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Why Sports Matter


Sport Studies


Dr. Lyman (Lee) E. Ellis III

Program Summary

Few social constructs impact institutions and cultural activities more than sport. Sport is big business, entertainment, fitness, emotional well- being, and the way we socialize and educate young people about race, gender, class, and various aspects of character (e.g., effort, attitude, grit, and fair play).  Sport contributes to national pride, can serve political agendas, and often takes on religious fervor. And sport can be a powerful agent of change that influences human behavior—how people think, feel, and live their lives.

The focus of the FYE program will explore the following questions: What is the symbiotic relationship between sport and culture?  Why does it matter?  How does sport reflect and magnify our notions of competition. What are the implications for school, politics, the economy, and interpersonal relationships?  Yikes!  

SPRT 119: Intro to Sport Studies (3SH, GESS) offers an introductory look at sport through specific events in history that have impacted many of the things we take for granted as sport participants, consumers, and as average “Joes” and “Josephines” with absolutely no interest in sport at all. 

GEN 101 WS: ILC Why Sport Matters (3SH) is a foundational course used to develop, practice, and apply college-level reading, critical thinking, writing, information literacy, and speaking skills. As part of each FYE program, this course serves as a bridge between learning skills and content. Students complete an annotated bibliography, a written research project, a cover letter and other writing and discussion assignments.

Highlights of the of the FYE include reading No Contest by Alfie Kohn and Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, playing the 1858 version of the Massachusetts game of Base Ball on the Chapel Green; watching some great films—Race (the Jesse Owens Story), 42 (the Jackie Robinson Story), Air (The Air Jordan Story) and Miracle (the USA hockey victory in the 1980 Winter Olympics). We’ll watch highlights from the 1999 USA Women’s World Cup victory; and this year we plan on visiting the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City ( Join us, won’t you?