Courses | The Minor | Sport, Media, and Culture Minor | University of Notre Dame


Regularly offered courses

Sports Anthropology Class Playing Dodgeball
Students playing dodgeball in Blood, Guts, and Glory: the Anthropology of Sport

AMST 30101 Baseball in America

Baseball is one of the most enduringly popular and significant cultural activities in the United States. Since the late 19th century, baseball has occupied an important place for those wishing to define and understand "America." Who has been allowed to play on what terms? How have events from baseball's past been remembered and re-imagined? What is considered scandalous and why (and who decides)? How has success in baseball been defined and redefined? Centering baseball as an industry and a cultural practice, this course will cover topics that include the political, economic, and social development of professional baseball in the United States; the rise of organized baseball industry and Major League Baseball; and globalization in professional baseball. Readings for this course will include chapters from texts that include Rob Rucks's How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game (2011), Adrian Burgos's Playing America's Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line (2007), Daniel Gilbert's Expanding the Strike Zone: Baseball in the Age of Free Agency (2013), Robert Elias's How Baseball Sold U.S. Foreign Policy and Promoted the American Way Abroad (2010), and Michael Butterworth's Baseball and Rhetorics of Purity: The National Pastime and American Identity During the War on Terror (2010). Coursework may include response papers, primary source analysis, and a final project.

AMST 30109 Sport and Big Data

Sport is one of the most enduringly popular and significant cultural activities in the United States. Data has always been a central part of professional sport in the US, from Henry Chadwick's invention of the baseball box score in the 1850s to the National Football League's use of Wonderlic test scores to evaluate players. This course focuses on the intersecting structures of power and identity that shape how we make sense of the "datification" of professional sport. By focusing on the cultural significance of sport data, this course will put the datafication of sport in historical context and trace the ways the datafication of sport has impacted athletes, fans, media, and other stakeholders in the sport industry. The course will also delve into the technology systems used to collect and analyze sport data, from the TrackMan and PITCHf/x systems used in Major League Baseball to the National Football League's Next Gen Stats partnership to emerging computer vision and artificial intelligence research methods. Readings for this course will draw on texts like Christopher Phillips' Scouting and Scoring: How We Know What We Know About Baseball (2019), Ruha Benjamin's Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life (2019), and Michael Lewis' Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (2004). Class meetings will be split between discussions of conceptual readings and applied work with sport data and technology systems. Coursework may include response papers, hands-on work with data, and a final project. Familiarity with statistical analysis, data science, or computer science tools and methods is NOT a prerequisite for this course.

AMST 30161 Football in America

Football is one of the most enduringly popular and significant cultural activities in the United States. Since the late 19th century, football has occupied an important place for those wishing to define and understand "America." And Notre Dame football plays a central role in that story, with larger-than-life figures and stories, from Knute Rockne's "Win one for the Gipper" line to the "Four Horsemen" backfield that led the program to a second national championship in 1924. The mythic proportions of the University's football program cast a long shadow on the institution's history, cultural significance, and traditions. This course focuses on Notre Dame football history as an entry point into larger questions about the cultural, historical, and social significance of football in the U.S. Who has been allowed to play on what terms? How have events from Notre Dame football's past been remembered and re-imagined? How has success in Notre Dame football been defined and redefined? In particular, the course will focus on how Notre Dame football became a touchstone for Catholic communities and institutions across the country navigating the fraught terrain of immigration, whiteness, and religious practice. This course will take up those questions through significant engagement with University Archive collections related to Notre Dame football, working with digitized materials to think about questions relating to access and discovery of physical and electronic collections. This course will include hands-on work with metadata, encoding and markup, digitization, and digital preservation/access through a collaboration with the University Archives and the Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship. Readings for this course will include chapters from texts such as Murray Sperber's Shake Down the Thunder: The Creation of Notre Dame Football (1993), TriStar Pictures' Rudy (1993), Steve Delsohn's Talking Irish: The Oral History of Notre Dame Football (2001), Jerry Barca's Unbeatable: Notre Dame's 1988 Championship and the Last Great College Football Season (2014), David Roediger's Working Toward Whiteness: How America's Immigrants Became White (2005), David Roediger's The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (1991), and Noel Ignatiev's How the Irish Became White (1995). Class meetings will be split between discussions of conceptual readings and applied work with library and information science technologies and systems. Coursework may include response papers, hands-on work with data, and a final project. Familiarity with archival methods, library/information science, data science, or computer science tools and methods is NOT a prerequisite for this course.

ANTH 20301 Blood, Guts, and Glory: the Anthropology of Sport

This course will examine the interactions of culture and biology within sports. The anthropology of sports can help us gain valuable insights into broader social and cultural phenomena, the role of ritual in society, and illuminate how sports have been used to bring people together, but also to exclude people. We will begin with studying the evolutionary origins and non-human examples of play. We will then move into the prehistoric and historic foundations for sport. We will also discuss how people change their bodies, in good ways and dangerous ways, for a greater chance at success, and how those bodies are often more harshly judged by society. Finally, we will explore the ways in which contemporary sporting and fan practices are culturally ordered and/or challenge social norms. Drawing on case studies from around the world, we will pay special attention to questions of gender, race, genetics, nationality, health, equality, and human variation. In addition, students will be encouraged to think critically about their own sporting experiences, both as active participants and as fans, and how sports impact their lives.

ANTH 20318 Martial Arts and Popular Culture

This International University Seminar enlists the martial arts to explore themes from history, philosophy, anthropology, aesthetic theory, media studies, and sports as embodied practice. The course’s interaction with the Notre Dame Beijing Global Gateway localizes these transnational themes, with shared student experiences in China providing a formative cultural context for the remainder of the course. By merging multiple dimensions of historical identity, artistic expression, and cultural practice, martial arts have a unique ability to access the human imagination. From Hong Kong cinemas, to Black Belt magazines, to MMA pay-per-view events, to online video games, martial arts are intertwined with the popular culture of global media. Drawing from a pre-semester study abroad experience in China, this course synthesizes the global transmission of martial arts through an interdisciplinary approach to the anthropological history of symbolically violent media. By tracking the proliferation of the martial arts in popular media, from Yip Man film sequels, to muay thai youtube clips, to karate tournament supply catalogues and dojo iconography, the cultural lives of these arts are revealed. We will examine these cultural expressions in a range of styles from direct immersion in zhōngguó wǔshù (Chinese martial arts) including qìgōng, tàijíquán, Shàolín wǔgōng and other gōngfu styles to the broad diversity of global martial arts media including jujitsu in Japan, kali/escrima in the Philippines, pencak silat in Indonesia, and savate in France. In this way, the course crafts informative linkages between the cultural variations of martial arts and their global influence in popular consciousness.

ANTH 30121 Exercise Physiology: Celebrating What Your Body Can Do

Why do weight lifters wear lifting belts? How does athletic training and diet differ between endurance athletes and strength athletes? What are the sex-based differences in athletic performance? What impact do supplements and performance enhancing drugs have on athletic performance? Through the use of peer reviewed research, popular media articles, podcasts, and film we will answer these and many other questions within the field of exercise physiology. The course will be split into two broad units: 1) Powerlifters and 2) Marathoners. Topics covered will include cellular metabolism, muscle physiology, training programs, response to training, basic nutrition, body composition, some methodological exercise testing, supplements and performance enhancing drugs, recovery, fatigue, and activity in extreme environments. Through this use of mixed media, we will also discuss how the media misrepresents and misreports exercise physiology studies, making us all more discerning consumers of information.

CLAS 30027 Sport/Society in the Ancient World 

In the modern world, sports and sport-like spectacles are a source of livelihood, entertainment, and social interaction for huge swathes of the global population. Fans and practitioners of physical feats of strength were likewise a major component of ancient Greco-Roman society, from the earliest Olympic Games at the dawn of Greek history to the gladiatorial contests and chariot races that characterized the most decadent phases of the Roman Empire. The purpose of this course is to provide an interdisciplinary examination of the origin and nature of sport and spectacle in the Classical world and to compare the role that athletics played in ancient society to the position it occupies in our own lives - from the point of view of athletes, spectators, and patrons alike. Topics covered will include: Near Eastern precursors to Greco-Roman sport; the development of Greek and Roman sport and spectacle through time, the Olympic Games; the role of religious thought in ancient sport; the position of the athlete within society; ancient and modern rewards for athletic valor; athletes in architecture, literature, and art; and the political appropriation of athletes and athletics. The course will focus mostly on formal athletic contests in ancient Greece and on athletic spectacles in ancient Rome, but general recreation and physical education will be considered as well.

CSC 33301 Seminar: Sports and Social Change (1 Credit Hour)

This seminar will explore the vast intersections of sports and social concerns, utilizing a Catholic Social Tradition lens as a framework for discussion, analysis, and action. In U.S. culture, and one could argue global society, there are few activities more all-encompassing and engaging of diverse peoples, resources, and issues as the arena of sports. This thing we call "sports" offers a unique space to think about social concerns. The reality that sports involves vast amounts of media, time, money, people, industries, etc. creates intersections that put various social concerns at the front and center. In recent years sports have crossed paths in significant ways with issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, gender and sexuality, the role of media, the role of protest, religion, collective bargaining, racial justice, ethics, university scandals, and many more. This seminar will explore questions such as: How do sports contribute to our society's common good? How do they threaten our common good? Where does human dignity reside or get compromised in the various arenas of sports? What case studies in sports present interesting and important opportunities for social analysis and reflection? Sports ethics: What tough questions should the public and the sports industries, organizations, and schools be asking themselves in order to move toward a more just and ethical structure? How has sports culture promoted unhealthy societal norms and social concerns? How has sports culture challenged these patterns? For example, one might ask what sports has meant for people experiencing poverty? Course will involve 1 or 2 day trips where we will engage these questions with those directly in the sports industry. Apply online via the Center for Social Concerns website: Please note, this course has extra required meeting times and/or events outside of the displayed meeting schedule. Please go to this course's designated webpage within the Center for Social Concerns website ( for further details.

FTT 30407 Internet Sports Production 

Working in conjunction with Fighting Irish Digital Media and the website, students will learn the many aspects of producing content for an internet based television network. From the beginning idea to the final upload, this is a creative hands-on production course with students writing, shooting, and editing digital media pieces for an online audience. In addition, as part of a live broadcast production team during numerous Notre Dame sporting events throughout the semester, students will also learn the many techniques used in multi-camera television production.

FTT 30465 Sports and Television

Sports have played an integral role in the television industry since the medium's early days. This course will highlight the history of sports on television and focus on the nuts and bolts of how television sports programming works today. The course will also examine the impact of televised sports on our culture as well as the ethical issues raised by the media's coverage of sports. Taught in the Fall only.

HIST 30613 Sport, America, and the World

This course explores the history of American sport in global context. American football was one of a number of sports (including soccer, rugby and various "football" games) that emerged from common roots. Ice hockey began as a Canadian sport but grew popular in parts of the United States by fusing Canadian talent and management with American capital. Basketball was invented in Massachusetts by a foreign-born educator who viewed physical education as a religious calling, and his creation grew internationally, with the international game developing important differences from the American game. Since the time of sporting goods baron Albert Spalding, businessmen and politicians have used sport to try to market specific products, the American way of life, or a diplomatic agenda. Alone among the industrial nations, the United States developed a talent-development system centered on schools and colleges, with distinctive results - both for the athletes, and for higher education. This course will consider these and other issues.

HIST 30631 History of American Sport

Sport, a major part of American entertainment and culture today, has roots that extend back to the colonial period. This course will provide an introduction to the development of American sport, from the horse-racing and games of chance in the colonial period through to the rise of contemporary sport as a highly-commercialized entertainment spectacle. Using a variety of primary and secondary sources, we will explore the ways that American sport has influenced and been influenced by economics, politics, popular culture, and society, including issues of race, gender and class. Given Notre Dame's tradition in athletics, we will explore the university's involvement in this historical process.

JED 30131 Sports Media

This course is a practical and conceptual immersion into the world of contemporary sports journalism. Students will learn how to write and report for multiple journalism platforms, including newspapers, magazines and digital media. Students will practice a variety of reporting techniques and study writing styles ranging from features to news articles to profiles, while also taking a rigorous look at the legal, ethical and cultural issues surrounding the intersection of media, sports and society. In addition, students will gain hands-on sports writing experience by preparing articles for the university's independent, student-run newspaper, The Observer.

MGTO 30720 Ethics in Sports

A focus of this course is the improvement of students' moral reasoning and ethical decision making skills so that they can better recognize, confront and resolve ethical issues that arise in sports. Critical thinking and problem solving skills will be emphasized and strengthened through study of cases, personal reflection and in-class discussion, and presentation of current ethical issues in sports.

PSY 33365 Sport Psychology

This course will focus on the application of psychological concepts and current research to the enhancement of performance in both sports and fitness activities. An emphasis will be placed on techniques and strategies that have been used effectively to maximize athletic performance. Topics include overview of the field, motivation, personality factors, self-concept, team development, leadership, psychological skills training, and exercise adherence.

Additional Courses

Two Fencers Competing While Using Wheelchairs

Depending on the student’s interest and course of study, the Director may approve 1-2 other courses to count towards the SMAC Minor such as: 

  • AMST 30106 Gender and Popular Culture
  • AMST 30108 History of Am. Capitalism
  • AMST 30119 The Asian Am. Experience
  • AMST 30128 Protest: American Culture
  • AMST 30129 Notre Dame and America
  • AMST 30154 Disability in Am Hist & Cult
  • AMST 30169 Race and Am. Pop Culture
  • AMST 30180 Native American Studies
  • CSC 23003 Intro to Poverty Studies
  • CSC 33963 South Bend Urban Plunge 
  • ENG 20710 Labor, Narr, & Cath Soc Trad
  • FTT 20037 The Hyphenated American 
  • FTT 30311 Media for Soc. Justice
  • FTT 40502 Media and Identity
  • GSC 10001 Intro to Gender Studies
  • HIST 30636 Gender at Work in U.S Hist.
  • HIST 40628 African-American Resistance
  • SOC 20806 Race and Ethnicity
  • SOC 20870 Inner City America