English | Projects in Reading & Writing: Fourth and Inches: Race and Gender in Football
W170 | 16038 | Pence

•	16038		10:10-11:00a	MWF		WH 114
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 everything 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 familiarity 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.