Sunday, October 13, 2013

An Open Heart and An Open Mind

With a love for athletics, there was no surprise that I chose to investigate the culture of the Rhode Island College Athletic Department. Although I have been playing sports for eight years, my experiences may alter the way I see my field site and the subculture.

When I first began playing sports I started with basketball. With no experience I played on the recreation team but after three years I had been a much better player than when I first started. That spring I played softball, the sport I will always hold dear to my heart. Although it was another recreation team, it was a sport I picked up very quickly. I started at left field my first year and my second year was when the magic began. With the glove my mom used when she played I felt like I had control over the entire game at my favorite spot, short stop. By the end of the seven years I came back from an injury but still played better than ever, and led my team to two championships. Now that I am at RIC and playing tennis on the team, I appreciate sports more than ever. I make up five percent of the population that plays sport and that is something to be thankful for. With sports being a huge part of my life examining the culture behind it makes me appreciate sports that much more.

The athletic population allows my fixed position to barely make a difference. The range of ethnicity is so diverse and it’s something I’ve already been used to seeing. My age, birthdate and race don’t affect how I see my field site and the culture. The way I see my field site is a group of talented athletes who do what they love, and its something I’ve grown up with.

There is one major subjective position that may affect my field site and that is my gender. From the beginning I have heard the notion of “girls can’t play sports” and that makes me want to complete this project even more. It is interesting to see however, that there are more female sports at Rhode Island College than there are male sports. In a way I believe that this subjective position might prove to my advantage because I have seen the world from a female’s perspective so I am not going in with the idea that females can’t play sports.  

As part of the five percent, I am included with the athletes. However I fear I may use they or them to describe the athletes from a third person point of view. In high school I have learned to not include myself in the work, but this project changes that way of thinking. Now that I get to include myself in my work I have to remember that I am part of my field site and I should include myself and the athletes in a form that doesn’t make my work feel distant.

As an athlete I am ready to go into my field site with an open mind and investigate the Athletic Department at Rhode Island College 

1 comment:

  1. Ashley: I am excited for your fieldstudy, and as an outsider, I want to caution you in dismissing, to early on, the power that your fixed positions have over your perceptions of the subculture. Remember: you are not studying the athletes (at least not from what I understand about your study). You are studying the Athletic Department, which does not include athletes but instead all the grownups (former athletes?) who run the Department that makes it possible for athletics to happen at RIC. (RIGHT???)

    So, as an athlete who has benefited from countless events held by growups who've had to direct the programs, teams, and schools that made it all happen, you DO HAVE BIASES that will impact your research. For one, you are young! You have youth, good health, strong muscles and joints, and an able body on your side. The trainers and coaches and administrators probably are not that lucky, in their advanced ages. Second, you are white! This, as we know, makes everything in life easier, especially where school and success is concerned. But, is the same true of athletics at RIC? Sure, athletes make up a diverse group of the largely-white student body at RIC, but do all athletes at RIC have the same experience? Do white athletes have a different experience than African-American athletes at RIC? An interesting question...

    I feel like you're getting out of this too easily, like you haven't delved deeply enough into either your fixed or subjective positions. Are you here on an athletic scholarship? If so, there's a monetary incentive to your continuing to play, and this certainly impacts how you see the Athletic Department versus, say, how Cam or Ava or Sarah (from our class) see the same subculture on campus. So, instead of this statement--"My age, birthdate and race don’t affect how I see my field site and the culture."--think, instead, about how they might influence what you see and HOW YOU SEE IT.
    Thank you, Ashley!