Final Exam Instructions

Pick one sport/sporting event/sporting place or a combination of and reflect on it in light of the topics or themes from the course. This final exam is an opportunity for you to dig deeper into something that interests you. What sport/event/place you choose and how you choose to reflect on it is up to you. You can choose a sport that you play, an event that you were a part of, a place that you have been to, or simply a feature of a sport that you find interesting. For example, suppose you wanted to explore running in some way. You could compare running as an individual activity, as a group activity, and as a competitive activity to examine how running can change in these different contexts. You could examine running as a means to an end or as an end in itself. You could compare running in nature versus running in the city versus running on a treadmill in a gym. You could compare running with other runners versus running with apps such as Strava that let you participate in an “imagined community” of runners. You could analyze an organized run (5K, 10K, half-marathon, marathon, etc.) that you participated in and the social and ritual aspects of that run. You could analyze a big event like the Boston or NYC Marathon (or others) that you either participated in or witnessed. You could explore the experience  of “flow” that many runners get when they run. You could examine running as a form of “secular religion” that shapes your habitus and sense of identity. Or perhaps you are not a runner at all and just want to better understand why people like running and why they willingly make themselves suffer for a largely meaningless activity. These are only examples. There are innumerable ways to approach running let alone other sports so don’t be afraid to be creative. Don’t be afraid to talk to myself or your TA about your topic!!
 
Expectations/Suggestions:
–       Use the material from the course to reflect critically on your sport/event/place. Reflecting critically means that you challenge the assumptions you and others might have about your sport/event/place. Try to get past first impressions and surface level appearances to better understand the “nuts and bolts” of your chosen sport/event/place. This means that you should do your best to consider both the positive and negative aspects of that sport/event/place.
–       Make sure to provide background information on your sport/event/place so that someone unfamiliar with your topic can understand it.
–       Your paper should have a thesis and an argument. Be clear about what you are trying to say and the takeaways that you want the reader to have.
–       You are encouraged to use your own personal experiences to shed light on your reflection. As many of the readings in this course have demonstrated (e.g., Jennings et al., Woodbine, Serazio, Sanford, etc.), personal experience can be a very important resource for understanding a phenomenon in the world. Be self-critical about your assumptions and experiences but don’t assume an “objective” perspective. Use the readings from the course that do this as a guide if you need.
–       Do not try to do too much. Focus on a few aspects of your sport/event/place and analyze those aspects. The exam is not long enough to be comprehensive or definitive.
–       Draw on various parts of the course in your essay. You want to demonstrate that you have engaged with and understand the material in the course. Of course, you will not be able make use of ALL of the material we have covered in the course and this essay is not an exercise in listing as much information as possible. Rather, it is an exercise in making good judgments about what material from the course will help you critically reflect on your sport/event/place.
–       You are not expected to use material beyond the content of this course. The “content” of this course includes the lectures, readings, films for paper 2, and any additional media I have shared throughout the course. You are free to do research beyond the course material if it is helpful/necessary for your topic but remember that your job for this essay is to demonstrate that you have understood the course material and can apply it to a new topic rather than to show how much “extra” research you can do. There should be plenty of content from the course to keep you busy. As with anything, talk to me or your TA if you are unsure about whether you need to do extra research or not.
 
Format:
–       For this final exam you will have a choice of formats. You can either 1) write a paper, 2) make a slideshow, or 3) put together a video. Each format provides different challenges and be aware that some formats (i.e. video) may in the end take you more time than other formats depending on your experience/skill with the format. The purpose of giving you a choice of formats is to give you more freedom to creatively explore your topic. For some of you, putting together a video might be more enjoyable than writing a paper and I want to give you the opportunity to do that if you wish.
–       Paper format: Five pages (try to be as close to 5 pages as possible), double-spaced, normal margins, Times New Roman, 12-point font, Title page, in-text citations
–       Slideshow format: The number of slides you include depends on how much text and other information you put on your slides. My recommendation is that you plan your slideshow the same way you would plan a paper (intro, thesis, argument 1, argument 2, etc.) and that your aim in the slideshow should be to walk the reader through your reflection using text, images, diagrams, etc. You are welcome to use PowerPoint or other slide show platforms like Canva or Prezi. If you want to get creative, I highly recommend you have a look at the presentation tools at Knightlab (https://knightlab.northwestern.edu).
–       Video format: 7-9 minutes. Again, here, the format can vary. You can do a voice-over video like I do with the lectures or you can talk to a camera or you can get creative and actually include video of you participating in an activity. There are a lot of YouTubers who do this well. Someone who comes to mind is Beau Miles. See, for example, Beau’s video of him commuting 90km to work on foot (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-Zyud8xh2c). Beau’s videos are well produced and it would take a tonne of work to put them together so you are NOT expected to do something like that. I share it as creative inspiration. Feel free to share with me other examples that you are aware of.
–       Please don’t hesitate to talk to me if you want to talk through your idea and/or how to pull it off!