A full credit, college level course offered by the project director. Selected segments of the course offering are also available as lectures, seminars, and public presentations.

Sociology of Sport; Sport and Society

Our course will examine the relationships between sport and society. We will, first, sample and draw on a range of sport analysis and sport history to form a background for understanding the origins and place of sport in past and present society. Although using specific case studies and historical developments to explore this theme, we will be first surveying various sports to work on the general concepts.

Of particular interest will be a study of the ways in which sport does or can arise from and contribute to community; again studying examples and contrasting instances of this in the past and in contemporary society. We will attempt to answer and at least begin to interrogate the question-notion that sport reflects the larger society. Taking seriously, however, the possibility that the reflection may be a two way street, we will examine examples of sport leading and forming society as well.

Secondly, a great portion of the course will be devoted to examining the specific example of Negro League Baseball history to get at these larger and broader sociological questions. Negro League history will be used as the specific and in-depth laboratory for continuing the general examination begun of sport and society. Here we will examine the origins and development of the nation's pastime, and the path taken into the apartheid era sport leagues encompassed by the Negro Leagues; their interface with the larger and Jim Crow society of the US, "major league" baseball in general; and their contribution to the eradication of formalized segregation in the United States. We will specifically look at players' and the Leagues' role leading to social integration under the rubric of collaboration-resistance-incorporation.

We will work out this "laboratory" exploration through readings as well as through hearing out and getting to know players from the Negro Leagues (and some other athletes and commentators on the period) as they tell their own stories. This aspect of the course will draw on the instructor's research into and oral history collection of Negro League player, in-depth interviews. We will study and hear out the participants from the Negro Leagues, and evaluate their careers and roles in the history they formed, against the backdrop of the conceptual schema of W.E.B. DuBois and other writers more contemporary. Through the eyes and experiences of historians and players of sport, we will probe issues of race, gender, and other contemporary topics or problematic areas for the development of sport versus the ideals of sport.

For further information, enquiries, and suggested contacts to help Dr. Allen locate and interview players, or to provide needed support to continue the project, please be in touch with:

Bob Allen
1007 Golfview Ave. #24
State College, Pa. 16801


an Oral History Project by Dr. Bob Allen, Technical Assistance Ron Gruici
Copyright 2006