We examine the historical development of sports in the United States from a societal and cultural viewpoint. The course provides opportunity to examine the relationship between sports and nationalism, sports and politics, sports and the economy, sports and society change, sports and gender, and sports and American expansion.
Course contents include lecture, secondary readings, primary source readings, and film. We will examine the gradual development of an American sports culture and the changing attitudes towards sports. Emphasize will be given to early sports culture, including blood sports, and particularly to the creation and development of baseball, pugilism, college football, and basketball within the American context.
Knowledge of sports is not a prerequisite for the course.
The course will be especially valuable to students who wish to develop their English-language reading, speaking, and writing skills while studying the social/cultural history of sport in the United States.
Please, no food during class. Please, no use of cell phones during class, and confine use of tablets/laptops to class use, i.e. taking notes.
This syllabus is subject to change. You will need to access articles and short readings on the internet, the NCCU library database (including “JSTOR”), the la84foundation.org website, and other databases or websites.
Method of Evaluation
Attendance and participation, occasional pop quizzes – 10%
Mid-term Exam 4-23 – 30%
Essay – 30% (4-6 pages, topic: “Significant aspect of an American sports figure”. Due 5-28 in class. I will announce more details. Do not email your essay. Late essays (10% grade reduction per week)
Final – 6-25 – 30%
Course outline, by week (Subject to change)
2-26: Introduction to the course, Colonial Sports Culture
3-5: Early National Sports Culture, Early Ball Games
3-12: Boxing’s slow start in America
A. “The First American Championship Prizefight” Elliott J. Gorn, OAH Magazine of History, Vol. 7, No. 1
C. “FOOTBALL UNFIT GAME SAYS PRESIDENT ELIOT” New York Times (1857-1922); Feb 3, 1906
4-2: Football Reform
“The Gridiron Crisis of 1905” John Watterson, Journal of Sport History 27 (Summer 2000)
“THE NEW FOOTBALL” Walter Camp, Outing Magazine (1906-1911); Oct 1910; 57
“YALE FROWNS UPON NEW FOOTBALL RULES” New York Times (1857-1922); May 22, 1910
4-9: The Black Sox Scandal & Baseball’s Gold Age:
“At the Nexus of Labor and Leisure: Baseball, Nativism, and the 1919 Black Sox Scandal” Robin F. Bachin, Journal of Social History, Vol. 36, No. 4 (Summer, 2003), pp. 941-962
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug02/yeung/baberuth/home.html look at section “In Sports”
4-16: Basketball, a Sport with a Purpose
“Origin of the Game of Basket Ball” Sporting Life (1916)
Ethnicity and early 20th century urban basketball – the Jews
4-23: Midterm 4-30: Women and Sport
Women and Basketball (and Bicycles) “American Women and Sport” Jane Curry and Marjorie Bingham, OAH Magazine of History, Vol. 7, No. 1, History of Sport, Recreation, and Leisure (Summer, 1992), pp. 39-49