week 1 Sports and politics essay Watch a video about sports and answer discussion board question. The post should be about two paragraphs long. I have atta
week 1 Sports and politics essay Watch a video about sports and answer discussion board question. The post should be about two paragraphs long. I have attached the lecture/discussion board question below. Please make sure you watch “Not Just a Game,” The video is about an hour, and does a great job of
foreshadowing much of what we will cover in this course.
I have posted a brief lecture associated with the film on the discussion board. Please review it after watching the
film, but before posting on the discussion board. The post should be about two paragraphs longs.
LINK TO THE VIDEO: “Not Just a Game” https://vimeo.com/105480958
Our video focuses on the notion that sports and politics are heavily intertwined. This can be a controversial
statement as some may proclaim and believe that sports and politics are and should be separate from one
another. However, Zirin exhibits the intersection of sport and politics by examining the overlap between
sport and militarism, nationalism, masculinity, femininity, sexuality, class, and race. This video reminds us of
what George Orwell meant when he wrote in his essay Why I Write, “The opinion that art should have
nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.” When we step back and look at the fantastic
pageantry within sport, we often find that it is more than just a game and it is deeply political.
In addition, while our video did not discuss these events, the collision between sport and politics may be
most easily seen in the Olympics and other international events (please look over chapter 13 in our book
when you have a chance). Often, international games produce an “us-vs-them” feeling among athletes,
politicians, and citizens, and the announcing of the games can be rather biased. In addition, nations often
attempt to link success in the Olympics with their form of government and economic model. For example, we
may equate the USA’s ability to obtain a good deal of medals in the Olympics with our political and economic
system. And, Cuba–who spends 3% of its national budget on sports–uses its strong performance in
international games to promote the superiority of its political and economic system.
Moreover, in 1980, America boycotted the Olympics in the USSR as a protest against the USSR’s invasion of
Afghanistan. In response, the USSR boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. Even national events have
been taken away from cities and states for political purposes. For example, Arizona did not celebrate Martin
Luther King Jr. Day until 1996. In 1993, the NFL took the Super Bowl away from Arizona and basically said,
“Until you at least adopt MLK day as a holiday, we will not bring our massive event to your state.”
Sports carry a great deal of social, cultural, economic, and political power. Sports are both an expression of
our views and an institution within society that shapes our values, attitudes, and beliefs. Sports are not
superficial activities, but they are displays of who we are (individually and collectively), how we view others,
and how we view the world. By examining which aspects of sports are promoted, despised, and ignored we
can discovery a great deal about ourselves and society.
A key aspect of sport discussed in this video is the notion of masculinity. This is a rather interesting topic that
we will discuss throughout the course. In the video, Zirin asks us, “What form of masculinity is most revered
within sport?” I think this is a good question. What forms of masculinity do you believe are most idealized in
sport? What forms of masculinity do you believe are viewed as lesser in sport? Are there sports that may
promote alternative forms of masculinity? Moreover, what are the consequences of attempting to perform
this idealized form of masculinity? Zirin points out that professional football players live an average of 20
years less than the rest of us. Is being the ideal pro worth dying 20 years early? What does this say about us
as society when we allow (encourage?) the players to take decades off their lives so we can be entertained?
For the guys in the class, what consequences have we faced for performing or not performing the proper way
of being a male athlete? What are the consequences for those around us? Why might have Michael Messner
found that basketball, football, baseball, and hockey players are the most likely athletes to engage in sexual
assault? For the women in the class, what consequences have you faced for attempting to prove yourselves
in the often ultra masculine world of sports? What consequences have you faced for not staying within the
idealized notion of femininity? Also, think past just the physical consequences, how else may we all hinder
our futures for the sake of attempting to be the “ideal” athlete? What consequences may occur in the social,
educational, legal, or cultural realms of our lives?
In my experience as a skateboarder, I have run into a few problems while attempting to maintain what I
understood to be the ideal form of masculinity. Even though skateboarding is not masculine in the sense that
it represents going to war to destroy another person, it is masculine in the sense that it involves a great deal
of risk and glorification of injury. Throughout my “career” as a skater, my most significant injuries were
broken ankles, concussions, and a back injury that still plagues me to this day. Injuries may come with any
physical activity, but I refused (and still refuse) to wear protective equipment and I chose to glorify and
“walk-off” my injuries. After breaking one of my ankles, I limped over to the car, waited over an hour for the
other guys to finish filming their tricks, and then I had my friend drop me off at the bar. I spent the rest of the
evening showing off my bloated ankle and drinking. At the time my peers were proud of my battle scars and
the way I handled the injury. However, today, I rarely see any of those guys, and I regret trying to be “tough”
as my ankle didn’t heal properly and it is now an unnecessary source of pain. Moreover, by attempting to be
an “masculine” skater, I did a fair amount of damage to my educational career and I developed a criminal
record trying to be “one of the guys” the night before a skateboard demo. This criminal record (a minor
consumption ticket) has excluded me from some jobs and it likely excluded me from some graduate
programs. Attempting to fit into the ideal hasn’t always worked out well for me.
Another key aspect of the video is its discussion of gender and sports. We saw in the past that some
authorities instructed women not to play sports for a myriad of reasons that simply sound ridiculous to us
today. What roles have men played in impeding women’s rights to engage in sport? What roles have men
played in assisting women gain access to their right to engage in sport? What roles have women played in
impeding other women’s attempt to break through barriers? What barriers still exist today? What might be a
contemporary list of sports that women are and are not supposed to play? Why and why not? What are
sports that men are not supposed to play? Why not? In what ways are women’s sports discouraged and
Next, we see sexuality playing a large role in contemporary sports. What happened to Billy Jean King when
she came out of the closet? If sports aren’t political and if it is just about talent or just playing the game, why
would anyone care if she had come out of the closet? Has this happened to other athletes recently? What
sports currently have openly gay athletes? Skateboarding didn’t get its first openly gay pro skateboarder until
2016. Moreover, in the late 1990s an amateur skateboarder Tim Von Werne attempted to discuss his
sexuality in an interview with the magazine Skateboarder, but Tony Hawk’s company Birdhouse who
sponsored Von Werne pulled the interviewed from the magazine when they found out that it openly
discussed Von Werne’s sexuality. It seems after this occurred, Von Werne became disenchanted with
skateboarding and left his career as a skater behind.
The next key aspect we see in the video is race. Similar to women, we see that some authorities have created
pseudo-biological rationales for the exclusion of minorities within sport. For example, they proclaimed that
black Americans lack the ability to swim, box, or manage a sports team. How might these myths affect
individuals attempting to enter a sport? What happened when Jack Johnson broke this stereotype? How did
the (white) public respond? How did the public respond to Jackie Robinson? How have the protests of
minority athletes been met by the public and some parts of the media?
Zirin points out that the public’s strong responses to minority players may come from a perceived threat to
white status in society and their control of society. Herbert Blumer, a famous social psychologist, wrote a
paper back in the 1950s that noted race discrimination often came from the notion of a “natural” racial
hierarchy. Often, racists held the notion that there was an obvious ranking of the races with whites on top
and they perceived any threat to this hierarchy with a great deal of hostility. They held the belief that the
lowest status individual in their group was above the highest status individual in another group. Think of
Elliot Rodgers as extreme example of this. Rodgers went on shooting spree in San Diego a few years ago
partially because he was upset that his black roommate was having sex with white women while he was not.
He basically believed that he deserved and was owed the attention of white women simply because he was
white, and no white woman should ever even consider any black man as a partner before him.
Finally, the video ends with the commercialization of sports and sport athletes. How do athletes negotiate
the pressure of corporations? How does Zirin interpret and compare the actions of Muhammad Ali and
Michael Jordan? Why does Zirin believe that LeBron James cannot be a global icon and the richest athlete in
the world? We will talk about it later in the class, but how has the commercialization of our sports stadiums
changed the fan base and the simple act of going to a game today? Is the 49ers stadium a stadium or is it an
amusement park/shopping mall? Is the purpose of the stadium to watch the game or to consume goods and
services? Is the new Falcon’s stadium for the fans or is it primarily a place for businessmen to complete
For your response to this posting, I would like you to engage with some of the ideas that I have presented
above. You do not need to address every question, but I expect that you will put in a fair amount of effort
thinking about these questions and constructing your responses.
Please remember that any information posted on the discussion boards can become public very quickly.
Please refrain from discussing anything deeply personal on our forum.
Also, please know that you may not repost anything anyone has said on our discussion board. You may
certainly quote one another within the forum, but do not repost anything outside of the forum. Reposting
someone else’s comments outside of our discussion board will–at minimum–result in some sort of
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