The Odd Marriage of Nationalism and Sport

Victoria Rutigliano

Rip off the Big Game

Introduction by Jack Scott

· Physical Educators can’t be value neutral when it comes to sports sociology. They can’t immediately take the stance of the “status-quo” because science is a means to an end so you can’t have a “status-quo” stance when it comes to researching the sociology of sports. You have to look at all aspects of sports and capitalism. No just police looking at criminology or psychologists looking at mental impact, politicians looking at political side. You must see it from all angles to properly understand it.

Ch. 1: Sports and Society: the mirror image

  • “We are taught from cradle that we have never lost a war and winning is everything, tying is like kissing your sister, and losing is nothing.” - Leonard Shecter
    • Contact sports
  • The sports we appreciate in a particular society and the way in which they are played reflect past and present development in that society.
  • Lockouts mirroring issues outside the arena, women on and off fields fighting for equality

Bullet 1: Chapter starts out talking about militarism in sports and how We watch sports with the same tenacity as fighting in a war

Contact sports compare to militarism in the idea of main-or-be-maimed, with physical attacking being the essence of the game (football, rugby, ice hockey, boxing)

Bullet 2: For example, as the vietnam war heated up, so did football being americas number 1 sport. As black people fought for equality in america, so did they on the field. As women fought for their rights, you could see this too in the games.

Bullet 3: You cannot discuss issues relating to sports without discuss the current issues in society as well as the history of those issues.

Ch. 2: Football as a mirror image

Football emulates this struggle between those who have power and those who don’t

  • In the game: one group has possession and one doesn’t
  • The players treat the competition as if they’re not human but instead positions to remove, a fight over it and excluding others from having this
  • The building blocks of both are authority, and players, like workers, cannot question authority or they are finished.

“Of course, I would’ve been mad. But I still would have respected it. Come to me like a man. I’m a human being at the end of the day. Don’t treat me like a f--ing piece of cattle,” Cousins said in an interview with the Sacramento Bee after he was traded to New Orleans.

Ch. 3: Coliseums and Gladiators: Opiate Oriented Power

Why football is America’s number one sport

1. Violence in a controlled environment

2. “Encounter group” therapy gives an in-group feeling to the spectator

3. It provides a way for men to reassure masculinity in a society where there are fewer and fewer opportunities to “prove” he is a “man”.

4. The crutch for their Spartan ethic: clean living, hardworking, and disciplined.

Point 1: While the violence in today’s society with riots, student uprising, bombings, are frustrating to the citizen because they show chaos without control, hard violence in football is done under a controlled environment (Referees are obeyed, Those who don’t follow the law are penalized, Officials have the final say

Point 2: It gives people a chance to expel bent up emotion from oppression at work, an identification with a team, and a “fix”

Point 3: Instead of focusing on their own social issues, maybe even with their wife, they put their time into becoming experts on the sport

Coliseums and Gladiators: On Violence

“Any time you get a chance to take ‘em out...I expect and encourage you to do so.” - former Texas University Football Coach Darell Royal

  • NHL fourth-line players acting as enforcers
    • This era is slowing down
    • "Basically, it's whatever society thinks they want to see. That's it. Society judges all of us," - Wendel Clark, former Maple Leafs star.
  • NFL players knowing their job is to kill the quarterback
  • Aggression sells: NHL commissioner scolding players not for fighting, but fighting before a game.

This isn’t a natural thing but again the idea of a controlled means of violence and the systems way of getting people to use their bent up anger and aggression. Fighting sells.

Ch. 3 Child of Monopoly Capitalism

Media And Sports

  • Starting from beginning of professional sports to today, sports and media have a symbiotic relationship.
  • Media needs sports to make a profit, and sports need media to promote their games.

Growth of Sports

  • In order to get more support from fans in the late 1800s, promoters made local teams so people had a reason to go.
  • “Sport in the 19th century was as much a product of industrialization as an anecdote to it.”
    • How is it a product of the information age now?

Ch. 4 Who Owns Sports? $$$

  • From player owned to big-business owned
    • Sports production
  • Why would people pay so much money to own a team?
  • Sherman Antitrust act and sports
    • Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore, Inc. v. National League of Professional Baseball Clubs

Bullet 1: Big businesses owned the arenas so they basically paid themselves to play there and made sure other teams couldnt afford it in the early days. Even news organizations owned teams so they had coverage rights. Most namely CBS owning the Yankees until 1973. They would hand down ownership from person to person so the big business rich people always had ownership. And they didn’t just own the team but they’d own other organizations around the city and market those places at games.

Bullet 2 answer: Because it puts them in such a monopolistic position in marketing HIS product in a particular city and hiring the players who would produce it.

Bullet 3: Wanted to keep out anti-trade and basically not allow monopolies over competition because when teams started they had monopolies over all parts of a team and could make prices whatever they wanted because there was no competition. Judge Landis said ““‘any blows at . . . baseball would be regarded by this court as a blow to a national institution.’””

Ch. 5 Molding the Modern Militarist

  • The Civil war paving the way
  • World War I and investment abroad
  • Spreading baseball into Japan in WWII
  • President John F. Kennedy starting programs for public school students to be exercised
  • Team names being militarized
  • The way games are described having war-like terms
  • Playing through the pain
    • Vince Lombardi

“The true mission of sports is to prepare young people for war.” - President Eisenhower

First bullet: The creation of more trains and railways gave more people opportunities to travel to games

Second and 3rd: Both wars came with the creation of aircraft so the opportunity for both coasts to play each other increased.

Team names: New England Patriots, the Maple Leafs, the National League and American League,

Words to describe: enemy terrority, sends a bomb, attacking formation, guards, blitzing, sending out new troops…

Pain: Players expected to ignore injuries and be “tough” and “courageous” like military personnel. Vince Lombardi even told his players that injury is mental and if you can walk you can run. This forcefulness is very militaristic.

Sports, Bin Laden and the New Normal

But fields are also being as a place for political unrest

Bin Laden’s death celebration was just one instance of increased nationalism at games

Point 1: America the beautiful during 7th inning stretch, military appreciation nights, military recruitment stations

Point 2: Defiance of not playing after 9/11, people not coming out for national anthem or turning from it

What do you think of Pat Tillman’s name being used to sell the ideaing of joining the army for your country?

Veterans Affairs: The Uneasy Marriage of Military Money and the NFL

“What [veterans] don’t deserve to be are front people through whom the rich get richer, to be walking advertisements for the services that they already have paid back in full. This is a transaction grotesquely inappropriate for their sacrifices.”

  • The Department of Defense funneled six-million public dollars to 16 NFL teams to show military veterans on the jumbotron and showcase the military
  • He argues that nothing about the average NFL game is sincere. What are your thoughts on that? Have you ever thought about this idea of “propaganda”?
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