21G.221 | Spring 2019 | Undergraduate

Communicating in American Culture(s)

Topics to Guide Reading and Discussion

The Language of Sports in American Culture

In the foreword to his book Choosing Sides, Stanley Aronowitz claims, “The rise of the sports metaphor in American life is among the most significant cultural developments of our age. The ubiquity of the metaphor may now have reached the point where sports is the metaphor for what we mean by American life.” As you study the materials, keep Aronowitz’ s claim in mind and be prepared to contribute in an informed discussion of the following topics and questions:

  1. According to William Deresiewicz, football is war; baseball is the farm; and basketball is the city. What does he mean? What is he saying about American culture?
  2. Macri cites a scholar who claims that there is a difference between a sport spectator and a sport consumer. What does this distinction tell us about how Americans assign value to sports and competition?
    • In his article, Macri seems to set up a paradox: “Sports encourages commercialism, sexism, and nationalism,” and sports gives us “hidden values embedded in competitors and communal insights sports give us on a national scale.”
    • What is Macri’s key message (thesis/conclusion)?
  3. American work culture abounds in sports metaphors that go beyond small taik in the coffee room. How can the winners-vs.-losers dichotomy embedded in many sports metaphors work against a business?
    • Author Josh Chetwynd claims that high-profile CEOs use fewer sports metaphors than managers tend to use. What is a possible explanation for this difference?
    • Does language related to sports play a metaphoric role in your other culture(s)? Explain.
  4. Why do Americans take sports writing and writing about sports so seriously?
  5. What is your favorite sport to play? To watch? List below 10–20 idioms and metaphors related to these sports; bring the list to class.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2019