Sports Post * Due by 8am on October 16, 2014

Do you have a particular sport, team or athlete that you follow? Talk about it in the comments. Be sure to think carefully about WHAT it is that you like about this sport and what you think it represents, in terms of US popular culture. Does  the sport that you like have scandals associated with it?  (Hint: unfortunately ALL sports do).  What are those scandals?  Do they make you think differently about the sport?  Why or why not?

If you DON’T follow any particular sport, why don’t you?  Have you ever played a sport?  What is it particularly you find about sports to be uninteresting or not worthy of your time? Again, don’t just shrug it off if you’re not a sports fan – we’re interested in hearing WHY you’re not one.

I’ll get us started.

When I moved to Pittsburgh many many years ago, I was not really a sports fan. But I realized very quickly that Pittsburgh was not like any other city that I’d lived in before. EVERYONE followed the Steelers (Pittsburgh’s NFL team) – even people who were not what you’d think of as stereotypical “football fans.” Poets, musicians, artists, professors, authors, designers, scientists… from September through January, EVERYONE was following the games and talking about football. I realized that I could spend 15 weeks of the year feeling left out, or I could start to pay attention to football and still have a social life.

So sure, I started following football so that I wouldn’t have to give up hanging out with my friends, but I also quickly became interested in the sport and the players, and as someone who studies popular culture academically, what football represents to the US. After all, in every other country, “football” is soccer. American football is a specifically American sport.

While it’s a sport of precision (at least from the quarterback’s perspective), it’s also weirdly a sport of absolute brute force. I never realized until I went to a Steelers game in person – NFL players are ENORMOUS human beings. What does it mean, I wondered, to have an American sport that is focused so much on the physical size of the players?

Then, in 2009, the Steelers’ quarterback was accused of sexual assault. Then two more accusations came up. Then, rumors started floating around Pittsburgh that regardless of whether Roethlisberger was guilty of the specific assault charges, he was definitely a creep (friends of friends had photos of him groping women at parties around town). It became harder and harder to root for the Steelers, and even my husband (a life-long Steelers fan who grew up in Pittsburgh) started to feel strange about watching the games.

Anyway, the point is that I’d already begun to pull away from American Football when news began to spread that many players suffer terribly from brain diseases caused by repeated head trauma, and that the NFL tends to not take care of their retired players when they’re in bad health. While some might argue that NFL players make a lot of money, and therefore are compensated for the risk, I personally can’t value entertainment over a human being’s health.

Then, the Ray Rice video surfaced. And a new conversation began over the hyper-macho culture of the NFL and what it means for these men to essentially be encouraged to be as huge and tough and “masculine” as possible, the fact that powerful sports teams can cover up crimes to protect valuable players, and the fact that wealthy or famous people are seldom punished in the same ways as regular people. Finally, the Washington Redskins’ refusal to change their idiotic, racist team name…. I can barely talk about that, it’s so infuriating.

The end result? At my house last night, some friends and I were watching the Monday night game between the 49ers and the Rams, and my husband asked, “Do you guys kind of feel uncomfortable watching football these days?” After a moment of quiet, we all agreed. So we put on a movie instead.

That said, it’s worth noting that I’ve spent an irritating portion of my adult life defending the fact that my favorite poet hated women and was an anti-Semite, that one of the philosophers I most admire strangled his wife, I happen to love the work of an artist who almost certainly murdered his wife…

These are difficult acts to try to explain and understand in a world-wide culture that tends to excuse (or even promote) violence against women and minorities. TS Eliot, Luis Althusser and Carl Andre were all geniuses, so I believe that their work is worth defending in spite of their terrible flaws.

Professional football, to me, simply isn’t worth defending – its flaws are too dramatic and it does too little good in the world to offset the negative impact it currently carries. There are other things in my life more important and more valuable than an entertainment-focused sports industry. Certainly, it’s very important to other people who feel strongly about defending it, and that’s fine for them.

Unfortunately, being a “football fan” is not something that I want to be associated with any longer. I’m going to start watching more soccer, instead.

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13 Responses to “Sports Post * Due by 8am on October 16, 2014”

  1. I found today’s class very interesting. To be honest I cant really say if I’m a sports fan or not. I definitely look at sports from here and there. I also would say that I am team hopper. If one team is doing good I will be rooting for them. I cant really explain this and why I do it. For examples if the Heats are having a really good season I will follow them are always check on the score. I think I so this because I want to be associated with a team that is “good” and “winners”. I will not say that I am against sports in anyway because I feel that if it’s played in the right way with out all the other b.s that is usually associated with it , it can be a good thing. Sports can be extremely entertaining and contributes a lot to our culture. Think about how big the Super Bowl and what the Super Bowl means to the U.S. Sports are important and there is if’s, and’s or buts about it. I think what’s happening now is that people aren’t focusing in on the talent anymore. Back in the day it seemed like athletes were really focused on the sport and bringing something new to the sport instead of just showing off or bragging. You can see this a lot in sports today with athlets like Floyd Mayweather , Lebron James and also Micheal Jordan. Even though I feel like sports are great I also recognize how harmful they can be. I think that it’s a shame that a player can get a million dollar salary and teachers and doctors don’t. This is a problem. !!! I also don’t like the arrogance that is always surrounded by a great player. Like dude, why cant you just be a good player, do your job and shut your mouth. I also don’t encourage the lifestyles these players live. It seems in football and some other sports its all about money and women. What are we teaching our young boys? Adding to that I also don’t like the fact that it seems like you’re not “manly” if you’re not playing sports are if you don’t like sports. That is just ridiculous . So when it comes to sports I would say I’m for it but VERY AGAINST IT !!!!! I know I started this post with saying that I wasn’t sure and I would argue if done in the right way and im quite unsure what that is as of now with everything going on that Sports can be great and do great things but how it is now I cant stand !!!

  2. I do not follow any of the sports that people usually follow in the United States. I do however occasionally follow esports, which is short for electronic sports. It is mostly video game tournaments. Such as League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, and many more. In America people tend not to categorize esports as “real” sports. To me the definition of a sport is “Any game or activity that is a competition between two or more people that has a clear winner”. This would also encompass both the typical sports and esports. Looking to other countries (mainly South Korea), esports players are more popular than a “typical” sports player. Even to the point where during big sporting events the sports players are visited by the esports players for inspiration. If someone was to try to discount esports because “They do not make as much money as real sports players” then there logic is flawed. If that was the case then any non professional sport league is then not a sport. Often times people even pay to compete or play the sport. Furthermore players have the potential to earn a lot of money through esports. Earlier this year Dota 2 had it’s big tournament “The International” which boasted a first place prize pool of over five million dollars. Also, second and third place prize money was over a million dollars. The reason I tend not to follow traditional sports is because I value tactics and intelligence over physicality. In the end esports are sports that pit two or more players intelligence and tactics against each other, while traditional sports pit player strength, speed, or other physical attribute against one another. Esports are gradually gaining more traction and popularity even in the United States. The aforementioned International tournament was even broadcast on one of ESPN’s channels in America. There is a chart on http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/09/espn-esports-league-of-legends-dota that displays the viewership of different sporting events, including a League of Legends world championship. (This takes into account twitch.tv (online) viewership not just television veiwership) League of Legends had more viewers than the MLB world series, NBA finals and a few other sport events listed in 2013. I believe that within our generation esports will become the norm and “traditional” sports will be secondary based on the rate that esports has already been exponentially growing in the last five years alone.

  3. mbugua2209 Says:

    my favorite sport is athletics.I am greatly inspired by most young athletes who demonstrate great talent by breaking previously set records and taking with them the gold medals plus the six figure sum of money.
    I am a great fun of Ezekiel kemboi, 32 year old Kenyan who is a double world 3000m steeplechase olympic champion.Its impressing how he starts the race with the other athletes and sprints ahead of them towards the finish line.To sum it up all he takes his shirt off at the end and dance , a unique way to celebrate his win.
    Despite his fame and being a star, he was accused of assulting a female friend.That was a month before the London 2012 olympics.He denied the charges after the hearing and bailed at $595.He the went ahead and participated in the London olympics and won a gold medal.
    I also like watching athletes sprint in 100m race.My favorite athlete being Justin gatlin the 100M olympic gold medalist. He always demonstrated his talent in this race and brought glory to America and the people who are also lovers of athletics.However in 2006 he was banned for 8 years after testing positive to an illegal stimulant.He agreed to cooperate with doping authorities to avoid a lifetime ban.
    Despite these scandals athletics remain my favorite sport.Though its devastating on how the athletes create a bad picture of themselves.To my opinion these athletes engage in some weird things due to greed .Likes of Gatlin used the stimulants to enhance his body in order to be faster because of wanting to break more world records.In return they face the consequenses when the truth is revealed.
    These athletes despite their scandals being open to the public because they are public figures, they still have a role to play and act as an inspiration to the younger generation who choose to focus on their positivee side of life as role models.

  4. Honestly I can say I have zero interest in sports be it soccer,basketball,football name it.Why on earth should I waste my time,energy just to get my eyes glued to some game which does not add any value whatsoever in my life as an individual?I come from Kenya and the horrible things I have seen when it comes to football fans get me so confused,why should people argue and even dare to start a fight over a certain match?why should people bet over a certain amount of money on which team will win or not?why should people worst of all commit suicide just because a certain team got knocked out http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/25300429,people get to prioritize these games over the most important things most men leave their families at home to go watch these football matches in bars instead of just staying at home and watching the games via the TV, something which I fail to get straight what difference is there when one watches a match alone rather than with a crowd of people? not forgetting how far these players go just to keep on winning these games by using drugs,steroids.

    At the end of it all these players all they want is the mulla they careless if there are people out there who do the above things because of them.
    Have I ever played a sport?none that I can recall.Dancing is my hobby and if it were categorized under sports then be sure it would have been my number one sport.

  5. When it comes to sport I like to follow the Chiefs during the football season and I watch the World Cup to cheer on the Uruguay Soccer Team. I keep up with the Chiefs because I have lived in KC for about 12 years and the atmosphere around the game is extremely amazing to me. I love being a fan, I love tailgating, cheering on the team and the fun crowd as well. I will admit that I am not a die hard fan like some of my friends but I do enjoy the sport a whole lot.
    Like we talked in class there are a couple of scandals associated with the NFL, such as domestic violence, drug abuse, child abuse. I do think that there has been to much money invented in these types of sports, and it should stop.
    When in comes to soccer I love to support my home country’s team because it is a time where my family all gets together to watch the game and it is fun. Even though the World Cup only occurs every four years, it is worth the wait.

  6. I honestly don’t really follow sports unless I see they are making history, like the Royals just did tonight. Woot Woot! I Love playing sports though, and I think this is because it takes away a lot of stress off body and mind. Sports are my distraction and my gateway to feeling happy, they have also taught me values that I still hold today. I don’t really follow sports because I think they are too time consuming like any other thing has been lately. It is hard trying to manage being a college student and watching sports, but when I am at the gym I really like watching the sports that are on T.V. because it brings a sense of community and watching people’s reactions brings joy to me. The first sport that I began to play was soccer and I think it was because I saw my brothers play and they didn’t want to include me because it was a sport for boys, so I was like “NO!”, screw their sexist ideals, I am going to prove them wrong. I joined my first soccer team in high school and from that sport I was able to meet other woman who thought like me, we were able to express our thoughts about sexism and we were even comfortable enough to be open about our sexual identity. Sports mean so much to my life, and I am happy to say they bring balance to my life. The reason I don’t like following the scandals is because I think they take away from the beauty of the sport itself, I mean I guess it can promote the sport, but I don’t have time for that negativity, I have my own problems and a crazy sports athlete ain’t one haha. Anyway my favorite sports include: cross country, swimming, volleyball, indoor soccer, and sometimes basketball but I am pretty much down to play any sports, sports are my life haha.

  7. Victorino Says:

    My favorite sport is soccer. The player I’m currently following is Leonel Andres Messi (la pulga) and he is from Argentina who plays in a Spanish premier league with the club FC Barcelona.I started playing soccer at the age eleven and it made me feel good physically and emotionally. I am from Guatemala and down there you don’t hear of any other sports than track, basketball and soccer. I tried all of them and wasn’t good at any of them neither I understood the rules. Except for track, you just have to run to the finish line. After I arrived to the U.S everything changed because the U.S has a variety of sports. I have learned that any sport demands support, competition and motivation.
    I support soccer because it enforces leadership, team work, diversity, respect (not always), fitness, competition, and motivation. Overall many sport have the same qualities so I try to support as many not to feel left out in pop culture. The only thing I don’t support is other fans who cross the line and brag about their team or athlete. I’m also against the athletes, confederation (FIFA) or league and teams that are involve in scandals.
    Unfortunately the player I follow is involve in money laundry scandals.//www.insightcrime.org/news-analysis/the-messi-scandal-from-charity-soccer-to-money-laundering-accusations: While looking for more scandal I found one that is popular among players which is being involve with cheating on their partners. Messi was caught with a striper. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/barcelona-star-lionel-messi-pictured-2105064 It doesn’t make me think different about the sport but only about the player. I stopped following him and instead I focused on the whole team more. Another scandal that surprised me (kind of) was that FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, is corrupt. http://www.americasquarterly.org/content/series-scandals-have-not-only-tainted-fifa-undermined-trust-game-well. At last I support the sport for its qualities. My goal for the following years is to get more involved in the summer and winter Olympic games.
    Regarding to the class discussion, I have to say that everyone is competitive. Everyone tend to follow the winner (s) or you want your team to win to feel good. It has to do with the way the brain works. The class discussion helped me remember of a time I was searching the way the brain works when we want our team to win. I found that “your brain’s reward system is activated by your emotional investment in the game. When you’re on the winning side, your brain releases a higher-than-usual amount dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps to send signals between nerve cells. That produces a powerful pleasure response” http://braingames.nationalgeographic.com/episode/9/

  8. I don’t follow any sports regularly. Growing up though, all my family played and watch was soccer so I have familiarized with the sport, but I was never interested. The only thing I do follow up on is every 4 years which is the Fifa World Cup. I think its amazing that every 4 years the world comes together to play soccer. Also, its a way of representing your country. But even though it brings people together, many Brazilians were left homeless because of all the tourism. Brazil is a country where a lot of poverty exists and the government spent too much money hosting the game rather then hosting their own people.

  9. I’m not a hardcore sports fan like most people. There’s only two sports that I follow, boxing and baseball. Baseball is America’s favorite pastime and of course I cheer for the Royals! But my fav team in baseball is the NY Yankees!! I think it’s the greatest team out there because of the famous hall of famers that played on the team like Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and DiMaggio! However, I have to admit that these past few years, it has caught my attention for the wrong reasons. I feel like most people and myself watch the game to watch the cute guys. My two favorite players on the team are Derek Jeter (#2) and Alex Rodriguez (#13). They are the ‘celebrities’ of the team. Unfortunately, this year will be Jeter’s last season and Rodriguez has stirred up controversy.
    Rodriguez is known as one the best baseball players that controversy seems to follow him everywhere! He has repeatedly denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs, also known as steroids. However, he is suspended from playing this year because of the Biogenesis baseball scandal where he obtained steriods through this clinic. He wasn’t the only one, there were other players that were suspended too. This is a major problem in baseball. Taking steroids gives them an advantage over other players which makes their batting even stronger.
    I don’t think all the controversy affiliated with baseball will make me stop watching it. They’re not hurting anyone else, just themselves. Baseball will continue to be popular. But now, I have to start watching soccer. I have an 8 year old who is on a soccer team and I’m probably the only soccer mom who doesn’t know what is going on!

  10. Im not what you would call a sports “fan”, I don’t have any teams jersey or posters about my favorite player taped in my room. I don’t follow a particular team or route for the same team all the times. I just sometime like to watch sports, and I don’t really have preference towards any sport in particular. If I find a game interesting at the time and I have nothing better to do, I will sit down and watch the whole thing without stopping. I find it odd that I’m not as passionate about sports as other guys are, but I just don’t see the point of it all… like what do you get from spending countless hours following your favorite team all the way to the big championship, or whatever the end game is called. Okay let’s say “your” team wins and they are the champions, then what… do you get anything out of it? The answer is no! There is no price or compensation of being a “Fan”. I guess you could argue that you get bragging rights, but that is meaningless next year round…sometimes. That is why I just watch enough to know what everyone is talking about, but not too much to consider myself a sports fan…with that being said GO ROYALS!!! #HistoryInTheMaking #BeRoyal

  11. armstrong251994 Says:

    I am a die hard sports fan. I love to watch all sports as much as I can. I do love the chiefs and Royals a lot. One of my favorite team is the Los Angeles Lakers. Yes it represents the city of LA, it shows one of the greatest US pop culture city. Yes it does have a scandal with the team. It is when Kobe Bryant was charged with rape in 2003. It was a shock to the sports world because Kobe Bryant had all ready had become his three time NBA champion. It was a big slap to the Lakers Organization when this was announced and it was a slap to the NBA. It was just not that he was charged with rape and embarrassed about it happening. It was a disrespect to his wife also who he truly loves also. Then in the end the rape victim refused to go to court and testify against Kobe. This also shows how people seem to lie and try to get money from publicity against sports stars. This is why I am huge sports fan because you just never know what to expect in the sports world.’

  12. I love sports but I mostly play them and not watch them. They are interesting to watch yet most of the time I find myself not having time. Meaning I find other things to keep me busy. But every once in a while I get to sit down and watch some spots. For example, basketball, I like the fact that they score quick. Not like in soccer where it takes about 90 mins and the score usually is under 5, that’s why I would rather watch basketball if I had to watch anything. What I’ve notice about basketball is that even people who don’t watch the games of a certain team, they still wear stuff to represent the game. For example during the summer I saw a lot of guys wearing basketball shorts, a jersey, long black nike socks, and Jordan shoes. My point is that basketball has an influence on people’s appearance even when the people don’t watch or follow a basketball team. Like you said, there are scandals in every sport. One that comes to my mind was the incident when Charles Barkley spit on the face of a fan do to something offensive the fan said to the NBA player. Even after that incident I continue to watch the sport, whenever I can, because even though what Charles did was wrong I feel like I would have done the same thing. Someone can only take a certain amount of BS. I agree with some people and maybe he should of just walked away from the person but after all he is human too.

  13. Victorino Says:

    My favorite sport is soccer. The player I’m currently following is Leonel Andres Messi (la pulga) and he is from Argentina who plays in a Spanish premier league with the club FC Barcelona.I started playing soccer at the age eleven and it made me feel good physically and emotionally. I am from Guatemala and down there you don’t hear of any other sports than track, basketball and soccer. I tried all of them and wasn’t good at any of them neither I understood the rules. Except for track, you just have to run to the finish line. After I arrived to the U.S everything changed because the U.S has a variety of sports people can follow. I have learned that any sport demands support, competition and motivation.
    I support soccer because it enforces leadership, team work, diversity, respect (not always), fitness, competition, and motivation. Overall many sport have the same qualities so I try to support as many not to feel left out in pop culture. The only thing I cannot stand is the other fans bragging about their team or athlete. I’m also against the athletes, confederation (FIFA) or league and teams that are involve in scandals.
    Unfortunately the player I follow is involve in money laundry scandals. //www.insightcrime.org/news-analysis/the-messi-scandal-from-charity-soccer-to-money-laundering-accusations: While looking for more scandal I found one that is popular among players which is being involve with cheating to their partners. Messi was caught with a striper. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/barcelona-star-lionel-messi-pictured-2105064 It doesn’t make me think different about the sport but only about the player. I stopped following him and instead I focused on the whole team more. Another scandal that kind of surprised me was that FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, is corrupt. http://www.americasquarterly.org/content/series-scandals-have-not-only-tainted-fifa-undermined-trust-game-well. At last I support the sport for its qualities. My goal for the following years is to get more involved in the summer and winter Olympic games.
    Regarding to the class discussion, I have to say that everyone is competitive. Everyone tend to follow the winner (s) or you want your team to win to feel good. It has to do with the way the brain works. The class discussion helped me remember of a time I was searching the way the brain works when we want our team to win. I found that “your brain’s reward system is activated by your emotional investment in the game. When you’re on the winning side, your brain releases a higher-than-usual amount dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps to send signals between nerve cells. That produces a powerful pleasure response” http://braingames.nationalgeographic.com/episode/9/

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