Friday, February 29, 2008

How do profs teach sports & media classes?

So I've taught Sports and the Media twice now, a class that was developed, initially, to give students a general history and cursory overview of sports and journalism. I quickly became dissatisfied with the class materials, believing the content was too superficial. Without sufficient time to revise, I was forced to use more than half the prescribed materials that first semester, which did include a few good books -- like the one by Red Barber and another on Grantland Rice. I also added chapters from Unforgivable Blackness, which chronicled Jack Johnson's struggles to become the world's first black heavyweight boxing champion. That semester, students learned a little about trends (like the press's role in the integration of baseball and writing styles during the Golden Age of sports), but they learned very little about the business of sports media. Since then, I have been reading sports syllabi, perusing sports media texts, and seeking papers published in journals like American Journalism Review, Journalism History, and Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, looking for articles that offer compelling information but are accessible for sophomores, juniors and seniors not seeking a career in academia. I've narrowed the class into several categories that reveals the symbiotic relationship between sports and media (although I plan to do much more research). As of the moment, the class will focus on the following areas:

■ the role of sports and the media
■ history of sports and media (from the Greeks to the present)
■ journalism pioneers in the 'Golden Age' of sports
■ an overview of print journalism
■ the economics of sports and media
■ the sociology of sports and media
■ the media's role in discrimination/integration
■ boosterism in sports
■ sports and TV
■ sports and radio
■ celebrity in sport and media
■ sports media ethics

I will use a few articles posted on our library's digital eReserve system and chapters from books placed in the regular reserve section. Clearly, my list is not exhaustive, but at least it offers more than a cursory look at some people who have worked in the field. So many academicians unfairly dismiss studies in this field as superficial despite considerable evidence to the contrary. As we know, studies in sports and the media can reveal a great deal about history, sociology, psychiatry and business, to name a few academic areas. I'd like to hear how others approach teaching similar classes. Please, offer your suggestions below, or drop a note about a favorite book or article on a related topic.


Blogger sportsbabel said...

Joe, I taught a one-off student-led seminar titled "Sport Production and Consumption in the Electronic Age" in which we attempted to explore the changing material and immaterial conditions of sport media (in the "post-print" age) from telegraph to virtual reality. I was somewhat satisfied with the way the course went, but would make many changes the next time around.

2:59 PM  
Blogger sportsbabel said...

I should add that we covered a different medium each week: telegraph, radio, television, cable TV, World Wide Web, fantasy sports, wireless applications, RFID tags, videogames, virtual reality.

3:03 PM  

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