HIST 280 - Sports and Ethnic America: 1900 to the Present 001


Day & Time: 9:30-10:45 am

Chemistry 209


Academic Year: 


Course ID and Name: 

Section Number: 

Course Syllabus

Course Prerequisites: 

Prior experience in a twentieth century U.S. history course helpful but not required.


Course Description: 

This course will examine how sports and the culture of leisure transmitted popular “notions” (stereotypes) and cultural assumptions about race, ethnicity, gender, and class at the turn of the twentieth century and in the early twenty-first century America.  This is not a sports “appreciation” class, but one that seriously examines connections between history, society, and sports.  In addition to examining how athletic competitions served as a microcosm for social conflicts and change, we will evaluate how team spirit and sporting triumphs overcame or ameliorated social divisions and boundaries of exclusion.  This course will follow a thematic approach based on a loose chronological order including, but not limited to:   Sports and popular music and dance culture, Japanese American internment and World War II, racial segregation and integration, Cold War nationalism, immigration, sexuality, homophobia and HIV/AIDS, Title IX, sexism in sports broadcasting, the commodification of child athletes, America’s “melting pot” theme, and Indian boarding schools and mascot controversies.


Course Objective: 

Students will gain an understanding about how American sports reveal social, economic, and political processes in U.S. history.  Students will learn the difference between race and ethnicity and how these categories intersected with gender and class to shape popular ideas or “notions” about diverse social groups in America.  Students will learn how sports became a vehicle for expressing nationhood, national pride, commercialism, and aspirations for empire.  Students will debate whether athletes bear a responsibility to serve as role models to their respective communities and society at large.  One of the broader questions students will also consider is whether sports and athletes inspire social change, or whether society ushers in changes that our sports culture simply mirrors.


Course Requirements: 

Each student is required to attend weekly lectures and participate in weekly discussions about the assigned readings.  Students should be aware that mandatory discussions about the readings are heavily emphasized in this course.  Discussions may take place during lecture meetings, or in separately scheduled sections (depending on enrollments).  Students must complete all assigned readings by their syllabus due dates, view films in-class and possibly outside of class online, and complete all course exams and written assignments as scheduled.  Students may be required to view challenging films or video clips that depict scenes of racism, sexuality, violence, homophobia, anti-semitism, and other sentiments of intolerance to better understand American history.  You will also read materials that tackle these same themes.  Students may be asked to participate in class presentations and take graded pop quizzes if there is a lack of student preparation.


Course Grading: 

(The values assigned are subject to change):

  • Attendance/Discussion                                             15%
  • 4-5 Short-Write Ups on Assigned Readings        20%
  • Midterm                                                                         25%
  • Analytical Paper Assignment                                   10%
  • Final Exam                                                                   30%


College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Contact Us

Department of History
César E. Chávez Bldg.
Main Office, Room 415 
1110 James E. Rogers Way
Tucson, AZ 85721

Email: history@email.arizona.edu
Tel: (520) 621-1586
Fax: (520) 621-2422