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2011 E. James Holland University Symposium on American Values

Sports and American Values

Americans value sports! Consider that in 2010, an estimated 91 million Americans watched the Super Bowl. By comparison, the 2010 mid-term elections, with a higher than normal voter turnout, had 90 million voters. On any given fall weekend at the University of Michigan, University of Tennessee, University of Texas, and other major universities, 70,000 to 100,000 people march into stadiums to watch college football. And that’s just football. NASCAR races routinely draw 100,000 ticket buyers and baseball draws around 75 million over the course of the year. Add in basketball, soccer, hockey, and other professional sports and it’s not hard to imagine that sports saturates American culture. Consider that every major newspaper has a sports section. ESPN runs 24-hours a day with sports news alone, and Fox has regional sports outlets across the nation.

Quite simply, America values sports and it can be argued that sports has become America’s newest religion.  Sports figures are serving as our mythological heroes, and, at times, our sacrificial goats. Indeed, it might be “just a game,” but sports in America represents the best and, at times, the worst our culture has to offer. In times of trouble, a nation might wonder, “where have you gone Joe DiMaggio,” searching for the solidity and poetry that is sports. We watch as sports erects barriers and then breaks them down; we witness the triumph and tragedy on television, at the local YMCA, and in youth leagues. Most importantly, sports in America gives us the chance to witness, to see, recount, and to tell a story. In seeing and telling, we bind ourselves in our shared culture.

The 2011 E. James Holland University Symposium focused on “Sports and American Values”, brings to the ASU campus one of America’s preeminent sports writers and journalists – Frank Deford, to reflect and enlighten us on one of America’s great passions and pastimes. We hope you will join us as we consider this stimulating topic and its impact on American values.

Distinguished Speakers- Frank Deford

Author, commentator, and humanitarian, Frank Deford is among the most versatile of American writers and journalists. His work has appeared in virtually every medium including radio, television, magazines, and books.

Deford may be heard on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition”. He is also a regular correspondent on the HBO show, “RealSports With Bryant Gumbel” and Senior Contributing Writer at Sports Illustrated.

A prolific writer, Deford has authored fifteen books, including, The Entitled, a novel about celebrity, sex and baseball. Two of Deford’s books - the novel, Everybody’s All-American, and Alex: The Life Of A Child, his memoir about his daughter who died of cystic fibrosis - have been made into movies. Another of his books, Casey On The Loose, is being turned into a Broadway musical.  Further, Cathy Schulman, producer of 2005’s Best Picture, Crash, is producing Deford’s next film, a comedy, The Sister-in-Law.

As a journalist, Deford has been elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters. Six times Deford was voted by his peers as US Sportswriter of The Year. The American Journalism Review has likewise cited him as the nation’s finest sportswriter, and twice he was voted Magazine Writer of The Year by the Washington Journalism Review.

Deford has also been presented with the National Magazine Award for profiles, a Christopher Award, and journalism Honor Awards from the University of Missouri and Northeastern University, along with many honorary degrees. The Sporting News has described Deford as “the most influential sports voice among members of the print media,” and the magazine GQ has called him, simply, “the world’s greatest sportswriter.” In broadcast, Deford has won both an Emmy and a George Foster Peabody Award. ESPN presented a television biography of Deford’s life and work, You Write Better Than You Play.

Deford has also served as national chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and has spoken at more than a hundred colleges and various forums and conventions around the world. As the keynote speaker for the 2011 E. James Holland Symposium, Mr. Deford will discuss sports as they touch our lives and impact human values in a presentation titled: SPORTS: THE HYPE AND THE HYPOCRISY.

E. James Holland and The History of The Symposium

In 1984, Dr. E. James Holland established the Symposium on American Values that is held annually at ASU and named in his honor.

During his 36 years at ASU, Holland served as professor of government and head of the Government Department, Director of Curriculum Development, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. With degrees from Southwestern University, Yale Divinity School, and the American University in Washington D.C., Holland was instrumental in developing ASU’s international student and faculty exchange programs and establishing new degree programs in international studies, communications, studio arts, and criminal justice.

Holland is an active member of the San Angelo community, serving as president of Adult Day Care, Concho Educators Federal Credit Union, and United Campus Ministries and as a member of the Ancillary Manpower Planning Board of the Concho Valley Council of Governments. He is also active at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, where he chaired the Administrative Board of the Finance Committee.

Since its inception, the symposium has brought more than 50 nationally prominent scholars, academicians, and policymakers to the ASU campus to provoke thought and discussion on a wide range of themes. A collaborative presentation by students, faculty members and administrators, the symposium is dedicated to improving the overall academic environment of the university and is committed to exploring the national character as expressed in issues related to American Values.

The symposium is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. It is the central event in a broader program of related activities that includes class visits by the featured speaker, a video production of the symposium itself, and a creative contest with cash awards for students.

Presentation Schedule

October 24, 2011
2:00 p.m.
C.J. Davidson Conference Center, [UC]

7:30 p.m.
Discussion and Questions
C.J. Davidson Conference Center, [UC]

All sessions are free.