8) Project 3 Final Revision

Embed Size (px)

Citation preview

  • 7/30/2019 8) Project 3 Final Revision


    With this paper I wanted to show that football coaches are a discourse community

    and that they would be more efficient in achieving their group goals if they utilized new

    forms of technology specifically the Zeus computer program in making decisions during

    and before games. I thought that I would be successful in achieving this because I am

    knowledgeable about the subject. I come from a coaching background and I have

    coached on high school teams despite my young age. I also have been the head coach of

    a youth football team in Nevada. I constantly am reading about the game of football and

    am very current on my knowledge regarding game planning and statistical data. I want to

    return to the sport some day at the high school level and so I research almost daily. I

    changed my paper drastically from my peer-reviewed paper. I didnt understand the

    assignment at first and failed to make a claim. Also I didnt provide enough information

    in my synthesis section the first time around. The revised paper includes an in depth

    synthesis regarding concepts I thought applied to my discourse community. Also I made

    a claim. I think that as far as what could be better, I feel like I couldnt quite fit the paper

    within the word limit. I tried and felt that my ending was rushed despite going over by a

    few hundred words. I think that to fully write a polished paper I would need more of a

    word limit. I ended my paper sort of abruptly to avoid going over more than I already

    have. I think that if I had no limit I could have explored a more complete argument and

    tied things together more cleanly. As far as what is working well I think that I have done

    a large amount of research. I am sure that I sound informed on my topic and I think that

    the reader will pick up on this as well. I think I make an argument that is logical and

    makes sense. I do a good job of supporting the argument in my opinion. This project has

  • 7/30/2019 8) Project 3 Final Revision


    taught me to be more organized and to keep in mind who I am writing to. Also I learned

    a great deal about discourse communities and what goes on inside of them.

  • 7/30/2019 8) Project 3 Final Revision


    Football Coaches: An Ethnographic Study

    As people we are all involved in some kind of group or area of interest. Have we

    ever stopped to wonder what makes up these groupswhat they are called or what they

    bring to others within different areas of interest? These groups are called discourse

    communities among scholars. They aremore or lessgroups that share an interest and

    a common goal. A community I am involved in is a community of football coaches.

    Inside of this large community there are smaller communities made up of individual


    The coaches on these teams are held to a standardalmost alwaysthat includes

    instant success. If a team is not competing for championships right away employers of

    coaches often times have little patienceleading to a coaching staffs dismissal. This

    type of pressure to winand to win earlypushes those involved in the coaching

    discourse community to employ many means of gaining an edge over opponents. Many

    coaches rely on current sorts of multiliteracies to achieve this advantage over


    The question arises thenwhat type of multiliteracies are used to aid in the

    success of these coaches and how can new forms of multiliteracy be used to gain an edge

    over competition that is seen within the discourse community among individual teams?

    Often times coaches experience communication issues that hinder them from fully

    experiencing success in finding a solution to this answer. The problem lies in their

    language issues and stubborn attitudes in sticking to old ways. The answer to the problem

    and the question lies in advancement of technology. Through the breakdown of statistics

    and the use of new forms of technologies coaches can combine current forms of

  • 7/30/2019 8) Project 3 Final Revision


    multiliteracy with newer forms that are either not yet being used or are being used by a

    small percentage of coaches. To understand this concept better it is important to first

    understand what is already being said about discourse communities.

    According to John Swales, to identify a group of individuals as a discourse

    community the group has to meet a set of six criteria. In his article The Concept of

    Discourse Community Swales says,

    1. A discourse community has a broadly agreed set of common public goals

    2. Discourse community has mechanisms of intercommunication among its

    members 3. A discourse community uses its participatory mechanisms

    primarily to provide information and feedback 4. A discourse community

    utilizes and hence posses one or more genres in the communicative furtherance of

    its aims 5. In addition to owning genres, a discourse community has acquired

    some specific lexis 6. A discourse community has a threshold level of

    members with a suitable degree of relevant content and discoursal expertise

    (Swales 471472).

    By outlining a set of criteria we can see what constitutes a discourse community and what

    does not. This helps us identify many key concepts that arise when discussing discourse

    communities such as how information is passed and why certain problems or situations

    might arise.

    Now that John Swales has given a clear concept of what a discourse community

    is, it is important to look at the actual function of a discourse community and what goes

    on inside of one. What it takes to be a member and what must happen once one is

    already a member is an essential part of understanding discourse communities. There are

  • 7/30/2019 8) Project 3 Final Revision


    many important concepts and ideas about what goes on inside of discourse communities,

    but for the purpose of this paper there are only a handful that are overly important. Those

    concepts are the ideas of identity, authority, the definition of genre, the definition of

    multiliteracies, and Discourse with a capital D. James Paul Gee, the Writing About

    Writing glossary, and Elizabeth Wardle express these ideas.

    James Paul Gee explains in his article, Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics, that

    to truly be a part of a Discourse community we as people must, say or write the right

    thing in the right way while playing the right social role and (appearing) to hold the right

    values, beliefs, and attitudes. Thus, what is important is not language, and surely not

    grammar, but saying (writing)doingbeingvaluingbelieving combinations (Gee

    484). This idea that being a part of a discourse community is important. You are either

    involved in it or you are not. There is no in between. This means that being involved in

    a discourse community is just thatbeing. It is a part of the individual. Because

    belonging is a sense of beingit cannot be taught. Gee claims that Discourse

    communities are not mastered by overt instruction, but instead through enculturation into

    certain behaviors that support the inclusion of new individuals taught by those that have

    already mastered a certain Discourse (Gee 484). Through apprenticeshipor

    enculturationa veteran member of any community can help someone practice being a

    certain way with them, however, they cannot teach anyone to be a part of a discourse

    community (Gee 485).

    Gee ties in one more important aspect of Discourse communities before making

    an important statement. Gee connects with Swales indirectly by mentioning the

    participation of individuals involved in Discourse communities. Gee claims that an

  • 7/30/2019 8) Project 3 Final Revision


    individuals participation through participatory mechanisms is an important aspect of

    communities from a member perspective. The members of any given community needs

    to be active participants in order for the community to function as well as to retain

    membership (Gee 487). All of Gees ideas tie into what he calls Discourse as opposed

    to discourse. Discourses with a capital D are ways of being in the world (Gee

    484). Essentially Gee is saying that being a member of a Discourse community takes

    total immersion in that community. (For the sake of avoiding confusiondiscourse

    communities will now be referred to as Discourse communities for the remainder of

    this paper.)

    So far Discourse communities have been defined by Swales and what it takes to

    be a member and stay a member has also been described by Gee. Elizabeth Wardle

    makes her contribution to the conversation by breaking down the identity of members as

    well as who has authority inside of Discourse communities. Wardle states, To find

    their own unique identities within new organizations, newcomers must choose levels

    and types of engagement; they must find modes of belonging (Wardle 524). Wardle

    goes on to state these three modes of belonging as engagement, imagination, and

    alignment (Wardle 524). These three concepts are important in an individuals fitting into

    a certain community and establishing themselves as apart of that community.

    Once identity is established there is generally some sort of authority that is gained

    inside of a community. Authoritylike identityis constantly changing and being

    negotiated (Wardle 525). Authority is something that is given by institutions or members

    of a Discourse community, and must be maintained through appropriate expressions of

    authority. All members have a level of authority, but the authority can only be kept if

  • 7/30/2019 8) Project 3 Final Revision


    members learn the appropriate speech conventions or otherwise, lose the authority

    (Wardle 526). This idea that there is a hierarchy present inside of organizations is an

    important one to grasp. The use of authority by those with the most authority can directly

    influence the livelihood as well as the future membership of those with less authority in

    any given Discourse community.

    The last concept pertinent to this paper is the definition of genre. It is given to

    us by the Writing About Writing glossary. The glossary says, genre actually goes well

    beyond texts; accordingly, some theorists use genre to describe a typified but dynamic

    social interaction that a group of people use to conduct a given activity (Writing About

    Writing 724). Genre describes all of the modes of communication that are used to relay

    information within a Discourse community. This goes beyond text and stretches into

    multiple forms of literacy giving way to multiliteracies within Discourse Communities.

    Multiliteracies include the ability to compose and interpret multimodal texts, as well as

    the ability to make meaning in various texts (Writing About Writing 728). Multiliteracies

    and genres can include audio, visual, and textual forms of communication. If information

    is passed through a certain means than it is a genre.

    To quickly recapSwales identifies what a discourse community is, Gee

    identifies what it takes to become a member, Wardle shows that there is a hierarchy of

    power and authority among individuals in a Discourse community, and the definitions of

    multiliteracies and genre show that communication within a Discourse community is

    more than just saying or writing things down. All of these sources show that Discourse

    communities are constantly processing and producing information as well as the

    importance of their individual parts.

  • 7/30/2019 8) Project 3 Final Revision


    As I explained earlierI am a part of a Discourse community of football coaches.

    Looking at the definitions above and the information provided by the authors it is evident

    that this community is the epitome of what these authors are discussing. Football

    coaches fit Swales six criteria. They want to win, they exchange game tape and

    information between each other, the use of statistics and game film are examples of

    numerous forms of genres that help to achieve the shared goal, there is an obvious lexis

    with one example being play calls, there are professionals and youth football coaches

    with high school and college levels in between the high and the low, and there is

    generally a set number of coaches that can be involved on a given team.

    Gee stated that being involved in a Discourse community involves being. This

    is apparent in football coaches as well. Generally speaking a coach is involved as an

    assistant before he can achieve more authority and advance in the field. Through

    enculturation he learns how to be a head coach from the head coach he assists (Coffin 1).

    Wardle claims that there are certain means of achieving identity and authority

    within a group. In the Discourse community of coaches the coaches must be engaged in

    what is going on, create concepts with their imagination, and their ideas and goals must

    align with those that the other members posses in order for them to truly have an identity

    within the group. Also, authority is distributed throughout individual coaching staffs.

    The head coachgenerally a more senior memberhas the most authority where a

    positions coachgenerally a newer memberhas the least authority. Every member of

    the staff has a say however there is a clear hierarchy of authority present.

  • 7/30/2019 8) Project 3 Final Revision


    Finally coaches go to conferences, watch videotape of opponents, read books, and

    study statistics to utilize multiple genre types to their advantage. This plays into the

    mastering of multiple forms of literacy or multiliteracies.

    All of these concepts show that football coaches are a high functioning Discourse

    community. Now that it is apparent what a discourse community is, how it functions, and

    the fact that coaches are in fact a Discourse community, we are brought back to the

    concept originally stated at the beginning of this paper. Coaches utilize many forms of

    literacy to gain an edge over opponents. Often times new technologies are neglected and

    not used whereas older more proven methods of literacy are used to gain an advantage for

    game day. Certain genres are ignored or used by very few coaches. This is something

    that needs to change. Through the breakdown of statistics and the use of new forms of

    technologies coaches can combine current forms of multiliteracy with newer forms that

    are either not yet being used or are being used by a small percentage of coaches. This

    ignorance has led to problems regarding language and language use inside of this

    community. The problem is miscommunication between coaches in reference to play

    calling and what is the right call to play in certain situations.

    Often times coaches have to make split second decisions that can impact the

    outcome of the game in a major waya win results or a loss. With all of the time and

    effort that is put into the process of learning tendencies and play calling strategies for any

    given week it would make sense that coaches could agree and understand what calls to

    make and when to make them especially when it comes down to key moments in games.

    This is not the case. On any given week there is at least one instance of coaches yelling

  • 7/30/2019 8) Project 3 Final Revision


    at each other or disagreeing over a play call. Emotions run high and often times coaches

    stick to what they have been taught as assistantsconservative play calling.

    Conservative play calling consists of accumulating as many points as possible

    while taking as few risks as possible. This is the way the majority of coaches look at

    football. It can be viewed as the safe way to coach. This type of thinking is often

    attributed to winning games, but in reality it is not the most effective way to win games

    through play calling. Tightening up the play calling during big games or key moments is

    not as effective as relying on the new forms of genre and multiliteracies that are

    constantly evolving and are available to coaches.

    New technology is coming out every day. New forms of data analysis are

    constantly evolving and coming into use through multiple different fields. Why not in

    football? These new forms of multiliteracy and evolving genre can help aid in solving

    age-old problems that have plagued football coaches and their communication issues.

    Instead of relying on conservative play calling it is important to not ignore data that the

    coaches themselves have compiled as well as allowing these new technologies to help

    make a difference. For some reason coaches continue to rely on their old ways while

    completely ignoring these new genre in their attempts to solve their language and

    communication issues in coming to a decision on play calls in key moments.

    The biggest example of data analysis technology that is being ignored is the Zeus

    computer program developed by ViMass Group. Zeus is a computer program developed

    that models and predicts the outcomes of coaching decisions. The program produces

    statistical outputs showing the odds of favorable outcomes depending on the personnel

    and paly calls of a coaching staff. The output by the program even produces what is

  • 7/30/2019 8) Project 3 Final Revision


    called the Game Winning Chance, which evaluates the chances of winning the game

    based off of specific play calls.

    If this genre was used with the current forms of information gathering coaches

    could establish more of an edge on competition than they already can. By using this

    technology there is a clear advantage yet it is often times ignored thanks to the distrust of

    old school coaches that currently dominate modern football. An example of the

    computers statistical advantages can be seen in the analysis of the 2011 game between

    the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants.

    The game featured one team that would claim first place in the NFC East late in

    the season leaving the other on the outside looking in. Both teams were in position to

    make a run for the division championship. The weight that this game carried was

    palpable and obvious just by seeing the players warm up. This leads to a lot of emotion

    involved on the players end of things, but even more so on the coachs. Emotionally

    charged play calling is something that is often seen in big games resulting in conservative

    tendencies. ESPN broke down the numbers that were compiled by the Zeus computer

    system and explained the importance of the statistical data here:

    So, how did the Cowboys' and Giants' coaching staffs perform in their

    respective decisions? Dallas faced fewer tough decisions (four shown in

    the table) and performed quite well, missing only one. That 1.5 percent

    Game Winning Chance error for attempting a long field goal early in the

    game got a moderate confidence score of 5, meaning extreme factors (such

    as misevaluation of the teams' customized characteristics) could lead to a

    reversal of ZEUS' play-call choice.)

  • 7/30/2019 8) Project 3 Final Revision


    Often, coaches get condemned by the media for "questionable" play calls

    after a loss. Sometimes, these criticisms are completely unfounded and

    based merely upon "playing results" or second-guessing. Unfortunately for

    the Giants' coaching staff, that wasn't the case Sunday. New York

    stumbled on six of the nine critical decisions analyzed here, and five of the

    six had confidences of 10. Let's take a closer look at these suboptimal


    New York went on to fail on five of six decisions that the computer was absolutely 100

    percent confident they would make. Just based off of logic and statistical data the

    computer said there was no way the Giants could fail if they called the correct play call in

    those five instances. The Giants went on to lose the game as indicated by their Zeus

    computer Game Winning Chance. The coaches couldnt make the correct call during

    the game and relied to much on their conservative way of calling plays. This led to a

    narrow defeat that hurt their chance at a division title. Essentially the computer

    outperformed the coaching staff.

    By basing the decisions on mathematical outcomes coaches would achieve a

    higher chance of attaining their desired outcome. If as a Discourse community coaches

    take note of constantly evolving technology they could better achieve their goals as well

    as produce information in a more efficient manner. The problems regarding play calling

    and language issues inside of this Discourse community could be totally eliminated. By

    relying on newer versions of data analysis this Discourse community can benefit other

    communities of a similar sort, and can become more successful among its own members.

  • 7/30/2019 8) Project 3 Final Revision


    Interview Questions:

    Coach Lane CoffinCoach Coffin is a coach at Marsh Valley High School in Moscow,

    Idaho. Coach Coffin has won state championships and has also coached with my father.

    He has been coaching for many years and has a son who is now on his staff.

    How does your community of coaches fit the six guidelines presented by John Swales?

    Well we want to win. We focus a lot on the process of winning and what

    it takes to be a winner. We share film and go to seminars. I dont really

    understand what you are saying about the genres. We definitely have a

    specific language and lexicon. We have new coaches and more

    experienced coaches. That plays into novices and experts. We also have a

    threshold cap of 9 coaches.

    Have you experienced any moments where you could decipher a clear hierarchy of

    authority among coaches?

    Absolutely I have. Generally speaking what the head ball coach saysgoes. He has the power to make all the important decisions, but will rely

    on his assistants as well. The reason it is his say most of the time is

    because it is his ass on the line. If I make a bad call as an offensive

    coordinator he is the one that gets blamed not me. He faces more job

    security issues than anyone on the staff so that is why he has the most

    authority. Other coaches have authority as well though. When I was an

  • 7/30/2019 8) Project 3 Final Revision


    offensive coordinator for Cal high in California I had almost complete

    control of the offense. Our head guy was a defensive mined coach and

    didnt care how I called the offense mostly because he wasnt super

    inclined on the offensive side of the ball.

    How did you experience a rise in authority?

    At first I was a grad assistant at Idaho State. I learned a lot there underthe coaches that were ahead of me. I was fresh out of undergrad and was

    working for a local paper there to pay the bills. Those guys at ISU taught

    me a lot and I eventually decided that I wanted to become a teacher and

    coach at the high school level. That is what I did. I moved to California

    to teach at a school there and eventually ended up as the OC at Cal high.

    After a few years at ISU and a few years at Cal High I moved back to

    Idaho and was offered a head coaching job here. I took it and have been

    here ever since.

    Would you agree with what Wardle says about establishing an identity?

    I dont know a whole lot about this writing class of yours, but I think thatit might apply. Sure. I dont know if I understand exactly based off of

    what you said, but I think that when you explain it to me I could see how it

    can fit in with football.

    Have you heard of the Zeus program for computing data and play calls?

    I have not.Would you go for it on fourth down in the 2007 Super Bowl if you were on the goal line

    with the Colts offense? (I had just showed him the ESPN article referenced in my paper).

  • 7/30/2019 8) Project 3 Final Revision


    I think I would have kicked the field goal as well. The coaches at ISUtold me to always take the points. That is what I would have done.

    Work Cited

    Gee, James P. Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics: Introduction. Journal of Education

    171.1 (1989): 5-17. Print.


    Swales, John. The Concept of Discourse Community. Genre Analysis: English in

    Academic and Research Settings. Boston: Cambridge UP, 1990. 21-32. Print.




    Wardle, Elizabeth. Identity, Authority, and Learning to Write in New Workplaces.

    Enculturation 5.2 (2004): n. pag. Web. 18 Feb. 2010.