Category Archives: Sports

How American Football Contributes to Our Culture

Among sports enthusiasts, nothing defines our culture more than American football. The sport holds a special place in society – beating even baseball or basketball in cultural significance. In fact, dissertations have been written on American football’s sway over our nation’s culture. But in order to fully understand the sport’s considerable import, one must first understand how it all began.

American football is named such because it had to differentiate itself from its English predecessor. When it was first introduced in the United States, the sport was fairly violent and there were no set rules. As it grew in popularity, so did the need for more formal and non-violent regulations. It was formally established in 1863, when the English proponents created the Football Association and incorporated various soccer rules. Since then, it has become a solid yet powerful background for a myriad of this country’s changing belief systems and values.

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Image Source: wikimedia.org

The sport was initially played by factory workers who needed a form of release. But the workers’ no holds barred style of playing led to the sport’s traditional violence, which would paint a dark and often dangerous picture of football.

In the early 1900s, as emphasis on civilized conduct was being promoted, the rules of the game changed as well. With such evolution followed values assovciated with the sport. In the 1920s, people were fascinated by the controlled fury the sport presented. Unlike soccer, baseball, or basketball, American football forced eleven people to perform as one – performing each task perfectly – in order to win.

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Image Source: sport.ox.ac.uk

The sport, however, remained naturally violent. The dissertations on American football qualify that the game can be likened to a representation of how we Americans view ourselves: tough, aggressive, and working together towards a single goal.

The authors of studies on the sport suggest that compared to other sports, American football’s structure and purpose are more relatable to citizens. Players’ personal lives strike a chord with the American society, largely the struggling working classes. There is also the fact that football attracts the most number of viewers; around eight million for a typical game and more than 100 million for the Super Bowl. It definitely has the power to convey metaphors about being American.

Will McHale played as a professional linebacker. His love for the game has never stopped and continues in this Twitter account.

Sports Motivation: The Power of Positive Reinforcement

Motivation plays a huge role in boosting sports performance. Athletes must be motivated to maximize their abilities fully, to achieve their goals, and to perform their best. For coaches, motivation serves as the foundation for all athletic effort and accomplishment.

While there are many ways to motivate athletes, positive reinforcement can be one of the most effective strategies to change and shape behavior. This is especially true for coaches who are enormously influential in the lives of their students, especially the youth.

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Image source: trauma.blog.yorku.ca

Regardless of the sport, coaches have the responsibility to teach the skills of the games and how to effectively execute them. The teaching process, however, must be a systematic method and should not be rushed. Through positive reinforcement, coaches recognize the individual differences of players, whether through thought, feeling, and behavior, and try to adapt by developing a positive interaction with the athlete or the team.

For example, when a player does something right or has improved in performance, a coach can reinforce the behavior by giving the rewards that the player values. But given that each player finds different things rewarding, it is important that a coach knows his players. A coach can ask a player what motivates him or her to excel at the sport.

However, there are limits. A coach need not reward a positive behavior every time because doing so can undermine the effect of the reward. What coaches need to remember is that the best way to shape behavior is to offer no response to undesirable behaviors and to reinforce positively desirable behaviors.

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