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Between the Sporting Lines: Reading Social Settings, Unpacking Media Discourses, and Asking Telling Questions
Being observant and critically assessing situations to learn, adapt, and understand through sports talk and sports media.
“In order to fully and effectively “read”social and cultural action in a community, one must be educated in particular sets of public meanings” – Geertz
Where are people exposed to those public meanings? Very quickly observe and apply how, when, and why to talk about sport (and politics, and economics, and entertainment)
Jump in with these questions in mind
Listening, asking, and trying
When and How are we doing Sport?
Sport origins & organizations – often local before professional, historical before and even post-political framing
Where and how are we “doing” sport?
• local, amateur//
Who’s here? Who’s Missing?
Take time to learn about how the group defines itself by who is included and who is excluded (and if there are explicit reasons why)
• Who’s in and who’s out?
• Who is represented?
• Who is allowed in?
• Who is missing?
What stories are being told?
Collective or individual?
Nations, being “____” and histories?
Rivalries, Enemies, and Allies?
What is celebrated and what is forgotten?
Who are the Heroes and Who are the Villains?
What do heroes do and what do villains do?
Sport media in particular – like “comic books” or soap operas for men
What are recurring conflicts or controversies?
Match fixing, cheating, doping, purchase & transfer fees
Conflict in particular is an excellent place to understand deeper values in a group
Who’s really winning?
Exposing and critiquing economic, political, social power structures
Is this what they think? Or is this what they do?
Realtionships between fan behavior, and racism, sexism, and “humor”
Racism, Fan behavior, and the experience of sport
- coded terms for expressing threats against local/traditional identities (resistance)
- performance-oriented and not always LIVED identities (put it on for the stadium)
- VERY REAL effects for marginalized groups and targets of abuse
- the experience is equally socially-oriented – establishing and maintaining community ties, business relationships,
- increasingly tied to discourses surrounding immigration and perceived identity
The more things change, the more they stay the same?
Despite… technological advances, leagues, competitions, younger/faster/better
… Resilient relationships of power remain … demonstrated through relationships and hierarchies, as well as the kinds of stories told in media, in common spaces, that frame and orient daily life