Nationalist Constructions in Sports Narratives


I am Rob Ford

You can find me at:

@robdford |

Essential Questions

  • To what extent are sports narratives engaged in the act of constructing identities or narratives outside of sports?

  • How are sports used to construct identities for nations?

  • As "constructions," how are they subject to deconstruction?

paraphrase from Mary Klages, “Postmodernism”

“Grand narratives” or “master narratives”

- according to Francois Lyotard -

are stories a culture tells itself

about its practices and beliefs.

What are the “American” values?








Granting that athletic sports do good, it remains to be considered what athletic sports are the best. The answer to this is obvious. They are those sports that call for greatest exercise of fine moral qualities, such as resolution, courage, endurance, and capacity to hold one’s own and to stand up under punishment. … The true sports for a manly race are sports like running, rowing, playing football and baseball, boxing and wrestling, shooting, riding, and mountain-climbing. Of all these sports there is no better sport than football …”

Theodore Roosevelt, “Value of an Athletic Training,” Harper’s Weekly, 1893.

“In speaking to you, men of the greatest city of the West, men of the State which gave to the country Lincoln and Grant, men who preeminently and distinctly embody all that is most American in the American character, I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.…”

Theodore Roosevelt, “The Strenuous Life,” Speech before the Hamilton Club, 1899.

Start at 3:06

David Leonhardt, “The NFL is Being Anti-American,” New York Times

“But if kneeling is problematic because it seems unpatriotic, the N.F.L.’s response is outrageous because it actually is unpatriotic. By instituting a policy yesterday to punish players who exercise their right of free expression by kneeling, the league is rejecting a basic American value.”


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H.01 Intersection of Literacy, Sport: Robert Ford - Investigating Nationalist Constructions in Sports Narratives - Google Slides