Final Project

When beginning my project, I was unsure of the topic. I went back and forth between a few but was never satisfied. This led me to look up the most important sports events of all time. As I looked at the many results, one caught my eye that was included in many of the lists. This was when Tony Hawk landed the 900 at the 1999 X Games. As I dove into the topic and my research, I came upon the discovery of not only Tony Hawk’s fame, but his influence and impact on the world through skateboarding.

This website was created with Omeka. It was used to insert images and videos into collections to highlight the life of Tony Hawk, his achievements, and his influence on the world. My sources include Britannica, YouTube, and many news/journal articles. This project aims to highlight the importance of Tony Hawk and his life on others.

The first collection describes the early life of Tony Hawk. The next are images of Tony Hawk and his career, along with his achievements and awards. Then, the influence of the video game Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. And finally, the impact Tony Hawk still has today with his own companies and efforts.

Here is the link to the website:

https://tonyhawkdigitalproject.omeka.net/about

My digital project is about professional hockey moving into the North American South. The project looks at why hockey franchises in the South struggled to stay afloat in the NHL by examining attendance, record, and ownership. My project is posted on my website which you can access via the link. If you end up at my home page click the header “Sports History Digital Project”. There you will see my timeline and my sources.

https://stokescdhistory.weebly.com/sports-history-digital-project.html

Baseball Blog

For my final blog post, I read The Unbearable Whiteness of Baseball and Time to Cancel 2020 Baseball Season: A Lesson for Colleges and Universities. Both of these articles have highlighted major issues in baseball as a whole and the MLB. For the first article, Kang looks into how African Americans have been either misrepresented, left out, and under appreciated in the MLB and baseball as a whole. This has led to a what the article title calls the whiteness of baseball. In the article, Kang discusses how baseball in InterCitys has lost its appeal to the African American population due to this misrepresentation in the game. Kang highlights how social media and other outlets have allowed these kids to appeal to the game of football and baseball. The one thing that baseball has done is embrace the Latino community to a sense. Stories like that of José Bautista and his bat flip caused an uproar with the older generation who has had a hard time embracing the new ways people celebrate and react to a big play. They rather the player dress and act “normally”. The dressing part comes into the play with Ken Griffey Jr. and the way he would wear his hat backwards and his shirt untucked. Several older white gentlemen in baseball weren’t fans of this and other people associated with baseball have had a hard time embracing change. Instances like these is the reason why baseball has lost its appeal to people. The other article focuses on how the MLB have failed at handling the COVID-19 pandemic. The one problem the article found with the MLB is the fact that it was having a season all together. It failed to go bubble like the NBA and in return had caused outbreaks among teams. The MLB could’ve took the hit due to the rich owners. Overall, what both articles have pointed out is that the MLB and baseball have failed to adapt. Baseball is more about keeping the things how it was and making money. What it should be doing is embracing all races, social media, and new norms so the sport doesn’t die.

Week 15

    My topic for this week is on basketball. In Steph Curry…The “Male Machine Gun Molly”?: Gender and Styles of Play in Modern Basketball, Cat Ariail discusses how men’s professional basketball players are often compared to other men’s players and not women’s players, and that Stephen Curry’s success is a result of an implied feminization of the game of basketball, as it has become less physical and aggressive than it was years ago. She also talks about how many people try to compare Curry to lesser-known male players, but that, instead, he should be compared to a woman who played professionally in the late ‘70s and ‘80s, Molly Bolin. She and Curry were similar because they both overcame restraints on their talents, became better as a result, and played to the strengths of the systems they were placed in, not to mention both of their quick and skillful shooting abilities and releases. However, unlike Curry, who has a stable and unlikely to fade in the near future league he gets to play in, Bolin had to play in multiple leagues before being forced to not really play in any professional league at all, due to poor management and the likes. Men and women’s basketball today is shifting towards a more androgynous style of play in which honed skill over raw athleticism is being more and more emphasized, and both sectors of the game are benefitting in one way or another because of it.

    In God’s Work: Hakeem Olajuwon, Islam, and the Role of Religion in American Athletics  Alex Parrish talks about Hakeem Olajuwon’s success in the sport of basketball that seemed to come once he started practicing his childhood religion of Islam. Olajuwon, much like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Muhammad Ali, was looked down upon for practicing his religion, one of which is seen by many Americans as only the extremist sects of it and, therefore, violent and anti-West. However, much like Kareem and Ali, Olajuwon found success in his faith, as once he started practicing he won two NBA championships and multiple personal accolades, whereas beforehand he lost in college championships, one NBA championship, and a marriage. While Olajuwon and many others will probably always be looked down upon for expressing their political or religious views publicly, it can be refreshing to those who believe the same things as those athletes to know that it can be possible to succeed in a world that may seem to be actively against them.

Week 15: Tennis

The readings I chose this week discussed the globally celebrated sport of Tennis, specifically focusing on the unique abilities, identities, and contributions of two tennis greats, Serena Williams and Bill Tilden. The first article, “The Meaning of Serena Williams” written by Claudia Rankine, is not simply a review of the countless trophies, awards, corporate partnerships, and athletic achievements that have become synonymous with the tennis star each time she steps on the court. While that is undoubtedly a major part of Serena’s celebrity identity and what she inherently embodies, winning at the highest level was not always apart of her journey or what people recognized about her talent. As a Black woman playing a sport that was historically identified with the white upper-class, Serena has been forced to constantly battle more than just her opponents for respect and accreditation. In order to understand why Serena’s excellence seems incomparable, it is first necessary to recognize that she has had to not only train excessively in order to become the greatest tennis player of all time, but she also has to work equally as hard to receive fair treatment from unjust officials, the media, and organizational leaders who still favor a tennis match that is dominated by skinny, blond, white women. Serena Williams was not raised in a six-figure income household that could pay for the best tennis instructor and physical therapist, nor was she born with a body-type or personality that is easily swallowed or accepted within the traditional standards of European civility. She is the opposite of everything that tennis has been defined as throughout history; ultimately, that is exactly what makes her success and her distinct excellence so unimaginable, powerful, and revolutionary. Serena William’s is the definition of black excellence, and her unapologetic nature is what will subsequently re-shape the ideals of tennis into a more inclusive, diverse, and highly competitive sport than it already is.

The second article, “Taking Punishment Gladly: Bill Tilden’s Performances of the Unruly Male Body” written by Nathan Titman, analyzes another historically prominent contributor to the game of Tennis, Bill Tilden. Tilden, a seemingly attractive, highly athletic white man, had dominated men’s tennis throughout the 1920’s and was not attacked with discriminatory messages within the media or by spectators due to his physical attributes. Instead, his internalized battle with homosexuality caused the star to oppress an innate side of himself in order to achieve his impressive athletic goals and to fit within the normative expectations of hyper-masculinity. Homophobia and the restrictive ideals of masculinity deeply influenced and structured both American society, but also competitive sports in general. Despite Tilden’s highly controversial identity being hidden away until the mid 1940’s, the author analyzes how the tennis icon’s playing style and on-court persona was indicative of his boundary-pushing existence, and the fluidity of his sexuality and gender. Although Bill Tilden undoubtedly felt the pressures of societal acceptance and held a fear of retaliation from countless different sources of power, causing him to fervently hide his true identity for decades, he was still able to achieve a ranking within the exclusive list of tennis superiority, and his iconic legacy remains undisputed among those who achieved greatness afterwards. No one could ever take away his achievements on the court, and to him, as well as for Serena Williams and countless other great athletes that faced adversity within their sport, their uniqueness and method of self-expression within a normative system is ultimately what will keep their legacy alive for generations to come.

This weeks readings were focused on defining the intrinsic, but complex relationship between politics and sport within different civilizations. The articles, “While the World Watched” and “A Dream Re-Routed” reflected an inherent and historical correlation between these two societal entities.

The first piece, written by journalist Wright Thompson, described the contextual circumstances, underlying political and humanitarian issues, and the identifiable cultural principles that majorly composed the experience and legacy of the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. Throughout the 20th and 21st century, winning the World Cup has been considered universally to be a uniquely defining moment of historical achievement, global recognition, and unified patriotism for every participating nation. Its value has not lessened with time and within the modern era, each individual nation’s fervent desire to bring home a World Cup trophy reflects more than simply a transcontinental love for football. This athletic achievement inherently represents a unified, societal demand for globally recognized respect, and winning the World Cup will immediately cause a countries’ collective identity, political autonomy, and cultural distinctions to gain a level of undeniable credibility. This heightened level of patriotism can be easily identified within Argentinian culture in regards to their 1986 World Cup victory; but as the article details, the present-day idea of this “heroic” 1986 national team and their victorious legacy has been intentionally manipulated and emphasized in order to overshadow the prior Argentinian achievement of 1978 and the devastation it gradually became associated with. In order to accurately visualize the deeply felt trauma and cultural sensitivity that will permanently define this historical moment for many Argentineans, the author analyzes different personal experiences and memories of diverse citizens who were persecuted, censored, and subjected to unimaginable methods of torture by their own government during the late 20th century and the 1978 World Cup. These previously unknown, primary experiences that occurred within the same physical location and time period as a historically renowned event provide the audience with a better understanding of the connection between sports and politics. The World Cup is often associated with athleticism, teamwork, patriotism, and unity; but for the countless victims and survivors of the “Dirty War”, it is difficult to imagine the level of sorrow and resentment which is identified to that period of their nation’s history. It is probably more accurate to assume these survivors associate the World Cup with political exploitation, political distrust and division, and ideological discrimination instead of the other previously stated characteristics.

The second article, “A Dream Re-Routed” analyzes the experience of two teenage brothers named Lizandro and Diego Saravia, who both deeply loved the game of soccer and held a promising opportunity to play at the collegiate level in the United States (their immediate families’ home for over 8 years) before they were unexpectedly and unfortunately deported back to their native El Salvador. Both Lizandro and Diego were high school graduates and benevolent members within their local community, and their illegal emigration to the United States was a decision made by their guardians and happened when they were both too young to consent or decide their own path. Ultimately, the sole reason for the boys becoming identified by ICE, taken from their families without a chance to say goodbye, and then sent to a foreign place that was so unfamiliar and intimidating, was due to Lizandro’s truthful communication with the federal agency regarding his collegiate soccer scholarship. The authors, Priya Desai and Ben Teitelbaum, were able to present these personal experiences of the two young players in order to highlight the unjust and unfortunate connection between politics and sports that can re-shape someone’s life for the better or for the worst. Thankfully, both boys were given an opportunity to play soccer at a university in Nicaragua, but it was heartbreaking to identify the political influence of strict immigration protocols within the lives of two good-natured athletic players.

Covid-19 has changed the world as we know it especially in sports. Across the country athletes are having to stop playing their respective games due to the risk of further spreading the deadly disease. While many look at this as a necessary evil to slow the spread of the pandemic many don’t understand the long term impact this has already had on programs. Cancelling seasons results in huge losses of revenue and has forced colleges including are own App State to cut programs from the agenda permanently. App State has already cancelled Men’s soccer, Tennis and indoor track. While the immediate impact of these cuts like scholarships are in the limelight at the moment the cut goes much deeper. 

In the articles “Former App State Coaches, Players Come to Terms with the Cutting of Their Programs” and  “App State’s Rich Soccer Tradition…Was the Golden Era Pushed to the Wayside?” we are brought witness to long term and historical impacts that can be caused. Just by cutting Men’s soccer the university is letting go of a promising program that recorded 11 wins the previous season and their rich history that dates back to the 70s. Soccer used to be a serious sport on App State’s campus and hold claim to the player who has the most career goals in NCAA soccer history, Thompson Usiyan with 109. By eliminating this program you are ending what was once a national powerhouse in the game and further burying your universities roots. 

This personally was hard for me due to the fact that I work in athletics and have to see both sides of this terrible process. Seeing athletes get their sport ripped from them is a terrible thing and even worse may be the coaches. Jobs that they depend on to pay the bills no longer exist and division one opportunities don’t open up every day. On the other hand to keep the university afloat cuts did have to be made and unfortunately the big money makers like football aen;t on the chopping block. 

Overall this pandemic has had massive effects on the sporting world and maybe has given a chance for us to rethink how we do collegiate sports as discussed in  Andrew McGregors piece. Here he discusses the idea of massive funding of sports putting people in awkward spots resulting in their success in order to meet financial guidelines. In other words if we invest so much into a program but it’s not successful we can’t get our return. This is what has happened at big programs like Texas A&M, they have invested so much in football that if the season is not played they stand to lose upwards of 85 million. This raises ethical dilemmas in the sense that it wasn’t safe enough to play sports like tennis but it is safe enough to play high contact games like football.

Racism and racial stereotypes have surrounded sports forever in numerous different ways. In the readings “From Superman to Just a”Boy” and ”3 Days That Rocked the World of Native American Sports Imagery” we see first hand the drastically different ways racism still exists in sports even today. 

The first regards to superstar Quarterback (QB) Cam Newton and his actions after his superbowl 50 loss to legend Peyton Manning. Following a game where Newton was subpar from his MVP season standard the loss became too much prompting him to walk out of the post game presser. This prompted criticism all over the media world (as it should) but none more so than former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski when he said “You will never last in the NFL with that attitude. The world doesn’t revolve around you, boy!”. The key part of this tweet comes with that last word “boy” a term used to undermine and emasculate black men for centuries. This display of clear racism in 2016 is the sad truth that we still have a long way to go to reach any sense of equality. To further this argument you have to look no further than a few years prior when the man on the other side Manning lost his superbowl to the Saints. Following his loss the future first ballot hall of famer promptly left the field shaking no one’s hand and what was the media’s reaction, crickets.      

In the second article we are brought to a more recent issue that has prompted positive change already. The Washington franchise previously known as the “Redskins” finally changed their name after years of petitioning. The change comes after prominent revenue generating companies like Nike and Amazon pulled all Redskin affiliated products from their stores until the name was changed. This would have resulted in millions of dollars being lost even over the course of just one year which is unsustainable even for a billionaire owner like Dan Snyder. The question raised here however is was the change made because people are changing or because they were forced to. This is extremely important when you go back to the fact that change wasn’t made until pressure was placed upon the franchise and the fact that as recently as 2013 Snyder said “We will never change the name”. In my personal opinion I can’t believe that this was a change made in good faith with the track record of Snyder. However, the impact of this has already been felt in a positive way for stereotypical norms. Teams like the Indians, Blackhawks, Braves, Chiefs, etc… have been forced to look at themselves under the microscope. 

Overall while it is evident changes are being made we have to ask ourselves why they are changing. There is no doubt racism still exists in today’s world and in sports. With people like Romanowski and Snyder in positions of power this is a battle we will all continue to fight.