A Community in a Cow Pasture: Football at Penn State

by Phillips, Benjamin Paul

Abstract (Summary)
In this thesis, Benjamin Phillips explored how community is created around Penn State football. Phillips explored why an event like a Penn State football game inspires thousands of people to unite around it and turn a sixty minute game played by twenty-odd young athletes (with whom the fans have little to no contact) into a multiple day celebration of community. For those who choose to define themselves in part by their sports allegiance, it is Phillips' contention that they exhibit the characteristics of the imagined community described by Benedict Anderson in Imagined Communities, expanding the discourse beyond natural identities and communities. Because of the perceived ubiquity and normalcy of sports, Penn State football provides an excellent site for the exploration of created identities and communities. This thesis provides an academic look at the cultural significance of the community created through Penn State fandom and the broader implications of a community created around sports. The research was specifically centered on Phillips' interviews with fans of Penn State football about stadium atmosphere, music, and tailgating. The actual game is not the only aspect which inspires fandom and pride within post-millennial college football. Instead, team histories, nostalgia, stadiums, stadium traditions, fan activities, songs, cheers, and geography all play a role in creating "football experiences." The first chapter of the thesis focused on the postmodern bricolage of media and genres used in stadium videos and cheers that work to create feelings of belonging and community. The second chapter concentrated on the role fight songs and contemporary popular songs play in the creation of nostalgia and community. The third chapter explored tailgating at Penn State football games and examined the function of food and tradition outside of the stadium, turning a sixty minute game into a multi-day celebration of community. It also examined the traditions of current students within the tent city of “Paternoville.”
Bibliographical Information:


School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:fandom community identity college football penn state


Date of Publication:01/01/2009

© 2009 All Rights Reserved.