For this assignment, you will write a 4-5 page paper on your “sociological imagination”
of personal sports/physical activity involvement. Your paper should address the following
questions: How do you connect your personal history with the “something larger than ourselves,”
as Johnson discusses in Forest and the Trees? How does the social system shape your feelings
about sport? How did the history, culture, and context of the place(s) you grew up affect your
participation in sports and the way you viewed sports? How do social categories (social class,
gender, race, ethnicity, etc,) and the corresponding privileges/disadvantages affect your sports
The first part of your assignment will engage with the historical context. I assume
many of you grew up in the late-1990s or early 2000s. You need to consider what happened in
this historical period in the United States and around the world. What were the notable sports
events that had an impact on your life? What were the major social changes during this period?
What happened in the politics? What were the major technological advancements during this
period, and how these changed the world? Any social or political movements which affected
your life, thoughts, and sports participation? To go further, what were the historical moments
before you were born had direct or indirect impacts on you? (For example, the Title IX of 1972
had a huge impact on girls’ and women’s participation in the US. The 1998 MLB home run race
had revived baseball’s popularity. The rise of Tiger Woods in the 1990s changed the image of
golf. The “Chicago Bulls dynasty” inspired many young kids in the nineties….and a lot more.)
You are encouraged to do some basic historical research and consider how some of these
moments affected you as an individual in the society.
The second part of this assignment requires you to consider social categories,
privileges, and the two bases of power: ideological power and institutionalized power.
Consider the following: Were there any barriers that prevented you from participating or
continuing in certain sports? Were there any advantages that you had growing up that helped you
in the sporting arena? Try to think about the impacts of race, gender, social class, sexuality,
ability, nationality and other factors that may play a role on your sport involvement and
participation. For example, did you ever have to think about being the only person that looks like
you? Did you participate in a sport that is traditionally associated with the other sex? Did you
have to worry about how you would afford new equipment or getting a ride to and from practice?
Elaborate how ideological power and institutionalized power play a role in your experience. In
what ways are you privileged, and in what ways are you disadvantaged?
You are required to engage with and cite either Johnson’s Forest and the Trees or
Thabiti Lewis’s “A letter to my cousin” in your paper. Follow either APA or Chicago Style
when citing your sources.
Times New Roman, 12pt, one-inch margin on all sides, double-spaced, with page numbers.
Tips for writing:
A. Briefly discuss your personal history in sport and physical activity
-Played baseball and basketball. Basketball until freshman year of High school. Baseball still present as I play at Towson University. Have been through lots of adversity and struggles in sports. Broken nose, elbow surgery, stress fracture in my back, knee problems. Had mental blocks before when throwing AKA the yips. Gained weight and became out of shape with all the injuries.
B. Some of the advantages and disadvantages in your sports experience you have been aware of which were related to your ability, height, and fitness level.
-ADVANTAGES: I was always the bigger, taller, more athletic kid on the team. In basketball, I was always the bigger man and had the advantage over smaller guys. In baseball, I was always the big time pitcher and clean up hitter
-DISADVANTAGES: I was growing at a very fast rate, so injuries were an issue. Participation was limited sometimes. I was relied on heavily to carry the team at times because of my ability but it also wore my body down and made me fatigue.
C. Some of the advantages and disadvantages in your sports experience you have been aware in which were related to social categories such as social class, racial identity, cultural background, gender, neighborhood, location, or school?
-ADVANTAGES: I come from a wealthy family and my family knowing a lot of people and resources. This helped with my injuries so I could get with the best people. I am white and was never really segregated or picked on when I was a kid. I am also a male and playing sports were known as a male being masculine by playing sports and being athletic. It makes you look “Cool” and “Popular”. Especially being on a sports team in middle and high school. Lots of boys grew up playing the same sports as me. So it was very easy to make friends and hangout with people outside the sports world.
-DISADVANTAGE: I was always looked at as the guy with the best equipment or apparel or the latest stuff because my Dad had money and lots of resources. Everyone would always ask me to buy them things. Being high on the social class part people might look at you differently. They might think you are automatically not a nice person, stuck up, selfish, and very conceited.
D. Explain the privileges and disadvantages you identified above using the Two bases of power. Ideological power, structural power, or both?
Ideological power: Deals with racial identity, and gender related issues (Stated above)
Structural Power: Deals with family related and social class (Also stated Above)