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An Evolving Geography of Sport: The Recruitment and Mobility of Samoan College Football Players 1998–2006

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Item Summary

Title:An Evolving Geography of Sport: The Recruitment and Mobility of Samoan College Football Players 1998–2006
Authors:Markham, Jesse Wind
Contributors:Chapman, Murray (advisor)
Geography and Environment (department)
Keywords:Samoan American football players
sports geography
NCAA college football
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Date Issued:May 2008
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2008]
Abstract:In the last decade, the national media discovered the rise of Samoans and Polynesians in collegiate and professional football, which had gone virtually unnoticed in the scholarly world. Samoans have played in collegiate and professional ranks since the 1940s. Over a nine year period, from 1998 to 2006, my compilation shows that 1,191 student-athletes attended colleges in every conference of Division I football (player states) and came from 26 different home states, including American Samoa A sustained increase of Samoans student athletes in the game of football began in the 1970s.
The purpose of this thesis was to explore the meanings and dynamics in the flows of Samoan football players and how, in the process, their identities are constructed, conveyed, and understood. The broad goal was to take a cultural geographic approach to Samoan athletic performance and experience and, in this way, expand the geographical study of sport. Culture and identity, two tropes or themes common within cultural geography, were used as frames to better understand the many issues in the recruitment and mobility of college football players of Samoan ancestry. Indispensable to this inquiry was indepth field interviews and talking story with fifteen current and former college football players, the context for which was the 'ethnography of the particular'.
Foundational work in sports geography forty years ago by John Rooney, which located and mapped the origin and diffusion of football players in the United States, has been criticized as being long on description and short on interpretation. In this study, numbers, charts, and maps are a starting point to explore the notion that Samoan identity and football are inextricably linked and what this means to the individual player, the Samoan community, and the broader population. The identities of players change depending on time, place, and context both in and outside of football, especially since current student-athletes represent a second- or third-generation in the game. Variations in what it means to be a Samoan football player reflects the fact that fewer now live in the inner cities just as much as the differences in the vernacular regions from which they were originally drawn, throughout rural and urban America as well as Tutuila in American Samoa.
The immediate and extended family was of first importance to the fifteen collegiate players in their transformation from youth to adulthood. Families grounded them and gave unquestioning support to excel at school and in sport Spiritual faith is a strong aspect of players' lives and the church forms the social space that allows them to practice it and their culture of fa'a Samoa (Samoan way). As the Polynesian diaspora spreads, fa'a Samoa continues to evolve and be contested, as reflected in enhanced cultural interpretations summarized in fa'a Hawaiʻi and fa'a Kalifonia.
The physical communities in which players were raised serve a dual purpose: as a place they represented on the field and a witness to the much larger Samoan community found nationally and worldwide. A second community is an imagined one: the fraternity of football players found and the subcommunity of Samoan and Polynesian athletes within it. The multilevel approach of compiling data, using visual and textual displays of Samoan football players, and constructing fifteen case histories to explore questions stemming from culture and identity expands the geography of sport beyond numbers and locations to a more cultural and holistic understanding of movement processes in the college recruitment of Samoan student-athletes.
Description:MA University of Hawaii at Manoa 2008
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 139–146).
Pages/Duration:xiv, 146 leaves, bound: illustrations, maps ; 29 cm
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: M.A. - Geography

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