Jane Allyn Piliavin- Sociology at UW Madison, bascom graphic


Summer, 2016

PROFESSOR: Jane Piliavin OFFICE HOURS: MTWR: 2:45 - 5:00;and Friday by appointment.
Office: 2444 Social Science E-mail: jane.piliavin@wisc.edu
Phone: 262-4344 Messages: 262-2921 Cell: 608-513-5188


CLASS MEETS: in 486 Van Hise, 8:55-10:50 for five weeks, 19 classes, June 13- July 14. The last three weeks, through Aug 5, are for writing final papers.

REQUIRED TEXTS: (available at University Bookstore)

  • D. Stanley Eitzen and George H. Sage, Sociology of North American Sport, 8th edition, Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2009
  • D. Stanley Eitzen, Ed., Sport in Contemporary Society: An Anthology, 8th edition, New York: Worth Publishers, 2009

There will be a few additional readings on electronic reserve or the internet.


100% attendance is required during the times class is meeting. There are only 19 meetings of the class, so missing one class is almost like missing a week in a normal semester of 14 weeks.

There will be no examinations in this class. The requirements are as follows:

  • Class attendance and participation, including evaluations of panel presentations and final student lectures, if any — 10% of grade
  • Book or movie review of 3 pages, due Tuesday of week 2 -- 15% of grade.
  • Panel presentation in week 3 or 4, and 4 page position paper based on it due Thursday of week 4— 25% of grade
  • Take-home quizzes on readings — 15% of grade. Weeks one through four. Current week's quiz.
  • Research paper – 6 - 8 pages – (or lecture of 30-40 minutes) asking and trying to answer a sociological question related to sport. Due August 5, the last day of class – 35% of grade.

All of the papers will be submitted in electronic form to the website http://www.turnitin.com, where they can be checked for plagiarism. Details on signing up are in the paper syllabus. This is to protect both students and professor from unnecessary unpleasantness. Please see this document from the writing lab to refresh your memory about proper citation.


During the first week of class, you will select a novel, autobiography, or film (fictional or documentary) available on video or DVD or currently in theaters. A list will be provided, but you can suggest one not on the list. You will do a 3 page review, consisting of one page in which you describe the contents of the book or film, followed by 2 pages in which you critique it and point out and discuss sociological issues raised in it. This is due Tuesday, June 20. Click here for Sports Illustrated's 50 best films. See instructions.


Each person will be required to participate in a panel discussion and to prepare a short (4 page) paper dealing with one of six panel topics. You will be asked in the first week of class to rank order eight topics in terms of your interest in them and state your preferred side (pro or con). I will do magic with these ratings and let you know by the Friday of that week which panel topics we will use and which one you are assigned to. Panels will take place in weeks 3 and 4. Regardless of when you do your presentation, the paper is due on Thursday, July 7. See instructions.

Click here for panel list.


Take-home quizzes covering the readings assigned for the current and following week will be given out each Thursday in weeks one through four. They are to be handed in on first class day of the next week (2-5). Some questions may ask you to compare something covered in one week's readings with something dealt with earlier. They will be mainly short answer and short essay, with some True-False or multiple-guess. There will be no trick questions, and all answers will be found in the readings. The purpose for this homework is -- in the absence of exams -- to assure that class members have done the reading, allowing us to have intelligent discussions of their content.


This project may be an outgrowth of sociological issues raised in your book or film review, but could be on some other sociological topic. It must be an attempt to answer a sociological question of the form “Does X lead to Y?" You will meet with me in week two regarding your ideas before embarking on your project; there are three options for meeting this requirement:

  • You can do an observation of some sport, either as a participant, a coach, or a spectator. This involves taking "field notes", drawing conclusions from those notes, developing hypotheses, and, when possible, testing them with later observations. This project will also involve doing qualitative interviews with participants. You will turn in a thesis statement and a brief description of your proposed data collection methodology on Tuesday of week 3. Field notes will be turned in once a week in weeks 3 and 4. The project will also involve some library research dealing with the ideas you develop in the course of your observations. The final product is a 6-8 page paper.

  • You can write a 6-8 page library research paper on your topic. You will need to turn in a thesis statement and a list of book and journal references in week three, and an outline and an expanded reference list in week four. You may also use internet sources, interviews with relevant individuals, or other information.

  • You can prepare a 30-40 minute lecture to be given in week 5. This lecture should involve some use of media as visual aids. As with option two, I will want a thesis statement and a list of references in week three, and an outline and an expanded reference list in week four. The lecture cannot rely on materials assigned for the course. The final product is your lecture, but also a "script" (or a detailed outline), with copies of your visual materials or the powerpoint slides, if you use that technique, as well as your reference list.

Graduate students (and honors students) are urged to take advantage of the opportunity to present a lecture; however they are free to choose any of the projects. A longer, more "professional" paper or lecture will be expected. If not very many people choose to do lectures, we will use the last two days of week five for brief presentations of the findings of your observational or library research papers. Papers are due on Friday, August 5, but will be accepted earlier.

The outline of topics, readings, videos, and guest speakers below is tentative. More interesting issues may come up, leading us to change the order of topics, omit some, or add others. I like to keep an open mind.


E&S = Eitzen & Sage, text
E = Eitzen, book of readings

Date Subjects and Videos Assignments

Week 1:

June 13, Monday


What is "sport?" (as compared to play, recreation, etc.)
Play in other species: early origins of sport?


  • George Carlin, "What is sport?" (HBO)

What is sports[man]ship?


  • Unsportsmanlike conduct (CBS, 1995)

No readings, of course.

Readings are due on the date on which they are indicated. For example, you should read E&S, Chapters 1 and 2 for June 14-- that is, ON June 13, today).

14, Tuesday

Why study sport? What is the Sociology of sport?

Methodological issues.

The history of sport

  • VIDEOS: History of tennis (early days)
  • History of women in sport (1999)
  • E&S: Chapter 1
  • E: pp 5-32

  • E&S, Chapter 2

15, Wednesday

Role of the media in sport

*Brian Mason, Assistant Director of Athletic Communications, UW Athletic Department

Sport and societal values.

  • George Carlin, "Baseball vs. football"
  • American game, Japanese rules (1988)


  • E&S: Chapter 11
  • E: 69-84 Messner, Dunbar, & Hunt)

  • E&S: Chapter 3
  • E: pp. 109-11 (Zirin, Eitzen, Coakley, Branch)



16, Thursday

Youth sports:


  • Kids in sports (HBO, 1987) Segment 1
  • Overscheduled kids
  • Violent parents

High school sports


  • Recruiting in grade school gyms (1993)
  • Friday night lights
  • Basketball diploma mills
  • E&S: Chapter 4

  • E: 35-49,139-145, 268-275 (Coakley, Williams & Feldman, Ryan, Farrey)

  • E&S Chapter 5
  • E: 146-152 (Bresnahan)

    ***Book or movie review is due Monday,June 20***

Week 2: 20,


Gender in sport, I: Sport socialization for boys and girls

Sports Injuries

Gender in sports, II:
College sports and beyond

* Terry Gawlik, Senior Associate Athletic Director, UW Athletics, on Title IX


High school girl plays football


21, Tuesday

Winning and losing: The humanistic critique of sport


  • Columbia University 33-game losing streak/
    breaking the streak (1991)
  • Brave in the attempt (1985)/ Special Olympics ice skaters (1998)
  • E&S Chapter 15, pp. 367-372
  • E, pp. 161-170 (Eitzen)
  • Eitzen
22, Wednesday

Character, attitudes, personality, & sport


  • Character and sport (ABC, 1988)

Sports and positive and negative deviance

VIDEOS: (negative deviance)

  • Out of Bounds (1995)

VIDEOS: ("positive deviance" )

Sports and aggression; male bonding


  • Hockey enforcers
  • E&S, Chapter 7
  • E, pp. 184-194; 197-227
    (Lapchick, Yesalis & Bahrke, Barry, Lipsyte)
  • E, pp. 171-183 (Crosset, Benedict, & McDonald)
23, Thursday

The student-athlete and big-time college sports.

Athletic role identity

Injury and retirement from sport


  • UNLV Basketball (1991)
  • Real Sports (HBO, 1998) Arizona State
  • Knight Commission
  • UW Hoops

Week 3:

June 27, Monday


Racial discrimination and stereotyping in sports; "stacking"


  • Larry Doby: 2nd black player in MLB

  • Ila Borders (female pitcher)


June 28,


Continue discussion of racial discrimination

  • E: pp. 112-125; 292-305
    (Lederman, Davis-Delano, Lapchick)
June 29,


Gender and race differences in power, position, and earnings



Sports and social stratification.

Social mobility. Is sport a way up and out?


  • George Carlin "Golf" (1993)
  • History of NASCAR


  • E&S: Chapter 12
  • E: pp 285-291; 306-7 (Simpson, Zirin)


  * Happy 4th of July *  
Week 4: July 5, Tuesday

Sports, religion, and magic


  • Glory of their times (1990) (excerpt on Charlie Faust)
  • Mt. Zion Academy (HBO, 1998)

  • S: Chapter 8

July 6, Wednesday


The economics of sport: college and beyond

*Mario G. Morris, Associate Athletic Director for Business Operations, UW Athletic Department


  • T.Boone Pickens and Oklahoma State

  • E&S: Chapter 10
  • E: pp. 255-267, 276-281
    (Eitzen, Evanoff,Torre)

July 7, Thursday

Sports and politics; focus on the Olympics; other international issues

The Nazi Olympics

* Jeff Sauer, former Head Coach, Men's Hockey, on international issues in sport


  • East German sports (1988)
  • 1980 US Hockey win
  • E&S: Chapter 9
  • E:382 -410 (Coakley,Sage)
  • https://www.ushmm.org/

    When you are on the site, type "Nazi Olympics" in the search bar and browse.
  • Also see, particularly about Jewish athletes:


    Panel papers are due today,
    Thursday, July 7***

Week 5:

July11, Monday


1. Homosexuality and sport


  • Lesbians and the LPGA (Real sports, 2000)
  • Esera Tuaolo, gay former NFL football player (2002) and footnote

2. Identity and the sports fan

  • E:341-370 (Griffin, Cotton, Ireland)

July 12, Tuesday

Long term impact of head injuries.


  • Head injuries (Real Sports, 2010)

Trends and the future of sport

  • Chapter 15, pp. 346-366; 372-373

July 13,14

Class member lectures or brief paper presentations



** Final papers are due Friday, August 5 but will be accepted earlier**

Possible panel topics for weeks 3 and 4:

  • To minimize the possibility of concussions, children should play flag football rather than tackle football until they are in high school.
  • Schools and colleges should give as much emphasis and financial support to sports for girls and women as for boys and men — even if, because of budgetary constraints, this makes it necessary to cut back on the boys' and men's programs.
  • Big time college sports is a commercial entertainment enterprise and has no legitimate place on a college campus.
  • Because of the intrusion of politics and personal favoritism in judging such events as gymnastics, figure skating, and diving, the Olympic games should consist only of sports whose outcomes can be decided objectively, by times, distances, goals, and points.
  • College players in the revenue sports at Division 1-A schools are essentially professionals, like minor league baseball players, and should be allowed to form unions to bargain regarding working conditions and compensation.
  • At public universities, organized team prayer before and after games violates the separation of church and state and should not be allowed, although private prayer and devotionals are permissible.
  • "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing": Vince Lombardi.
  • Organized youth sports programs like Little League Baseball or youth soccer represent an unwise intrusion of adults into the play activities of children.


Questions? Comments? Please contact jane.piliavin@wisc.edu

Picture of football player.



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