Sport as Catalyst for Community Formation
Joseph Trumino, Division of Social Sciences, College of Professional Studies
For the past eight years, I have been a member of a group that plays fast pitch softball at a playground in Queens, New York City. The group displays some rather extraordinary characteristics: their game has been going on for the past thirty years; they range in age from teenagers to a seventy year old pitcher; they are very diverse in their social characteristics, made up of white, blacks and Latinos; their relationships extend beyond the playing field, they are much like an informally organized club; and finally, they play each Sunday morning from March to November or December (weather permitting) at 6:30 a.m. My research focuses on what I term internal and eternal benefits of participation. By internal benefits, I mean the social-psychological benefits of play, derived from playing the game itself. By external benefits related to membership in the group and the accumulation of social capital, as described in Robert Putnam’s popular book, Bowling Alone. My research method is that of participant observation in that my data comes not merely from observation but from actual participation and membership in the group.