Writing About Visiting a High School Football Game

Visits to all of our field sites in Sociology 215 are meant to do three things:

(1) Encourage you to think about readings and class topics and to use those materials in your discussion of the field experience;
(2) Raise issues for you about participation in community life and political activity and to discuss how engagement and social responsibility, or disengagement and social irresponsibility happen;
(3) Give you field experiences to prepare you for other courses that will have more intensive field experiences, like Anthropology/Sociology 201.

Your paper is not meant to be long. Three or four pages is enough. You also should not try to write about all of the themes given below. Pick your focus, state it, and give lots of description and detail to develop your points.

One of the most important things about the time you spend observing is that you should not be passive. Be involved in activities and, most importantly, talk to people. Try especially to meet people other than the hosts who bring us into the settings. In addition to the main participants in the program (the kids in a school), seek out and talk to some of the people who are more in the background---office people, family members, custodial staff. Look at the questions given for each assignment and ask people in the setting what they think about the issues that are listed.

The Objective of Visiting a High School Football Game

1. Sports and Community.

In this response you must combine observations you make in this field experience with an interpretation of the discussion of the relationship of social capital and civil society in our readings. You may want to draw on the discussion of social capital in Robert Putnam, “Bowling Alone” which you can find on the ERES as well as in Coleman's discussion of social capitl.  The football game you visit ought to manifest lots of social capital—the opposite of what Putnam talks about. 

You want to talk about what you see and what evidence you think exists showing that social capital exists or does not exist.  You will want to do this by describing particular people, particular incidents or events, and a detailed rendition of conversations that are relevant to your theme.

2. Division of Labor

One of the challenges for understanding human service systems is to think self-consciously about how the organization works independently of the activity at hand. A key part of this is the division of labor and in a sports event. One of the things you can look at is who is working, what they are doing, and how the "pieces" of the event are put together to make the thing work and not fall apart. You want to work hard to see "behind the scenes" aspects of the event.

3. Group Behavior

Community sports events are compilations of many "small group" activities. How many can you see, what is happening, and what evidence do you see of organization, hierachy, and ritual among the different actors? Pay attention to both central players in the event and peripheral actors.

What to Write About

a. In all of our writing assignments, one task for you is simply to tell about your experience. Write about what you did, what happened, who you talked to, what caught your attention and what you learned.

b.In more focused terms, it is important to pay attention to who is formally responsible for an activity, who is actively involved as a community participant, and how the relatively uninvolved members of the audience contribute to the whole. One way to capture this is to describe the people who work in one or two key settings.

c. Make a list of the most interesting things you see at the event. Describe them in rich detail and tell why you found them interesting. Often they are interesting because they surprised or bothered you and if that happens tell what you expected and then tell how events you witnessed differ. You want to avoid describing the game in obvious ways---ways one could have written out without even attending. What's interesting, surprising, and counter-intuitive?