Youth Radio’s Sports and Fitness Beat curriculum was designed by educators who are fanatical about sports and music. The following is an example of a lesson plan devised as part of Youth Radio’s Sports and Fitness Beat. The program was launched with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey.
Those that will have the most success conducting this particular lesson are probably already well versed in the connections between sports and pop culture. This lesson plan simply provides some ideas of how to utilize sports and popular culture to promote critical analysis of health and social issues. Please feel free to use all or part of this lesson plan. If you find this lesson plan useful or have any feedback we would love to hear from you. Please contact Youth Radio’s Director of Youth Programs, Erik Sakamoto at email@example.com.
Title: Sports Are Everywhere
While the objective of the program is to use conversations about sports as a segue into examining concepts around identity, sexuality, community violence and a variety of other social ideas, it is important for students to first understand they interact with sports culture in ways they may not always consider. If students understand that sports culture extends beyond ESPN highlights and box scores to music, fashion and film, they will become more comfortable looking at sports as more than athletes and teams. One of the goals of this lesson is to establish an initial buy-in from your class.
Goals for Understanding
• Students will understand how sports influence a variety of aspects of society.
• Students will identify how sports shape personal identity.
• Students will identity how sports shapes and reflect regional identity.
• In what ways do people interact with sports outside of playing or watching games?
• Students have five minutes to discuss the influences sports have on fashion. Some examples that can be discussed are the popularity of New Era baseball caps or sports jerseys. Watch the “The History Of The Air Force One” video. After watching the video use some of the following questions to spark a conversation about the relationship between sports, fashion and street culture.
o While the Air Force One has become one of hip hop’s shoes of choice, how is its initial popularity rooted in sports?
o Grandmaster Caz says “If I hadn’t gone hip hop, I would have played ball.” Why do some people in urban environments see hip hop and sports as viable career options?
• Students have ten minutes to further discuss the relationship between hip hop and sports. This conversation can begin by looking at the number of hip hop artists who have played sports on the college or professional level such as Master P, Rick Ross, Game and Lil Romeo. If students are struggling with this idea, it might be helpful to show a highlight video of Lil Romeo, who is currently playing Division 1 basketball for the University of Southern California.
• Students should also discuss the way sports are referenced in hip hop music. It may be helpful to play a few songs such as Jay-Z's "Encore" or Clipse's "Kinda Like A Big Deal" that reference sports. Ask students to think of other sports references in hip hop. Some questions can include:
o Why do artists reference sports?
o Is there a connection between what it takes to be successful in both fields?
• Lead a classroom discussion about how sports affect one’s personal identity. Some questions may include:
o What are some of the ways we define ourselves?
o What are some of the groups we belong to?
o What are the known characteristics of those groups?
o How often to you hear older men talking about their sports glory days? Why do you think this happens?
o Other than money, what are some of the reasons why it is difficult for some athletes to retire?
o Who are some players who retired past their prime?
o Why do you think it is difficult to assume other identities?
• Lead a classroom discussion about regional identity in sports. On a white board, write four regions or cities. Then ask the class to brainstorm which regions are the best at what sports. Challenge students to give concrete reasons for their assessments. The class should read the New York Times article “New York Point Guards Aren’t The Muster.” Some questions may include:
o In what ways does geography help create a region’s sports identity?
o Are there personality traits that are associated with athletes from different regions? Examine the ideas that west coast teams are finesse, Philly fighters have heart or Midwest teams are more “blue collar.”
• During the last ten minutes of class, have students write about an intersection of sports and society that they find particularly interesting. This essay is a working document and will be revisited throughout the course of the class.
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