgs, "Muscular Christianity, Holy Play, and Spiritual Exercises," 89-103.
3. Clifford Geertz, "Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight," in Geertz, the Interpretation of cultures, Chapter 15.
4. Michael Zuckerman, "Pilgrims in
the Wilderness: Community, Modernity,
and Maypole at Merry Mount,"
5. J. Thomas Jable, "The English Puritans - Suppressors of Sport and Amusement?" Journal of Sport History, 3 (Spring 1976), 33-40.
6. Nancy Struna, "Puritans and Sport" The Irretrievable Tide of Change," Journal of Sport History 4:1 (Spring 1977): 1-21.
7. J. Thomas Jable, "
8. Guy Lewis, "The Muscular Christianity Movement," Journal of Health, Phys. Ed. & Rec. (May 1966): 27-29.
9. Gerald R. Gems, "The Prep Bowl: Football and Religious Acculturation
Meeting 4: Film: Knute Rockne, All American (An idealized biography that helped create a football legend.)
Questions to contemplate: Did you notice any factual errors in the movie? Is it permissible for film makers to distort the truth if it enhances the story? What is the relationship of such license to the creation or perception of myth or falsehood? Is this a form of cultural manipulation?
Meeting 5: Sport and Ethnicity
Questions to contemplate: What is the relationship of sport and nationalism? Is sport a viable means to cultural assimilation? Can sport be a means to resist acculturation? What characteristics constitute an American sports hero? How is he/she different from a celebrity? Must a hero transcend ethnic, racial, class, and religious barriers?
1. David Wiggins and George Eisen, eds., Ethnicity and Sport in North American History and Culture (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994), Chapters 1-2, 4-6, 10.
2. Benjamin G. Rader, "The Quest for Subcommunities and the Rise of American Sport," American Quarterly, 29:4 (Fall 1977): 355-369.
3. Steven Riess, City Games (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991), Chapter 3: "Sport, Race and Ethnicity."
4. Mary Lou LeCompte, "The Hispanic Influence on the History of Rodeo," Journal of Sport History, 12:1 (Spring 1985), 21-38.
5. Gerald R. Gems, "Sport and the Forging of a Jewish-American Culture: The Chicago Hebrew Institute," Journal of American Jewish History, 83:1 (March 1995), 15-26.
6. Gerald R. Gems, "Sport, Religion, and Americanization: Bishop Sheil and the Catholic Youth Organization," International Journal of the History of Sport (August 1993), 233-241.
7. Christian Messenger, Sport and the Spirit of Play in American Fiction (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981), Chapter 3-8.
8. Grantland Rice, The Tumult and the Shouting (New York: Barnes, 1954), Chapters 9-10, 14.
9. Ralph S. Graber, The Baseball Reader (New York: A.S. Barnes, 1951), 271-298.
10. George Plimpton, ed., Norton Book of Sports, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1992). Included in the anthology are the following:
George Plimpton and William Curry, "Vince Lombardi," 210-224;
John Updike, "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," 355-367;
Robert Creamer, "Kaleidoscope: Personality of the Babe,"
Meeting 6: Sport and Class
Questions to contemplate: Does sport provide ample opportunities for improving one's socioeconomic status? Is sport a means to socially control subordinate groups? Do particular sport forms exhibit particular class values? What is the role of sport in the homogenization of culture? Is sport elitist in its structure and organization?
1. Thomas Henricks, "Sport and Social
Heirarchy in Medieval
2.* Timothy Breen, "Horses and
Gentlemen: The Cultural Significance of Gambling Among the Gentry in
3. Dennis Braifsford, "Morals and Maulers: The Ethics of Early Pugilism," Journal of Sport History, 12:2 (Summer 1985): 126-142.
4. E. Anthony Rotundo, "Body and Soul: Changing Ideals of American Middle Class Manhood, 1770-1920, "Journal of Social History, 16 (Summer 1983), 23-38.
5. Elliott Gorn, "Gouge and Bite, Pull Hair and Scratch," American Historical Review, 90 (Feb. 1985), 18-43.
6. Roy Rosenzweig, "The Struggle Over Recreational Space, "Eight Hours For What We Will," (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), Chapter 5.
7. Steven A. Riess, "Professional Baseball and Social Mobility," Journal of Interdisciplinary History, XI:2 (Autumn 1980), 235-250.
8. Wilma J. Pesavento, "Sport and
Recreation in the
9. Jon M. Kingsdale, "The Poor Man's Club: Social Functions of the Urban Working Class Saloon," American Quarterly, 472-489.
10. J. Willis and R. Wettan, "Social
11. William Gudelunas and Stephen R. Couch,
"The Stolen Championship of the
12. Elliott J. Gorn, "The Manassa Mauler And The Fighting Marine: An Interpretation Of The Dempsey-Tunney Fights," Journal of American Studies, 19 (1984), 27-47.
13. Norman Mailer, "Death (of Paret)," in Norton Book of Sports, 416-421.
14. Joyce Carol Oates, "On Boxing," in Joanne V. Creighton, Novels of the Middle Years, (New York: Twayne Pub., 1992), 77-82.
15. Carmen and Dorothy Leone, "Death in the Ring: A Pastoral Dilemma," in Sport and Religion, 265-269.
Meeting 7: Film: Eight Men Out (An account of the 1919 Black Sox, who threw the World Series and caused the nation to question its own values.)
Questions to contemplate: In what ways did the director condense the chronology of the story? Did such abridgement affect its veracity? What was the historical context of the period (1919)? How did it affect the popular mood? How did the players differ from those of today? What was the relationship of players and owners/players and fans? Do athletes have any moral responsibility as role models?
Week 8: Sport and Minority Groups
Questions to contemplate: Are all minority groups accorded equal access and opportunity to sport? Have non-whites changed the nature of sport? Is sport a social safety valve for minorities? Does sport mask social injustices by portraying false hope and false images?
1. Stephen K. Figler and Gail Whitaker, Sport and Play in American Life (Dubuque, IA: Brown and Benchmark, 1995) 268-288.
2. Wiggins and Eisen, eds. Ethnicity and Sport in North American History and Culture, Chapters 7-9, 12.
3. Joseph Oxendine, American Indian Sports Heritage (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1988), Chapter 1.
4. David Wiggins, "Sport and Popular Pastimes: Shadow of the Slave Quarter," Canadian Journal of the History of Sport," (May 1980), 61-88; and Richard Majors, "Cool Pose: Black Masculinity and Sports," in Michael Messner and Donald Sabo, eds. Sport, Men, and the Gender Order (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1990), 109-114.
5. Dominic J. Capeci and Martha Wilkerson, "Multifarious Hero: Joe Louis, American Society and Race Relations During World Crisis, 1935-1945, "Journal of Sport History, 10:3 (Winter 1983) 5-25.
6. Dana Brooks and Ronald Althouse, eds., Racism in College Athletics (Morgantown, WVa: Fitness Information Technology, 1993), "Racial Imbalance in Coaching and Managerial Positions," 101-142.
7. Donald Spivey, "Black
Consciousness and Olympic Protest Movement, 1964-1980", in Sport in
8. Richard D.E. Burton, "Cricket, Carnival, and Street Culture in the Carribean," in Grant Jarvie, Ed., Sport, Racism, and Ethnicity (London: Falmer Press, 1991), 7-29.
Week 9: Sport and Gender
Questions to contemplate: Why are some sports considered to be male or female? Why are some characteristics (physical, psychological, emotional) associated with gender? Is female sporting ideology different from that of males? If so, is it a homogeneous philosophy of sport? Does any ascribed factor (i.e. religion, ethnicity, class race, or gender) take precedence over others in American society?
1. Roberta J.Park, "Embodied Selves: The Rise and Development of Concern for Physical Education, Active Games and Recreation for American Women, 1776-1865," Journal of Sport History, 5:2 (Summer 1978): 5-39.
2. Patricia Vertinsky, "The Role Of The Medical Establishment In Informing Female Exercise," in J.A. Mangan and Roberta Park, eds., From Fair Sex to Feminism (Totowa, NJ: F. Cass, 1987), Chapter 14.
3. Don Mrozek, Sport and American Mentality, 1880-1910(Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1983), Chap. 5 or Reet Howell, ed., Her Story In Sport (West Point: Leisure Press, 1982), Chapter 8.
4.* Richard Harmond, "Progress and Flight: An Interpretation of the American Cycle Craze of the 1890s," Journal of Social History, 5 (Winter 1971), 235-257.
5. Mary Leigh, "Pierre de Coubertin: A Man of His Time," Quest, (Spring, 1974), 19-24.
6. Allen Guttmann, Women's Sports( New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), 251-265.
7. Gerald R. Gems, "Working Class Women and Sport: An Untold Story," Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal, 2:1 (Spring 1993), 17-30.
8. Stephen K. Figler and Gail Whitaker, Sport and Play in American Life, 293-319.
9. Joan S. Hult, "The Philosophical Conflicts in Men's and Women's Collegiate Athletics," Quest, 32:1 (1980): 77-94.
10. Douglas E. Foley, "The Great American Football Ritual: Reproducing Race, Class, and Gender Inequality," Sociology of Sport Journal (1990), 7: 111-135.
Week 10: The Globalization of Sport
Questions to contemplate: Is sport an extension of the capitalist system? What are the political uses of sport? Is sport adopted or adapted in its transition to other societies? How does the process of sport transfer occur? Is sport a vehicle for cultural imperialism?
1. Allen Guttmann, Games and Empires (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 171-188.
2. Frederic L. Paxson, "The Rise of
3. Peter Levine, "Touching Bases Around the World: The Social Promise of Sport," from A.G. Spalding and the Rise of Baseball (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), Chapter 6.
4. Steven Gelber, "Working At Playing: The Culture of the Workplace and the Rise of Baseball," Journal of Social History, 16 (Summer 1983), 3-21.
5. Stephen Freedman, "The Baseball
6. David L. Westby and Allen Sack, "The Commercialization and Functional Rationalization of College Football," Journal of Higher Education, 157:6 (Nov./Dec. 1976), 625-646.
7. Joseph L. Arbena, "The Diffusion
Of Modern European Sport In
8. Elihu Lowenfish, "A Tale of Many Cities: The Westward Expansion of Major League Baseball in the 1950's, Journal of the West, 17 (July 1998) 71-82.
9. Peter Donnelly, "Subcultures in Sport: Resilience and Transformation," in Alan Ingham and John Loy, eds., Sport in Social Development (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1993), 119-145.
10. Gerald R. Gems, "Football and the Challenge to Cultural Hegemony,"
International Sports Journal (Winter 1998), 1-16.
11. National Geographic, 196:2 (August 1999), 12-32.