Course Feature: SOC 247: Sports in American Society

In many ways sports are not just a metaphor for life, but are the very beating heart of the life of our society. Because sports are such an important part of U.S. society, we seldom reflect on how or why they became such a force, why we in engage them, and how, even if we dislike sports, they shape so much of what goes on around us every day. In SOC 247, students explore how sport in the U.S.A. is an institution that affects virtually all aspects of society, and examine sports from a variety of social science perspectives, including from historical, political, economic, and sociological viewpoints.

According to Ted Lehmann, faculty program director for the social sciences, students in Sports in American Society look at sports and American culture, including the topics: sports at the youth, collegiate, and professional levels (i.e. their role in the family, the community/society, the economy, etc.); sports icons (e.g., LeBron, Brady, etc.) and their role in popular culture; performance-enhancing drugs; sports as business, even at the college level; and American sports across the world and world sports inside America.

“Military students seeking lower-level social science/history credit, in particular, should be most interested in this course,” says Lehmann, “but, really any student interested in sports of any kind, and the role of sports in society, from the local level to the international one.” It’s especially meaningful for students who wish to gain a broader understanding of sports culture.

SOC 247: Sports in America helps students see the bigger picture, says Lehmann. “It is a very enjoyable course which opens the eyes of students to the importance of sport in American society, at all levels of our society, and across all key demographic groupings,” he adds.

Students agree it’s enjoyable. “Thank you for opening my eyes to everything that is more behind the scenes about sports. I understand now that it is more than just statistics of a player, but most importantly the global impact sports have,” says one student. Another adds, “Some of the topics concerning race inequality and also the economics behind sport were frustrating, but truthful nonetheless. I was glad to have an opportunity to open my eyes into the issues.” Furthermore, one student summed up the course well, saying, “The course is full of enticing knowledge that invites the student as a fan to think outside the box and realize that there is more to sports than food, beverages, and friends.”

Faculty member Jason Burns agrees. “The course is a fun and interactive walk through sports and its close relationship to American life and society, both past and present… Sports play such a large role in many of our everyday lives, and this course is a great way to show cultural and societal impacts in a format that is both fun and interactive.” Alfred DeFreece, another faculty member, also says, “Students demonstrate a greater appreciation of why sport issues cross over into political and economic and cultural and social concerns. Students get that at the pro level, sport is about entertainment, but it runs much deeper.”

If you’re interested in a deeper understanding of sports, considering signing up for SOC 247.