Re: baseball, soccer and society

Caroline Brettell (cbrettel@SUN.CIS.SMU.EDU)
Wed, 1 Dec 1993 09:14:12 -0600

I replied to this inquiry personally yesterday. I am now trying to post it
on the general list

> Bradd Shorr wrote an article on baseball that was published in "The
> Sciences" May/June 1990. There is George Gmelch's classic article
> "Baseball Magic." It is always reprinted in the annual editions of
> anthropology published by Dushkin. I cannot recall where the original
> appeared. I seem to recall an article on japanese Baseball too but I
> cannot find a reference that I can get my hands on--perhaps a library
> search will yield that.
> This is not my subject but a few thoughts: baseball films have been very
> successful in the last few yars--they reestablish its mythical position I
> think. The field of dreams has become a pilgrimage sight in Iowa;; I think
> there is indeed a good deal of spirituality associated with that
> sport--perhaps because it is not violence; so indeed I think violence
> would change it; no heros--well, there has not been a Babe Ruth or a
> Mickey Mantle or a Hank Aaron in quite some time--a real stellar player.
> Also, to what extent does the fact that many baseball players of Hispanic
> names have an impact? Valenzuela was popular for a short time. I cannot
> believe I am writing this. I know nothing about sports, but the questions
> intriqued me. I do work in a culture (Portugal) where soccer is popular. I
> think each culture has a sport it adopts as its symbolic center. There is
> a good article by Carrie Douglass on the Bullfight in Spain in the "American
> Ethnologist" Volume 11, p. 242ff. Alan Dundes has written about football
> and your students might find something in his work that they can carry
> over into their analyses of soccer and baseball. Finally, they should look
> at the film "Trobriand Cricket"--how the Trobriand Islanders adapted
> Cricket to their own milieu.
> I hope this helps.
> Caroline Brettell, Anthropology, Southern Methodist Univ, Dallas