Another interesting sociology course: Baseball in American Society

A student writing in the newspaper of Florida Southern College discusses a unique class on campus:

It is not secret that Sociology professor Dr. Edwin Plowman is one of the most eccentric professors on this campus. His “Baseball in American Society” class has by far been one of the favorite classes. Dr. Plowman has some experiences that none of us will ever be able to call our own and he shares them in every class session. Oh, and my personal library grew with the books he assigned that I just did not ever want to sell back to the bookstore.

A few thoughts about this class:

1. Is the class mainly about baseball and how it fits in American society or about American society through the lens of baseball? Both could be very interesting – baseball has its own logic but the game has both influenced and has been influenced by larger social forces. As a baseball fan myself, this sounds like an interesting course to teach.

2. This is reminder of how students view courses. It sounds like the professor tells some good stories and also assigns  books that a student would want to hold onto after the class. This is what makes this class interesting for this student. (And what does it mean when a student says a professor is eccentric?)

Next hot topic in sociology: one journalist suggests Quidditch

I am always interested to see what people in the media think sociologists should study. According to a blog at Time, some sociologist should link the study of emerging adults (and particularly those who ones who delay real adulthood after college) and the growing game of Quidditch:

A sociologist looking to underscore the narrative of Generation Y’s prolonged immaturity would have had a field day with the fourth annual Quidditch World Cup, the Harry Potter–inspired sports competition that drew legions of muggles to midtown Manhattan this past weekend. Quidditch is, after all, an event inspired by a magical sport in a line of far-fetched children’s books that most of this weekend’s competitors read way back in elementary school. Indeed, at the event’s opening ceremony, many of the 700 athletes arrived dressed in costumes, capes and T-shirts, singing songs from 1990s Disney musicals while masses of media surveyed the endless Potter in-jokes proudly scrawled on their attire (“Pwning Myrtle”). The high point of these people’s lives, it might have appeared, was sometime around 1998.

But this sense of nerdish camaraderie came to an abrupt end right around the time of the first gang tackle.

Quidditch is a sport striving for legitimacy.

It wouldn’t surprise me if a sociologist is indeed studying this. This phenomenon has been growing for a few years as I remember hearing about competitions at Notre Dame at least four years ago. (The story suggests it began at Middlebury in 2005.)

But if sociologists did take this seriously (and perhaps there could be some nice ties to ideas about the sociology of sport with leisure games that begin at elite private colleges), would they just be laughed at and become another light viral news story like the recent stories about the sociology class about Lady Gaga?

(A final question: is it really worth playing this game without flying brooms?)