Course Descriptions & Syllabi

Course Descriptions & Syllabi

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Note: some or all of the courses in the subjects marked as "Transfer" can be used towards a transfer degree: Associate of Science and Arts or Associate of Engineering Science at DACC. Transferability for specific institutions and majors varies. Consult a counselor for this information.

Areas of Study | | HIST215 syllabus

COURSE TITLE:Special Topics: American Sports History
DIVISION:Liberal Arts

The course provides an appraisal of American sports history within the context of developments in American culture. There will be an emphasis upon issues of race, gender, and ethnicity.

Place into ENGL101.


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
  1. examine American Sports History from different cultural perspectives and demonstrate her knowledge in writing
  2. identify key actors, concepts, and events in American Sports History in writing
  3. analyze the forces shaping American Sports History and demonstrate this in writing
  4. use texts to evaluate primary and secondary sources in American Sports history, and to explore issues of race, ethnicity, and gender in the context of American History. They will do this in writing

One module is equal to one week:
  • Module 1 Introduction and Early American Sports History
    • Welcome to the History of American Sports. I hope that you find the course interesting this semester
    • For your first writing
      • please read the preface and chapter one in A Brief History of American Sports and write a 500 word response to one of the two questions below, your choice
      • Post your answer on our discussion board
      • Be sure to take notes or underline as you read
    • You will find that sports have always been a part of our culture, albeit in some forms you may not recognize
    • Enjoy your journey far back in time, and imagine sports in the "New World" of America
    • Again, you make pick one of the prompts below, and write a 500 word essay to post on our discussion board
      1. Discuss the development of sport in Virginia
        • What sports were popular?
        • How was participation in various sports based upon one's social class?
        • Our authors say that their purpose is to show "How the study of sports cannot be divorced from other social and cultural developments: second, just how changes in, for example, the organization and production of consumption have affected the growth and experience of sports: and finally, how sports have served as a key arena for the formation and definition of gender and class identities."
        • Do you see any of these themes in Colonial times?
        • Be sure to use dates and examples in your post
      2. Discuss the development of sports in the North
        • What sports were popular?
        • What do the sports choices say about the leisure life of the Colonists?
        • Our authors say that their purpose is to show "How the study of sports cannot be divorced from other social and cultural developments: second, just how changes in, for example, the organization and production of consumption have affected the growth and experience of sports: and finally, how sports have served as a key arena for the formation and definition of gender and class identities."
        • Do you see any of these themes in Colonial times?
        • Be sure to use dates and examples in your post
  • Module 2. The Role of Race in American Sports History
    • Reading:
      • Read the "Preface" and "Introduction" to our other text, The Unlevel Playing Field
    • Writing Assignment:
      • Write 400-500 words explaining how sports relate to the general development of African- American History, and how sports relate to the "campaigns by black Americans to become full participants in the social, economic, and political life of the nation."(Wiggins, Miller, p. 2)
  • Module 3 "Vigorous, Manly, Out-of-door Sports": The Gilded Age
    • Reading:
      • Read pages 98-114 in A Brief History of American Sports
      • . As you read, be sure to underline or take notes on the changing meaning of "sports" and the rise of "Muscular Christianity"
    • Writing:
      • Write a 400-500 word essay which discusses the meaning of "leisure time" and respond to this quote found on page 111
        • "Baseball, football, and other team sports also incorporated the specialization of function, advance planning, and rational, goal-orientated behavior generally associated with industrial production. Quantification is central to modern sports, linking them to the scientific worldview with its emphasis on cause-and effect relationships. Statistics allow comparison of performances separated by time and space, and thereby establish common standards of excellence."
      • In your response, think about how organized sports become similar to organized big business, and how much emphasis we place on the "numbers" in the sports we participate in and follow
  • Module 4. Jack Johnson
    • Many of you may not have heard of Jack Johnson. He was vitally important as a ground breaking boxer who defied conventions and subjected to racial taunts his entire career
    • Go to You Tube and find images of him boxing in the early twentieth century
    • Read the article at this link for background material
      • Read- The Unlevel Playing Field. Chapter 2. Section C. Readings 13-16.
    • Writing:
      • Write 400-500 words explaining Jack Johnson's view of his fight with Jeffries, and compare and contrast the views Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois had of Johnson as a boxer and a "representative" of his race
  • Module 5 Sport With a Mission: Football and Basketball Plus Exam 1
    • Reading:
      • Chapter 4 in A Brief History of American Sports
    • Posting:
      • 500 words
      • Discuss the hoped for societal outcomes surrounding the development of American college football (For example, toughness.) with the hoped for societal outcomes (For example, keeping immigrant children out of trouble.) of the brand new sport of basketball
      • Discuss the roles of Walter Camp, James Naismith, and Luther Halsey Gulick in the process
      • Finally, explain how World War I impacted America's understanding of the role of "organized play"
  • Module 6 Professional Baseball and Babe Ruth in the 1920's
    • Readings:
      • Read the SABR article on Babe Ruth click here
      • Read the link above, and also read pages 189-197 in A Brief History of American Sports to discuss Babe Ruth and the development of professional baseball
      • Write a 500 word response
        1. Describe his pitching ability, and discuss his transition to a full-time hitter
        2. Provide a context for his hitting exploits
        3. In what ways does he represent the creation of the "hero Culture" of the roaring 20's?
    • Read this article on mass entertainment and the 1920's.
  • Module 7 Gender and Sport
    • Reading:
      • A Brief History of American Sports, pages 197-209
      • Also read Babe Didrikson
      • Writing
        • Our authors find that early participants in women’s sports often were rebuked for participating in the public sphere and often saw that "cultural pressures brought them back to acceptable behavior"
        • Discuss this and other ideas found in the text, and relate them to the sporting life of Babe Didrikson
        • Was she ever able to be seen as a great athlete, or did pundits try to diminish her accomplishments because she was a woman?
        • 500 words
  • Module 8 Crispus Attucks and Indiana Basketball in the 1950's
    • Go to the link above, and read the article from the Indy Star Newspaper
    • Then go to chapter 5 of your text The Unlevel Playing Field, reading number 16 and get further information on the city and the team
    • After reading both, describe the creation of the Crispus Attucks High School, and measure the importance of their State Championship to the state of Indiana and the African-American Community
    • Did the impact of the championship go beyond sports? Explain.
  • Module 9 Post-War Integration (Paper Due)
  • Module 10 Culture and Dissent: Boxing and Muhammad Ali
    • Reading
      • Read pages 296-314 in The Unlevel Playing Field
      • Our authors write that "The image of the African American athlete was among the most powerful-and controversial-representations of the desire by civil rights crusaders and black power activists to alter the racial landscape for good."
      • One of the most interesting figures of this period is the late and great Muhammad Ali.
      • Our authors say "Ali spent much of the 1960's and 70's challenging the mainstream social order." They also point out that " should come as no surprise that in many emerging nations-in Africa especially- the most widely recognized and highly regarded figure emanating from America during the 1970's was not a political official but Muhammad Ali."
      • The authors of course find that he was a figure of towering social significance, going beyond sports. After doing the reading, write on the following the question: "What made Muhammad Ali such a towering figure both in and out of sports? Why was he so willing to risk upsetting the mainstream culture? What were the results of his actions, and their long-term implications?"
  • Module 11 The Politics of Protest: The 1968 Olympic Games
    • Reading:
      • pages 285-295 in our text The Unlevel Playing Field
    • Writing:
      • 500 word essay answering the questions below
      • There are also many You Tube productions of the actual event if you wish to see it
        1. What factors led to the creation of the protest?
        2. How was the protest organized?
        3. What were the results of the protest?
  • Module 12 Sports and Media
  • Module 14 School and Society: Athletics and Academics
    • Reading:
      • A Brief History of American Sports, pages 272-280
      • The Unlevel Playing Field, pages 379-397
      • Discuss just how much progress has been made in terms of equality of gender and race in nonprofessional sport in America, Use specific examples from the reading, and make your case through the use of quotes and analysis
      • You may wish to see the film "Hoop Dreams" as well. (It is the topic of the final essay in The Unlevel Playing Field.) 500 words
  • Module 15 The NFL and the NBA
  • Module 16 Sports and Business
    • Read:
    • What role does race play in terms of product endorsements?
    • Does television control sports?
    • What will be the impact of the Internet on sports programming and delivery?
    • 500 words
  • The Final Assignment is the Final Examination

Miller, Patrick B., and Wiggins, David K. The Unlevel Playing Field. University of Illinois Press. 2003.
ISBN. 978-0-252-07272-3.

Gorn, Elliot J., and Goldstein, Warren. A Brief History of American Sports. 2nd Edition. University of Illinois Press. 1993.
ISBN. 978-0-252-07948-1

See bookstore website for current book(s) at

  • Homework
    • You will be asked to share responses to important issues
    • Your responses relate to readings in your text and your readers
      • For example, one question might read as follows: "In your view, what was the most important event in American Sports History?"
    • You will share your responses with the rest of the class
    • Your postings will be 500 words each unless noted on the assignment
    • You should use quotes and citations in your work
    • Your grade will be based upon the support you provide for your answer
    • Late assignments will not be accepted
    • At least 30 pages will be turned in to the instructor
  • Tests
    • You will take two essay exams
    • Exams are worth 50 points each, and run 1000 words. You will also submit a copy to
  • Paper
    • Critical Book Review
    • Two 50 point “Critical Book Reviews” must be completed
    • You can see a description of this in the “Modules” section of the course
      • It will be at the top of the page
    • There is a link with a full explanation of the assignment, and a complete list of books
      • It is 1250 words, or 5 pages
  • Critical Book Review
    • American Sports History
      • Worth 50 Points
      • Step One
        • Please look over the book list, and choose a book for your review
        • This step must be completed by the end of the first week of class. Only books approved by me may be used
        • You may not switch your book once it has been assigned
        • You are responsible for getting a copy of the book and showing it to me if you are a campus student
        • You may use the DACC library, use your local library, or buy the book
        • More than one person may choose the same book
      • Step Two
        • Take your time and read the book
        • I would suggest taking notes, or using the highlight options from your eReader or computer
      • Step Three
        • I do not mind if you read other reviews first, but you must use citations for any information you use from the reviews
        • I suggest you use MLA. Failure to use citations will result in your paper being an “F.”
        • You must turn in a complete copy of your review to
      • Step Four
        • Write the review
        • The following is a suggested set of steps I find useful
        • Your review should be 5 pages, 1250 words
        • When using quotes in your paper, do not use more than 25 words per quote. (In looking for a template, what follows seems standard. A number of sites were consulted, and this basic template can be found on page 4 of A Pocket Guide to Writing History by Mary Lynn Rampolla. I have also added suggestions.)
          • Summarize the book and relate the author's main point, or thesis. It is best to identify the thesis with a quote from the author [One paragraph]
            • Describe the author's viewpoint and purpose for writing; note any aspects of the author's background that are important for understanding the book. You can usually find good information on this topic in the preface or the introduction to the book. You must research the author outside of the book as well. For example, visiting a web site or doing other research on the author. [One paragraph]
            • Describe the most important evidence the author presents to support his or her thesis. Again, this is a useful place for a quote. Use the skills you have developed in assessing evidence. [2 to 3 paragraphs]
            • Evaluate the author's use of evidence, and describe how he or she deals with counter evidence. It is important to note if the author does not mention any counter evidence as well. Academic historians should consider counter evidence. [One paragraph]
            • Is the book's argument convincing? If so why, if not, why not? Cite examples from the text. Be sure your comments are grounded in evidence. Simply saying, “I did not like it,” will not work. [Two paragraphs]
            • Compare this book with other books or articles you have read on the same subject. You may use works you have read for the class. You may also use outside research, such as a monograph on the topic. [One to two paragraphs]
            • Conclude with a final evaluation of the book. You might discuss who would find this book useful and why. Also, assess the contribution the book made to your understanding of sports history. [One paragraph]
      • Step 5
        • Take a complete rough draft of your work to the Writing Center. This step must be completed, or 15 points will be deducted from your score
        • The visit will make your paper better. (Online students will use the online component of the Writing Center, titled "FBE." See the file in the course
        • Campus students may also use the service. In both cases, papers must be submitted to the Writing Center ONE WEEK BEFORE the due date and returned in order to count
        • The file is in Blackboard and titled "FBE.")
      • Step 6
        • Complete your final draft, and give a copy to me and send one to
  • Primary Source Work
    • Primary sources will be used to complete some module and exam work
    • When appropriate, links will be provided by the instructor
    • You may also be asked to search for some primary sources
    • Late Work- For the most part, late work will not be counted
    • You will earn a "0" for most late work
    • This includes postings, papers, tests, and the final
  • Course Writing
    • By the end of the semester, you will generate 30 pages of "Bulletin Board" writing and 8-10 pages of test writing
    • You will also complete two short 5-7 page “Critical Book Reviews”
    • Other primary source assignments may be added
    • This creates a total of 43-47 pages
Course Point Totals
Exams 100 points
Homework 320 points
Papers 100 points

Total 520 points

Grades will be assigned based upon the following percentages:
A 90%
B 80%
C 70%
D 60%
F 59%


Membership in the DACC community brings both rights and responsibility. As a student at DACC, you are expected to exhibit conduct compatible with the educational mission of the College. Academic dishonesty, including but not limited to, cheating and plagiarism, is not tolerated. A DACC student is also required to abide by the acceptable use policies of copyright and peer-to-peer file sharing. It is the student’s responsibility to become familiar with and adhere to the Student Code of Conduct as contained in the DACC Student Handbook. The Student Handbook is available in the Information Office in Vermilion Hall and online at:

Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Testing & Academic Services Center at 217-443-8708 (TTY 217-443-8701) or stop by Cannon Hall Room 103. Please speak with your instructor privately to discuss your specific accommodation needs in this course.

Fall 2018

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