This semester I’m taking a course called “The Cultural Work of American Football.” Most of the students in the class are avid football enthusiasts. They watch the game regularly, understand the rules, and know most major team players. However, there is one student that is not that into football and honestly just doesn’t get what the hype is all about. And that student would be me. (Sorry, dad.)
So why did I even take this class? To bring my confused and dazed opinions of the game to the table?
No – I took this class to try to understand why football is the most popular sport in America. Why is the Super Bowl such a big deal? Why are football players celebrated like heroes? How did football take over baseball as the most watched sport?
So far, the class is awesome. We talk a lot about the growth of football through rule changes, media, coaching styles, and race dynamics. We explore the way that football has constructed a certain type of masculinity and femininity. We discuss the ways in which box seating, mascots, cheerleaders, ESPN, and stadiums have all changed the game into one of entertainment. We question how the violence that is displayed in football is accepted and cheered on only in the context of the game.
We’ve watched two movies: Any Given Sunday and Brian’s Song. We’ve read two books: Brand NFL and Out of Their League. We’ve read countless articles from sources like sociology journals and Forbes. We’ve viewed multiple YouTube clips.
Through this class, I’m slowly starting to understand more about the power and attractiveness of football. I don’t think that I will rushing out to buy a Tom Brady jersey anytime soon, but I might just watch more than the commercials at next years Super Bowl … (baby steps).