Episode 11: Sport in American Culture and Communities

November 7, 2019

What makes a fan a fan? How are enduring rivalries born? How does sport impact communities and individuals? This podcast episode explores the role that sport plays in American culture and its ability to build community, connection, and belonging. We also discuss the importance of play, growth, and development of children in youth sports and how sports are changing for high school and college-aged students.

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Notes

 
Episode Notes

What makes a fan a fan? How are enduring rivalries born? How does sport impact communities and individuals? This podcast episode explores the role that sport plays in American culture and its ability to build community, connection, and belonging. We also discuss the importance of play, growth and development of children in youth sports and how sports are changing for high school and college-aged students.

Dr. Heidi M. Parker is an Associate Professor of Sport Management with the University of Southern Maine School of Business. Dr. Parker conducts research in the area of sport consumer behavior focusing on issues of gender and sexuality in sport, spectator motives for sport consumption, and the impact of negative information on sport consumer attitudes. Dr. Parker is widely published and was awarded the University of Southern Maine Faculty Senate Award for her scholarship. In addition to her research, Dr. Parker teaches a variety of Sport Management courses including sport law, sport event management, and sport consumer behavior. Dr. Parker earned her Ph.D. in Sport Management from The Ohio State University and previously served as the Vice President of Inclusion and Social Justice for the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS). Prior to coming to Maine, Dr. Parker was a faculty member at Syracuse University.

Dr. Emily Newell is an Assistant Professor of Sport Management at the University of Southern Maine School of Business and a former intercollegiate athletics professional. Her research centers around the intersection of intercollegiate sport and higher education, with a focus on international students, minority students, first generation students, and academically at-risk students. Prior to joining USM, Emily was a faculty member at Georgia Southern University.

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Produced by the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center, with help from WMPG

Episode Guests

Dr. Heidi M. Parker is an Associate Professor of Sport Management with the University of Southern Maine School of Business. Dr. Parker conducts research in the area of sport consumer behavior focusing on issues of gender and sexuality in sport, spectator motives for sport consumption, and the impact of negative information on sport consumer attitudes. Dr. Parker is widely published and was awarded the University of Southern Maine Faculty Senate Award for her scholarship. In addition to her research, Dr. Parker teaches a variety of Sport Management courses including sport law, sport event management, and sport consumer behavior. Dr. Parker earned her Ph.D. in Sport Management from The Ohio State University and previously served as the Vice President of Inclusion and Social Justice for the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS). Prior to coming to Maine, Dr. Parker was a faculty member at Syracuse University.

Dr. Emily Newell is an Assistant Professor of Sport Management at the University of Southern Maine School of Business and a former intercollegiate athletics professional. Her research centers around the intersection of intercollegiate sport and higher education, with a focus on international students, minority students, first generation students, and academically at-risk students. Prior to joining USM, Emily was a faculty member at Georgia Southern University.

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Transcript

​This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

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The Greater Good: Episode 11

Carrie: Welcome to the Greater Good: a podcast devoted to exploring complex and emerging issues in law, business and policy. I’m your host Carrie Wilshusen, Associate Dean for Admissions at the University of Maine School of Law.

Carrie: What makes a fan a fan? How are enduring rivalries born? How does sport impact communities and individuals? This podcast episode explores the role that sport plays in American culture and its ability to build community connection and belonging.

Carrie: Our guests today are doctors, Heidi Parker and Emily Newell. Dr Heidi Parker is a sport management faculty member with the University of Southern Maine School of Business. Her research centers on sport consumer behavior, specifically focusing on factors that influence fan attitudes and perceptions. She has published in a variety of journals and presented her research at a number of academic conferences. Dr Emily Newell is an assistant professor of sport management at USM and a former intercollegiate athletics professional. Her research centers around the intersection of intercollegiate sport and higher education with a focus on international students, minority students, first generation students, and academically at risk students. Welcome and thank you for joining us here today. Thank you for having us. Thank you. Can you each tell us a little bit about your expertise in this area and how you came to teach in sport management, Emily? So my expertise primarily comes from intercollegiate athletics and then really with that focus on kind of where sport fits into higher education in the United States.

Emily: And what kind of research are you doing in that area and writing? Um, a lot of what I do focuses on different minority populations that are a part of that student athlete population, um, on university campuses. So looking at international student athletes, black student athletes, student athletes with learning disabilities. So kind of niche but fun. Heidi. So my background is, is pretty different from Emily’s and how I landed in sport management. I started in physical education and was doing some coaching and worked in the recreation industry for awhile and from there decided, discovered that I really enjoyed working with college students, college age students. And the quest was how do I, how do I do this full time? And, uh, came across sport management as an academic discipline and went back to Ohio state and got my PhD in sport management and, um, have been teaching and researching in the area ever since. Okay. Talk a little bit what you’re writing

Carrie: and researching it.

Heidi: Yeah. My, my area of expertise is actually in consumer behavior and that is I study fans and so, you know, how do we become a fan? You know, why do we stay a fan? Um, and those are some, some things that I really look at

Carrie: and which is one of the reasons why we, we think about this in terms of community and the greater good because it is so deeply embedded into our culture, right? Fandom and, and sports. So can you talk about a little bit about what is sport management? I mean, what is this field? What things fall under that heading? Who wants to start off on that one?

Emily: I mean, Emily, I can start and I think, um, a lot of it you can hear addressed in the difference between what Heidi and I research and what our background is. We sometimes talk about sport management being kind of this umbrella of studying all of these different disciplines under the area of sports. So we have people in our field that study very, um, topics that deal a lot with sociology, psychology, marketing, business. I mean, you heard Heidi with consumer behavior, so it is very broad. Um, but I think what makes it unique is what makes sport unique. Um, there’s a reason that this is a subdiscipline because the marketing of sport is different than the marketing of other products. The marketing or the way that consumers consume sport is different, right? Because we’re selling a game that we have no control over the outcome of, and you’re getting people to buy tickets to something and you can’t guarantee that the weather will be good, that their team will win, that they will be satisfied with the product.

Emily: Um, from a sociological standpoint, we’re generally pretty irrational in the way that we act about sports. Right? Absolutely. How much do you, you know, every Saturday where I put all of my scarlet and gray on and try to find somewhere in Portland that puts college football on, um, that your weekend, Hey, you’re the success of your weekend. The happiness of your weekend hangs on. Yeah. What happens then? I mean, you plan, you plan your life around, uh, games, right? So I’m already planning what I’m going to be doing the Saturday after Thanksgiving because there is a noon football game that I will be watching hopefully in a place that has a lot of fans that, that feel the same way I do about the game. Um, I also think of sport management, you know, so you talked about as this broad umbrella and some areas that it encompasses that, that people may not realize how broad the discipline is.

Heidi: I mean, we’re talking about pro sports, we’re talking about college sports, but you’re talking about manufacturing and retail of sport products, sporting goods, um, the recreation industry, coaching industry, not so much X’s and O’s of coaching, but coaching as a discipline of managing people and growing people. Um, you’ve got Olympics, you’ve got conference organizations, you’ve got NGOs, you’ve got the NCAA, you’ve got the fitness industry, you know, all of that falls under this broad umbrella of sport management. And Emily, you touched on the uniqueness of it. And one of the things tell students or, or other faculty or parents who are trying to understand, you know, what is sport management and what makes it different from other business disciplines? As I’m like, you think about, you know, to fit, you know, pick a rivalry and we’re in New England, so I’ll pick the Red Sox and the Yankees without the Yankees.

Heidi: The Red socks aren’t the Red Sox, right? Part of the reason that people love the Red Sox and, and consume the Red Sox. Um, so feverishly is that they have rivals, right? They have, there’s, there’s this long tradition and history obviously, but they have these rivals like the Yankee suck, right? That’s, that’s the mantra. No matter if the Yankees are playing that night and your stadium or not, the chant is still the Yankees suck. And there aren’t other industries that rely on their competitors so much. Right. Um, you have a league that you, you all have to work together for the greater good of the league. But there’s also these individual rivalries as we approach the trade deadline in the NFL. You’re watching teams give away their talent. I mean, obviously they’re getting something back for it, but what other industry is gonna give you, you know, one of their best defensive linemen or one of their best employees.

Heidi: Um, you know, and you give me some money back or a future draft pick or whatever. But so there’s this, this cooperation amongst, you know, sport teams and sport leagues, um, as well as competition that you don’t, is unique to sport. You don’t see it, um, play out quite the same way in other industries. So let’s talk about fandom. Yeah. What is the construct of fandom? Uh, so it’s really interesting when we think of fans. Um, there’s, there’s research that has shown, you know, why people become fans and there’s differences between if you’re a die hard fan, you know what your motives are for that versus if you’re a more casual fan, what your motives are for that. But the number one thing for die hard fans is this, this construct of vicarious achievement, right? So you sort of live through, um, your team. So you use terms like we, so I’m Ohio state fan and so we are, you know, we have a bi-week but we are going to play Michigan on the 30th and we are gonna make sure that we beat them again.

Heidi: Um, and so I have nothing to do with the Ohio state football team, but I feel like I’m a part of it. Um, and so there’s a sense of vicarious achievement when they play well, I feel good when they play bad, I don’t feel so good. And that, that translates into your behaviors as well. So if, uh, if we win, we win, you know, I’m more likely to put on my Ohio state gear the next day and sport it around, right? Uh, if we lose, uh, maybe I don’t put it on, but, or maybe I do and I’m like, Oh, I’m going to put it on shore. It’s like a defiance. I’m going to show him a fan anyway. Right. Um, some other reasons that people become fans is it’s, um, something they can do with their families, right? So, you know, you’re looking for family together time and what can you do?

Heidi: Oh, let’s go to a baseball game. Let’s go to a football game. Uh, I mean, families can choose to do a lot of things. They could go to the movies. Uh, they could go through a play, but they choose sports as a way to, to bond as a family. Um, and part of that is because they’re already under the, they’re already sports fans and they want to do that, but this fandom then is passed down. Right? So when you ask students or you ask anyone, you know, why are you a fan of this team? Part of it is you may be the location, right? You grew up in New England and so your New England sport teams where we’re all there was, but it might be, have been because your grandfather, your brother, your mother, you know, they were a fan of that team. And so you felt like you should be a fan of that team because it’s what you did, you know, every Saturday or Sunday or whatever, whenever the games were played, you’d would sit there, you know, with your parent or your grandparent and watched the games and conducted.

Heidi: Yeah. As a way you connected with him. It’s, it’s, you know, part of that, I look back at my own fandom development and, um, I remember very clearly watching a Superbowl between the 40 Niners in the Miami Dolphins and my mom was cheering for the Miami dolphins and I, I didn’t live near either of those teams, had no connection with either one, but being the little a brat that I was, I said, well, if you’re going to cheer for the Dolphins, I’m going to become a 40 Niners fan. And I have been a 40 Niners fan ever since. Die hard 49 Niners fan. And so I that, that, that’s part of it. Um, it’s a, it’s an escape is another motive. So it allows us to forget about all the craziness that’s happening in the world and for, you know, three hours watching a game, we can escape that, right? And just live in this alternate reality for a little bit where, you know, we’re just watching sports, uh, and then we can come into work the next day and uh, and talk about it. Right. So it gives us something, uh, a common denominator to talk about. And so those are some of the reasons that, that, you know, people are fans and then why they become fans.

Emily: Yeah. Looking at like, I think it really hit me when you were talking about two with families. It brings in also the socialization aspect. So I grew up in a family where my dad and sister and I were all really big fans. And so my mom just kind of became one because she wanted to hang out with us on Saturdays and Sundays when we were watching, um, the Buckeyes and the Browns and just the way that we’re socialized. I looked back, um, I was an Ohio state cheerleader three times for Halloween, like with three different outfits. Um, even before I knew a lot about football, you know, we could write books in elementary school and I wrote a book about Ohio state beating Arizona state in the Rose bowl. So it’s one of those things that it’s just, it’s been a part of my life. I don’t necessarily have a moment like Heidi does. Um, where I remember when I became a fan, I just feel like that has been a part of my life since I was, was born. But there was never a question that I was an Ohio state fan. I was a Cleveland fan and I don’t, I never made a conscious decision in my mind

Emily: because when you’re born in the state of Ohio, there is no, there is no choice. Right. That, that is just what you are between Cleveland and Cincinnati. Right. And unfortunately I’m a Cleveland fan, right? I mean, my little brother, he’s quite a bit younger than the rest of us. And three, he has three older sisters and um, he grew up watching women’s basketball and he would write in his journal in first grade, they had to like these write these little journals. He was like, Tennessee and UConn are playing and his teacher poor thing was like correcting his spelling for UConn. She’s like, no, no, no, that’s spelled Y. U. K. O. N. and he’s like, what? He’s like, Oh, do you kind of like, she had no idea what he was talking about, but it’s just what he did. It’s also interesting, some of the research has shown that, um, you talked about your, your dad and you guys were, were fans of Cleveland and Ohio state and so your mom just sort of went along.

Heidi: There’s actually research to support that. The matter is sort of the gatekeepers of sport, um, that they often choose the teams that their daughters, granddaughters, girlfriends, wives will be fans of. Um, they control what’s on TV, what’s being talked about and that sort of thing. And so, um, it’s interesting when you find women who have their own identity around sport, if they’re able to maintain that and when they enter into relationships with, with men who, who maybe have different, uh, fandoms and how they negotiate those. Um, and so our household as a case study on that. Absolutely. We’ll give no ground on our teams that are shifting with things like the women’s soccer team. Is that constructs shifting at all? I think. I think you’re finding women who have developed strong fandoms for particular teams hold onto those even if they ended up dating or marrying people who have different, uh, fandoms or identities around teams.

Heidi: And I think part of that is that, um, we’ve, we’ve women have grown up now. We’re seeing generations who’ve grown up playing sports, who’ve grown up watching sports in a way that my mom didn’t grow up watching sports, right? I’m just a different generation and it’s more acceptable for women to be fans. Now, um, you’re seeing that women do know about football for instance. It used to be you’d go into a bar and, and you just don’t eat well, you still happen. Sometimes you get a lot of mansplaining about how sports work. And I’m like, yeah, yeah, I get it. I gotcha. Yeah, I know. I know how the game is played. Um, and so you’re seeing that, that women are more knowledgeable about these things too. And, and men are okay with that. Uh, and, and, and so as these identities have hardened in their, in their youth and growing up there, that’s not something they’re willing to give on as an adult.

Heidi: And so you’re starting to see more of these split families and women holding onto these identities really strongly. It’s funny, you know, you’re talking about being a Browns fan and research has shown that it is more difficult for a fan of a lousy team, uh, to, to give up that fandom, to go be a fan of, of another team, Indianapolis or whatever. Um, it’s more difficult to do that. Right? You feel like you’ve, do, you feel this guilt, um, that you’ve, you’ve let your team down that you’ve given up on something, it’s harder psychologically to do that, um, than it is just to remain a team, a fan of a team that that’s not very good. Um, you know, it’s hard. Your, your team continues to lose or whatever, but you feel this sense of loyalty and, and this, you’re sticking with them that feels better to you and you’re more able to accept that psychologically than you are, um, abandoning your team.

Emily: Yeah. And I will say I am come very proud that we broke the status quo early. Even though my dad had a lot to do with my fandom. It’s actually my mom’s mom is the huge sports fan in our family. I, we got her like the NBA package one year for Christmas and she has texted me during every world series game about players. And so I appreciate that from my grandma. I inherited and kind of got that role model to, of of a woman who was very into sports and not just that but like an older woman role model. Cause I think that’s pretty rare for someone. So my eighty year old grandma is still quite the sports fan. And how great is it that we’ve got female role models right now that are very recognizable, um, not just to women or just a die hard sports fan, but across the world.

Heidi: So you talk about Serena Williams, Megan Rapinoe. Oh, we’ve got some very powerful women role models. Um, which makes a difference. Yeah, it absolutely makes a difference when you’ve got kids who can look up to, to these athletes and be like, I want to be like that. And they’re not just picking out the male athletes and saying, I want to be like that. They can actually look at these women. I mean you’ve got a whole line of young tennis players now that are starting to hit their, their peaks and um are coming into their own and they’re like, we grew up watching the Williams sisters and they inspired us to play tennis and to, to be great. Yeah, I was going to say that really ties us back to that idea of diversity and inclusion and seeing, you know, what the William sisters did for US, women’s tennis and now seeing, we have 15 year old Coco Gauff who just won her first tournament.

Emily: Um, and we have Naomi Osaka, we have Sloan Stevens. So we have a lot of women in color in that sport. And I think that’s so important to be able to see, and Megan Rapinoe and being an out woman. So not just to see females, but to see women that look like them is so important. Absolutely. I don’t know that those players would have played tennis or thought that they could play tennis in the same way without Venus and Serena.

Carrie: That’s wonderful. So you just labeled a bunch of things that talk about how sport sports in general impact our communities. You were talking about how coaches grow people, um, how you’re planning your life around a sporting event, right, about fan behavior, about rivalry, which is giving us a, a way of expressing a certain part of ourselves. It’s a, it’s so, can you talk about that a little bit?

Carrie: Can you break down the, the role of sports in our communities that the different levels?

Heidi: Yeah, sure. I mean, I think there’s, there’s a lot there. So if you think of sport, you know, think of your community and what happens in a community. Um, almost every weekend there’s a 5K and people sign up and they pay money to run this 5K and that 5K or half marathon or whatever it might be, often benefits something, right? Um, in the community or a person, a Memorial, you know, Ron, that sort of thing. And it’s a chance, it’s an opportunity to bring people together through sport to do something that makes them feel good about, um, their place in the world and enhances their community. Absolutely. Absolutely. Um, there’s youth development and, and so, you know, there’s this youth sport that again, allows kids to go out and play.

Heidi: And I think we forget, um, oftentimes kids now are so scheduled the importance of, of play. Um, and, and the role of the coach in the absolutely in the growth and the development these kids have, uh, in terms of self esteem, confidence, um, and, and not to ignore the learning how to move their body, right. These are skills that even if they don’t go on to play a lot of sports, um, as a, as a kid, I mean, they, at some point, we’ve seen the trend of, you know, kids play new sports drops off around 12 or 13. Um, which is unfortunate and hopefully something that we’ve got academics who are looking to, how can we, you know, how can we reverse this? But it allows them to know as an adult how to move their body and how to do it safely. Right. So when they pick up sport again as an adult, um, even though it’s gonna look different than maybe youth soccer, um, they understand how their body works and how it functions.

Heidi: Um, so I think that’s really important. Um, the economic development in communities. So you’ve got other tournaments come in. Um, yeah, softball tournaments for instance, are you know, a big deal. You’ve got teams of, of, of players that come in and families come with them. They rent car clubs season. Yes. Absolute club sports. Absolutely. Um, they, you know, they rent cars, they stay in hotel rooms, they eat food and they’re there for a long weekend and spend a lot of money in a community. Um, and there are communities that are actually being strategic about these opportunities. Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean there are, there are communities that have, um, said we want to attract youth travel teams to come here. So we are going to build facilities specifically for, uh, these travel land in the baseball field. Sure, absolutely. Absolutely. Um, and then I think the other thing was sport is, um, it, the corporate social responsibility side. You see your Dunkin donuts sponsoring your little league teams. Um, you see these opportunities for businesses to say, we want to be a part of this community. And what better way to do this than to support, uh, these athletic events, uh, you know, whether it’s a high school, whether it’s a youth team. Um, and just, I think to sum that up, just this idea of building community and connection sport has the power to do that. Um, even something as simple as, I go to a CrossFit gym and one of the things people ask for like, Oh, what do you like about CrossFit? And there’s several things. One of the things that really stands out to me as a mid forties woman, I’m not going to be a, you know, professional CrossFitter. It’s not about that. Um, it’s about the community and I show up at the same time every day and the same people workout with me and we’ve built a community. When something goes on in my life, I know I have a community there that I can fall back on and say, Hey, I need help with this. And they’re more than willing to do that. And it fosters this sense of community in, in a variety of different ways, whether it’s the Friday night football game that everybody goes to, um, you know, whether it’s the gym that you feel like you’ve found community, um, whether it’s, I was just in Santiago, Chile at the airport and I’m sitting there and um, there were a lot of riots happening down in Santiago and I was trying to get home and sitting there at the airport waiting for hopefully our flight to take off. And somebody just chats up a conversation with me and they’re like, Oh, I’m from Ann Arbor. I’m like, Oh, that’s unfortunate. I’m like, why? And I’m like, I’m a Buckeye. And they’re like, yeah. Oh. And they’re like, well, there’s two more Buckeyes right there. I’m like, really? And so immediate connection around. Absolutely. And so you had this community instantly through sport or because of sport, um, in a country far away. That’s, you know, in the middle of riots we found like people through sport and even when we landed in Atlanta 12 hours later or whatever it was, you know, they’re like, Hey, you know why, you know, good luck this weekend or whatever. And I’m like, yeah, you know, we’re still, we’re still looking for one another. You know, it’s that, you know, it’s passing, it’s fleeting in that moment, but there’s still that sense of community. You’re not alone. You have people who like similar things to you. So I think it was a really long answer. And Emily, if you want to chime in on any of that. Yeah.

Carrie: Emily, I’m interested in your perspective around your research because you’re working with specific populations.

Emily: Yeah, I mean, first I was just definitely gonna add and I think Heidi really hit home about the more local community in what we create through sport. But I think also to think about on a global scale how important sport is. Um, certainly we have a lot of problems with things like the FIFA world cup and the Olympics in terms of just the economics of it all the spending and some controversy. But what other events do we have where people put aside differences and culture that are causing Wars, um, that are causing all of these other global issues and we come together around the Olympic games. Right. You know, you have always stopped for that. Yeah. You have all of these countries coming out at together competing against one another, but also kind of this sportsmanship and it’s not always perfect, but I think sport facilitates that in a way that, I don’t know if there’s anything else that really does in terms of that global community and kind of that, that universal language, right? We might not share the same culture language, but particularly a sport like soccer around the world. It’s a common interest. Um, baseball is definitely very global. When you look at things like Little League World Series, you know, it’s not two US teams that compete in the finals of little league world series. It’s a US team and an international team. So it’s channeling that desire for a rivalry and that team spirit, but also

Carrie: the camaraderie, the camaraderie and the behavior

Emily: you’re around. Sports and sportsmanship. Yeah. And I definitely think, um, you know, Heidi touched a little bit on the college community and that’s really where my focus is. Um, but when you think about the identity of colleges and the identity of communities, you know, we don’t know the colors of UMaine and that they’re the Black Bears and all this other stuff because of the university’s academics necessarily. You know that because of the sport, right? We know the identity of schools because of the coaches, the teams, the fight songs, everything that kind of brings the community together. Like would a college have college colors or a mascot or any of that without sport and they wouldn’t. And so sport is a big part of bringing a college campus in a college community together and kind of that camaraderie and being able to see someone at an airport halfway across the world, you know, that understands like that’s where I’m from. And that’s so unique to us here in the US you know, no one really has sports in a collegiate setting like we do. So you don’t see people walking around wrapping their Alma mater in the same way because we just have that deep seated connection in a lot of it is because of athletics. You know,

Heidi: just to piggyback on that, um, we took students to, the colleague of mine took students to Iceland this spring and we were working with students from Reykjavik university and the faculty there as well. And, and one of the things that all of the students want and were like, is there a tee shirt I can buy? Like it says Reykjavik University. And they’re like, what? And they’re like, yeah, like I want a sweatshirt, a tee shirt to have something. Where’s the bookstore? And they were like, yeah, no, we don’t really, we don’t really do that here. And uh, and they were able to find some sweatshirts and they gave us the set sweatshirt and everybody, like all of the, you know, students from USM were putting on their sweatshirts, you know, sort of repping Reykjavik university. And, and that was a little unusual, um, for them. And it’s because of this idea of sport, right?

Carrie: Distinctly United States thing.

Heidi: Absolutely. Their education because absolutely because the sports model in the US is so different than the rest of the world and for better or worse, um, but this is something that comes from that is this idea that you belong to something. So I want to piggy back on these conversations because sport has such a huge impact on our communities as you’re articulating deeply, right? How we raise our children, how we identify, um, and how we channel our rivalries and things like that. Do students get trained around those ethics and, and how do they have an understanding of what they’re walking into? Because

Carrie: it is so deep, isn’t it? I mean, I hadn’t wrapped my head around these ideas before, but it is so huge in our community, these sport identities and the connection and the, the power of this, of this area.

Heidi: So we talk about it in a couple of different ways and in different courses in different ways, right? Um, we don’t USM, we don’t have one class that sort of goes into this, but a consumer behavior class or we talk about consumer behavior and marketing as well talks about the formation of, of fandom. Right? And I often give my students an exercise and like I say, who’s your favorite team or favorite player? Either one. And when did you become a fan of them? And usually, and I was like, tell me the story. Like what, what was it, what was it that that’s when you knew that was your team? And usually it has something to do, um, with a moment in their life when they were about seven or eight years old. And that’s the prime time when when kids pick a team and they often stick with that team for the rest of their life.

Heidi: And I think we’re a little spoiled too in the United States. We have students that come to us sort of understanding. They may not have put words to it or have given it a lot of thought, but under like sort of this innate understanding of sport then, um, in, in their communities and in their own lives. Um, some other places that we talk about it would be in like promotions and sales. Um, and how local communities are really involved in our event class. Um, we interact with the community. It’s a, we put on a local event and it is very important to have those relationships and connections with the community.

Emily: Yeah, I mean, I think we’re starting to approach it a little more. The governance and policy class I’m teaching this semester, we really a big focus. I always ask like, how are we making sure that our organizations are acting ethically also? So we’re starting to address more of those issues, you know, in that we have a responsibility as sports teams and as sports organizations to help move towards the greater good. Um, we’ve kind of hinted at it a little bit, but there are a lot of issues with sports in general. You have issues of racism, you have issues of domestic violence. You have people who, um, you know, have to be pulled off the playing field for doing illegal drugs. And so these are so some people have role models, right? Like that’s who you grow up. I still remember when I was little, my favorite basketball player was Dennis Rodman and my parents were probably like, what? But to me it’s just like I thought his hair grew that color. Um, but that idea that like like I’m looking at this person and for whatever reason you’re attracted to that person as a player. And so what responsibility do we have as teams to take care of that and handle that and how we act ethically as organizations to manage crisis situations and really be leaders. And that’s something that’s not new. Like we look at integration, civil rights, the women’s movement, all of that sport is really kind of a microcosm for what’s going on politically. Um, and so it’s important for us to understand that the actions we take as sport organizations are going to set a good example and act in ethical ways. So we’re really starting to breach that in my class this semester is look at kind of like ethically, like the decisions that we’re making, how they impact not just our team, um, but also how they impact greater society.

Carrie: Join us next time as we continue our discussion with Doctors Emily Newell and Heidi Parker about sport in American culture.

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