- Why did you choose to write about this city?
I’ve lived in Los Angeles County all my life and have come to know the city as vastly diverse and sprawling – there are so many different areas and so many different groups of people. Unlike a lot of other major cities, Los Angeles is so spread out that it’s much more difficult to explore and understand. Its enormity lends itself to the fact that Los Angeles has eight professional sports teams. The sports teams (and everything that comes along with them) are major components of the city in both historic and contemporary times. Sports are often considered unifying factors – they bring people together to root for their heroes and they bring pride to their city. I’ve always considered the teams of Los Angeles to do exactly that, but what I didn’t really consider before is that sometimes sports can have the opposite effects. For example, when the owner of the Dodgers built Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine, he destroyed an entire neighborhood community. The Clippers recently had an incident in which their owner made racist remarks. These kinds of things impact the team and their connection to the identity of the city. Finally, almost all of the major sports franchises have come from other places – they are transplants. So how do they work in representing the city?
- Who would read/watch/visit/use your project? How would they access it? What do they value? What qualities would help them get the most from your project?
I think that sports fans from the Los Angeles area would be the largest group with interest in the project. They could access it simply through the simple web page I plan to set up for it. I think they’d value the in-depth analysis of sports’ effects on Los Angeles beyond bringing in money or championship trophies. In my own experience as a sports fan, I always enjoy learning more about the teams I support. I think in particular using familiar voices (sportscasters, journalists, athletes) will encourage the audience to pay attention and be interested.
- Who else would care about your project, and what concerns would they have? For example, how might civic leaders view your project?
I think that people interested in the study of sports and its effects on people would also find the project interesting – because beyond being a unifying factor, sports have economic and political motives. So this is sort of a foray into a realm beyond athletic competition into an area that impacts people researching Los Angeles’ economy and politics as well as culture.
- What form will you use? Why? What advantages and limitations does that form offer?
I’d like to do either a podcast or a video – what I’d like to focus on in the project is voices – people of the city, sportscasters, owners, athletes themselves – everybody has something to say, and I want to connect them all into a cohesive piece that offers a look into Los Angeles sports life. I think the audio form offers a good chance for different voices to be heard, but it lacks visual. If I turned it into a video, I could have that component, but I’m not sure what footage I would use.
- Based on your review of representations of your city and of multimedia projects of the kind you want to create, what do you want to contribute to the “conversation” about your city in literature, film, and other media?
Los Angeles is seen in two ways – the city where dreams are made or the city of unoriginality and a lack of authenticity. I think my project will actually contribute to both of these visions because I believe that each is equally a part of the city. I recently read Nathanael West’s The Day of the Locust, which offered a diverse perspective on Hollywood and the film industry as well as the legend of the West as the place where dreams come true. I think that it’s important to keep in mind that what we get from the media is not an accurate picture of a place. I think that, especially in sports, there is such an emphasis on feel-good stories – the comebacks, the championships, the spirit of competition and camaraderie. But sports have not always been good to us and nor have they always been a part of our city. So I’d like to add another level of exploration to Los Angeles that really concerns the history of these teams and how that has impacted the city.
- What makes this city difficult to represent effectively?
Los Angeles in particular is a city that I think lacks a singular identity. Even when narrowing the field down to sports and their relation to the city, it’s still a complicated project. The teams themselves represent different parts of the city and different groups of people. They came from all over the country and then settled in Los Angeles, and each have played a vital yet often immensely different role in the building of the city’s identity. So stringing it all together in a coherent way is going to be difficult for me.
How will you organize your project? How do you hope your audience will navigate through it?
What I’m currently planning is a simple webpage with a video component (featuring clips from documentaries, commentary from games, critiques from scholars) and then a timeline with photos of when teams came/left Los Angeles along with a couple other relevant events in LA’s history. I hope it will be pretty simple for the audience to navigate through it, and the video is the main component with the timeline existing for historical context. They can use that for reference.