Global Sports Cultures

Global Sports Cultures

(Comparative Literature 100; Fall 2014 Version)

Course Description

Playing, watching, and talking about sports is perhaps the most popular pastime around the world today.  Taking an astonishing variety of forms in different locales, sports and the images, metaphors, narratives, and values that spring up around sports weave themselves into the stories we tell about ourselves and our world, even when we don’t think we’re talking about sports.  In this course, we’ll study stories and images purveyed and consumed within sports culture around the globe.  We’ll be looking at what they tell us about how we think about such things as play, beauty, goodness, violence, money, sex, gender, race, and nations.

The course format is lecture and discussion.  Each week’s lecture will offer students historically grounded, philosophically informed reflections on concepts key to critically understanding sports culture in its transnational and global dimensions.  Then, in discussion sections, students will explore these concepts in greater detail and more concretely by 1) completing a reading assignment that fleshes the lecture topic out in relation to a particular example or case from global sports culture; 2) completing a short written reflection on the reading assignment prior to the discussion section meeting.  Students will also complete three short and one longer paper.

Course Goals

  • To familiarize yourself with and learn to use a set of general concepts for analyzing global sports cultures.
  • To think critically and contextually about contemporary global sports culture and your relationship to it.
  • To understand US sports culture in the context of historical and international cultural processes.
  • To become acquainted with the interdisciplinary, transnational and transtemporal methods of Comparative Literature.
  • To practice articulating honestly and coherently your own cognitive, affective, and social relationships with various aspects of global sports culture.

 Course Schedule

I’ve divided the course schedule below into the fourteen weeks of our semester, and the fourteen weeks, in turn, into four broad units. Each week will be devoted to the study of a concept I’ve found useful for studying the culture of sports around the world and to a case study that I believe will both inform you about an important phenomenon in global sporting culture and give you a chance to work with the week’s concept.

To introduce you to the concept for the week, I’ve assigned a theoretical reading due every Monday, when I will provide a lecture elaborating upon and helping you to understand that week’s concept and its accompanying reading. I’ve then assigned readings (and in some cases viewings) due before your first discussion section meeting for the week. These materials should acquaint you with the case study for the week. You may find it best to do all the assigned readings for the week by the time of Monday’s lecture.

I expect that individually and in your discussion sections, you will do the work of making connections between the week’s topic and the week’s case study. For this reason, I have assigned no reading for the second day of discussion. However, your discussion section instructor may decide that some additional reading will be helpful.

  • you are to have completed each reading or viewing assignment by the beginning of class on the date listed in the schedule below
  • all reading assignments are available in dated folders in the Resources section of the course CTools website
  • all viewing assignments are available online via links provided in dated folders in the Resources section of the course CTools website.


Week 1: Global Sports Cultures, The Case of Cricket

Date What to read or watch at home:
M 9.8 READ: Ben Carrington and David L. Andrews, “Introduction: Sports as Escape, Struggle and Art,” from Blackwell Companions in Cultural Studies Volume 37: Companion to Sport (John Wiley and Sons, 2013), pp. 1-16 (PDF in CTools).READ: Allen Guttman, “Introduction” and “Cultural Imperialism” from Games and Empires: Modern Sports and Cultural Imperialism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), pp. 1-11 and pp. 171-188 (2 PDFs in CTools).
T 9.9 orW 9.10  1.   WATCH: “How to Play Cricket” (YouTube link in CTools).2.   WATCH: “ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 Best Moments” (YouTube link in CTools).3.   READ: C. L. R. James, “Preface” and “The Window” from Beyond a Boundary ((Durham: Duke University Press, 2013), pp. 1-20 (PDF in CTools).4.   READ: Allen Guttman, “Cricket,” from Games and Empires: Modern Sports and Cultural Imperialism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), pp. 15-40 (PDF in 2 parts in Ctools).
Th 9.11 orF. 9.12

Week 2: Play, The Case of Running

Date What to read or watch at home
M 9.15 READ: Johan Huizinga, “Nature and Significance of Play as a Cultural Phenomenon, “from Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1949), pp. 1-27 (PDF in 2 parts in CTools).
T 9.16orW 9.17 1.   WATCH: “PSA: Save the Children – Running Around the World” (Save the Children Canada, 2009) (YouTube link in CTools).2.   WATCH: “The Race” clip from the film Children of Heaven (Iran, d. Majid Majidi, 1997) (YouTube link in CTools).3.   READ: Haruki Murakami, “Who’s Going to Laugh at Mick Jagger,” from What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (New York: Vintage, 2008), pp. 3-23 (PDF in CTools).4.   READ: Randolph Feezell, “A Pluralist Conception of Play,” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 37.2 (2010): pp.147-165 (PDF in CTools).
Th 9.18orF 9.19

Week 3: Constraint, The Case of James Naismith

Date What to read or watch at home
M 9.22 READ: Bernard Suits, “The Elements of Sport” in The Philosophy of Sport: A Collection of Original Essays, Ed. by Robert G. Osterhoudt (Urbana: Human Kinetics, 1973), pp. 49-64 (PDF in CTools).
T 9.23orW 9.24 1.   READ: James Naismith, “The Need for a New Game” and “The Origin of Basketball” from Basketball: Its Origin and Development (Lincoln: Bison Books, 1996), pp. 29-64 (PDF in CTools).2.   WATCH: “1980 D. J Baseline Sccop” (YouTube link in CTools)3.   READ: Dave Hickey, “The Heresy of Zone Defense,” from Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy (Los Angeles: Art Issues Press, 1997), pp. 155-162 (PDF in CTools).4.   READ: Allen Guttman, “Basketball” from Games and Empires: Modern Sports and Cultural Imperialism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), pp. 97-119 (PDF in CTools).
Th 9.25orF 9.26

Week 4: Creativity: The Case of Roger Federer

Date What to read or watch at home
M 9.29 READ: Emma L. Jeanes, “’Resisting Creativity, Creating the New: A Deleuzian Perspective on Creativity,” Creativity and Innovation Management 15.2 (June, 2006): pp. 127-134 (PDF in CTools).
T 9.30orW 10.1 1.   WATCH: “Roger Federer Moments — Backwards and Away DTL Forehand” (YouTube link in CTools).2.   WATCH: “Roger Federer — Top 10 Ridiculous Inventions” (YouTube link in CTools).3.   READ: David Foster Wallace, “Federer as Religious Experience,” The New York Times August 20, 2006 (PDF in CTools).4.   READ: Teresa Lacerda and Stephen Mumford, “The Genius in Art and in Sport: A Contribution to the Study of Aesthetics in Sport,” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 37.2 (2010): pp. 182-193 (PDF in CTools)
Th 10.2orF 10.3


Week 5: Values, The Case of the Hand of God

Date  What to read or watch at home
M 10.6 READ: J. S. Russell, “Is There a Normatively Distinctive Concept of Cheating in Sport (or anywhere else)?” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 41.3 (2014): pp. 303-323 (PDF in CTools).
T 10.7orW 10.8 1.   WATCH: “Diego Maradona — The Hand of God Goal (mano de dios)” (Youtube link in CTools).2.   READ: Brian Phillips, “Aesthetics and Justice,” from The Run of Play (PDF in CTools).3.   READ: Claudio Tamburrini, “The ‘hand of God’?” from The Ethics of Sport: A Reader, Ed. by Mike McNamee (New York: Routledge, 2010), pp. 132-144 (PDF in CTools).4.   READ: Allen Guttman, “Soccer,” from Games and Empires: Modern Sports and Cultural Imperialism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), pp. 41-70 (PDF in 2 parts in CTools)
Th 10.9orF 10.10  

Week 6: Writing Interlude

Date What to read or watch at home:
M 10.13 NO LECTURE – Fall Study Period
T 10.14orW 10.15 Workshop Midterm Papers
Th 10.16orF 10.17 Workshop Midterm Papers

Week 7: Organization, The Case of the NCAA

Date What to read or watch at home:
M 10.20 READ: D. Stanley Eitzen, “The Sociology of Amateur Sport: An Overview” International Review for the Sociology of Sport 24.2 (1989): pp. 95-104 (PDF in CTools).
T 10.21orW 10.22 1.   READ: Claudia Wilken, “O’Bannon et al vs. NCAA” (Ruling) (PDF in Ctools)2.   READ: Steve Eder and Ben Strauss, “Understanding Ed O’Bannon’s Suit Against the NCAA,” The New York Times, June 9, 2014 (PDF in CTools).3.   READ: Brian Phillips, “The Northwestern Case: An Explainer,” Grantland, April 1, 2014 (PDF in CTools).4.   READ: Taylor Branch, “The Shame of College Sports,” The Atlantic Monthly (October 2011) (PDF in CTools).
Th 10.23orF 10.24  

Week 8: Market, The Case of Michael Jordan

Date What to read or watch at home:
M 10.27 READ George H. Sage, “Political Economy and Sport,” in Handbook of Sports Studies, Ed. by Jay Coakley and Eric Dunning (London: Sage, 2006), pp. 260-276 (PDF in CTools).
T 10.28orW 10.29 1.   WATCH: “Jordan Ads’ (YouTube link in CTools).2.   READ Walter LaFeber, “The Globalization of Michael Jordan,” “New Frontiers — and Inner Cities,” and “’The Greatest Endorser of the Twentieth Century’ or ‘An Insidious Form of Imperialism’?” from Michael Jordan and the New Global Capitalism (New York: Norton, 2002), pp. 49-74, 90-111, and 130-164 (PDF in CTools).3.   READ C.L. Cole, “Nike’s America/America’s Michael Jordan,” in Michael Jordan, Inc.: Corporate Sport, Media Culture, and Late Modern America, Ed. by David L. Andrews (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001), pp. 65-103 (PDF In CTools).
Th 10.30orF 10.31

Week 9: Media, The Case of Venus Williams

Date What to read or watch at home:
M 11.3 READ:, Eileen Kennedy and Laura Hills, “Introduction” and “Analyzing Media Sport” from Sport, Media and Society (New York: Berg, 2009), pp. 1-30 (PDF in CTools).
T 11.4orW 11.5 1.   WATCH: Venus VS (D. Ava Duvernay, 2013) (Amazon link in CTools).2.   READ: Jessica Luther, “Return to Indian Wells,” Sports on Earth, January 24, 2014 (PDF in CTools).3.   READ: Nancy E. Spencer, “From ‘Child’s Play’ to ‘Party Crasher’: Venus Williams, racism and professional women’s tennis,” in Sport Stars: The Cultural Politics of Sporting Celebrity, Ed. by David L. Andrews and Steven J. Jackson (London: Routledge, 2001), pp. 87-101 (PDF in CTools).
Th 11.6orF 11.7


Week 10: Power, The Case of the 1968 Summer Olympics

Date What to read or watch at home:
M 11.10 READ: Allen Guttman, “The Olympic Games,” from Games and Empire: Modern Sports and Cultural Imperialism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), pp. 120-138 (PDF in CTools).
T 11.11orW 11.12 1.   WATCH: “1968 Summer Olympics, Black Power Salute” (YouTube link in CTools).2.   LISTEN: “Mexico ’68: A Movement, a Massacre and the 40-Year Search for Truth” (RadioDiaries link in CTools).3.   READ: Eric Zolov, “The Harmonizing Nation: Mexico and the 1968 Olympics,” in In the Game: Race, Identity, and Sports, Ed. by Amy Bass (New York: Palgrave, 2005), pp. 191-217 (PDF in CTools).4.   READ: Dave Zirin, excerpt from A People’s History of Sport in the United States: 250 Years of Politics, Protest, People, and Play (New York: The New Press, 2008), pp. 156-175 (PDF in CTools).5.   Amy Bass, “The Race between Politics and Sport,” from Not the Triumph But the Struggle: The 1968 Olympics and the Making of the Black Athlete (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), pp. 1-35 (PDF in CTools).
Th 11.13orF 11.14

Week 11: Autonomy, The Case of Muhammad Ali

Date What to read or watch at home:
M 11.17 READ: C.L.R. James, “Black Power,” (1967) (PDF in CTools)
T 11.18orW 11.19 1.   WATCH: When We Were Kings (1996, D. Leon Gast, United States) (YouTube link in CTools).2.   WATCH: “1967 “What’s My Name??? part 2” (YouTube link in CTools).3.   READ: Dave Zirin, “Rumble, Young Man, Rumble: Muhammad Ali,” from What’s My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States, pp. 53-72 (PDF in CTools).4.   READ: Grant Farred, “Muhammad Ali, Third World Contender,” from What’s My Name? Black Vernacular Intellectuals (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003), pp. 27-93 (PDF in CTools).
Th 11.20orF 11.21  

Week 12: Thanksgiving

Date What to read or watch at home:
M 11.24 NO LECTURE – Thanksgiving Break
T 11.25orW 11.26 Class held at instructor’s discretion
Th 11.27orF 11.28 NO CLASS Thanksgiving Break


Week 13: Watching, The Case of the WNBA

Date What to read or watch at home:
M 12.1 READ: Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, “Fascinations,” from In Praise of Athletic Beauty (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006), pp. 150-201 (PDF in CTools).
T 12.2orW 12.3 1.   WATCH: WNBA Promos (Youtube link in CTools).2.   READ; Stacey Pressman, “WNBA: Will Not Be Accepted,” (PDF in CTools).3.   READ: Graham Hays, “Why are men afraid of the WNBA?” (PDF in CTools)4.   READ; Joe Lisec and Mary G. McDonald, “Gender Inequality in the New Millenium: An Analysis of WNBA Representations in Sports Blogs,” Journal of Sports Media 7.2 (Fall 2012) pp. 153-178 (PDF in CTools).5.   READ: Catherine McCabe, “Gender Effects on Spectators’ Attitudes Toward WNBA Basketball,” Social Behavior and Personality 36.3 (2008): pp. 347-358 (PDF in CTools).
Th 12.4orF 12.5  

Week 14: Storytelling, The Case of Bill Simmons

Date What to read or watch at home:
M 12.8 Jonathan Culler, “Narrative,” “Performative Language,” and “Identity, Identification, and the Subject,” from Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 82-120 (PDF in CTools)
T 12.9orW 12.10 1.   Selections from Bill Simmons, The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy (New York: ESPN Books, 2010), pp. 3-56 (PDF in CTools)2.   “Court of Opinion” from New York Magazine, December, 2009 (PDF in CTools)3.   FreeDarko Collective, “Arbiters of Amazement” and “Afterword,” from FreeDarko Presents…The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History (New York: Bloomsbury, 2010), pp. 205-211 (PDF in CTools)4.   Noah Cohan, “Rewriting Sport and Self: Fan Self-Reflexivity and Bill Simmons’s The Book of Basketball,” Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture 11.2 (2013): 133-145 (PDF in CTools)

Course Participation


Everything you need to read for the course is on CTools. Links to everything you need to watch are also provided on CTools. I’ve created a folder in the “Resources” section of our course CTools site for each week that we have a lecture. When you open the folder you’ll see either a URL to something you should watch or a PDF for the things you should read.

You will probably spend at least as much time reading assigned materials or viewing videos as on any other activity for this course. We may not discuss in detail every page of every reading each week. But reading and comprehending all of the readings each week, whether or not we discuss them in detail, will be essential to your success in and enjoyment of the course.

Weekly reading/viewing assignments fall mostly into one of four categories.

General Theoretical Readings:

The first assigned reading each week will usually be the most general and theoretical. It will provide you with a first approach to the concept I will be discussing in Monday’s lecture. Though none of these readings are very long, you may find some of them dense or slow-going, sometimes using vocabulary you are unfamiliar with. That’s okay and it is okay for you to find this frustrating. What’s not okay is for you to use that difficulty or your frustration as an excuse to give up on the reading. Think about it this way: if you only ever read things that you understood you’d never be challenged to grow (much the same way that if you only ever do an exercise that is easy for you, your fitness level will never increase). This is the basis of education. So, what should you do? Each of us approaches the challenge of learning in different ways so there is no single formula that will work for everyone. I can tell you what I do and you can experiment with this, as well as with other ideas that your discussion section instructors and classmates may have from their own experiences.

  • I read with a pen and paper handy so that I can make notes in the margins and in a notebook.
  • I look up words I don’t know and note down their meanings. This not only helps me understand the article, but it builds my vocabulary.
  • I take special note of what the author claims to be trying to accomplish or argue in the article. The title can often help with this, as can the introductory and concluding paragraphs.
  • I try to grasp and make note of the structure of the article, often by looking carefully at the introductory paragraphs and then at section headings within the article. This helps me to maintain a sense of the big picture the author is trying to paint even as I make my way through the individual steps. You might think of an article as a kind of journey or itinerary: having a sense of the overall structure is like seeing a map of a trip before you take it.
  • I circle and make note of ideas that strike me as interesting, objectionable, unclear, or otherwise important and I make note of what about them has made them interesting, objectionable, unclear or otherwise important.
  • As I go, I try to fill my preliminary sketch or outline with the sub-headings and main points the author is making in the course of the article. Again, this helps me connect what I’m reading at any given moment to the overall gist of the article.

As you can see, doing this will take some time. It will mean reading and rereading certain passages and probably jumping around in the article as you try to put together your understanding of the whole. Make time for this.

Case Study Videos:

The second category of reading/viewing is the introduction to the case study. This may be a video showing a particular sporting event, a commercial or series of commercials or a shorter or longer documentary placing that event in context. When you are watching videos for the class, you should also be prepared to take notes, and in a very similar way as when you read. You should expect to have to watch videos more than once. Look up words or references you don’t understand. Note down what you found striking and why, particularly in relation to the general concept for the week.

Journalistic Approaches to Case Studies:

The first readings accompanying the case study will generally be very accessible. They are often written by journalists for a mass audience. You may find these very easy to understand. The challenge with these is to uncover the unstated assumptions and biases shaping the author’s approach to the topic. Note these down and note down how you think they have affected the story. You might try the mental exercise of imagining how the story would be told if the author did not take these unstated assumptions as given, or held some other, contrary, biases.

Scholarly Approaches to Case Studies:

The last category of reading will be a scholarly essay directly related to the case study and/or the general concept for the week. Like the readings for Mondays, these will sometimes be challenging and slow going. Be patient with the article and with yourself and dedicate yourself to exercising your mind by using the techniques for comprehension I listed above, or others that you find effective.

I encourage you to view all the readings as extended contributions to a global conversation in which you are now also participants. Approach them as you would someone with whom you are having a conversation. “Listen” (i.e. read) carefully and with your full attention. Assume that you have something to learn from the person you are listening to and don’t be in a hurry to prove them wrong. There will be plenty of time, both in discussion and in your own writing, to add your own point of view to the conversation.


Just as reading puts you in the room with distant others who have thought about global sports cultures, being in class puts you literally in the room with your peers and with instructors who are part of the same conversation. Communication lies at the heart of any humanities course. To participate in effective communication you must be present, in every sense of the word: physically present, of course, but also emotionally and intellectual present as well.


You must be physically present for all lecture and discussion section meetings. We will handle absences according to the University’s student absence policy (described here:


As for emotional and intellectual presence, this means active communication.

When others are speaking, you must be listening fully and actively. This means taking in and absorbing what they are saying on its own terms, without knee-jerk judgment and without the distraction of preparing your own thoughts or responses. It means accepting the risk of being changed by the ideas of others.

When you are speaking you must be mindful of your audience: this means formulating your thoughts coherently but also accepting the risk of uncertainty, being aware of the dynamics in the room and considering the relevance and appropriateness of your comments.

Grading Attendance and Communication:

For each day your discussion section meets, each of you will get a participation score from 0-4:

0 = You weren’t in class and did not follow the University’s student absence policy.

1 = You were in class, but you didn’t participate or appear engaged or prepared; maybe you slept, texted, used your computer or ate in class without permission of your instructor. You were there, sure, but you actively disengaged from discussion.

2 = You were in class, but didn’t participate constructively or appear engaged. You were basically just a warm body trying to stay awake.

3 = You attended class. You didn’t participate constructively, but appeared engaged. You may have been present, but silent or you may have spoken, but if you did speak it was just to make sure I knew you were there.

4 = You attended class, participated constructively. You spoke to add substance to our discussion.

To calculate the participation portion of your final grade I will divide your total participation points for the semester by the maximum possible, and then multiply by 100 (in order to get a number on a 100 point scale). I will then multiply by .25 to determine the participation share of your overall final course grade.


The Assignment in Brief:

Collaborate to create an original video within one of the typical sub-genres of sport video culture that challenges one or more of the conventions of that sub-genre.

Assignment Goals:

  • To familiarize yourself with and demonstrate an understanding of how sport video culture makes meanings
  • To utilize critical thinking skills to identify and challenge the meaning-making conventions of sport video culture.
  • To utilize creative skills to craft an alternative to typical sport video culture.
  • To utilize interpersonal skills to collaborate with classmates.
  • To have fun.

The Assignment in Detail:

All of our engagement with global sports culture is mediated. Even when we are in the thick of playing a sport, our participation and experience is mediated, even if only unconsciously, by a vast and varied range of experiences to which we have been previously exposed. One way to think of a major goal of this course is that we wish to enhance our awareness of these mediating influences and the ways they shape our experience and attitudes toward sport and, by doing so, to augment our power to shape our experiences and attitudes independently of such influences.

But an equally important goal is to cultivate our ability to imagine alternatives to these influences. Doing so allows us to support and even participate in the creation in the real world of a different global sports culture. To exercise this capacity, you’ll be responsible for creating a collaborative creative presentation (with at least one, but preferably more than one other student). This presentation should constitute your original contribution to the collective effort to creating alternative forms of sporting culture. Because we are asking you to write extensively in other assignments, for this particular assignment your collaborative creative presentation must be audio-visual: in other words, a video that is shareable via CTools with your classmates.

Your video should work within an existing genre of visual global sports culture (genres are listed below), but in some way either through its content or visual form challenge one or more of the conventions of that genre. The length of your video should be determined by the length of typical examples of the genre you are working with, but length itself may be one of the conventions you are challenging with your own creation.

Your video should include a segment in which your group explains what you were trying to do in your video: What genre were you working with? What conventions were you trying to challenge and why? How does your work relate to the themes of the course? What difficulties did you encounter and how did you try to overcome them?

Some Sub-Genres of Visual Global Sports Culture

  • Advertisement for sports-related equipment, apparel, or beverage (examples Nike, UnderArmour, Gatorade, etc.)
  • Advertisement for non-sports products utilizing a sports celebrity (e.g. Dove for Men [])
  • Public Service Announcement with a sports theme or utilizing a sports celebrity (NFL Play60 Messages: [])
  • Crossover campaign combining product advertisement and public service announcement (e.g. Always #likeaGirl campaign [])
  • Sports talk show segment (e.g. ESPN First Take, Around the Horn, or PTI)
  • Event promotional video (e.g. promo for the World Cup, or the NBA finals)
  • Institutional promotional video (e.g. promo for the WNBA, NCAA, or FIFA)
  • Sport contest pre-game show segment (e.g. College Game Day)
  • Sport contest game broadcast segment (utilizing both play-by-play and color commentators)
  • Sport contest half-time show segment (e.g. NBA’s
  • Sport contest post-game show segment (E.g. TNT’s “Inside the NBA”)
  • Local TV news sports broadcast
  • Sport interview (can be either “post-game” or “in-studio”)
  • Short form documentary (e.g. ESPN “Nine for IX shorts” [] or Grantland “30 for 30 shorts” [])
  • Highlight video (of the sort found on YouTube, usually set to music; but may also be of the sort created by athletes for self-promotion)
  • Music video utilizing a sports celebrity (can’t think of an example off-hand, but you can make it up)

Grading Collaborative Creative Presentation:

Your videos will be graded on a 100 point scale (everyone in the group will receive the same grade) utilizing the following criteria:

  • The originality of your conception
  • The degree to which your video demonstrates an understanding of the sub-genre you are working with
  • The degree to which your video’s challenge to the conventions of that sub-genre demonstrate critical thinking skills and a grasp of course concepts and materials
  • The polish of your video
  • Evidence of genuine collaboration within your group
  • The effectiveness of your segment explaining your aims in the video.



I expect this not to be an issue. But I want to emphasize that in an intellectual community like a university, plagiarism is a form of stealing. If you are in doubt as to whether or not you should cite a source for a quotation or idea you are including your written work, my suggestion is that you cite the reference. You will never be penalized for “over-citation.” If you are caught plagiarizing, you will be asked to meet with me to discuss the issue and to determine what consequences and further procedures may be required.

For more on plagiarism, please consult the following website which contains links to excellent explanations of plagiarism and why it is so harmful to a university community as well as tips to help you avoid it:


I expect all writing assignments to be submitted to your discussion section instructor on the date due. Please follow the directions of your discussion section instructor regarding their preferred format (hard copies, .doc files, or .pdf files) and mode of submission (in class, via e-mail, in a CTools dropbox).

That said, it is very important to me that the lines of communication between us concerning these assignments remain open. There may come times when a particular assignment proves especially challenging because of its content, length, or due date, or for some other reason unrelated to the course. I need you to communicate with your discussion section instructor (via e-mail or during my office hours) as soon as you realize that you are in this situation. I’m certain that we will be able to find a way to address the problem in a way that accommodates your needs while allowing you to meet the requirements of the course. The worst way to handle difficulties you are having in completing an assignment is to pretend you are not having them or to keep them to yourself.

I expect you to be honest and communicative and in return I promise to be helpful, responsive, and flexible


All written assignments will be graded by your discussion section instructor. In the rare case that a disagreement over the grade given to a particular assignment cannot be resolved with your discussion section instructor, you may ask me to review the assignment in question. Please note that if I agree to do so, I may raise or lower your grade for that assignment.

In general, the writing assignments below will be subjectively graded on a scale from 0 to 100, with particular emphasis being given to (in no particular order):

  • creativity
  • clarity
  • effort
  • attention to detail
  • polish
  • demonstration of understanding of global sports cultures.

More specific grading criteria for particular assignments will be given below.



The Assignment in Brief:

Keep a journal containing notes and more polished reflections on current events in media sources and pertaining to sports you don’t normally follow.

The Basics:

  • 20 % of course grade.
  • Select and follow one international online daily media source’s sports page and one sport that you will follow on a daily basis throughout the semester.
  • Separately, select and follow one sport (apart from US football, US baseball, US men’s hockey, or US men’s basketball) in various daily news media.
  • Keep notes on a daily basis of the stories that strike you (for whatever reason) in both your international media source and your sport.
  • Once weekly, write and submit a 1-2 page, typed, double-spaced reflection in which you identify and reflection upon connections between something in your notes (for either the international news source or your sport or both) and something we’ve done in class.

Assignment Goals:

  • To familiarize yourself with global media coverage of sport culture.
  • To familiarize yourself with the culture of sports unfamiliar to you.
  • To practice reading comprehension and critical thinking skills.
  • To develop the ability to forge connections persuasively between particular global sports culture phenomena and broader concepts utilized in the course.
  • To create a seed-bed of ideas you may use in crafting other writing assignments for the course.

The Assignment in Detail:

For those of us who have grown up in the United States, our exposure to sports culture is likely to be dominated by American media news sources’ coverage of the major men’s sports: baseball, football, hockey, and basketball.

While these sports are certainly important, to a greater or lesser degree, from a global and comparative perspective, paying attention only to them will severely hamper our ability to understand global sports cultures.

To counter this possibility, this assignment gives you the opportunity to explore in a sustained and focused way media sources outside the United States as well as sports under-represented in the US media and sporting culture.

In taking notes, you should first of all be attuned to what is actually interesting or striking to you. That is usually a fruitful starting point for further reflection. Be aware that it may be not only the content of the coverage that strikes you, but the style or manner of coverage. Perhaps, news sources in other countries not only give more attention to other sports, or to certain kinds of sports stories, but also tell or present those stories in a different style of writing or visual format. Or, perhaps you are surprised to find similarities with what you are already familiar with. Either way, what strikes you most powerfully should be the subject of your notes.

Then, in crafting your 1-2 page typed double-spaced reflection, you should be looking for ways to connect what you’ve found striking in your notes to what we are doing in the class. Perhaps a story in an Iranian news daily on a phenomenal goal scored the night before strikes you as connecting to our discussion of creativity. Perhaps a story about doping in cycling in a French media source can be looked at in view of our discussion of values.

Keep in mind that the connections may not be obvious, or, even if some connections are obvious, you may find it more interesting or stimulating to try to persuade your reader that a less obvious connection is the more significant one. That same French media source on doping in cycling that could obviously be connected to a discussion of values might, at a deeper and possibly more interesting level, be persuasively connected to a discussion of the market. Whatever connection you choose to discover (or invent) your description of that connection should be well-written, clear, and persuasive. You may find it easier to make these connections and to describe them persuasively if you consult and make reference to your notes from lecture or discussion, or the assigned reading materials for the course.

Lastly, keep in mind that one of its purposes is to furnish you with a seed-bed of ideas that you can develop in either your midterm or final paper.

Partial list of English Language International Dailies:

Grading Current Events Journal:

You will receive a grade (on a 100 point scale) on your current events journal once per week. At the end of the semester, your total current events journal points will be divided by 14 (the number of weeks in the semester) and this number will be multiplied by .20 to determine the contribution of your current events journal to your final overall course grade.

In grading your journal, I will be looking for

  • Consistency in maintaining your journal (i.e. a journal in which you’ve kept some notes every day will receive a higher grade than a journal in which you’ve kept notes only once per week)
  • Creativity in discovering (or inventing) the connections between the phenomenon you have noted and course materials.
  • Attention to the details of writing in your reflections.
  • Clarity and persuasiveness in presenting these connections.


The Assignment in Brief:

Compare any two sporting phenomenon of your choosing in light of one of the concepts studies in the first five weeks of the semester. A sporting phenomenon may be a team, contest, individual, or play.

Assignment Goals:

  • Familiarizing yourself with comparative modes of thinking.
  • Developing seminal ideas into a coherently written, well-structured, balanced argumentative essay.
  • Intensifying your understanding of course concepts and of elements of global sports culture through comparative analysis.

The Basics

  • No less than 5 pages, double-spaced, typed, 20 % of course grade.
  • Some preliminary version to be determined in consultation with your discussion section instructor (e.g. topic, outline, rough draft) will be due Monday, October 13th.
  • Final draft due Monday, October 20, 2014, in whatever format and by whatever means of submission your discussion section instructor has determined.

The Assignment in Detail:

A comparison paper can take many different directions, but the main point of the paper is to help those who read it understand the relationship between two or more different things. For example, you could write a paper comparing a goal scored by Wayne Gretzky to one scored by Lionel Messi in view of the concept of creativity. You could write a paper comparing the values embodied in two different baseball pitchers technique or style. You could compare the sports pages of newspapers from two different countries or you might compare the constraints imposed by the rules in two different sports.

Whatever you choose to compare, though, remember that in addition to the comparison, an important part of your task is to argue for what you believe is the significance of the similarities and differences you have identified through your comparison.

For this reason, and given the relatively short length of this assignment, it may be better to focus on a smaller number of similarities or differences. The more concrete and specific the things you are comparing the stronger your paper is likely to be.

Step by step checklist:

As you plan the paper by doing preliminary reading, writing, and thinking, use lists and outlines to organize your ideas.

Remember that a comparison should be made for a purpose. A comparison should not simply list the similarities and differences discovered during your reading.

Note which similarities or differences seem most significant or compelling and decide which you will emphasize.

Decide how you will organize your paper – for example “whole work – individual subject” approach, the “point-by-point” approach, or a combination of these approaches.

Make sure the structure serves, and evolves along with, your argument. No single structure works for every argument.

Open with a paragraph that focuses on the purpose and point of the comparison (rather than just announcing that you are comparing or stating that the fact of similarities and differences).

Develop each subject (or each point) in a separate paragraph (or in a series of carefully related and logically linked paragraphs).

Make certain that transitions between paragraphs and between sections of the paper show the connections – the comparisons and contrasts – you want to make.

Develop a conclusion that offers an analysis, evaluates the evidence the body of your paper provides, or in some other ways shows the significance of the comparison you have made.

Grading Midterm Comparative Paper

In addition to the general grading criteria described above, this paper will be graded on the basis of:

  • Clarity and coherence of writing
  • Originality of the comparison you are making
  • Persuasiveness of your argument for the legitimacy of the comparison you are making
  • Originality of your argument for the significance of the comparison you are making
  • Persuasiveness of your argument for the significance of the comparison you are making


The Assignment in Brief:

Discover an open-ended question provoked by a figure, event, concept, story, passage, argument, theme, or image you’ve encountered in the course this semester. Do research to explore that question. In your paper, refer to at least three sources. At least one of the sources you cite must originally have been published in print form, offline (though you may cite the internet version). As one of your reference sources you may use any of the readings assigned for class. In other words, two of your reference sources must be discovered outside of class.

Assignment Goals:

  • Learning to identify and formulate research questions.
  • Developing research skills including the identification of relevant sources and their incorporation into an original argument.
  • Enhancing your critical thinking skills by engaging with what others have written about a topic in which you have an interest.
  • Practicing your ability to report the results of your research in an interesting, clear, persuasive and yet open-minded way.

The Basics

  • 7-10 pages, double-spaced, typed, 20 % of course grade
  • Some preliminary version to be determined in consultation with your discussion section instructor (e.g. topic, outline, rough draft) will be due Monday, December 8th.
  • Final – due on Wednesday December 17th.

The Assignment in Detail:

The heart and soul of research is your own uncertainty, curiosity, and wonder. As you have been reading all semester you may have encountered questions.

A research story entails actively identifying the questions that matter most to you, investigating and evaluating reliable sources that have addressed your question (or some component of it) in the past, and then integrating the views of these sources with your own in order to formulate a convincing possible response to your question (or perhaps to arrive at a more profound reformulation of your original question).

Consider a research story to be your contribution to an ongoing discussion of a question you and others care about. You want your contribution to advance our understanding of the question, even while acknowledging that it is unlikely that your contribution will answer it definitively.

Why have I called this a research story instead of a research paper? In part, I want to deemphasize the formality many of us associate with the word “paper” and which can often lead us into poor habits of thought and writing such as defensiveness, excessive certainty, narrow or inflexible thinking, unimaginative writing. By encouraging you to think of your work as a research story I am hoping to help you relax and understand that conceiving, thinking about, researching, drafting, and completing this work really entails, at bottom, telling a story about a question you found important, what others have had to say about that question that you found useful, and what you have learned about the topic of your question in the course of investigating it a little more deeply than you might otherwise do in daily life. I sometimes find it helpful in my own research writing to imagine that I am trying to explain what I have learned to someone who is intelligent and interested, but not necessarily an expert in my topic, nor necessarily sympathetic to my basic viewpoints. At other times, I find it helpful to imagine I am writing a letter to a person like that.

I think what I am trying to say is that I want you to keep this work real and honest. You are a human being trying to understand more and more deeply some particular aspect of human experience. You aren’t in court trying to win a case, and you aren’t going to write the final statement on your question. So you shouldn’t pretend that you are. Just honestly and openly report the results of your genuine effort to deepen your understanding of your question.

Step by step checklist:

☐Think of the texts we have read, review your reading journals and marginal notes, the notes you took during lecture and discussion, perhaps even your previous papers and try to make a list of questions that outside reading might help you answer.

☐Become familiar with library resources (books, specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias, Humanities Index, MLA International Bibliography, newspaper indexes). Discussion section instructors can help with this, as can the staff at the Hatcher Library.

☐Skim the sources you discover to find which might help you to answer or to focus or reformulate your questions.

☐Decide on a preliminary thesis.

☐Take notes from sources that will help you to explore this thesis.

☐Organize your information and begin to draft.

☐ Make sure you use complete sentences that include a noun and a verb.

☐Make sure that your paragraphs are built around a single important idea, that this idea is clearly stated, and that the other sentences in the paragraph develop and support this idea.

☐ Make sure the structure serves, and evolves along with, your argument. No single structure works for every argument and it is rare, in my experience, that the structure I begin with remains valid throughout my writing process.

☐Remember to use quotations and paraphrases sparingly. Your ideas, not those of your sources, should dominate the paper.

☐Lead in to quotations and paraphrases smoothly, so that the reader knows why they are important.

☐Provide accurate documentation for quoted and paraphrased material and provide an accurate list of works cited.

Grading the Research Story:

In addition to the general grading criteria described above, this paper will be graded on the basis of:

  • Productivity of the question you have formulated
  • Quality of the research you conducted in investigating your question
  • Clarity and coherence of your writing
  • Your ability to advance a point of view concerning your question and research findings
  • Your ability to maintain a balanced and open-minded voice in your writing.

Your grade for the course will be based on a combination of your participation grade and your writing assignments grades.

Your participation grade will include both your attendance/class discussion grade and your collaborative video grade, combined to contribute a total of 40 % to your final grade.

Your writing grade will include all three of your writing assignments (current events journal, midterm comparative essay, final research story), combined to contribute a total of 60 % to your final grade.

I will add your participation grade to your writing assignment grade to determine your final overall grade on a 100 point scale. I will then convert this to a letter grade using the following scale:

93-100 = A

90-92 = A-

87-89 = B+

83-86 = B

80-82 = B-

77-79 = C+

73-76 = C

70-72 = C-

67-69 = D+

63-66 = D

60-62 = D-

0-59 = F

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s