Concept Paper

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07/26/2012

Concept Paper Assignment

Football is a sport that is deeply rooted in American culture. Whether playing football professionally, or in a non-professional context, the primary objective is simple, to win and to have fun while doing it. During the National Football League’s season during the fall and winter month’s millions of men, women and children gather around on Sunday to watch their favorite team play on television or live at stadium packed events that are filled with people passionate about football. Live football games are perfect social situations to analyze from a micro and macro sociological perspective.

Last year, I went to a live football game in Arlington, Virginia to watch the Washington Redskins play against the Philadelphia Eagles. That day, I was there with two other friends Nelson and Luis. Both of them are Redskins fans but I am an Eagles fan. The common norms for people who go to live football games are to get to the stadium hours before the opening kickoff to take part in tailgating. Tailgating often involves consuming alcoholic beverages and grilling food from the tailgate of a car or truck. Tailgate parties usually occur in the parking lots at stadiums and arenas, before and occasionally after games. During this time, family, friends and strangers spend their time talking, eating, drinking and playing games like touch football in the parking lot which are folkways in this social setting.

Fans of the Redskins and Eagles come from all over the country to see the game live. These two teams have a long history and rivalry. This is due to the fact that they are both in the same division and play against each other twice a year. There is an unwritten rule that fans of the visiting team must show respect and be rather tame compared to the home team fans. Usually the home team has the most fans at games and because of this fans of the other team run the risk of getting heckled or hurt if they are rude and or annoying. When I went there I wore my Eagles apparel but being there with two Redskins fans, other people did not really bother me. Although there were some Redskin fans that looked at me disgusted and a little kid even yelled at me “EAGLES SUCK”.

After the tailgate parties have ended Event staff open the stadium gates and start to let people in. Everyone starts feeling anxious and excited because the game is about to begin. As I walked towards the stadium and looked around, I started to see all of the different types of people that come to these football games. There were people dressed in suites that looked like they were going to a business meeting, complete families, college aged men and women acting wild and free and groups of people that come together because of the love they have for football. Goffman’s dramaturgical analysis applies in this setting because there are people like my friend Nelson that let loose in the front stage of the football stadium but are more reserved and quiet in the back stage of their home. Nelson’s role performance during the time we were there at the stadium encouraged me to be loud, cheerful and joyous which is a complete contrast of my normal self in the back stage of my home. In our everyday lives we are all actors and on this Sunday everyone here at the game was a diehard fan sharing the love and passion they have for football and the respective team they support.

As we entered the stadium there were people everywhere. Everyone is bumping into each other but no one gets mad or starts yelling. This is part of the social experience of coming to a football game. Social interactionists will say that the stadium is a symbol that the people use to establish meaning, develop their views of the world and how to communicate with one another. Personal space is not so personal in a stadium but common courtesy should be used like excuse me and sorry if you happen to bump someone hard by accident. The expectation of everyone there is to enjoy...
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