American public universities suffered tremendous funding cuts during the 1930s, yet they were also responsible for educating increasing numbers of students. The mounting financial troubles, coupled with a perceived increase in the number of “radical” student activists, contributed to a general sense of crisis on American college campuses.
University leaders used their athletic programs to combat this crisis and to preserve “traditional” American values and institutions, prescribing different models for men and women. Educators emphasized the competitive nature of men’s athletics, seeking to inculcate male college athletes (and their audiences) with individualistic, masculine values in order to reinforce the existing American political and economic systems.
In stark contrast, the prevailing model of women’s college athletics taught a communal form of democracy. Strongly supported by almost all female athletic leaders, this “a girl for every game, and a game for every girl” model had replaced the more competitive model that had been popular until the 1920s. The new programs denied women individual attention and high-level competition, and they promoted the development of what was considered proper femininity.
Whatever larger purposes these programs were intended to serve, they could not have survived without vocal supporters. Democratic Sports tells the important story of how men’s and women’s college athletic programs survived, and even thrived, during the most challenging decade of the twentieth century.
Few areas of study offer more insight into American culture than competitive sports. The games played throughout this nation's history dramatically illuminate social, economic, and cultural developments, from the balance of power in world affairs to changing conceptions of race, gender, and sexuality. Teaching U.S. History through Sports provides strategies for incorporating sports into any U.S. history curriculum. Drawing upon their own classroom experiences, the authors suggest creative ways to use sports as a lens to examine a broad range of historical subjects, including Puritan culture, the rise of Jim Crow, the Cold War, the civil rights movement, and the women's movement. Essays focus on the experiences of African American women, working-class southerners, Latinos, and members of LGBTQ communities, as well as topics including the controversy over Native American mascots and the globalization of U.S. sports.
Just as the Vietnam War presented the United States with a series of challenges, it presents a unique challenge to teachers at all levels. The war had a deep and lasting impact on American culture, politics, and foreign policy. Still fraught with controversy, this crucial chapter of the American experience is as rich in teachable moments as it is riddled with potential pitfalls—especially for students a generation or more removed from the events themselves.
Addressing this challenge, Understanding and Teaching the Vietnam War offers a wealth of resources for teachers at the secondary and university levels. An introductory section features essays by eminent Vietnam War scholars George Herring and Marilyn Young, who reflect on teaching developments since their first pioneering classes on the Vietnam War in the early 1970s. A methods section includes essays that address specific methods and materials and discuss the use of music and film, the White House tapes, oral histories, the Internet, and other multimedia to infuse fresh and innovative dimensions to teaching the war. A topical section offers essays that highlight creative and effective ways to teach important topics, drawing on recently available primary sources and exploring the war's most critical aspects—the Cold War, decolonization, Vietnamese perspectives, the French in Vietnam, the role of the Hmong, and the Tet Offensive. Every essay in the volume offers classroom-tested pedagogical strategies and detailed practical advice.
Taken as a whole, Understanding and Teaching the Vietnam War will help teachers at all levels navigate through cultural touchstones, myths, political debates, and the myriad trouble spots enmeshed within the national memory of one of the most significant moments in American history.
Honorable Mention, Franklin Buchanan Prize for Curricular Materials, Association for Asian Studies and the Committee for Teaching about Asia