Is Baseball White Public Space??

Is Baseball White Public Space?

(It’s not an entirely original question. I’m borrowing it from a recent article in the American Anthropologist)

Over Friday and Saturday, August 24-25, the MSPS Martin Luther King, Jr. Series for the Study of Race kicks off with a 30-hour immersion program in Chicago where we will ask critical questions about race and major league baseball.

Is baseball a public space? Who is it for? Who owns it? What is baseball’s division of labor like? How is baseball situated in the communities in which games are played?

Chicago is a unique place to look critically at race and baseball because the city hosts two different major league baseball teams, each situated in two very different communities.

The Chicago Cubs play their games on the north side of the city at Wrigley Field in a community that is predominantly white and higher on the socio-economic scale.

Conversely, The Chicago White Sox play their games on the south side of the city at U.S. Cellular Field adjacent a community that is overwhelmingly predominantly black and situated much, much lower on the economic spectrum.

We will have a chance to walk around in each of these communities and get to chat a little bit with some of their members and visit some of their stores and restaurants. We will also get to attend a major league baseball game in each of these stadiums, where we will also be looking at how race and economics impact life and community during a typical, regular-season game.

(For more info, check out an interesting paper comparing the economic impact of Wrigley Field and U.S.Cellular Field by an Economics Professor at Lake Forest College.)

We will make some sharp comparisons between each of these two communities. We will also note how each baseball team, the Cubs and the White Sox, separates and/or integrates into the communities in which they play.

It’s kind of like an ethnography project, if you’re familiar with the method. (Wikipedia it!). Everyone who participates will receive a small field journal to use for reflections, jotting down observations, interviews, etc.

We will also have an opportunity to meet with some important people in these communities.

The experience makes use of public transportation the entire trip. We will leave via the South Shore Line train from South Bend Regional Airport at 12:59pm on Friday, August 24th and use the CTA transit system while we are in Chicago.

We will stay together overnight in the Chicago downtown “loop” area following the White Sox vs Seattle Mariners game on Friday night.

We will head back to South Bend immediately following the Chicago Cubs vs Colorado Rockies game on Saturday afternoon. We will return to South Bend by about 8:00pm on Saturday night.

Please keep in mind that there is a fair amount of walking on this trip, as we will be moving through communities and heading out on miniature observation assignments during the games. (There will still be plenty of time to enjoy the games, too)

We are attempting to keep this group very intimate to help with the accessibility of the program. So space is limited right now.

If you are interested in coming along and thinking about these questions (and probably others) with us, please, please send me an email ASAP ( so that I can hold your spot now. If you have any questions at all about this trip, please don’t hesitate to email me or find MSPS on Twitter and Facebook.

Hope to see you soon.


Coming Soon this Fall: A Tale of Two Teams

I’m spending the day today researching and putting the final touches on a truly unique educational program coming up during the very first weekend after classes have begun in August: It is an overnight travel-immersion program in Chicago that looks at the city’s two major league baseball teams, the White Sox and the Cubs, through a critical lens conscious of things like race and socio-economic community development.

The bare bones of the design, thus far, is that we will spend about a 30-hour period together exploring the communities surrounding the Chicago White Sox on Chicago’s South Side and the Cubs on the North Side.

We’ll be sort of amateur ethnographers in that we’ll observe, and record, and pay particular attention to what the communities surrounding the clubs’ stadiums are like. Who lives in the areas adjacent to the stadiums? Who works there? Are there shops and restaurants or homes surrounding the stadiums?

The fun part—though no less serious from an academic standpoint—is that we’ll get to take our observations into the parks, themselves, for a White Sox game on Friday night, followed by a Cubs game the next day.

Like our trips into the communities we’ll be looking at things like, Who attends these games? Where do they work and live? How did they get to the stadium that day?

And what do any of our observations mean to the conversation about the role of race in the socioeconomic realities of our world?

I’m still nailing down details and logistics, but I wanted to get it out there now, as this will be a tough thing to advertise during that first crazy week of classes.

The broad logistics:

  • Depart on the South Shore Line Train at 12:59pm on Friday, August 24th.
  • The White Sox game that night starts at 7:10pm Central time.
  • The Cubs game the next day starts at 12:05pm Central Time.
  • We’ll be back in South Bend by 8:15pm on Saturday, August 25th.

Due to budget and time constraints space is extremely limited. We’ll only be able to accommodate 10-13 students, so if you’re interested, why don’t you shoot me an email ( and we can maybe start putting together a list of participants.

If you’re really bored this summer and you want to know more about what we’ll be thinking about, check out It’s Hardly Sportin’: Stadiums, Neighborhoods, and the New Chicago.

Or, if you don’t quite have enough time to read a book, try this article, from which I totally borrowed the title for the program, A Tale of Two Stadiums: Comparing the Economic Impact of Chicago’s Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field

Hope everyone is enjoying their summers. Can’t wait to see you all back here soon.

(Because summer is kind of boring on campus without students…)