Comments on: More thoughts on Penn State: a former insider’s view http://www.historiann.com/2011/12/01/more-thoughts-on-penn-state-a-former-insiders-view/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sat, 20 Sep 2014 07:56:15 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Feminist Avatar http://www.historiann.com/2011/12/01/more-thoughts-on-penn-state-a-former-insiders-view/comment-page-1/#comment-914922 Fri, 02 Dec 2011 23:54:51 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17386#comment-914922 In Scotland, where football (soccer) teams have religious affiliations and yet church attendance is declining, there has been some really nice analysis of the ways that football has replaced religion whilst still allowing people a religious identity. So, people no longer go to church on a Sunday, but instead go to a match, where they follow certain rituals, including worship (singing anthems), and because they follow a team with a particular religious identity, they can still be identified as ‘protestant’, ‘catholic’, etc.

I am not sure though whether ‘football’ is really the problem, as much as that we live in a deeply misogynist world, where the abuse and sexual exploitation of women and children is a central part of demonstrating power. So, that group bonding, particularly in male-only groups, is often reinforced through ‘othering’ and then abusing women. There is a quite a lot of work on the way that introducing even small numbers of women into male-only spaces can change the outcomes for women for the better. But, sports is one area, where gender segregation remains central to the structure. If such groups no longer acted badly, would mass support for such teams still be problematic?

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2011/12/01/more-thoughts-on-penn-state-a-former-insiders-view/comment-page-1/#comment-914895 Fri, 02 Dec 2011 23:18:20 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17386#comment-914895 I agree. I just don’t worship at that church, and neither does anyone else in my immediate family.

I also don’t think that 4-H is nearly as corrosive of the intellectual and social life of universities as football is! (But I get that you weren’t making an exact comparison.)

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By: That's Grantastic! http://www.historiann.com/2011/12/01/more-thoughts-on-penn-state-a-former-insiders-view/comment-page-1/#comment-914860 Fri, 02 Dec 2011 22:01:46 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17386#comment-914860 It seems to me that understanding and, if not sympathizing, at least appreciating the importance of college football to non-athletes is the first step in relegating it to a lesser and more appropriate role, much less attempting to end it.

To me, it’s like failing to understand the cultural importance of 4-H to rural kids in the quest to call out the cooperative extension service as a publicly-subsidized mouthpiece for agribusiness conglomerates. It’s not that the latter isn’t true or that 4-H kids aren’t indoctrinated into Big Ag’s perspectives. But if you can’t understand and appreciate why 4-H is an important identity AND the only contact most of those communities will ever have with the state university that their taxes support, you’re probably doomed to fail.

Sports culture may end up as a dysfunctional fulfillment of the basic need to belong.

But, importantly, it’s not a fulfillment of a dysfunctional need to belong.

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By: rustonite http://www.historiann.com/2011/12/01/more-thoughts-on-penn-state-a-former-insiders-view/comment-page-1/#comment-914763 Fri, 02 Dec 2011 18:57:33 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17386#comment-914763 re: why people obsess over football, it’s dysfunctional fulfillment of the basic need to belong. Maslow put the need to belong to a group, to have friends, etc. on the third rung of his pyramid. However, Americans (moreso men than women) live in a culture that atomizes them. In general, we don’t have deep relationships with anyone besides our spouses. so Americans fulfill their relationship needs with sports fandom and fanatical religion.

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By: Emma http://www.historiann.com/2011/12/01/more-thoughts-on-penn-state-a-former-insiders-view/comment-page-1/#comment-914715 Fri, 02 Dec 2011 17:25:49 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17386#comment-914715 If you report criminal acts to policy or law enforcement authorities, you may be protected by whistleblower statutes in your state. That’s the case in PA, so there’s no excuse for Paterno or McQueary not to have gone to the police — other than institutional capture, i.e. they were captured by the institution in which they worked. *Why* they were captured is probably the more interesting inquiry than the fact that they were captured.

The internal hierarchies are set up exactly to keep things in-house, to create institutional capture. That’s why there are private security forces at colleges and universities. That there’s no “system” set up, or “trigger” enabled for going outside the system is a feature, not a bug. That is why whistleblower statutes exist, because of that reality.

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By: truffula http://www.historiann.com/2011/12/01/more-thoughts-on-penn-state-a-former-insiders-view/comment-page-1/#comment-914681 Fri, 02 Dec 2011 16:31:49 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17386#comment-914681 I’ve never heard of a Dean refusing to permit a Chair to serve

That happened in my department once, many years ago. It was bigotry on the part of the dean.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2011/12/01/more-thoughts-on-penn-state-a-former-insiders-view/comment-page-1/#comment-914635 Fri, 02 Dec 2011 15:15:38 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17386#comment-914635 I think it’s the case at most unis that Chairs serve at the pleasure of the Dean, although they are usually elected by their faculties first. At least, that’s how it works at Baa Ram U.–I’ve never heard of a Dean refusing to permit a Chair to serve as Chair, but she has the power to refuse to permit an elected Chair to serve. (And that’s how it was at the other places I’ve worked, too.)

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By: Susan http://www.historiann.com/2011/12/01/more-thoughts-on-penn-state-a-former-insiders-view/comment-page-1/#comment-914625 Fri, 02 Dec 2011 14:57:52 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17386#comment-914625 Just to add to the “it’s complicated” end of things, THE most authoritarian, hierarchical university I have worked in had no sports teams at all.
Our chairs are appointed by the Dean in consultation with the faculty. And it is kind of “who will do it/be conscientious, competent, and fair?”

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2011/12/01/more-thoughts-on-penn-state-a-former-insiders-view/comment-page-1/#comment-914620 Fri, 02 Dec 2011 14:54:39 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17386#comment-914620 comparatrice: thanks! If only I had the time and the photoshop skills, I would have tried to replace the sword and the scepter with a football and a helmet.

Sensible: read Michael Zuckerman’s article on the “Social Context of Democracy in (18th C) Massachusetts,” 1968 WMQ, in which he analyzes a very similar-sounding political dynamic. I don’t know how a single junior faculty member could possibly disrupt power dynamics like that, but banding together with several other junior faculty might be a more effective (as well as a more prudent) way to go.

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By: Sensible http://www.historiann.com/2011/12/01/more-thoughts-on-penn-state-a-former-insiders-view/comment-page-1/#comment-914614 Fri, 02 Dec 2011 14:44:32 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17386#comment-914614 I agree with what folks have said about the nature of hierarchy, but I want to add another anecdata point to Indyanna’s about the possibility for discrepancy between official institutional practices and de facto practices. My small, private, liberal arts-ish institution does _not_ have a faculty senate– we’re all officially part of the governance structure and all have a vote on everything– and we have a chair structure. However, because of the history of the institution and (to some degree) the personalities of individuals, those formal horizontal structures mean very little when it comes to decision- and policy- making.

All of this to say, it’s complicated. (And if anyone has strategies/recommendations for how a junior faculty member can challenge/disrupt this kind of power, I’d welcome them. Although I don’t want to hijack the blog.)

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