College of Arts & Letters creates new minor in sport, media, and culture

Author: Josh Weinhold

Sport Media And Culture
A student works in the production booth at Notre Dame Studios.

Notre Dame’s College of Arts & Letters is launching a dynamic new minor in sport, media, and culture (SMAC), a program designed for students interested in careers in sports media and diving deep into critical analyses of sports, representation, and power. 

Led by the Department of American Studies in partnership with the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre, the SMAC minor focuses on the intersection of sports and culture in all forms of media — art, history, journalism, radio, TV, film, and social media. Through an interdisciplinary, scholarly approach to sports studies, students will analyze issues of race, gender, sexuality, class and inequality that shape the modern athletic, business, cultural, and political landscapes.

“Many Notre Dame students are deeply engaged with athletics and often seek careers in the sports industry, so there's a tremendous hunger for this type of rigorous, intellectual approach to the field,” said Annie Coleman, an associate professor of American studies and founding director of the SMAC minor.

The SMAC minor can be customized in ways that will appeal to undergraduates across a wide range of existing programs — film and TV students and others who want to pursue careers in sports journalism or marketing, digital technology students who want to develop sports-related research projects, students interested in sports studies who want to dive deep into archives, and more.

Whatever their initial interest or end goal, students in the program will develop strong writing skills, a sharp research acumen, and the ability to think critically about the complex issues dominating the sports and culture landscape.

Students completing the minor will take a Sports and American Culture foundational course, followed by 11 to 12 credits of electives on topics such as Sport and Big Data, Sport/Society in the Ancient World, Sports and Television, Boxing in America, Sports Media, Sport Psychology, and more. Internships in sports media or related fields can also count for 1 to 3 credits of the minor. 

“We hope this minor will spark new interests in Arts and Letters research and critical analysis, and help students understand the cultural politics of sport with an eye towards social justice and the dignity of every human being.”

The program culminates with a 1-credit capstone project, which must be designed for and presented to a public audience — as an exhibit, podcast, video, piece of journalism, TED Talk-style lecture, or other creative programming form.

Information sessions about the minor will be held early in the spring semester, prior to the program accepting applications.

The program will include new and existing courses in FTT, American studies, anthropology, history, classics, psychology, the Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy, and the Center for Social Concerns. 

Annie Coleman
Annie Coleman

“We are incredibly excited to include courses from departments across the College," said Coleman, who is also a concurrent associate professor of history and a founding member of the American Studies Association’s Sports Studies Caucus. “Each discipline represented brings a different critical perspective, encouraging students to explore the relationships of power and politics of representation surrounding sports in new ways.”

There are also significant scholarly resources on campus related to sports that students can draw from, most notably the Joyce Sports Research Collection in the Hesburgh LibrariesRare Books and Special Collections. Containing periodicals, programs, media guides, manuscripts, and more, it is one of the largest collections of sports-related print material in the world. The University Archives also contain extensive materials related to Notre Dame athletics.

Intellectual and professional engagement opportunities will also be a core part of the program, with film screenings, alumni speakers, panel discussions, and other events in development. 

“We hope this minor will spark new interests in Arts and Letters research and critical analysis,” Coleman said, “and help students understand the cultural politics of sport with an eye towards social justice and the dignity of every human being.”