During the fall and winter months much of my life rotates around being able to watch professional football games and to cheer for my favorite team, the Carolina Panthers. It’s my favorite sport because I enjoy the energy, the socialization, competition and action. Because it is so widely revered in America, it is not very difficult to find another football fan or sports bar. Football is widely represented in the media which also helps to be a fan. ESPN (Entertainment Sports Programing Network) covers games if you may have missed a game or play as well as offer news about teams and players.
During the local news broadcast a sports segment is always included. And in local as well as nationally published newspapers a sports section is included. I however am not a typical viewer/fan in the football demographic. Most fans are middle aged white men that make $55,000. However the number of women watching football is on the incline. According to the New York Times the number of women watching “Sunday Night Football” has increased 23 percent over the last two years. (Baker, 2011) The fan base for football is expanding for minorities as well. I think this is because more minorities are playing the sport.
To get a better understanding of how sports and society affect one another I went to a local high school football game. I have always gone to football games as a fan, never as an observer and I knew this experience would be different. I decided to attend this event because I enjoy football and I knew a few of the students from work that go the high school. It was also an opportunity to learn more about high school, I usually only watch NFL (National Football League) football games. The following are my observations from the fieldwork done during the football game.
The setting for this game was a high school football game was Carolina Forest High School. The elements that would affect behavior included banners, posters and cheerleaders. This affected the home team in a positive way as they feel more support and motivation. It could negatively affect the away team as they feel intimidated and home team as they could feel more pressure to win. The attendees/fans were students, parents, cheerleaders, ROTC members, teachers and other dance team members. Most of the fans were white high school students between the ages of 14 to 17.
I would say it was divided pretty evenly between males and females. They seemed upper middle class with a few that seemed to be upper class. The players were similar to the fans as they were high school students, 14 to 17 years old and middle class but there were a few more black players than white. The dress of the fans was typical of teenagers. Students mostly wore jeans, T-Shirts and flip flops. Many were shirts that had the schools logo and mascot on it. There was a group of young men with hair dyed black and wore similar skateboard type attire.
The students seemed to stay in groups together as did the parents. There definitely seemed to be groups that stayed to themselves and did not socialize with anyone outside of their group. This behavior applied to parents and students. The students in these groups were of the same social class and did dress similarly. The atmosphere was very positive and happy at the football games. The home team won which helped with the atmosphere. There were a couple moments of tension when the home team had a penalty or was losing. I saw symbolism in the flags used by the high school’s NJROTC drill field team.
Other symbolism I saw was used by the referees. They used hand gestures to convey the penalties being issued to either team. The other observation I noticed was the language used during the football game. Students used chants that were exclusive to their school to show their support. There was also verbiage used to describe which down and field position the game was being played at. There was also commentary from the announcers tell the audience which players were preforming which plays and their positions. From my field work I learned that energy of the game is in direct correlation of fans.
Because many high school students don’t know the rules of football and go to games as a form of socialization only the energy isn’t as high. However there seemed to be less tension and conflict among the fans as a result of this. When emotions run high, there is a greater risk of conflict. This seems to happen a lot in football because of the loyalty fans feel for “their” team. I previously stated in week one’s assignment that functionalist perspective was most useful when looking at the sociology of football because it played a part in society has a purpose to fulfill as a whole.
And I still believe holds true. It helps to bring people together, gives a sense of competition and a role model for children. It also helps fund the education of promising athletes and promotes good physical wellbeing. American football culture has a positive impact on society. College students that show promise are able to get a higher education on a full paid scholarship. This allows more potentially more successful people in society. People throughout the world love sports. Mankind loves to get together for a common interest and celebrate.
Even in the face of war and other devastating losses, we as a society will feel hope and inspiration from the victory of our sports team. This is the reason why sociologists are so interested in researching sports. It is a strange and intriguing phenomenon. I think the reason the so many participate is the social status it gives you. Children look up to athletes as role models. There is also the factor of money as well. Fans will dedicate a lot of money and loyalty to their favorite players. I also think they enjoy the feeling of having people rely on their abilities and come from very far away to watch them play.
Many just have a passion for the sport they play. Fans play large roles in society. One way they do this is by providing economy to metropolitan areas that have professional or college sports teams. They are also the reason why sports media has grown to be what it is now. If it weren’t for fans there would be need to have things, like instant replay that has helped the integrity of many sports. We wouldn’t have tailgate parties so more members of society can come together for a common interest. “The importance of sport varies with the individual. It plays little or no role in the lives of some people.
For others, it is a light diversion from the cares of everyday life. But for many, it is a central feature of their existence. ” (Delaney, 2003) Sports will continue to play a part in society, people will gather from all across the world to watch sports like we do with the Olympics. There will also be controversy and conflict but I believe the benefits of enjoying sports still make being a sport’s fan worth the effort. References Baker, K. (2011, January 28). Gridiron Girls. Retrieved September 8, 2011, from nytimes. com: http://www. nytimes. com/2011/01/30/magazine/30FOB-wwln-t. html? _r=1 Delaney, T. (2003). Sports and Deviant Behavior.
Retrieved September 8, 2011, from philosophynow. org: http://www. philosophynow. org/issue41/Sports_and_Deviant_Behavior Response to Peer Discussion Board Suggestions and Questions: I think the number of women watching football is unsurprising because many women have men in their lives that love football and expose women to the sport. I grew up watching the New York Giants because my father and our family favored that team. I stopped watching football so often until I met my husband and now we watch every game that is played by his favorite team. If I didn’t have these influences didn’t exist in my life, I wouldn’t watch sports at all.
I’ve always enjoyed independent research. I like to work with groups and on my own which is a wonderful benefit to going to Colorado Technical University. I like being able to physically research and see for myself the ideas and concepts that are in our textbook. It makes the subject of Sociology feel more “real. ” An interesting point is that fan behavior is not only affected by the game it is also affected by the team or sponsor they play for. I think it’s very true that some fans are definitely “fair weather. ” Meaning a fan likes a team or supports a team because they win or are winners.
I believe in supporting a team even if they lose or are not a very popular team. Another point I didn’t mention was how fans affect the player moral in a game. I think that if fans are cheering for a team and have good energy that this can affect a team in good and bad ways; good because the team will try to perform better and bad because they may not perform as well because they feel they don’t need to try as hard. There can also be the opposite effect of a team that is not doing well and is not being supports. They can either succumb to the negativity or work harder to overcome it.