Sociology At A Baseball Game Part 1: Race Matters

What’s sociological about baseball? In this post, Stephanie Medley-Rath explores how racial stratification and segregation can be observed in the stands at a baseball game.

At the end of June, I attended a baseball game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Sadly, the Cardinals lost the game, but that is not going to stop me from sharing with you some my sociological observations at the ballpark. This is part one of a three part series. In this first installment, I am going to talk to you about racial stratification and segregation at the ballpark. Keep in mind, that this discussion is focused only on the fans in the stands and not about who is on the field.

The racial stratification and segregation at baseball games held in St. Louis is striking. (I’m not saying that St. Louis is unique, it is just the case I am most familiar with and am using.) By stratification, sociologists mean inequality. Be segregation, sociologists mean that different social groups (in this case, racial, but could be talking about gender, age, and so on) are separated in daily life (e.g., housing, school, or work).

To understand why race appears as it does at Busch Stadium, I visited the U.S. Census to learn the racial demographics of the city of St. Louis….

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Haters Gonna Hate: Tebow & Sub-Culture Identity Theory

This past Sunday Tim Tebow led the Denver Broncos to an improbable playoff victory after leading them through and improbable regular season. All the while Tebow vocally attributed his success to his evangelical Christian faith which drew him equally vocal supporters and critics. In this post Nathan Palmer uses sub-culture identity theory to suggest that both the hate and the love Tebow garners reaffirms and strengthens his faith and that of his fellow evangelical Christians.

Tim Tebow

Osama Bin Laden didn’t stand a chance. When Denver Bronco’s wide receiver Demaryius Thomas caught Tim Tebow’s pass on the first play of overtime in NFL playoff history for the game winning touchdown, Twitter exploded with over 9,000 tweets per second; a mark that well surpassed the previous Twitter traffic record generated by the death of Bin Laden.

But don’t be mistaken, the flood of tweets were not all showering Tebow with love. To some Tim Tebow is a legend on the field and a hero off it. To others he is self-righteous, pompous, and pretentious. Love him or hate him, right now, it’s likely you are talking about him.

The Hoopla Surrounding Tebow

In case you’ve been saying to yourself, “who is this Tebow guy everyone keeps talking about,” the last few weeks, let me fill you in. Tim Tebow is best known for winning multiple NCAA national championships with the Florida Gators, but despite his success his quarterbacking style was not expected to translate well in the NFL. Despite the numerous and vocal critics of his ability to play QB at the professional level, Tebow was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos in 2010. This year Tebow took the starting QB position away from Kyle Orton (the Broncos record was 1–4 with Orton) and led them on an unlikely win streak and into the playoffs. The Broncos were huge underdogs in the game they won Sunday versus Pittsburg (who had the number one rated defense in the NFL). You can say a lot about Tebow, but you have to acknowledge that he’s a winner….

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