Cultures of Basketball: Sports in Higher Education
In this presentation, I will share the story of a groundbreaking pedagogical experiment that quickly gained national and international attention: teaching “Cultures of Basketball” at the University of Michigan. Inspired by my lifelong love of the game and informed by my scholarly interests in the role that stories, particularly informal stories, play in shaping our daily lives at the individual and collective level, “Cultures of Basketball” quickly surpassed my wildest expectations. Its appearance in university course listings provoked hundreds of student e-mails begging for one of the 24 spots in the course. The impromptu course diary I posted on my blog drew the attention of local newspapers, ESPN.com and other major online venues in this country and abroad, as well as hundreds of readers per day. Finally, the in-class experience provided challenges unlike any I’d faced in my 20 years of university teaching: negotiating the balance between formality and informality, emotional experience and intellectual inquiry, student and student-athlete (students included 8 members of Michigan’s men’s basketball team), the freedom to openly explore uncharted pedagogical ground and the imperatives of academic integrity, all while making my first foray into blogging and micro-blogging social media.
I teach literature, philosophy, and the culture of sports as equipment for living at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. At Michigan, I started the Cultures of Basketball course in the humanities that I have chronicled at my blog, Go Yago! and that has been featured on espn.com and freedarko.com. I also write for the Good Men Project and Voice on the Floor. I'm currently working on a book on The Meanings of Basketball.