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Sports film class addresses deeper issues

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Debbie Allison
Staff Writer

Sports movies and classic American values have combined to form a brand new course for La Verne students that will surely get them thinking.

This semester, MSS 340 American Values in Sports Films was offered to ULV students for the first time. The class, taught by Paul Alvarez, athletic training and education program director and professor of movement and sports science, will not be offered in the fall but is expected to return for a second section in the spring of 2011, Alvarez said.

A similar class had been taught by a former faculty member on a monthly basis, however, Alvarez decided to bring the class back with a revamped format.

“I decided to do it similarly but on a weekly class basis,” Alvarez said.

The class is based around a list of 14 dominant American social values as noted by sociologist Robin Williams.

Each week, the class views an American sports film and looks at the ways in which these values are portrayed and received.

Some of the films already viewed this semester include “The Karate Kid,” “Remember the Titans,” “Hoosiers,” “A League of Their Own” and “Rudy.”

Alvarez said that some things they have discussed already include relationships between blacks and whites, equality in sexuality, and gender inequality.

“We watch a movie and then we spend a few minutes after class trying to pick up some ideas,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez gives students some leading questions to get the ball rolling and the students take over from there.

Students are then expected to go home and write a reaction paper picking on what they feel are the dominant themes throughout the movie.

Often times Alvarez also has a faculty member attend the class to serve as a panelist.

Alvarez said that in the future he would like to transform the class into an interdisciplinary course that could be offered during January interterm.

Alvarez believes that doing so would reach more students and would take the course to the next level.

If the response of current students enrolled in the class is any indication, it will.

“We don’t just watch the movies. (Alvarez) gives us a different take,” Rydell Moore, a junior movement and sports science major, said.

“It’s not just a class where you get lectured all the time,” Hernandez, a senior movement and sports science major, said.

The class currently meets from 6:30-9:40 p.m. on Monday nights.

Debbie Allison can be reached at

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