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Is Carlin (and Geertz) onto something? What do baseball and football tell us about American culture?

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Chapter 8 of your textbook introduces the work of the cultural anthropologist Clifford Geertz. In his 1973 book The Interpretation of Cultures, Geertz posited that sport is a cultural “text” that helps us understand the society in which it is embedded. In other words, by studying sport we can learn something about the world beyond the field. The comedian George Carlin also understood the ability of sport to function as a “text,” as evidenced in his classic bit comparing baseball to football.

Task: Upon reading Chapter 8 and watching Carlin’s routine, please respond to the following questions: Is Carlin (and Geertz) onto something? What do baseball and football tell us about American culture? What do you “read” when you watch a baseball game or a football game? Are there other sports that also (or better) tell the American story?

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