About Sport and American Culture Courses

Courses for the Minor in Sport and American Culture

The minor in sport and American culture employs an interdisciplinary approach to the topic that ensures students examine issues from both a historical and contemporary perspective. Two required courses, one from history and one from sport management, form the core of the minor. The remaining 12 credits are elective courses, 2 of which must be in history and 2 in sport management. The Mason courses that are currently part of the minor in sport and American culture include:


Required Course

HIST 341 – History of Sport in the U.S.

Examines the history of sport in the United States from a cultural perspective, including colonial play and recreation, the emergence of organized and national sports, issues of gender and race in the sporting world, and the intersection of U.S. sport with events such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Cold War.

Elective Courses

HIST 337 – Race and Gender in American Sport 

In this course students will examine how ideas about race and gender have affected sports in America. Conversely, the course will also consider how athletes and sporting activities have shaped American racial and gender paradigms. Anchoring our study, which will extend from the late nineteenth century to the 1980s, will be the biographies of Babe Didrikson and Jack Johnson. More broadly speaking, this class will take an in-depth look at the history of categorization and separation in sports. Students will consider both femininity and masculinity, and analyze a variety of racial and ethnic classifications used by sporting men and women.

HIST 338 - The History of College Sports

Why do American universities, unlike their foreign counterparts, spend millions of dollars annually on athletics? This course analyzes America’s unique blend of higher education and sports. Students will consider how sports came under the jurisdiction of universities and what benefits and pitfalls derive from this partnership. The role of college athletic conferences and the NCAA will be considered. The course will begin when the connection between colleges and sports began: in the 1870s. The course will conclude by considering the creation of the BCS and the modern collaboration between college athletic programs and America’s media outlets.  

HIST 339 - The History of Baseball

Baseball.  America’s National Pastime. The thinking man’s and thinking woman’s sport. A rite of spring and ritual of fall. A game that explains the nation, or at least that’s what some have contended. “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America,” argued French historian Jacques Barzan, “had better learn Baseball.” This course examines the development of the game of baseball as means of better understanding the United States. Baseball evidences many of the contradictions and conflicts inherent in American history—urban v. rural, capital v. labor, progress v. nostalgia, the ideals of the Bill of Rights v. the realities of racial segregation, to name a few.

HIST 340 - Basketball and the American Experience

James Naismith. Senda Berenson. The Harlem Globetrotters. Bill Russell. March Madness. The Dream Team. Basketball is entwined with the history of the United States. The course explores the connection between basketball and American culture, starting in the 1890s through the turn of the twenty-first century.

Sport Management

Required Course

SPMT 304 - Sport, Culture, and Society

Analyzes sport from educational, political, economic, and cultural perspectives.

Elective Courses

SPMT 318 – Diversity and Inclusion Issues in Sport

"Focuses on sport participant and employee diversity and inclusive practices; and how differences based on religion, disability, socioeconomic class, sex, gender, sexual orientation, and racial hierarchies impact historical and current sport experiences and outcomes." GMU Catalog

SPMT 321 – America Through Baseball

Explores the past and present role of baseball in American culture, including the development of professional baseball and the ways in which America can be “read” through baseball.

SPMT 322 – Football and American Culture

Examines the development of professional, college and high school football over the last 120 years, as well as contemporary issues in the sport, in order to understand the past and present role of football in American culture.

SPMT 323 – America and the Modern Olympics

Explores the United States’ relationship with the modern Olympics from its earliest days around the turn of the century to the present, with a focus on key Olympic figures and athletes, the changing nature of host cities, and the increasing commercial aspects associated with the games.