I propose to use Story Maps to create a history of prejudice and patriotism (a pride and prejudice if you will) in the National Football League. Through this project I want to demonstrate how patriotic sentiment helped spur prejudices against marginalized groups in the league. With all the recent controversy going around the media (the Brian Flores class action and whatever is going on with the now Washington Commanders), this project comes at a pertinent time. Fans are starting to care more about just watching the game. However, most of the articles that come up with a basic google search are from sports journalists, not historians. They tend to focus on the recent events and less on how the environment of the league and the nation contributed to these events.
There are no digital history projects (that I could find) about racism and patriotism in the NFL. I imagine this project as a broad linkage of some of the events that led up to the current climate of the league. Most people are aware of the Colin Kaepernick situation, but there is much more to the story. There is just starting to be more scholarship around the topic in general. My inspiration comes from Football and Manliness: An Unauthorized Feminist Account of the NFL by Thomas P. Oates and this piece by Robert Gudmestad, an undergraduate mentor of mine.
Story Maps allows you to create both timelines and use pins on a map. I plan to use one or the other, or both, to construct my story. I think a timeline would be more compelling and useful in terms of visuals, but the spatial analysis could also prove to be helpful. I will have to compile more research before I fully decide. In terms of the timeline aspect, I want to have side by side timelines to demonstrate the greater context the events take place within. For example, the different player events and discussions that happened in the wake of the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter events.
A huge source of spreading information about sports is Twitter. It is a non-academic platform where non-historians can see historic information in tandem with the sports news and teams they follow. There is also an online blog https://ussporthistory.com/about/ that publishes scholarly information about the field for academics. In terms of evaluation, internally, I want to make a project that demonstrates how visual components can create a new understanding of past events. Externally, the project will be successful if it can contribute to the broader discussion of systemic challenges faced by marginalized groups in the NFL.
One Reply to “Digital Project Proposal”
This is a great concept for a project. The connections between prejudice and patriotism in the history of the NFL seems likely to be a rich context to work in. Along with that, the subject is likely to present an opportunity to identify and work with a number of visual primary sources, like posters and various forms of ephemera that will work well for a digital storytelling project.
StoryMaps will likely be a good platform for this kind of project. I think as you get into it you can sort out how important the mapping components are to the story, but even without the mapping part, StoryMaps is a rather compelling way to compose a narrative with embedded media.
If you do go ahead and develop this as your course project, it will be important to think through some of your communications plan and a bit about who your intended audience is and how you would get the word out about the project to that audience.