2020 – Fall: Journalism and Society: Race, Football and American Culture

Course Number: JOUR-UA 503, section 1

Day & Time: Mon | 6:20 PM – 9:00 PM

Location: Online

Instructor: David Dent

Prerequisites: None

This interdisciplinary course will explore the evolution of American football into a mirror of black life and politics and a reflection of race relations in American culture. This examination of race and American culture through the prism of American football will lead us to the following question: How does the sport reflect the realities of how Americans live with race when considering that 100 percent of NFL team owners are white while 65 percent of the players in the NFL are black? This question will be explored along with an examination of the role of race in the patterns of positions most likely held by black players on the field. In a sport where a majority of the players are black, the majority of those holding the heroic and prized quarterback positions are white. We will explore the ways media projections of rarified black quarterbacks (i.e. Cam Newton) are so often tainted with stereotyping. We will begin the class with an exploration of the roots of the sports in English rugby and its evolution from an upper class sport into an All American athletic adventure of masculinity. In this regard, we will explore football as a demonstration of hyper black masculinity. We will look at the history of blacks in the sport with a study of the American Football League and the integration of the NFL. This course will also examine the growth of football as a vehicle and model for black protest and support for movements such as Black Lives Matter through Colin Kaepernick and the African American players at University of Missouri who threatened not to play until University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe resigned. We will go to two football games this semester.

Notes: Counts as an elective for the journalism major and both journalism minors.