Dr. Robert Hamblin, Professor of English, email@example.com, 573-651-2628
The literary and sociological study of the role, both positive and negative, that sport plays in American society. 3 hours credit.
Interdisciplinary Nature of the
This course draws heavily upon the University Studies perspectives of Individual Expression (especially Literary Expression) and Human Institutions (Social Systems). The focus is upon the various ways that sport, both competitive and leisure, interrelates with the specific subject matter areas of literature, sociology, philosophy, history, economics, and psychology. Careful attention is paid to the University Studies upper-level subtheme, Integration of Knowledge: Living in an Interdependent Universe. Such integration is achieved largely by examining the various topics and interrelated disciplines in terms of functionalist and conflict theories of sport. Functionalist theorists argue that sports create and sustain feelings of good will and solidarity among members of a community or nation. Conflict theorists believe that sports, like other social orders, are based on exploitation and coercion, particularly with regard to gender, race, ethnicity, and social class. These contrasting theories form a unifying frame through which the relation of sport to all the various disciplines may be viewed.
Completion of ninety hours, including the University Studies perspectives of Individual Expression, Social Systems, and Written Expression.
Purposes and Objectives of the Course:
A. To introduce the student to a selected body of enjoyable and significant readings related to a variety of sports and sport topics;
B. To lead the student to a broader awareness of the interrelationship between sport and other academic areas, including literature, sociology, philosophy, history, economics, and psychology;
C. To assist the student in integrating the materials from the various disciplines into a unified, cohesive whole;
D. To improve the student's ability to read both fiction and non-fiction with understanding and insight;
E. To develop the student's ability to think, speak, and write critically with insight and clarity; and
F. To assist the student in relating the content of the course to the nine University Studies objectives.
Expectations of Students:
A. Reading the texts and other assigned materials
B. Participation in class discussions
C. Completion and presentation of an interdisciplinary research project
D. Additional written and oral presentations
E. Successful performance on examinations
A. David L. Vanderwerken and Spencer K. Wertz,
eds. Sport Inside Out:
Readings in Literature and Philosophy. Available in Textbook Service.
B. Three selected paperbacks: Keeping Score: Sports Poems for Every Season by Robert Hamblin; The Celebrant by Rolfe Greenberg; and Friday Night Lights by H. G. Bissinger. Available for student purchase in Southeast Book Store.
Basis of Student Evaluation:
A. Interdisciplinary research project,
including both written and oral presentation
of findings (20%)
B. Two additional short written presentations (20%)
C. Panel presentation (TBA) (10%)
D. Midterm examination (10%)
E. Final examination (20%)
F. In-class and web-based activities, including Forum discussions (20%)
Schedule of Class Activities
The professor reserves the right to make changes to this outline if need and circumstance dictate.
Note: This is a web-supported class. All students are expected to participate in both in-class and web-based activities.
August 25 – September 5
Introduction: “Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio” (handout)
Read the following stories in Sport Inside Out and discuss the stories on Forum.
“The Eighty Yard Run” (page 9)
“Roller Ball Murder” (p. 31)
“Fifty Grand” (p. 43)
“Ishmael in Arlis” (p. 174)
“The Coach Who Didn’t Teach Civics” (p. 680)
September 8 - 19
Complete the library assignment (due September 16).
Read Keeping Score and participate in the discussion of the book on Forum. Submit answers to the study questions on the book (due date TBA).
September 22 – October 3
Read the following essays and participate in the discussions on Forum:
“The Sacred and the Secular” (p. 298)
“The Sort of Sacred, Sometimes Ritual” (p. 308)
“Religion in Sport” (p. 319)
“The Natural Religion”
"Wilderness Travel" (p. 363)
“Sacred Space, Sacred Time” (p. 725)
Write a personal essay on one of the topics selected from the Class Topics list (due October 2).
October 6 - 24
Read The Celebrant and participate in the discussion of the book on Forum. Submit answers to the study questions on the novel (due date TBA).
Send your instructor an e-mail message containing a topic proposal for your research paper. Follow guidelines on the class handout.
October 27 – November 7
Read the following poems and participate in the discussions on Forum:
“The Poet Tries to Turn in His Jock” (p. 30)
“For the Death of Vince Lombardi” (p. 105)
“Night Game” (p. 108)
“To Wilt Chamberlain” (p. 399)
“Baseball and Writing” (p. 488)
“To an Athlete Turned Poet” (p. 490)
“The Double Play” (p. 491)
“Polo Grounds” (p. 714)
“On the Death of the Evansville University Basketball Team” (p. 750)
Work on your research paper. Submit a working bibliography to your instructor via email attachment.
November 10 - 21
Read Friday Night Lights and participate in the discussion of the book on Forum. Submit answers to the study questions on the book (due date TBA).
Work on your research paper.
November 24 – December 5
Read the following selections and participate in the discussions on Forum:
“The Interior Stadium” (p. 147)
“In Defense of the Competitive Urge” (p. 246)
“Baseball and the American Dream” (p. 267)
“Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu”
"Football Red and Baseball Green" (p. 716)
“Sport and Death” (p. 752)
December 8 - 12
Final summation and review. Research paper due on December 8.
December 15 – 18: Final Exams week
Course Topics List
(for use in selecting topics for personal essay, panel presentation, and research paper)
A. Definitions and Examples
1. Social and cultural roots of North American sport
2. Sport as a social institution
3. Sport and language
4. The many types of sport literature
B. Socialization of Sport
1. The athlete
2. The coach
3. The spectator
C. Sport, Society, and Values
1. The American value system
a. Functional interpretation
b. Conflict interpretation
2. Sport, race, and gender
a. Black dominance in particular sports
b. Racial discrimination in sport
c. Sexism in sport
3. Sport and economics
a. Professional sport as business
b. Amateur sport as business
4. Sport and agression
a. Sport as war
b. War as sport
5. Sport and politics
a. Political uses of sport
b. Political aspects of the Olympics
c. Political attitudes of coaches and athletes
6. Sport and education
a. Status of sport in education
b. Consequences of sport for schools, communities, and individuals
7. Social stratification and sport
a. Social class and sport
b. Social mobility and sport
8. Sport and aesthetics
a. Sport as art
b. Sport in art
D. Sport as Metaphor and Myth
1. Sport, time, and death
2. Sport, religion, and philosophy
3. Sport and the human condition