Participant Observation

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Participant Observation
Sports are important social mediums in our country, but basketball is the only sport where you can go to almost any park and play with complete strangers. While other sports involve diverse equipment and numerous amounts of players, basketball is a quick and easy game that only takes a court and a ball. While using the participant observation method, one can easily see how pickup basketball becomes a common stage for social interaction. While my original perspective of the sport was that of a friendly natured game among neighbors with a competitive aspect, my notes and observations revealed how diverse individuals who meet on the court can sometimes become aggressive to the point of hostility.

As a gym member of 24 Hour Fitness, I regularly play basketball in their indoor gym. I chose the location in Hermosa Beach because of the diversity of players that attend there. Using the participant observation method, I was both observing and participating while taking notes (obviously not while playing, for that would be an incredible feat). In a time span of two hours, I ended up playing three games while observing six other games. The location I visited was crowded, while ten players were on the court (five against five), about twenty people were waiting on the sidelines throughout the night; however, this number changed as people grew either tired or impatient. On the sidelines was a list of names for people who wanted to play next. This called for a more organized system of who had next compared to parks where people keep track of who verbally called next. I found that about half of the players at the gym were African-American, while the rest of the players were mixed evenly between Caucasian, Asian, and Hispanic. Certain players, based on body shape and skill level, were given different roles throughout the game. The ages of the players seemed to be mostly late twenties to early thirties, and at no point throughout my two...
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