American Football baffles me. I simply do not understand our fascination with the sport. It’s hard to participate in conversations about team statistics or big games when you don’t understand the sport. If you’re like me, and football makes your head spin, you’re in luck: here is a crash course in all things football- the rules, the history, and other important information. Football comes from an early form of rugby and grew in popularity through the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, the NFL (National football league) has 32 teams across the U.S. and in 2017, made $8.16 billion. Needless to say, the NFL is very popular and has an almost cultish following, where committed fans attend or watch every single game. Even college football teams, such as our own here at USC, have huge followings and make huge sums of money from ticket sales, athletic apparel, and TV contracts.
If you live in LA, you are not unfamiliar with the vibrant arts on the streets that help produce countless aesthetic photos on Instagram. For example, the Love Wall (8549 Higuera St., Culver City) created in 2015, two days before Valentine’s Day by Curtis Kulig or the pink wall of a fashion boutique on Melrose. This form of art that takes place on the walls or exterior of a building is called mural art.
Last summer, I had the pleasure of participating in the Global East Asia Program, hosted by the East Asian Area Studies Department. It is a four week summer class that takes place in both USC and a country abroad, in this case: Japan. In this blog post however I want to share with you the great things we did before we went abroad because not only did we get to study and research in Japan, but we also got to learn a lot about Los Angeles and research right in Downtown LA as well!
After our daily lesson on campus, we went to Dodger Stadium and took a tour of the historic ball park. It was a really special thing to do, as they only offer two public tours a day! On this tour, we learned about the history of the Dodgers team and gained insight on how this traditionally American game opened up and accepted Japanese players. I learned that the Japanese actually share the same reverence to the sport as do Americans and this commonality allowed the two cultures to have a mutual respect for one another. I had never been to Dodger stadium before so this was certainly an eye-opening experience. With the stadium tour complete, we then went to speak with Mr. Okasaki, a Japanese American who merged his heritage with his passion for baseball, and went to live in Japan to gain experience on a Japanese baseball field. He then returned to the US and earned a job with the Dodgers. He told us about how rewarding it was to sign two Japanese players to the Dodgers as well as shared a couple frustrating stories about the difficulty of translation and cultural difference. It was really inspiring to hear about how he created his own career path by following his heart.
The Japanese American National Museum was next on our list. We went to the Hello Kitty exhibit and saw how a tiny coin purse turned into an international icon for cuteness. Seeing how Japanese Hello Kitty or “Kitty-chan” was able to warm the hearts of people around the world was thought-provoking because it showed how Japanese cute culture is accessible and attractive to people all around the world. Other than the Hello Kitty exhibit, there was the permanent installment of the history of Japanese Americans. This museum is important because it shows what kind of struggles racial minorities face in America and acts as a home to the important history of the hybrid culture of Asian Americans, specifically Japanese Americans. Going to this museum was such a rewarding experience; you can learn so much from the pieces and the people presented in it. If you’re ever in the Downtown area, you should definitely check out the museum and the area called Little Tokyo that surrounds it!