The Big Crab Cake

By Austin Feeley

This is it, this is the day. Win or go home. The Baltimore Ravens are hosting a home playoff game for the first time since the super bowl run in 2012. Following an injury to the veteran Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson would lead the team to a 6-1 record down the stretch and clinch the division. This young electric quarterback and his style of play gave the city hope and excitement for the first time in years. The Ravens certainly cashed in on this opportunity, by selling out the game in a matter of minutes. The Ravens would show what type of organization they were and the fans would show who they really were in this sold out nationally televised marquee matchup.

On our way to the stadium, the sport culture of the town was evident. Almost every dog walker, runner, and driver we passed had on some variance of purple and black on, even the businesses with outdoor lights still had their purple glowing for the home team. This had me and my father, self-identified die-hards (Billings, Butterworth, & Turman, 2018, p. 60), buzzing even more. We arrived to our tailgate with joyous laughter all around, purple beverages, and even street vendors capitalizing on the rookie’s big season. The team made a strong digital effort to have fans in their seats before kickoff, as they wanted a full house. After a few hours tailgating we anxiously trotted over to M&T Bank stadium, home of the #RavensFlock. We had fans lined up behind us singing the infamous White Stripes song, Seven Army Nation, which can be heard after any big play in the bank. The Oh-O-O-O-Oh-Ooh was infectious and got louder as the mob of purple and black marched to the stadium.

Upon entry, everyone was hyped up, even the ticket scanning employees were yelling “Let’s go Raven’s!” We received a huge cardboard rally card to hold up (pictured above), which contained the team’s phrase for the fans “ALL OF US. ALL IN” as well as a popular exclamation in locker speeches by coach John Harbaugh “GOOD!” This rally card hit on two of the seven points of attachment in community and coach (Trail et al., 2000). All the scoreboards were branded with names such as Dietz and Watson, Maryland Lottery, and Under Armour. Some parts of the stadium were also designated for winners of contests, such as the Miller Lite flight deck etc.. Just before kickoff, several hype videos are played, with an installment from their weekly vlog series on social media. I use my phone to take a snapchat and there is a noticeable omni-presence: twitter and facebook with the hashtag #ravensflock (your picture could be featured on the scoreboard) and snapchat where the same hashtag followed with the font the rally cards. Throughout the game there were several video rituals used for first downs (sponsored by Ford) and protect this house (sponsored by Under Armour).

The fans during the game were the most interesting to observe, the fan motivation of drama described in Communication and Sport (Billings, Butterworth, & Turman, 2018, p. 71) was also very clear, you could hear sighs after good plays and whispers amongst those around us, which made the game that much more important. The Ravens were down by nearly 20 and fans began to boo Lamar Jackson’s play. These were the fair-weather fans highlighted by Billings, Butterworth, & Turman (2018) on page 60. I headed to social media during a break and saw several memes for the terrible play and crowd booing. Eventually, the Ravens would stage a comeback, but would fall short. The organization thanked Baltimore for the support.

Disappointed, I headed to social media to see what the public thought once again. Amid several friends post at the game, I saw a photo on Instagram of Larry Hogan and several other Maryland republican members congratulating the Ravens for a great season while in a box for the game. Hogan used the game as a political resource to elicit awareness and possibly speak with those of his party in the box, much like many other political leaders of the past (Billings, Butterworth, & Turman, 2018, p. 138).

Overall, the Ravens provided an excellent seamless fan experience from online to in stadium, mixing in sponsorships in ads extremely appropriately. The city loves the team and the momentum, despite the boos heard in the second half. Baltimore’s culture is and will forever be intertwined in football.

References

Baltimore Ravens. (2019, January 06). It’s going to be LOUD at M&T Bank Stadium today. Get to your seats EARLY so you don’t miss all that we have planned pre-game. #ALLOFUSALLIN #RavensFlock https://t.co/ZNA9bOkT7q. Retrieved January 13, 2019, from https://twitter.com/Ravens/status/1081909471071346692

Baltimore Ravens. (2018, November 19). Retrieved January 14, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9uxq5MryiI

Billings, A., Butterworth, M., & Turman, P. (2018). Communication and sport : Surveying the field (Third ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE.

FanoFino. (2019, January 06). Retrieved January 14, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8vyGssgh8s

Governor Larry Hogan on Instagram: “Let’s go, @ravens! #ALLOFUSALLIN #ravensflock #ravensnation”. (2019, January 06). Retrieved January 14, 2019, from https://www.instagram.com/p/BsTZSt-l2cl/

Hensley, J. (2018, December 31). Lamar Jackson leads Ravens to first postseason berth since 2014. Retrieved January 13, 2019, from http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/25650325/rookie-qb-lamar-jackson-leads-baltimore-ravens-afc-north-title

#ravensflock – Twitter Search. (2019, January 14). Retrieved January 14, 2019, from https://twitter.com/search?q=#ravensflock&src=typd

#ravensflock – Facebook Search. (2019, January 14). Retrieved January 14, 2019, from

https://www.facebook.com/search/str/%23ravensflock/keywords_blended_posts?epa=SEARCH_BOX

Trail, Galen & Anderson, D.F. & Fink, J.S.. (2000). A theoretical model of sport spectator consumption behavior. International Journal of Sport Management. 1. 154-180.

 

 

Being Serena

By Julia Braig

In the HBO documentary miniseries, “Being Serena”, The complex life of one of the best female athletes of all time, Serena Williams, is deeply explored as she is forced to continuously choose between motherhood, and her sport. As a black woman she has broken so many barriers that existed in sport for females, African-Americans, as well as lower-income youth. Throughout the five episodes Serena is constantly battling between her lifelong identity as an athlete and her new, and society’s belief as more important, identity as a mother. This documentary exemplifies the impact societal norms can have on a professional athlete and their line of communication to their coaches and fans.

In 2001 William’s was booed off the court during a competition at Indian Wells. The main motivation of this was coming from her race and how different she was from the stereotypical white, wealthy tennis player. Initially after she had won the tournament, Serena had opted to never return to the competition in protest of the event. However, With the birth of her daughter and the difficulties she experienced in re-training, Serena decided to return. This was in order to prove that she is stronger than racism; and to make a point that people should not be deterred from sport, or anything in life, because they are different from others. This is a perfect example of how Sports can start meaningful conversation, Her mere participation in the tournament begins the long discussion of race in athletics, and how there are many sports that are not diversely represented. But even with that holding true, that does not mean that non-stereotypical athletes are unable to partake and dominate.

The most complicated line of communication comes with her male coach insisting that she must quit breastfeeding in order to lose weight and return to her previous level of fitness. Serena has notoriously used her global platform to speak of Body Positivity and how “beautiful” is not just a thin model, but instead a plethora of body types. She has felt no need to confine to society’s idea of the perfect body, and instead has embraced her strong figure for it being one of the reasons she is such an incredible athlete. With her history of body positivity, it makes the choice of breast feeding even more influential. Her decision between choosing her primary focus on being a mother or an athlete dives even deeper to her morals and what she has communicated and preached to her fans in the past. Serena’s coach understands that as a male his advice to stop breastfeeding comes from a place of no personal experience. He tip-toes around discussing the normally sensitive subject of weight, and instead focuses strictly on the tennis aspect. While she views It more as a parenting decision, he sees it strictly professional. Exemplifying how one topic of conversation may have two different meanings for people, enhancing the possibility for miscommunication and conflict. Serena’s decision to stop breastfeeding came with a lot of reiteration that this was the only way to build to career, as well as the fact it was her choice, and not her coaches.  This segment truly conveys William’s strength and want to be known as a tough and successful athlete to her fans and followers.

This documentary explored the difficulties of a professional athlete portraying a role other than that of just an athlete. Serena Williams exemplified that it is nearly impossible to communicate, verbally and nonverbally, one’s dedication to consistently remaining a quintessential idea of a mother, while continuing to be one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen. Rather, she displays the constant back and forth battle of deciding when to prioritize one role over the other. In addition, this documentary exemplified the difference between how an athlete addresses and communicates to their fans, compared to how they might interact with their coaches and the people who directly aid them in their training and successes.

A Lack of Fan Investment at Maryland

By Austin Henningsen

This past fall, I attended a home Maryland football game against the University of Illinois. This event was not only memorable because the terps came away with a huge win, but reflecting back I certainly recognized some noticeable product marketing. From the Pepsi advertisements to the Under Armour apparel sales inside the stadium; something was definitely missing. As I looked to my left and my right I noticed a mass array of empty seats flooded throughout the stadium, as I soon realized they had little to no fan support. The amount of marketing invested in products around the game seemed to have a negative impact on the team’s label, as it was clear no one seemed invested in our school’s football team.

When the Maryland football team charged the field out of their locker room for kickoff the stadium was electrified by the sound of fireworks going off and blaring rap music. As I got up and started cheering I felt as if I was standing alone. Certiantly, I was besides my friends, but as I turned and looked around people were still stocking up on popcorn and drinks for the game. The venue seemed to be doing an excellent job collecting these people’s money with their overpriced merchandise, but at the same time they were distracting fans for the reason why they came. As described in blog post Comm398B: Communication, Culture, and Sport; Austin Bierman mentions, “The main product that any sports team is selling at a sporting event is themselves” (Alt, 2018). After further reflection, it was clear that the balance between our school’s football team and the advertisers within the stadium was heavily uneven. We come to these game to support these young men, not for a ten dollar beverage. There are many factors that contribute to this phenomena, but I believe the size of Maryland Stadium is the problem. In my opinion, I believe a smaller venue would keep fans more engaged in the game and less distracted by venue advertisements and venders.

When examining the lack of investment fans have in the Maryland football team it is apparent that the Maryland Stadium venue offers no meaningful ritual. Certainly, outside the stadium fans are tailgating and getting rowdy before each home game, but this energy needs to be brought inside the stadium and used to help support our school’s football team. As mentioned in BBT4, “Rituals produce a permanent change or transformation in an individual or group and represent important rites of passage” (Schechner, 2002). The school can’t expect fans to sit down in a ginormous stadium with plentiful of distractions like Maryland Stadium, and expect fans to give their undivided support to our school’s football team. For the Maryland football team to have a better shot of selling themselves they need to figure out a way to minimize these distractions, but at the same time not having a detrimental effect on the cash flow these advertisers have on the University.

Reflecting back on my experience at the Maryland football game, I without a doubt had a good time, but my support for our school’s football team was definitely not felt. Personally, I have always been bought into our football team’s culture, as I am a fellow student-athlete as well. However, their needs to be more done out of the team itself to gain the support of its fans. Certainly, having good players and record is important for drawing large crowds to a game, but more needs to be done inside the venue to change this communicative phenomena of fans being more concerned with advertisers. Once the team establishes a meaningful ritual inside Maryland Stadium that connects players to fans I feel we will we see a larger investment in the support for our school’s football team.

Sources

BBT4.pdf

Bierman, Austin, and Rebecca Alt. “CATEGORY ARCHIVES: SPORTS VENUES AND EVENTS.” Blog.umd.edu, University of Maryland, 21 Jan. 2018.

He played at my school!!

By Shailee Bruck

Figure 1

I attended my eighth Washington Wizards game. This one was a little different for me. This game was the first game I attended after I started my internship with media relations. I analyzed the experience of games in a different way, now that I work in the “behind the scenes” at Maryland. Not only was I taking into account all the different parts because of my internship, but I was also analyzing it through the lens of this class.

The first thing that stood out to me, was that no matter how many years removed a player is from college, their college is always announced or displayed next to their name. When the players came out for their last warm-up before the game started, the video board displayed individual players with their names and their college they had last attended. When the players were introduced during the starting lineups, they were called out by their names and their colleges. At a college level, it is focused on where the athlete’s hometown is. When I input rosters onto websites like the NCAA website or create flip cards for every game, I always have to include the athlete’s hometown. Even during player intros, the athlete is introduced with their hometown. During the Wizards game, I noticed that the athlete’s college was always attached. For me, this was interesting because some athletes “one-and-done,” which means they had attended the university for one year and never graduated. The professional athletes may also be years removed from college. Bradley Beal attended the University of Florida for one year, then was drafted onto the Washington Wizards in 2012. It has been almost seven years since Bradley Beal attended college, yet in the starting lineup he was announced as “From the University of Florida, #3 Bradley Beal.”

This phenomenon reminded me of the Nebraska Cornhuskers fan rituals. In “Communities of Cornhuskers: The Generation of Place Through Sports Fans Rituals” (Aden, et al., 2009), it stated how dedicated the fans were to their college. They would gather together to celebrate the Cornhuskers in various areas of the country while attempting to imitate the environment of Lincoln, Nebraska. Some alumni have such an intense point of attachment with their college, that when their former collegiate athletes have success in the professional environment, they find themselves feeling accomplished.

One of my teachers this last semester was a diehard University of Kentucky (UK) fan. She would attend class every day with a UK coffee mug. One day, after the Wizards won a game, I attended class with my John Wall jersey. She came into class and told me that she loved the Wizards because of John Wall. Whenever she attended Wizards game, she would wear her UK apparel. She did not wear a John Wall Kentucky jersey, she would not wear Wizards apparel, she would wear her regular Kentucky apparel. Like Bradley Beal, John Wall was a one-and-done and was drafted in 2011. I found it odd that she had not even tried to obtain any Wizards or John Wall apparel. It shows that her devotion to her alma mater was that intense. She felt proud of her university just by seeing an individual who attended UK for a single year eight years ago.

Whenever a former male athlete from the University of Maryland (UMD) does well, the Twitter account from their respective sport quote tweets it and adds the hashtag “#HeATerp.” It does not matter if the athlete was a transfer student and attended the UMD for one year, the fact that UMD was the last school they had played NCAA athletics in was enough to categorize them in this aspect. However, when I see these particular tweets, I am proud to be a Terp. I despise the Pittsburgh Steelers because I am a Ravens fan, but when Steeler Sean Davis plays well, I am happy for him because #HeATerp.

I had never paid attention to why players are always attached to their alma maters. After attending the Washington Wizards game, and reading the different articles for this class, I had realized that it was an amazing marketing technique. The players may have never graduated from their schools and haven’t attended in years, but the fans will never forget where the player came from. This tactic almost forces fans to root for teams that has players from their alma mater. The fans will always see these professional players as representatives of their school.

Aden, R., Borchers, T., Buxbaum, A. G., Cronn-Mills, K., Davis, S., Dollar, N., . . . Ruggerio, A. A. (2009). Communities of Cornhuskers: The Generation of Place Through Sports Fans Rituals. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication,10(1), 26-37. doi:10.1080/17459430902839017

Figure 1: https://www.amazon.com/Contenders-Drafts-Picks-Washington-Basketball/dp/B075QPGVMK

Figure 2: Taken by myself at the Washington Wizards game against the Philadelphia 76ers (1/9/19).

 

Can the Olympics Bring the Koreas Together?

By: Alessandra Gonzalez Callan and Morgan Cafritz

There’s no doubt that the Korean Peninsula

has been under scrutiny for its tense relationship between the north and the south. After decades of high tensions, however, it seems as though the two countries are willing to put their political differences aside in attempt

s to contribute to, what the New York Times call, a “political thaw.”

The Chicago Tribune describes this breakthrough agreement as a “symbolic Korean unity deal” for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Not only will 22 North Korean athletes participate in the events, but they will also march side-by-side with South Korean athletes under a unification flag at the opening ceremony “to field a joint women’s ice hockey team” as a Korean song is played as their anthem.

What is now being called, “the most dramatic gesture of reconciliation between them in a decade,” started back in May last year when South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office and attempted to establish a dialogue and relationship with the North. These efforts were dismissed until North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year’s speech that a team could cross the border to compete.

Serving as South Korea’s main ally, the United States will also be heavily influenced by the ceremony as U.S. President Trump has threatened the North with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if the security of Americans and their allies are put at risk.

Despite the inevitable controversy caused by this sudden agreement, many believe this decision to be a step in the right direction in terms of international relations. With the hopes of reconciliation, South Korea’s presidential Blue House stated, “North Korea’s participation in the Olympics will be a catalyst for building peace and easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.”

As seen in Kellner & Zhang (2013), it is evident that the Olympics have the power to influence global perspectives on the host country. For example, the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China caused a huge controversy not only because of the country’s “utilitarian” system but also because of its inaccurate depiction of the nation during the opening ceremony.

In order to lure in both domestic and international audiences, Beijing attempted to represent China as a perfect nation through symbols of “hope, peace, and aspirations for prosperity.” The hopeful yet inaccurate depiction of the host country then caused frenzy among viewers as it became obvious that their country was founded on morals and values that completely contradicted everything they were trying to sell during the ceremony.

With the questions of whether the Olympics can bring the Koreas together, there seems to be a lot of hope. North and South Korean athletes will march together under a unified flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics (Jeong and Griffiths, 2018). Even with all the controversy between North and South Korea and all the news we receive about them not being associated with each other in any way, news about them in the Olympics rose leading us to have hope that this one thing, the Olympics, might bring the Koreas together.

The Nations have agreed to form a joint North and South Korean women’s ice hockey team for the Games in Pyeongchange, which have already begun (Jeong and Griffiths, 2018). With this, it gives us more hope that the Olympics can and will bring the Koreas together and makes us think that it might stop the conflict that is happening between them and us. Word is that there are joint activists between the countries who will be at the games in support of the Koreas coming together (Jeong and Griffiths, 2018).

Although Seoul continues to move along with the plans of using the upcoming Winter Olympics as a platform to display inter-Korean Unity, some South Korean athletes are “furious” with this and the proposition of forming joint teams with North Koreans (South Korean Ministry of Unification, 2018). It is specifically the women’s ice hockey team who is “furious” with this proposal to have a joint team for the Olympic games. With this news, the hope of the Koreas coming together evidently decreases.

Even with some of the South Korean athletes upset and “furious”, the South Korean leader welcomes North Korean Olympic participation. The South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, welcomed Kim Jong Un’s seemingly readiness to enter itself into the upcoming Winter Olympic Games with South Korea (George and Lee, 2018).

South Korea is stopping at nothing to welcome North Korea into the Olympics Games and joining themselves with them to be a unity. North Korean leader made a very interesting address, which proclaimed his hope “for (a) peaceful resolution with our southern border.” (George and Lee, 2018). The want to begin talk immediately of how they can join together and participate in the Olympic games serenely without any internal issues has shown many the possibility of this unity causing political changes between the two nations. This came as a shock to many because North Korea always wants to be on its own and have no relations with anyone.

There are also discussions of how a failure to win and succeed in the Olympics games could affect North Korea. When looking at a country like North Korea, they view image as being everything and with this the Olympic games might present a problem and challenge (Ponniah, 2018). With the chance or possibility of failure of North Korea, who wins the Olympic Games might bring upon more of a problem. If one of North Korea’s known enemies wins the game, this can make North Korea even more upset and affect all of us in a negative and disastrous way. With North Korea participating in the upcoming Winter Olympics and joining with South Korea, national pride will be on the line (Ponniah, 2018).

Nonetheless, it is evident that the 2018 Winter Olympics will have everybody tuned in to see what unfolds between the two nations. As viewers watch the Korean Peninsula come together for the first time in decades, this “Korean unity” will be put to the ultimate test.

As Andy Billings claims in his Ted Talk, “Sports can start meaningful conversations”, sports have the power to create social changes by simply starting a dialogue. It’s important to acknowledge the foundation of “sports talk”, which can ultimately reveal the depths of social issues.

Though the future of North Korea’s relationship with South Korea and with the rest of the world is still on the line, we must remember that having an open dialogue about the nations’ unity is a step in the right direction.

Bibliography

Baker, Peter. “Trump Doubles Down on Threats Against North Korea as Nuclear Tensions Escalate.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 10 Aug. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/08/10/world/asia/north-korea-trump.html.

Billings , Andy . “Sports can Start Meaningful Conversations .” Ted Talk .

Cnbc. “Plan for joint Olympics team with the North gets an icy reception in South Korea.” CNBC, CNBC, 16 Jan. 2018, www.cnbc.com/2018/01/16/joint-winter-olympics-team-with-north-korea-icy-reception-in-south-korea.html.

Dunbar, Graham. “North Korea to send 22 athletes to Winter Olympics in rival South Korea.” Chicagotribune.com, 20 Jan. 2018, www.chicagotribune.com/sports/international/ct-north-korea-olympics-20180120-story.html.

George, Steve. “South Korean leader welcomes North Korean Olympic participation.” CNN, Cable News Network, 2 Jan. 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/01/02/asia/moon-welcomes-north-korean-olympic-participation-intl/index.html.

Griffiths, James. “North and South Korea to march together at Olympics.” CNN, Cable News Network, 18 Jan. 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/01/17/asia/north-south-korea-olympics-flag-intl/index.html.

Kellner, Douglas, and Hui Zhang . “Sports, the Beijing Olympics, and Global Media Spectacles .” 2013.

Ponniah, Kevin. “North Korea and the Olympics: Bombs, media blackouts and glory.” BBC News, BBC, 3 Jan. 2018, www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-42545285.

Sang-hun, Choe. “North and South Korean Teams to March as One at Olympics.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 17 Jan. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/01/17/world/asia/north-south-korea-olympics.html.

 

The Spiral of Silence and How to Break It

By Joseph Cox and Cameron Bender

In recent years, individuals in authoritative positions misusing their power as a means to sexually exploit subordinates have repeatedly rocked the sports industry. In 2012, Former Penn State football assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was convicted on 45 counts of child sexual abuse. Interestingly enough, Joe Paterno and Penn State University administrators swept this behavior under the rug. A similar incident is currently unfolding, USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar has been accused of molesting more than 150 female athletes and has plead guilty to possessing a prodigious collection of 37,000 child pornographic images and videos. To stop the Larry Nassars of the world, we need to broadcast support for victims through media by agenda setting which will break the spiral of silence felt by victims.

This misuse of power deeply tarnishes the credibility of a sporting institution. However, exploring the after effects of a scandal on a revenue generating institution would be completely erroneous. The true damage is left with the victims. Damage that irreparable.

It is our duty to stand up to this kind of behavior and to encourage victims to come forward without fear of being labeled as a pariah or victim-shamed. As ludicrous as this may sound, people commonly remain in the shadows because of fear of retribution. The issue of sexual assault is on the forefront of American society right now and the #metoo movement is making sure the issue cannot be ignored any longer.

To prevent this egregious behavior from occurring for and extended period of time, we need to examine what the root cause of the victims silence is. The sexism that currently runs rampant within the sporting industry is a good start. This may provide insight into why victims feel the pressure to quietly hide within the shadows.

Sexism is pervasive in the sports industry. Whether it is objectifying women on sports illustrated articles or underpaying female athletes, we have a long way to go until true equal grounds are reached. By taking a look at the Olympics in Vancouver, we can verify this claim. The winter 2010 games refused to allow Women’s Ski Jumping. Ann Travers, the author of Women’s Ski Jumping, the 2010 Olympic Games, and the Deafening Silence of Sex Segregation, Whiteness, and Wealth, tackles this head on.

Travers pointed out the obviously sexist roots of the International Olympic Committee’s ban of a female ski jumping team to the point that the government of Canada had to be sued by the Canadian Human Rights Commission so they would lobby for equal rights.

This shows that sexism still lives even within the Olympics. It is through these types of actions that provide female athletes in the Olympics with a feeling of inferiority. Broadcasters have even referred to female athletes as the “wife of so and so.” Take for example Corey Cogdell-Unrein, who won a bronze medal in Women’s Trap then made the news as the “Wife of a Chicago Bears Linebacker.”

Not only do women have to overcome these extremely difficult inequalities, they have to fight against people like Larry Nassar. The damage experienced by these women goes beyond psychological distrust for men. Simone Biles, a renowned Olympic gymnast, thought for years that she was to blame for Nassar’s despicable actions.

Simone Biles was not the first athlete to come forward with claims of sexual allegation. Three fellow olympic athletes, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney, already came forward with sexual claims against their forcibly trusted doctor.

Even though Simone Biles was somewhat vague, probably for reasons due to discomfort talking about the situation, she did not go into great detail as to why she found it difficult to speak out. I believe she felt fear of being discarded within the Olympic community.

To examine this fear, we can take a look into Spiral of Silence Theory. Noelle-Numman, through his research, discovered people remain silent when their opinion differs from the general publics. Simone Biles was told on numerous occasions she could trust Doctor Nassar. This leads her to believe that the public obviously does not think of him as a rapist or an individual capable of molesting his clients, thus leaving her in the dark attempting to deal with her troubles alone.

Max McCombs and Donald Shaw’s work Agenda Setting Theory proves how powerful media agenda setting can be to the public. The authors demonstrate through research, which the media holds the power to dictate to the public what we think about. The media has the power to set the public agenda, which in the past has been a tool to keep powerful people in power, but hopefully it will swing toward victim justice in the future and will encourage women to come forward after a sexual assault.

One way we can help encourage women to speak out immediately is through a massive media campaign, like we’ve seen with the #metoo campaign. By using mass media, we can communicate a message that we, as a community, will rally in support of women who have experienced sexual assault. This will hopefully mitigate the fear of being placed in isolation for speaking out. This combined with shared stories about the true horrors experienced by victims who have been sexually assaulted by men in authoritative positions could trigger a mass rally of support. The media today does not talk enough about the why victims stay quiet for so long and what we can do to combat this.

The best way to address the problem of sexual assault and the stigma around it is to continue to talk about it. By bringing awareness to the issue, it will be more in the center of people’s minds. Mccombs and Shaw found the more an event was discussed in the media, the more individuals thought about it. This proves the power that can be wielded by the media from just talking about the negative impacts of sexual assault.

It’s unlikely we will ever have the ability to completely prevent sexual assaults from ever occurring in the world. However, we do have the power to support those victims who come forward after experiencing such a horrendous incident. By doing this, we can hopefully place a limit on the potential damage the Larry Nassar’s of the world can place. We can also promise the Simone Biles’ of the world that they will receive support from the community and not be labeled as a pariah. Hopefully through these actions, we will create a safe place for women to play sports.

Works Cited

Chavez, Chris. “Larry Nassar Sentencing: 144 Victims Share Stories of Abuse.” SI.com, SI, 22 Jan. 2018, www.si.com/olympics/2018/01/22/larry-nassar-sentencing-victims-abuse-stories.

Chavez, Chris. “Simone Biles Says She Was Sexually Abused by Dr. Larry Nassar.” SI.com, SI, 15 Jan. 2018, www.si.com/olympics/2018/01/15/simone-biles-sexually-abused-larry-nassar-usa-gymnastics-doctor.

Davis, Scott. “Simone Biles Releases Statement Saying She Was Assaulted by Former Gymnastics Team Doctor Larry Nassar.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 15 Jan. 2018, www.businessinsider.com/simone-biles-says-assaulted-larry-nassar-2018-1.

“The Effect of Scandals on the Economics of College Sports.” Https://Www.lexology.com, Arent Fox LLP, 26 July 2012, www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=623b8e21-5fe5-4d25-8538-c365432ea234.

Gardiner, Margaret. “Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Harassment.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 21 July 2016, www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-gardiner/why-women-dont-report-sex_b_11112996.html.

Glynn, Carroll J., and Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann. “The Spiral of Silence: Public Opinion-Our Social Skin.” Social Forces, vol. 64, no. 3, 1986, p. 828., doi:10.2307/2578842.

McCombs, Maxwell. Setting the Agenda: Mass Media and Public Opinion. Polity Press, 2014.

“Penn State Scandal Fast Facts.” CNN, Cable News Network, 28 Nov. 2017, www.cnn.com/2013/10/28/us/penn-state-scandal-fast-facts/index.html.

Rogers, Katie. “Sure, These Women Are Winning Olympic Medals, but Are They Single?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 Aug. 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/08/19/sports/olympics/sexism-olympics-women.html.

Travers, Ann. “Women’s Ski Jumping, the 2010 Olympic Games, and the Deafening Silence of Sex Segregation, Whiteness, and Wealth.” Journal of Sport and Social Issues, vol. 35, no. 2, 2011, pp. 126–145., doi:10.1177/0193723511405477.

Smashville

By Austin Bierman

Imagine, for a second you are a professional athlete in the Nation Hockey League and are a goalie for the Edmonton Oilers. You are playing at the Nashville Predators stadium, which is known for its fan base’s active and verbal viewing style. Now, their first shot takes flight, you stop it, you are on a roll stopping shots left and right. Then, out of nowhere, a tipped in power play goal goes right between your legs and you are the reason that your team is now losing the game. A flurry of fiery emotional frustration and anger rushes through your body, but then out of know where you hear the stadium erupt in a thunderous scream shouting “Hey! You suck! Hey! You suck!…T-a-l-b-o-t, T-a-l-b-o-t, T-a-l-b-o-t, it’s all your fault! It’s all your fault!”. How would this make you feel? How could you keep playing after what just happened? In my opinion, no professional sports stadium can offer a better experience for a fan than that of the NHL’s Nashville Predators.

I was fortunate to attend a live game on Tuesday, January 9th of 2018 in Nashville where I would witness the Nashville Predators face off against the Edmonton Oilers. I am lucky enough to have had the opportunity to attend many other sporting events, however, for this game I went into it with a different perspective than usual, I went into it already analyzing every aspect of the game. The Nashville Predators sell themselves as a sports team as well as selling their sponsors and advertisers all in ways that were taught to this class through the readings. The selling of this sports team’s products can be seen through the cultural identity that was communicated by the stadium, the fan rituals expressed during the game, and even the political beliefs communicated throughout the game.

The main product that any sports team is selling at a sporting event is themselves. They need to establish a culture that is desirable enough for their fans and patrons to continuously support. The second product that is being sold is the advertisers and sponsors of the stadium and the team that provide them with a large amount of their cash flow. In chapter one of Communication and Sport: Surveying the Field, the authors discuss culture and developing personal identities and specifically the photo of the members of the Army National Guard who show their team spirit by holding up flags of their respective colleges found on page five. An example of this cultural creation can be explained by figure 1. In figure 1, the company Fifth Third Bank is a sponsor of the Predators even regarding themselves as a member of the Predators fandom. This sells both the bank as well as the team. The stadium is covered with advertisements and from the walk up to “Bridgestone Arena”, also denoted as “Smashville”, the advertisements tower over you (see Figures 2-4).

Another aspect of sport fandoms that helps to create fan culture is the fan rituals that take place at live games as explained by Carbaugh’s Situating Selves chapter two. The fan rituals are explained through the five main phases of communication which are, ‘the warm-up’, ‘the salutation’, ‘the introductions’, ‘game talk’, and ‘the dissipation’. One of the strongest and liveliest rituals that someone can experience at a Nashville Predators game is demonstrated in the first paragraph of this blog and would take place during the ‘game talk’ ritual. This ritual on its own creates a culture that fans love and want to be a part of. After all is said and done, fan culture is the best way for a sports team to sell its product. The stronger and more loyal the fan base the more profitable the sports team is.

Finally, political intrusions could not be overlooked in ‘Smashville’. From the ‘salutations’ fan ritual of standing, removing one’s hat and then reciting both the Canadian and American National Anthems to the Ford Military Salute companies can be seen advertising their products by sponsoring greater political issues that everyone can relate to. Chapter eight of Communication and Sport: Surveying the Field discusses how difficult it is to separate politics from sports and this game was a perfect example to prove that discussion. Beyond the military aspects of the game, a company called Delta Dental sponsored the “injury report of the game” promoting the safety of the players as well as the safety of the fans in the stadium (Figure 5). Bud Light also sponsored an advertisement for the government’s “Booze it and Lose it” anti-drinking and driving campaign. Each of these sponsors establishes the company with self-evident morals that attracts fans while also supporting the Predators as a team that cares.

Each one of these aspects creates both fan and stadium cultures that keeps people coming back to Bridgestone Arena, to spend a night in Smashville. The most evident aspect of the visuals communicated to attendees is the non-stop, ‘in-your-face’ advertisements and how they are interconnected with the Predators identity as a hockey team in Nashville, Tennessee. Each advertisement and every sponsorship whether it be Ford, Nissan, Fifth Third Bank, Bud Light, Wendy’s “Score with 4” or even Delta Dental works to simultaneously sell themselves and their product as well as the Predators product—being the team and its merchandise. When it comes to selling a product, there are no limitations to the endless ways that message is communicated to the attendees.

Works Cited

Billings, A. C., Butterworth, M. L., and Turman, P. (2017). Communication and sport: Surveying the field. 3rd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Carbaugh, D. (1996). Situating selves: The communication of social identities in American scenes. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press.

Dare to Dream

By Tori Bellucci

Five women, often referred to the ‘91ers, transformed the game of women’s soccer in the United States. Through several obstacles and setbacks, Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain and Joy Fawcett paved the path for generations of girls’ soccer players. The documentary, Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, shows how the U.S. Women’s National Team created a new nation of fans, sought opportunity where there was none, and revolutionized the landscape of women’s soccer. To properly reflect on the strides this team made for U.S. soccer, it is imperative to examine how they overcame gender biases and lack of interest from the American public to create a community for women’s soccer in the future.

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) originated in 1985, and unless you played on the team itself, you probably did not know there was a women’s national team. In the documentary, player Kristine Lilly admits that she did not even know who the coach was until she arrived at the first practice. This lack of awareness is due to several factors, a significant one of them being the lack of opportunity for women in team sports. Andy Billings addresses this issue in his TedTalk, stating that women’s sports and the accomplishments of female athletes are often omitted during discussions of the feminist movement (Billings, 2015). In the documentary, players of the USWNT reiterated this issue by saying that they had no role models of women athletes growing up. Furthermore, Brandi Chastain stated that she aspired to be a football player because of how deeply rooted the sport is in American culture.

Not only was there a lack of representation in women’s sports, but women were also treated as second-class athletes. In the beginning stages of the USWNT, they played for no money, had 3rd class travel accommodations, and were only allotted $10 a day for food. To contrast, the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) was given all the money and respect and were expected to garner attention for soccer in America. Another example of gender bias that the documentary demonstrates is when FIFA held its first ever World Cup for women. Instead of calling it the World Cup, as it did for the men’s side, it was called the M&M’s cup. This demonstrates how FIFA did not feel confident that the women would put on a “good enough show” to call it the World Cup. After winning the M&M’s Cup and becoming world champions in 1991, they still did not gain attention and appreciation from the American people. Specifically, players recounted how when they arrived home from their championship, only three people were there to greet them at the airport. Additionally, women were significantly underpaid in comparison to the men’s team. FIFA awarded the men’s team for any medal won, but women would only get paid for a gold medal. Gendered disparities are still a prevalent problem today, with the men’s team receiving $3.6 million for making it to the round of 16, while the women’s team only received $1.6 million for winning the World Cup championship in 2016 (Bonesteel, 2016).

Although the USWNT had few female athlete role models, were paid less than men, and received little to no media attention for their accomplishments, over time they were able to transform the landscape of women’s soccer. At the 1999 World Cup, the USWNT drew in crowds that had never been seen before for women’s soccer, selling out MetLife (Giants) Stadium and the Rose Bowl. In the documentary, a reporter from USA Today accredits the ticket sales to a mix of athleticism and sexuality, reiterating Billings’s point that women athletes are often sexualized (Billings, 2015). Although the public was becoming more involved in the game, the World Cup was not deemed important enough to be broadcasted on live television. In 2015, the Fox Broadcast of the World Cup championship was the most watched soccer game in the history of the United States drawing in 25 million viewers. This type of demonstration shows the growing relationship between soccer and the media that the ‘91ers help build (Billings, Butterworth, and Turman, 2012). Through their dedication and success, the USWNT were able to culminate a strong fan base revolving around women’s soccer. They created vested fans out of young girls whom had significant emotional attachments to the players because they were able to see themselves and their futures in players like Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain (Billings et al., 2012). Ultimately, the team’s success in winning the World Cup and Olympic gold medals acquired the interest of Americans, cultivated a community, and promoted nationalism (Billings et al., 2012).

Ultimately, the ’91ers were pioneers for not only women’s soccer, but for women’s sports in general. They paved a path for girl’s soccer players, allowing today’s USWNT to be as successful as it is. By observing this piece of sports media, one can gain a better understanding of the gendered differences in sport, how a fan base and community is built, and how the sport of women’s soccer has grown to what it is today.

References

Billings, A., Andrew, C., & Turman, P. Communication and Sport: Surveying the Field. 3rd ed., SAGE Publications, Inc., 2012

Bonesteel, M. (2016, March 31). Five U.S. women’s soccer players file wage discrimination complaint. Retrieved May 10, 2016, from The Washington Post website: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2016/03/31/five-u-s-womens-soccer-players-file-wage-discrimination-complaint/

“Sports can start meaningful conversations.” Performance by Andy Billings, YouTube, Tedx Talks, 6 Apr, 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=HU8R0bZzqfg

On the “Deafening Silence of Sex Segregation” in Winter Olympic Sports: A Response

By Raul Rivera

In the scholarly article, “Women’s Ski Jumping, the 2010 Olympic Games, and the Deafening Silence of Sex Segregation, Whiteness, and Wealth” by Ann Travers, the writer views the 2010 Winter Olympics as a disinterested audience member then invests her attention in the Ski Jumping event due to her self-fulfilling prophecy of how sports feeds into social inequalities, and dramatizes and produces bodies altered by sports media. While watching a sporting event and having no interest in it seems questionable to me, I have to say that Travers does bring up a good point. Ironically, what caught her attention wasn’t the event, but the controversy surrounding it. According to Boyd (1997), “Sports and the discourses that surround them, have become one of the master narratives of twentieth century culture.” However, I argue that just because the controversy surrounding the narrative causes attention and brings more views doesn’t equal there isn’t an injustice that needs to be addressed. I stand with Travers on her viewpoints but mostly on the key silence she presents – sex segregation.

In challenging the controversy in the court case, there were two ways the situation could’ve been resolved. One in which matched the purpose of the Title IX of Education Amendments of 1972 by providing the women’s event alongside the men’s event which would result with gender equity. The other in which the court provided a theoretical scenario in which what would happen if Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) refused to put on the men’s Ski Jumping event to comply with a Charter ruling. The response of the second option being on the table caused a massive stir among Council of Defense that it would be “completely tragic” and a “serious breach of contract”. This exposed their intention of having sympathy towards the women who couldn’t participate in the Ski Jumping event, even as their own event, because they claimed to be powerless yet when their men’s division were under threat of being cancelled to compete in the Ski Jumping event they responded with shock and rage. This all resulted with democracy winning in the end and in turn bringing about gender justice to all who witnessed and are affected by it.

My main takeaway from the retelling of the 2010 Winter Olympics Ski Jumping event Travers described was that by threatening the shutting down of an event for equal opportunity for both male and female athletes, it came off as a maverick move to shut down an event for the sake of gender equity. Although it did seem harsh to throw away the Ski Jumping event and ruin the men’s division, I admire the actions that took place during the court case. Travers quoted from former Olympian Nancy Green Raine that the International Olympic Committee didn’t allow women to compete in the Ski Jumping event originally because they were likely to beat the men. Whether that is certain or not, no one can truly tell if women were not allowed to compete only in that event in the 2010 Winter Olympics or not allowed to compete in the event in general.

In conclusion, in trying to bring attention to the injustice of the 2010 Winter Olympic Ski Jumping event, it has garnered more attention on the perspective that there is an imbalance of treating each athlete appropriately because of their gender. I support Travers thesis on the deafening silence of sex segregation due to how it contributes to communication and sport via who Travers spoke with and paraphrased. Despite how well this article captured the event and described it, the study can be improved by adding statistics to strengthen the view of a logical base in persuading the reader. Further research can be done by looking at the 2010 Winter Olympics as an example of existing female athlete oppression.

What The Blind Side Gets Wrong about Race and Sports

By Christian Jones

Leigh Anne Tuohy (played by Sandra Bullock) is with her husband and youngest son at Michael Oher’s football game. They are intently watching Michael play when a redneck fan of the opposing team disturbs Leigh Anne. The heckler continues on until Leigh Anne stands up to him and tells him to shut his mouth before she shuts it for him and later stands up again and says that’s my son (referring to Michael). This exchange becomes a feel good moment for the audience, as they are able to see the distinctions between the racist redneck and good southern Christian family and one of the first times that Leigh Anne claims Michael as her son. However, this exchange symbolically represents the two different forms of racism present in today’s society. On one side, you have the racist redneck that is upfront about his distaste for Michael Oher and on the other you have a colorblind family that doesn’t see how Michael Oher is different from any of them. The racist redneck is no longer acceptable in mainstream society, but the color blindness mentality continues to be accepted even though it is problematic to say the least. The Blind Side incorporates major scenes that reinforce racist stereotypes masked by good intentions. Two scenes show hidden racial undertones that mirror the past just as much as the present and how sports are at the center of all of it.

In the beginning of act one, coach Burt meets with Michael Oher’s caregiver, Big Tony, about Michael and Big Tony’s son coming to the school for sports. At first, coach Burt is not interested in discussing the children coming there by telling Big Tony that he doesn’t have any say-so in who gets admitted to the school. However, he quickly has a change of heart when he sees Michael’s tall and beefy body on the basketball court. Coach Burt’s eye start to widen and wheels start to turn as the next scene shows us that he’s talking with the board at the school, telling them that it will be the “Christian” thing to do to accept Michael. Michael was only selected to attend to the school because of the way he looks, which resembles the concept of stacking that was introduced in week 4, which refers to “the placement of people in roles that closely fit social expectations of identity groups” (Billings). With Michael’s height, body size, and assumptions of African American boys, the Coach is completely convinced that he is the right person for the team.

Another moment where race and sport were completely misrepresented in the movie is in act three when Michael returns home to find his Mom and there is a clear juxtaposition between the way that Michael behaves compared to the other black men in the scene. This sense of respectability politics is truly seen throughout the entire movie with most of the people of color in the movie are seen as gang bangers, drug addicts, unfit mothers, etc. Michael is quiet and respectful while in the gangbanger’s house while other black men are cussing, drinking, listening to explicit music, and wearing clothes improperly. Michael becomes fed up with a statement spoken by the gangbanger and the movie quickly turns into an action flick as he fights through all the black men and escapes. Throughout the movie, Michael represents the acceptable way that white people believe that a young black man should behave since the movie was directed, written by, produced, and told from white people’s perspective.

Also, a noticeable element throughout the movie is the admiration of Michael Oher’s body. From the reading by Oates, we know that people have an admiration for athletic bodies that creep up to the line of obsession and dehumanization by the way that people talk and stare at these bodies. This uneasiness was felt throughout The Blind Side from the very beginning when Leigh Anne was narrating the opening scene and describing the body that a good offensive tackle should have. As Leigh Anne is describing the character traits, there are close up images of black athletes lower bodies, chest, thighs, and body size. Oates explains, “Black prospects, by contrast, find their bodies’ attractiveness the subject of frequent evaluation. Some are found to be satisfying” (Oates). The uncomfortable admiration for a teenager’s body was felt throughout the film.

These two examples are just a portion of the problematic undertones throughout the movie, But the most disturbing moment from the film is when Leigh Anne confronts the gangbanger the next day after Michael left by telling him, “if you step foot into downtown, you will be sorry. I’m in a prayer circle with the D.A., I’m a member of the NRA, and I’m always packing” (Hancock). Given the recent prolific deaths of African American youth and the acquittal of the police officers involved, this line became alarming to me. Leigh alludes to the fact that she could take his life and get away with it due to the connections that she has. Michael steps into a place of privilege quickly within this movie, but the screenwriter should make no mistake that the same fate of the deaths of African Americans, in the claim of self-defense by others, could not effect Michael as well.

With all this being said, I am completely aware that this is a movie that is meant to entertain and make the audience feel good about themselves. The elements of treating others with respect and looking out for one another when we fall short are themes that are good to share with the world. However, the film still has to do its homework in regards to the current state of race relations and understand how powerful film really is. All the critical acclaim does not give immunity to The Blind Side for its lack of awareness when discussing race beneath the surface.

Bibliography

Billings, A. C., Butterworth, M. L., and Turman, P. (2017). Communication and sport: Surveying the field. 3rd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Hancock, John Lee, director. The Blind Side. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2009.

Oates, Thomas P. “The Erotic Gaze in the Nfl Draft.” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, vol. 4, no. 1, 2007, pp. 74–90.

Pimentel, C, and S. L Santillanes. “The White Cinematic Lens: Decoding the Racial Messages in the Blind Side.” Urban Review -New York-, vol. 47, no. 1, 2015, pp. 126–143.