TITLE: FOURTH AND INCHES: RACE AND GENDER IN FOOTBALL

In the past thirty years, football's popularity has made it an integral part of American life. Yet, in this time, more than any other sport, football has been at the center of several social controversies. The first one we will examine is race. While most sports perpetuate racial hierarchies and related cultural myths, this sport is perhaps the most egregious. Positions (including the coach and quarterback) that require thought and strategy are primarily occupied by white players while the "more physical" or "worker" positions are dominated by black players. Is there still a race assigned to certain positions, or has this changed over the last ten years now that more black quarterbacks are playing in college and the NFL? Is there a connection between the dominant race of the NFL (black) and the violence associated with the league (the thug image)? Other topics may include the supposed "death" of the white athlete and racial implications of end zone celebrations. The other hot topic in football today is gender (and sexuality), and this includes everthing from homosexuality to hyper-masculinity (an exaggerated heterosexuality). We will explore the highly sexual atmosphere of football, examining the obsession with the male body and the related paranoia of the gay male athlete. Where is the woman in this scenario, and is Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction any indication? Why is football, more than any other sport, so sexual, yet so scared of the homosexual? More than anything in this class, we will examine the significance of football in American culture, specifically beyond the gridiron in popular culture's representations of the sport. Analyzing and deconstructing these myths will be the primary focus of the course, not the game of football itself. So, while some familiararity with sports will help, too great an attachment to football might detract from your ability to be truly objective and critical of the sport in classroom discussions and in your writings. However, the love of football can enhance our analysis, developing a greater understanding of its unique place in American culture.