Co-curricular activities such as sports, debate, model and musical activities among others are considered important as they facilitate social, intellectual, moral and emotional developments among the students. This could be attributed to the aspects of socialization, belongingness, cultural recreational, decision making and disciplinary values that are gained through active involvement. Sports activities and clubs are key platforms that could help resolve gender issues by creating awareness and allowing the prejudiced to portray their skills and abilities. As a result, female students have demonstrated their capabilities and talents in sports such as basketball, Hockey, football among others, which has influenced a change in social perceptions that only male students could participate in such sports.
On campus, the sports industry has been a key contributor to improved social cohesion, interrelations, and psychological health as students collaborate and engage in various activities available in the school. The various teams and clubs where members tend to converge could be identified as discourse communities. Discourse community has an impact on social aspect among the affiliated members. Members can effectively relate among themselves which could be evidenced by attained of the set goals. Regardless of the discourse community under examination, it is clear that any discourse community is characterized by unique and specific values and qualities.
Given the diversity likely to be exhibited by the discourse community, how do the affiliated members enhance unity in writing such that newcomers can effectively follow the written material, and conversations given that symbols and abbreviations that might be included in the genres?
Step 1: Data Collection
The discourse community to be discussed herein is the University of Cincinnati Basketball Team. It is important to indicate that I am not a member of the team and hence I sought permission from the team member in order to conduct the research and be involved when the team was practicing in the court for training purposes. Two methods of collecting data were utilized. These methods include; observation and interview. After permission to participate during a meeting that was to be held on Tuesday 10 July 2018 was granted, I observed the various mechanisms that were used by the team members to communicate. I also observed the different genres that were used to ensure that all members were fully updated on the current programs, upcoming events and future plans that the team had. The team members who were present during the date noted above were settled at around 6:30 P.M. After about 30 minutes, the meeting or rather communication session was over and the team initiated practice. Exercising took about 1 hour and 15 minutes after which the exercise for the day was called off by the coach.
Another meeting, which seemed like a wrap up of earlier conversation or rather meeting took place for about 15 minutes and closing prayers were led by one of the team members. Again, at this point, I observed how the discourse community communicated, and engaged with each other during the conversations, and took the necessary notes. Lastly, I interviewed one of the team members, who for confidentiality reasons would be identified as John. The interview took about 30 minutes. During the interviewing process, I used both open and closed-ended questions. However, as it would be revealed through the interviewing script, most of the questions that were used were open-ended. These types of questions seemed the most appropriate in an effort to gain an in-depth understanding of the community and the types of genres that were used to improve relationship within the community.
Step 2: Data Analysis
Prior to analyzing the data, it is worthwhile mentioning that I knew some of the members of the discourse community. This is because the members were fellow schoolmates and I had opportunities to tutor them with Math and Calculus courses. The data that were realized through observation and interview process would be analyzed based on the six defining characteristics of a discourse community. In essence, for the data collected to be viable for analysis, it should indicate, broadly agreed set of goals, mechanisms of intercommunication within and without the community, appropriate participatory mechanism which enhances provision of information and feedback, different genres that are applicable and utilized, specific lexis and threshold level featured with relevant discourse expertise and content. From what was observed, the community seemed to be organized and trained in strategies that welcomed newcomers. For instance, when I had joined the community during their meeting, one member who held no authority, as I later came to learn had conducted an orientation to me on how the community is organized and the activities they engage in. He had also informed me how important the community was to him as an individual and as part of the community. From what I could gather, the community allowed each member to raise their opinions.
Although I could not consider the arguments and discussions as conflict, the community members raised different opinions on ideas, plans, and policies that had been outlined by their captain. Though the captain seemed to hold the cards, the community engaged in a collaborative manner to a point that the authority held limited powers in decision making. I could also not fail to notice that newcomers were requested to share their contacts such as phone numbers and address so that they could be updated about the activities and events that the community would engage in. I would consider the outfits or rather the jazzes as a form of identity that indicated “mode of belonging” within the community. To the newcomers who had no jazzes, the older members could share their own so as to effectively welcome the newcomers and demonstrate to them the love and principles of the community. The community was organized and seemed focused on earlier set goals. There was minimal conversation about what the team ought to achieve, which I learned later all members were well informed about, and for the newcomers, such information would be uploaded to various platforms so that they are fully aware of them.
Digital platforms played a significant role as forms of genre. Newcomers were informed on the Facebook account, Twitter, and YouTube where they could create a connection with other members of the community. The members used unfamiliar terms and abbreviations while taking notes and communicating with each other. From secondary source, some of these terms were explained in depth. For instance, MVP simple means Most Valuable Player. To me, they seemed very knowledgeable if not stereotyped. The different discourses that are created within the community seemed focused toward improved inclusivity and better results during competition.
Step 3: Findings
It was surprising to learn the degree of love, harmony and kindness that characterizes the community and its members. In other words, it was like the members had been conditioned to demonstrate unexaggerated love towards newcomers and among themselves. The kind of genres and “multilateralism” used by the community were interesting for me. For instance, words such as assist, block, dribble, time-out, turnover, MVP, run and gun, sixth man, pick and roll, dunk and alley-oop and three-point line were common terms during the game and general communication as I had observed. The different forms of genres such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube contained some of the rules that should be adhered to during a game, interpersonal communication or a competition. On the WhatsApp platform, which John allowed me to view, the captain was the group admin and the group had 27 participants. On the various social media platforms that the community-owned, I realized both informal and formal communication was permitted. The members, however, seemed more attracted to using informal and slang language to communicate with fellow members. Members could share not only game related messages but other inspirational messages, memos, and pictures.
From my primary source of information, John, it was interesting to learn that some terms were intentionally constructed to ensure that the competitors and or outsiders did not understand what the team members were insinuating or expressing. It is important to indicate that newcomers were assigned to other members to ensure they understood the texts and ways of communicating considered acceptable and or unacceptable. For example, texts that would be considered to be discriminating and therefore offense were unacceptable and members who posted such texts and messages could be dismissed from the community or face disciplinary actions.
Based on the findings, it has been identified that a discourse community is significant in social settings as it allows the participants to create social connections and gain an understanding of interpersonal qualities while socializing outside the community. As revealed, any community is founded under certain rules that members are required to observe so as to help them live harmoniously and relate with other individuals. The goals help the community to focus on one direction, which in turn help the individuals in their daily activities. Basketball, as a discourse community has played a significant role in enhanced socialization, behavioral change, and improvement and emotional developments among the members and other students. The values, which are evidenced by members help elaborate goals and sets an image of what other members ought to act in other social settings. Through this analysis, I explored a strong correlation between the millennial mindset and sport industry. Many marketers for the sport marketing and management need to change their strategies to attract the loyal base of millennials fans that are tech-savvy, informed and digitally active. I noticed that it is harder to keep the stadium full of audience and physical support for the team when the audience can watch the show online and through other means of broadcasting. I think that we need to make the participation more fun for kids and adults that are interested in sports. There are potential millennial-focused strategies including experimenting with ticket-selling methods, creating new reasons to care like building and improving the Cincinnati youth community, and fostering a fan-centric experience.
My goal is to use the discourse analysis to bring the community itself closer to students that would normally afraid to join the organization. One of the reasons that I wanted to analyze the sport community because I want the analyzation to prove my statement that the community is helping people to overcome the gender stereotype to provide younger generation with more opportunities to explore their own personalities and life path. I was made aware more than once in Vietnam with the assumption that involve with a bigger issue the society was and is facing which is the discrimination between genders. The assumption that women can't compete and be part of sport, it is a result of years of gender stereotypes enforcing the typical belief women are inferior to men, and it is common in the past that genders had specific roles to play in society. By analyzing the sport community, I am hoping to advance this paper to younger generation co create a safe educational environment that would allow them to explore their own hobbies and paths. With that being said, the issue has been improved over years but it is depending heavily on people's perception and opinions. In conclusion, everyone should participate in some organization, club, or community because of its benefits in improving communication, confidence, abilities to connect with others, exploring one's identity, etc. Being part of something is special and everyone deserves the chance to feel belong and accepted in today's society.