Class 11: New Media and Sports

Today’s class looked at the shifting new media landscape and its impact on the representation of sports.

For more on the life, play, and politics of Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis, check out this 2005 profile from the Dallas Observer.

Artforum‘s editor Tim Griffin talks about the commodification of the public sphere in this essay on Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait:


Details from Harun Farocki’s World Cup new media installation Deep Play (2007) can be seen below:

For fun, here’s Czech surrealist animator Jan Svankmajer’s hilariously bizarre take on soccer, Virile Games (1988):

And finally, because the internet is continually broadening our sports horizons, I present…Wild Cow Milking:


Cheerleading a Sport?

Here’s an interesting article on the debate over how to classify something as a sport. Quinnipiac University decided to save money by ending the girl’s volleyball program and replacing it with competitive cheerleading. Quinnipiac has also allegedly manipulated the size of their rosters for other sports to get around complying with Title IX. This is an unfortunate situation, yet at the same time has the potential to help competitive cheer become a recognized sport by the NCAA.

In my opinion, it meets all the qualifications necessary. Under Title IX, “It must have coaches, practices, competitions during a defined season, and a governing organization. The activity also must have competition as its primary goal – not merely the support of other athletic teams.” It looks like the judge agrees with this and it will be interesting to see what the outcome is, both for Quinnipiac and for competitive cheer as a sport.

In our penultimate class, we looked at independent sports film production and the rise of extreme sports. More info on Warren Miller, guru of the ski film, can be found in this New York Times profile.

What might be the first skateboard movie, Skater Dater (1967), can be seen below. It won best short subject at Cannes, and is a silent 16mm romance:

Finally, in honor of today’s cavalcade of big wave riders, here’s Mike Parsons catching an enormous wave in Billabong Odyssey (2003):

More on sports and celebrity

Robin Hanson has an interesting post up on how athletes are held to a different set of moral standards than other celebrities:

Consider three kinds of celebrities: politicians, athletes, and musicians. We clearly hold politicians to higher moral and social standards than we do musicians. This makes sense because we feel more vulnerable to bad behavior by politicians than by musicians. An out of control politician could kill us all, while an out of control musician would at worst just fail to make music we like.

What about athletes? While we may not hold athletes to the high of standards we hold politicians, we clearly hold them to higher standards than musicians. Tiger Woods was vilified for moral violations that wouldn’t be worth reporting about a musician. Yet the above explanation for politicians vs. musicians doesn’t work here. While we are no more vulnerable to athletes than to musicians, we still hold athletes to a higher standard.

Class 9: Sports and Celebrity

Today we tackled the issue of how celebrity is depicted in the Sports Film. To follow up on our discussion of sports stars’ fractured personae, here‘s an article in which Pittsburgh Steeler’s quarterback Ben Roethlisberger blames his recent behavior on “Big Ben.” Key quote:

“Big Ben just kept building up. It ended up coming off the field. It kept taking over. Superman kept taking over Clark Kent and you just never saw who Ben Roethlisberger was any more,” Roethlisberger told KDKA-TV. “At the time, I didn’t see it. I was gaining everything but I was losing a lot of who I was raised to be. It got so overwhelming, it consumed me.”

Following up on When We Were Kings, the No Mas crew (who will be back next week when we screen “Dock Ellis and the LSD No-No”) commissioned several videos and artworks to commemorate the Rumble in the Jungle. I didn’t realize what James Brown’s rhinestone-studded “GFOS” stood for before. Thanks, James Blagden!

Finally, in anticipation of tonight’s NBA Finals Game 7, we have a clip of Kobe Bryant’s cameo on Modern Family:

Final Paper

For my final paper, I’m working with the idea of looking at “America in the Sports Film” by comparing Kristopher’s Belman’s More Than a Game to the “Spike Lee Joint” He Got Game, of which we saw a segment of in class. The overall comparison will be sports and America. The fictional Jesus Shuttlesworth and the actual LeBron James both appear within their respective films as local celebrity- who while treated the same, act differently.

Professor, I’ll talk to you further tomorrow.

-Mary Ellen Pesanello

Any Given Sunday Vs. Gladiator

Professional Sports relies on the games entertaining and audience, without an audience, there is no money, there is no stadium, and there is no team.  Examining Any Given Sunday and Gladiator and modern day athletics I want to explore how the spectating audience can affect much more than a players performance and how it can ultimately sway the outcome of a team’s or individual’s fate.