April 24, 2014 § Leave a comment
47. Because David Roth at The Classical thinks you should and he knows what’s what in the world of online sportswriting. I know because he interviewed me yesterday for his own Kickstarted website for smart sports fans (a bit more journalistic and poetic than ours may turn out to be) and said some great things about us.
Here are a couple of excerpts:
DR: What are the challenges of writing about this sort of thing within academia, and what about that experience made you want to take to the web?
YC: I’ve already mentioned that this sort of publicly accessible writing tends to be undervalued at many institutions. Moreover, among many academics, especially in the humanities (the case I know best), sports are viewed with disdain, as a kind of brutish populist phenomenon unworthy of scholarly examination. But it’s also the case that most of us teaching and conducting research in the field of sports studies can find ourselves somewhat isolated within our institutions, even when our work is supported and taken seriously. There are still very few departments of sports studies around the world.
This means that most of us have to venture outside our disciplinary home to find interlocutors. This can happen, sometimes, in our institutions as well as through the organization of panels at conferences. But the possibilities that an online, publicly accessible forum offers for collaboration and for informing ourselves and our readers about the great depth and range of work that others like us around the world are doing simply can’t be reproduced within the structure of the university and its publishing apparatus. And speaking for myself, a relative newcomer to the field of sports studies by comparison with many involved in the project, already in this early stage, the Allrounder has given me the opportunity to discover work I hadn’t realized existed.
In this sense, the Allrounder is a resource. It’s like a big, awesome room someone can walk into to find that these great conversations among smart people on issues that I care about, not just as a fan, or as a sports studies scholar, but as someone who lives and cares about our world and the role of sports in it; who knows that sports isn’t just escapist entertainment but a critical experience through which billions of human beings around the world shape their images of themselves and their place in local, national, and global communities. At the Allrounder, we know this about sports because we count ourselves among those billions; and we address the sporting experience with respect and with a desire to understand—and to help others understand—it more deeply, ultimately with the hope that this understanding will empower us to shape our experience of sports more actively.
DR: What do you envision as the thing that will make the Allrounder stand out from various other sports-y sites out there, and the thing that it will contribute to the conversation that other sites can’t? How will the money raised through the Kickstarter go to make that happen?
YC: Our contributors, mostly academics, dedicate enormous amounts of time to actual research and serious critical reflection on sports and that really makes a difference. But there’s more, because typically the time it takes to craft academic work and to publish it in traditional venues means that the work of scholars falls behind the curve of the topical.
At the Allrounder, the size of our pool of regular, rotating contributors counters this by allowing that same caliber of thought and writing to speak accessibly to issues in the world of sports that are happening right now, in real time. Then, the geographical and disciplinary diversity of that pool will make the Allrounder the only place where you can get a global perspective on sport from a variety of angles. Economists, historians, sociologists, literary and cultural critics, anthropologists, kinesiologists and others all see a different sporting universe. Their specific ways of seeing help bring different territories in the world of sport into sharper relief. No other site does this.
Typically, the kind of writing our contributors will be doing will not be recognized as legitimate by their institutions for the purposes of promotion and merit pay increases. In many institutions, there is still a prejudice that views with suspicion academic writing that is publicly accessible and unvetted by other academics. For our first year, while we get off the ground and transition to ad revenues, the money we are looking to raise through Kickstarter—besides supporting the infrastructure of the site—helps to make all this cool think-y stuff happen in much the same way that the money in medicine, law, and business helps attract academics in those fields to venture outside the university: by giving academics a tangible reward for the time and energy they will be dedicating to generating high quality content for the site.
So if you weren’t sold already, surely you now are aware that if you care about sports, or really just about our world at all, then The Allrounder is something you want to back. Go to our Kickstarter page and do so now.
April 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
46. Because if you do, you’ll be giving yours truly, Bad Prof, a sweet assist, just like Jimmy King of the University of Michigan’s legendary Fab Five!
So drop a dime today and then (because we’ve still got a long way to go) make sure that you spread the word so that your friends do too.
And while you’re thinking about us:
April 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
By now, most of you must know that I’m co-founding and co-editing a new online forum for thoughtful observers of sport: The Allrounder. If so, you also know that to raise funds for our launch and first year of operation, we’re in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign that will run until May 20. We are asking for $55,000 in donations. As usual for Kickstarter, if we don’t get it all, we get nothing. And if we get nothing, the world doesn’t get The Allrounder. So the stakes are high. Over the next month I’ll be using Between the Lines to hector, harass, badger, cajole, coax, persuade, boss, plead, beg, wheedle, entice, sweet-talk and otherwise try to force my readers and friends to kick in a few bucks to help us go live. If everybody does just a little bit, we can make it.
In case you’re already convinced: go to our Kickstarter page now.
Today, I offer a visual indicator of the caliber of content we’ll be running: a virtual library of selected works written by those who’ve already signed on to contribute their thoughtful, accessible perspectives, from a broad range of disciplinary angles, on the whole world of sport and its attendant culture. They are not just intelligent and informed thinkers, but superb storytellers eager to share their work with other scholars and, especially with a broader audience. How great would it be to have a single, free place online where you could go to read brief, accessible essays on topical issues in sports culture around the globe by the world’s leading sports culture intellectuals? So peep this dazzling array and, if you care about sport and its role in shaping our world, you will surely feel as I do, that this is an exciting venture worthy of your support as well as that of your friends.
To make things easier, as you peruse the titles below, clicking on any of the book cover images will take you to our Kickstarter page.
April 2, 2014 § 2 Comments
I wrote most of this a few years ago. It seems much more important now. And so I added a bit to it at the end. Thanks for reading.
What is my father’s voice? What does it sound and feel like? What does it say? What difference does it make? I’ve written about how radio broadcasts would help me mute the sound of his voice as he and my mother argued and how, at a metaphorical level, my father’s desires and voice loomed as large in my childhood as Wilt Chamberlain loomed in the Philadelphia Warriors offense. But in fishing out the memories of those feelings, I’ve also snagged some other memories, other stories, and other feelings. They don’t all literally involve his voice, but the most important one does. « Read the rest of this entry »
September 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
Today I received the good news that the new course I designed — Global Sports Culture — was approved so that I will be able to offer it as Comparative Literature 100 in the Fall semester of 2014. This gives me a chance to devote more of my teaching time to the topic of sports, to broaden my teaching repertoire beyond the culture of basketball, and it offers students who have been interested in, but unable to enroll in my Hoops Culture course, a chance to take a different sports-related course with me. So please share this with anyone you think might be interested. « Read the rest of this entry »
August 24, 2013 § Leave a comment
This was written sometime in the summer of 1996, after the Bulls won the NBA championship, led by the trio of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and, implausibly, their former nemesis and Detroit Piston Bad Boy, Dennis Rodman.
A former colleague and good friend of mine, Grant Farred, with whom I’d shared numerous conversations about sports, invited me to write it for a collection he was putting together. Grant went on to a very successful academic career in the field of sports studies, but this particular collection never got published and I thought my contribution was lost forever. But I recently found the typescript in a drawer at my parents’ house and thought I’d share it here. Some of the writing and formulations are out-of-date, embarrassing, or just wrong. But I haven’t changed anything in it.
You have to turn your imagination back to the 1995-1996 season and especially the finals (or fire up some youtube clips from the period). And if you can, then this piece might have some historical or archival value – as a way of seeing the Dennis Rodman of that time. ~ yc
Dennis Rodman looks out of place on a basketball court. His body doesn’t seem to belong, not to him and not on the court. First, there’s the way he runs the floor. For all his athletic ability, maybe even because of his athletic ability, Rodman runs like that guy in middle school: the one the coach pulled out from behind the school where he was smoking cigarettes with the other dirtballs, switched his leather jacket for a pair of gym shorts, and put him at center because he’d hit puberty before anyone else. He could run the floor faster and longer than any of us who had been doing it all our young lives, but purely as a physiological act. His body seemed to do it in spite of himself, in spite of his mind, which surely was elsewhere. Knees picked up too high, landing almost on the tips of his toes, arms doing nothing but helping him run. He could run alright, he was a natural runner, but not a basketball player who was running. He could jump too, but the same way, as a natural jumper.
Our resentment surely began there, covetous of squandered gifts we knew already we would never enjoy, we turned our timid pre-pubescent wit at everything else about him: his skills first, but also his grades, his appalling and shameful delinquency, and above all, his nonchalance, which we, true to the formula of athletics, recast as “lack of intensity,” egotism, or when it related to the coach, “insubordination.” The “head case” was born of our envious juvenile imaginations. This is Rodman, and you see it everytime he pulls down a defensive rebound. He seems almost afraid to move his feet because of the disaster that will ensue if he tries to do that which he does so well when he’s just moving in a straight line down the flow while he has to think think of something else, like how to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible. « Read the rest of this entry »