Spring 2023 - SA 352 D100

Games, Sports and Cultures (A) (4)

Class Number: 6671

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Tue, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Bascom Guffin
    Office Hours: Tuesday 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 201W.



An anthropological examination of games and sports that explores their cultural, political and aesthetic dimensions. Applies cross-cultural perspectives to explore the shaping of identities through athletic practices as well as the impacts of globalization on snorting passions. Particular attention is focused upon the creation of sport ethnographies.


Sports and games are an important force in human culture and society and have arguably become even more so with the rise of globally organized and watched competitions and leagues, both in the concrete and virtual realms. Major teams and events have important spatial impacts on their host cities, including the building of new sports venues and the implementation of security measures to ensure that sports tourists have a seamlessly pleasant experience. National and local teams and athletes become important centers of identity for legions of fans. Meanwhile, people at all skill levels regularly take part in recreational play, whether on local courts and fields or in virtual realms. This course takes an eclectic look at games and sports as a phenomenon at a number of scales. Beginning with a theoretical look at the structural and bodily foundations of games and sports, it moves on to consider the political, economic, and spatial implications of largescale organized sports, the importance of ethnic sports leagues in identity formation, and the deep involvement of players in esports and other video gaming pursuits. An important component of the course will be a modest ethnographic project that you will conduct over the course of the term, focusing on a local adult sports team, league, or regular drop-in game, or a site of social online or in-person gaming. In conducting your project, you will learn more about how games and sports can shape the lives of involved individuals, taking into account issues of power, social structures, and the human capacity for fun and play. We approach this course as partners and will be insightful and generous critics to the material and each other.


  • Class participation and attendance 15%
  • Ethnographic observation of a game/sport scene 20%
  • Critical synthesis of course themes 20%
  • Final Project: putting it all together 30%
  • Weekly reading responses 15%
  • *Reading responses will not be accepted after 9 a.m. the day of class; late submissions for all other assignments will result in a grade reduction of 5% per day, unless your absence is for a medical reason or other significant emergency.


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Honesty and Student Conduct Policies: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T20.01), and academic honesty and student conduct procedures (S10‐S10.05). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style. It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.

Centre for Accessible Learning: Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.

The Sociology and Anthropology Student Union, SASU, is a governing body of students who are engaged with the department and want to build the SA community. Get involved!  Follow Facebook and Instagram pages or visit our website.



Thangaraj, Stanley I. 2015. Desi Hoop Dreams: Pickup Basketball and the Making of Asian American Masculinity. New York: New York University Press.


The required book is available electronically through SFU’s online library system.

Additional required readings are available through Canvas, the SFU Library, or online as noted.


Galeano, Eduardo. 2013. Soccer in Sun and Shadow. Revised and updated. New York: Nation Books.

[A demonstration of someone writing about sports with a combination of beauty and passion and criticality. It’s really a pleasure read.]


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html