My project ‘Sports Impact on Cleveland’ researches the history, and economic importance of Cleveland’s professional sports programs to the city of Cleveland. Which mainly ties with the overall goal/theme of the course, how sports have shaped identities across the Americas. Cleveland, Ohio was once an industrial powerhouse at the turn of the twentieth century, although looking at the city today it tells almost an entirely different story. Since the 1960s and 1970s Cleveland has had a steady decline economically, through this time of decline their professional sports teams have helped the city economically, and socially. Whether these teams were doing good or not, they brought its citizens together in celebration or devastation. Cleveland celebrated an NBA championship, and a winless NFL season almost simultaneously, which shows how Clevelanders love their teams. In my video I talked about the importance of the three professional teams playing year round has on bolstering the downtown economy of Cleveland, because of how close together the stadiums are to each other has given opportunity to restaurants and eateries to flourish.

Since there is such a focus on history and economics in my video, it ties to the week three reading of ‘A World without Sports’ by Lars Dzikus. My video ties to the article because it talks about endurance, the importance of sports on many aspects of social life, and my video discusses the importance of the professional teams on the identity and overall culture of Cleveland. This discussion brought up by Lars Dzikus could easily be continued, as the Covid-19 global pandemic is still very much affecting how sports are handled. It connects to my research as how the change in everything affects Cleveland’s downtown that is dependent upon its sports teams bringing in fans.   

My video on Cleveland focuses mainly on the importance of sports on the identity and economy of Cleveland. This plays into a major theme of our course of how sports are more than just teams on the field playing a particular sport, and groups of people can form their identity around a team. Cleveland is usually made fun of, looked over, and laughed at in many respects as a city, as teams, and as citizens. Cleveland acquired their professional sports programs at times when the city was booming economically prior to the mid 1970s. Cleveland historically is a blue collar, industrial city, though since a manufacturing crash in the 1970s, Cleveland has been on a steady down turn economically. As the city turned downward economically, their professional teams helped change the identity of Cleveland. Cleveland is no longer known for being an industrial powerhouse, rather they are mostly known for their professional sports team, for being either good or bad. This ties into our week two discussions on how historians should view sports history, as I like to think I used these tools in my own research. I mainly look back toward the reading ‘Clifton Forge and Back Again’ by Josh Howard as it motivated me to look into an area I had never looked into. I hoped to uncover parts of sports history that are not normally looked into much like Josh Howard did in his focus on Clifton Forge little league baseball. I focused a lot on Lebron James and what he means to Cleveland, as he is a Cleveland native who made it big and brought an NBA championship to the city. Not only on the court, but economically he boosted the city tremendously, at one point raised employment in Cleveland by nearly twenty-five percent. 

My project expands on what we read and learned in class because of the in-depth look on how teams affect the city, both socially and economically. While my topic does not fit perfectly with a certain week discussion, I feel as though it fits with the overall goal/theme of the course. In some ways my digital project connects with the week two readings, as well as to a lesser extent the week three readings. My project looked into how sports have helped shape identities in Cleveland There were three very important sources toward my own research in understanding the history of Cleveland, it’s sports teams, and the sports teams economic impact upon the city. One was a book on the history of Cleveland, which outlined the changing identity of Cleveland from an industrial city to where it is headed now. The second was the economic impacts of Lebron James, and the second was mainly on the Browns but also on how sports teams as a whole affected the economy of Cleveland. These articles helped shape my economic focus of the project, as well as explain why Cleveland is increasingly becoming more well known for its sports teams rather than a former industrial city in the midwest. The identity of Cleveland is changing in a very interesting way as it is continuing to morph more toward being known as a sports city/metropolis.


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