The New Athletic American Dream


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The New Athletic American Dream

  1. 1. Gaertner 1Alex GaertnerDr. DiSarroENG 101- Section 1229 February 2012 The New Athletic American Dream as Portrayed in Films The American Dream can take many different shapes and forms. There are manydifferent aspects that compromise the American Dream. Andrew Miller looks into the athleticAmerican dream in his article,“The American Dream Goes to College”. This dream becameevident during the late 1920’s. While analyzing many films and other authorities, Millerdescribes to the reader the significance of this dream. The use of rhetorical appeals leads thereader to recognize the significance of the audience (pathos) in Miller’s article. The article wasintended for researchers and people in academia. Also, the communicator (ethos), Miller, is acredible author. He holds an assistant professorship at Sacred Heart College in Fairfield,Connecticut and is researching and writing on the topic of media production. Focusing onunderstanding the message (logos) and arrangement of this article proves the effectiveness atpersuading an audience. These features of the article are important because they are thecritical components that make the article a worthwhile read. “TheAmerican Dream Goes to College”, written by Andrew C. Miller, discusses the massnumbers of movies of the sports film genre that were created in the late 1920’s. Miller isexplaining why this happened and what was happening in America at the time to influence it.He believes these films have portrayed a new athletic American dream. With an examination of
  2. 2. Gaertner 2many films of this time, Miller was able to identify three main factors contributing to theirmaking. First, football was incredibly popular at this time and Hollywood wanted to portraythat. Second, the college campus was an ideal location for this scenario to take place. Lastly,these films displayed an elimination of class differences. After going into further detail of thesepoints, the audience, people in academia, is able to have an understanding of why these filmswere created in such large numbers and what was happening in America that influenced theirpopularity. In scholarly articles, logos is the most important and prevalent rhetorical appeal whentrying to persuade an audience. The main purpose of writing an article is to reveal some type ofmessage. There is a major difference between just stating a message and describing a message.The audience will not fully believe or understand the message if the author does not use anyevidence. He can use many different types of evidence to persuade an audience. The leastnoticeable appeal is pathos; it is harder to interpret the intended audience for this article.Whilethe other rhetorical appeals are more obvious, logos is what is written and ethos is the quotesthat the author uses, pathos is not clearly written. It is left for interpretation. The author, Andrew C. Miller, establishes his personal credibility through a smallbiography at the very end of the article. The reader learns he is an assistant professor at SacredHeart College in Fairfield, Connecticut focusing on media production. This article is within hisfield therefore proving his knowledge.While writing this article Miller was also furthering hisstudies on the American sports film genre by writing a manuscript for the cultural history of thisgenre. Throughout the article the reader ascertains that Miller is knowledgeable because of the
  3. 3. Gaertner 3many facts he uses to support his statements. Miller quotes many outside sources and thengoes on to further explain how they relate to his message. A good example of Miller usingquotes to grab the reader’s attention would be when he quotes John Tunis describing sports asa new religion, “…described as the era’s new religion with ‘it’s high priests (prominent coaches)and acolytes (players), and it’s saints (great players and coaches who have passed on), andsanctuaries (stadiums)’” (quoted in Miller 1225). This is an excellent quote to grab the reader’sattention because taking something as powerful as religion is making a big claim, it’s surprising,but it works. The author is writing this article to inform people of a topic that has been overlooked.He believes the 1920’s were a time period in which many movies were made circling aroundsports in college and the new “athletic American dream” they created. This athletic Americandream portrays a life in which with a lot of hard work and determination one can be lead tovictory. Miller is questioning whether the student/athlete problem, student athletes focusingon their sports and dismissing their academics, may have begun with these movies. Throughoutthe article, Miller is explaining the reasoning for why so many movies of this genre were madeduring this time period. He intends to answer the question of why there was a heightening viewof student athletes occurring in cinema and in American society at this time. The use of a lot of specific evidence is very helpful in portraying his specific message.Andrew Miller uses various forms of evidence to support his claims and further develop hisdiscussion. He references numerous screen plays of the sports film genre that were madeduring the late 1920’s. Miller’suse of many real-life examples helps to make the argument more
  4. 4. Gaertner 4believable. This furthers the reader’s opinion that Miller is educated on the subject he isdiscussing. In addition to referencing movies, Miller also quotes many other authorities,including sports historians. This shows that Miller is relying on other credible sources and notsolely basing his information off of personal opinion. Another key piece of evidence Miller usesto persuade the audience is visual aids. Miller includes pictures of a movie poster and a bookadvertisement. The use of these visual aids is extremely powerful in persuading the readerbecause it is giving them something tangible to look at. The reader is able to make theconnection to real life through the use of real advertisements. Visuals are a persuasive way toexplain a message because they are more concise and it is much easier to grab the reader’sattention. An image on a page full of words boldly stands out and attracts a reader right away. The article is arranged in a very easy to follow format. Miller starts out by laying out themain points of his article, as well as some background information in the first two and halfpages. Miller states the exact question his article is going to answer, why student athletes arebecoming characters of interest, and then lightly touches on the three main points that answerthis, the popularity of college football, life on university campuses, and issues of class conflict.After the introduction the article breaks into 4 sub sections going into further detail of the threemain points he outlined in the introduction. This arrangement helps the reader to easilyunderstand the main point of each section. It is laid out in question and answer format,therefore making it simple for the reader to absorb the most important information. While reading the article the audience can tell Miller is very passionate about thesubject because of his language. Occasionally he will make statements which indicate his
  5. 5. Gaertner 5opinion. For example, while describing the three main points of the article he portrays whichone he favors, “And finally, and most interestingly, these football films repeatedly engage withissues of class movement…” (Miller 1224). The use of the phrase, “most interestingly”demonstrates to the audience Miller’s own interest in this specific subtopic. By displaying hisown interest in the information it can make the audience gain more interest because they willwant to continue reading to find out why he believes it is interesting. Overall Miller does an excellent job of creating an effective article. Through the use ofquotes and visuals, Miller undoubtfully portrays his message, the perception of studentathletes, to his audience, people in academia. These techniques appeal to the audience byeasily proving Miller’s knowledge and creating a fast way to see the connection. By focusing onportraying his message (logos), Miller educates his audience (pathos) on his views of theathletic American dream as it was portrayed in films during the late 1920’s.
  6. 6. Gaertner 6 Works CitedMiller, Andrew C. "The American Dream Goes To College: The Cinematic Student Athletes of College Football." Journal of Popular Culture 43.6 (2010): 1222-1241. Academic Search Premier. Web. 29 Feb. 2012.