Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bigger than football: Study shows sports can help communities recover from disaster

Date:
July 6, 2011
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
A new study shows that organized sports can be a powerful tool for helping to rebuild communities in the wake of disasters. The research focused specifically on the role of professional football in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Research from North Carolina State University shows that organized sports can be a powerful tool for helping to rebuild communities in the wake of disasters. The research focused specifically on the role of professional football in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Related Articles


"Sports, and by extension sports media, can be a powerful force for good. It can bring people together. It can provide hope, even in the midst of great destruction," says Dr. Ken Zagacki, co-author of a paper describing the research and a professor of communication at NC State. "But we have to be careful that we don't use sports to gloss over real problems. We don't want to 'move on' from tragedies like Katrina when real social problems remain."

In late summer 2005, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast were facing unprecedented destruction stemming from Hurricane Katrina. The region was going through social and economic upheaval. And, in the days immediately following Katrina's landfall, the Louisiana Superdome had been the backdrop for scenes of men, women and children struggling to get basic necessities.

In September 2006, the New Orleans Saints played their first home game in that same building, which had just been restored. Zagacki and Dr. Daniel Grano, lead author of the paper and an associate professor at University of North Carolina Charlotte, wanted to see what role that landmark game had in New Orleans' recovery.

Louisiana is well known for its passionate football fans, and the Superdome had corresponding cultural importance in the state. As a result, the post-Katrina images of human suffering were particularly traumatic for the region. Those images also raised issues of racism, since the bulk of the citizens stranded there were poor and African American. "In short," Zagacki says, "an important focal point for the community had become associated with despair, rather than pride.

"But the media coverage of the Saints' homecoming, and the game itself, served as almost a purification ritual for the community. It really helped to reunite the community, giving them a common bond and helping them to move forward.

"However, the media coverage also exacerbated some of the social problems the region was struggling with -- particularly concerning race and poverty." For example, television broadcasts and public officials repeatedly associated images of African American evacuees with uncivilized conditions in the Superdome, spreading terrifying rumors that proved mostly untrue.

"The images were intended to highlight the contrast between 'then' and 'now,'" Zagacki says, "to illustrate how far New Orleans had come in its recovery. But those same images might have also reinforced negative racial stereotypes."

The Saints game did serve to help bring the New Orleans community together, giving it a shared sense of identity. However, the researchers say there is some concern that it may also have fostered a false sense of harmony, that forestalled public engagement on issues related to race and class.

"Sports, at any level, can be a powerful unifying force in the wake of a disaster," Zagacki says. "We hope people can utilize that, without losing sight of the larger problems that often need to be dealt with during a community's recovery."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel A. Grano, Kenneth S. Zagacki. Cleansing the Superdome: The Paradox of Purity and Post-Katrina Guilt. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 2011; 97 (2): 201 DOI: 10.1080/00335630.2011.560175

Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Bigger than football: Study shows sports can help communities recover from disaster." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110706104757.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2011, July 6). Bigger than football: Study shows sports can help communities recover from disaster. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110706104757.htm
North Carolina State University. "Bigger than football: Study shows sports can help communities recover from disaster." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110706104757.htm (accessed March 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

AP (Feb. 28, 2015) Researchers following endangered killer whales spotted a baby orca off the coast of Washington state, the third birth documented this winter but still leaving the population dangerously low. (Feb. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bridge Collapses Due to Flooding in Bolivia

Bridge Collapses Due to Flooding in Bolivia

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 28, 2015) Heavy rain and flooding sweep through parts of Bolivia causing damage and leaves more than 2,000 people homeless. Sophia Soo reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

AFP (Feb. 27, 2015) More than 200 people have been killed in a series of avalanches triggered by heavy snowfall in Afghanistan. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
France, Philippines Call for Agreement on Climate Change

France, Philippines Call for Agreement on Climate Change

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 27, 2015) The presidents of France and the Philippines issue a joint appeal for a binding agreement on climate change. Katie Sargent reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins