Tag Archives: Sports

Boston College Football Cheer

Context: The informant is my brother in law (BC). He studied at Boston College and was a big fan of the football team. The following ritual is performed in the student section of the football stadium and both he and I have participated in it.

Main Text: BC: “At every home football game at BC it was a tradition or a ritual to throw someone up in the air every time the Eagles scored. You would throw the person up in the air, like they were crowd surfing, as many times as there were points up on the board for us. So if Boston College scored the first points with a touchdown, you’d throw the person up 7 times while everyone counts them out. It was a really fun thing we did but I’m not sure how it started, it’s probably been around for a while.”

Analysis: Football is a sport that’s full of traditions and camaraderie; teamwork and community are a huge part of the sport. This ritual at Boston College emulates the sense of community that both a college and a football team can create within a group of people. It is a great way to make the crowd feel like they are a part of the game and adds to the excitement of the Eagles scoring. I visited my sister and my now brother in law at Boston College when I was younger and I was lucky enough to be thrown up in the air when the Eagles scored. It is a memory I won’t soon forget.

Hell week

Transcribed straight from my informant:

Main piece:

So hell week is a time in the summer, like one of the last weeks before school starts. It’s when the fall sports teams basically have an intense week of working out and preparation for the upcoming season. In my experience, it was water polo, but people usually think of football.

Usually, its multiple hours–up to 5 or 6– of working out, in the pool for me or weight training. It’s just really intense, and they’re just testing out our skills, meaning there was nothing to lose if we were sore because there was no season yet. They have always been doing that, and it’s terrible and scary. It’s an entire week of five hours every day, I hate it.

Background/context:

My little brother told this to me as we sat together casually after I asked him about his folklore. He has been playing club water polo competitively for at least 4 years now, and he takes the sport very seriously. He is a jock. He is in an all-boy’s high school that is known nationwide for its excellence in sports.

Thoughts/analysis:

My school also had hell week, and I think it’s a pretty common concept for athletes, at least in American culture. I think the better you are at a sport, the more intense this becomes as it is also intended to pressure the athletes psychologically, bad as it sounds.

Playoff Haircuts

In high school sports, playoffs are consistently a big deal and represent a payoff for hard work and a good record during the sports season. This form folklore is both a folk practice and afterward, a folk object. The practice is giving certain haircuts during the time after the regular season but before playoffs begin. These are not normal haircuts but wild ones with different patterns and styles. Some of them include mohawks, bald heads, bowl cuts, words shaved into heads, monk haircuts, old man haircuts, and a plethora of others. They are not set haircuts but rather up to the imagination. This practice is similarly performed in other high schools across the United States, sometimes with other variations.

This folk practice is traditionally done by the upperclassmen within a team. The lowerclassmen get worse haircuts while the upperclassmen get better ones. In this way, it is a form of hazing. The informant said that the haircuts are typically shaved off or bettered once the playoff streak end because they are only to remain during the postseason. They learned it from the upperclassmen when they were younger and then performed this practice as an upperclassman. This is only typically done on varsity sports. The sports observed to do this include baseball, football, lacrosse, and some others. They remember it wholly fondly, even as a lower classman. It is not meant to be malicious but more a harmless rite of passage because it makes the kids feel like more of a coherent group. Another instance of this at different schools include bleaching the team’s hair during playoff time.

It seems to me that this sometimes is about a dynamic of power. Younger kids may be intimidated into doing this, but other kids may enjoy it because they are a part of a larger group and help self-identify with that. It is a physical way of making teammates more similar and improves as the kids get older, causing interest to do it for the first time.

The Commemoration of Atatürkü

Main Piece

The following comes from dialogue between myself, GK, and the informant, AT. 

AT: One of my favorite Turkish holidays is called “Atatürk’ü Anma, Gençlik ve Spor Bayramî”, which translates to “Youth and Sports Day”. I like it because it is one of the most relaxing days of the year. Work is cancelled, school is cancelled, and everyone just goes outside and enjoys life. 

GK: What day does it fall on?

AT: It is celebrated on May 19. 

GK: How do you and your family usually celebrate the holiday?

AT: My brother and I usually go play soccer with our friends in the morning. Then we’ll usually go on a hike with our parents. And cook some dinner out side after. It’s a really great day to unwind and enjoy with friends and family. 

Background: The informant knows of this holiday by living in Istanbul for 13 years. His family would always celebrate it as it was a national holiday. And although he doesn’t live there anymore, he still chooses to celebrate it because he loves the holiday so much.

Context: The informant and I discussed this holiday over Face Time

My Thoughts: In my opinion, this holiday serves a great purpose in Turkish culture because it gives people the day to relax and spend time with their families. After doing some reserch, it looks like this holiday originated in 1938. It celebrates the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and his arrival in Samsun on May 19, 1919.  It celebrates youth and sports due to the wish of Atatürk, who loved sports growing up. 

Stick Ball

Main Piece: 

Informant: One of the games our Choctaw people play is called “ishtaboli,” also known as stickball. While it is a game, the name is roughly translated into “little brother of war” because we would often play this game between tribal communities to settle disputes.

Interviewer: What was the game like:

Informant: It is played with each player having 2 “kabocca’s” or sticks. There is a webbing on the end, similar to modern day lacrosse sticks. Long ago, we would play these games between tribal communities, which may be 3-5 miles apart. Each community would have a tall pole in the center of their village and the winner would be the first team to throw a small leather ball and hit the pole. 

Interviewer: 5 miles apart!!! That’s a long way!

Charles: Yes, and sometimes the game would go for days until someone scored. Many tribes had similar games, but this is how the Choctaw played.

Background:

The informant is a Choctaw man in his early 50’s. He was born in Texas and grew up in Oklahoma. He currently resides in Tennessee with his wife and children.

Context:

During the Covid-19 Pandemic I flew back home to Tennessee to stay with my family. The informant is my father. My dad and I decided to have cigars in the back yard and I asked if he could share a few stories regarding our Native culture. I’ve grown up learning about these many traditions but asked him to explain them as if sharing with someone unfamiliar with the culture.

Thoughts: 

In a way, it is reminiscent of the world olympics and how sports can be used to bring people together. Stickball allowed an outlet to settle disputes without turning toward bloodshed. There was still warfare amongst indigenous people groups, so reality played was not as idealistic; but it was a model to strive for. It is interesting to see how integral sports have been to culture and society in its many variations. Lacrosse finds its origins in the Native American game of stickball.