TITLE: OUT OF BOUNDS: BASKETBALL and AMERICAN CULTURE

In many ways, basketball is no different than other sports: it has given us heroes and villains, as well as moments of exhilaration and heartbreak. But, in its relatively short history within sports culture, it has rapidly become one of the two top revenue-producing sports; many fans and critics have argued that basketball and football have displaced baseball as America's national pastimes. But basketball diverges from football in its character as more than "just a sport": basketball has permeated nearly every facet of American popular culture, influencing fashion, music, and language. Throughout its meteoric rise through sports and the larger cultural landscape, basketball has symbolized the best and the worst of American culture, and it both produces and duplicates cultural myths and ideologies--worldviews so influential that we take for granted their "naturalness." Why and how did the sport come to be associated primarily with black men? Can a woman be a fan of basketball, not a "groupie"? And most importantly, what is the significance of basketball in American culture, especially as they are reflected 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 basketball itself. (We will not be debating man-to-man versus zone defense or the Lakers' chances of winning the 2004 NBA title!) So, while some familiarity with sports will help, too great an attachment to basketball might detract from your ability to be truly analytical, original, and critical in classroom discussions, and in your writings. However, we can use our love of basketball to enhance our analysis, developing a greater understanding of (and appreciation for) its unique place in American culture.