Arguments can be made anywhere we want them to be made. We can look at some of these arguments that we are making by examining the communities we use to make them in. Perceived in terms of context, argument is discussed in terms of the audience to whom it is addressed or in terms of the community, field or sphere in which it takes place. (McKerrow, p.27) By looking at a professional sports event I will address the audience and the community to explain the argument that is taking place. More specifically, the sports event that I will choose to analyze is an NFL game.
To explain the idea of argument in communities, the community itself must be defined. Communities are typified by the specific rules which govern argumentative behavior, by social practices which determine who may speak with what authority, and by their own display of these rules and social practices in response to challenges from within or outside the community. (McKerrow, p.28)
The first part of the community is defined by the specific rules that govern argumentative behavior. For a football game these rules refer to the fans in creating the community. As fans, if we want to be apart of the community, we realize there are rules that we need to abide by. Some of these rules may include good sportsmanship. For example, we may not agree with a call that an official has made, but we know in order for us to be apart of the community we must behave in a certain way. So we can practice argumentation by arguing the call, but there is a certain point where our behavior must stop. In this community it usually ends with non-verbal actions. Most fans do not resort to physical violence.
The second way in which the community is formed is by the social practices which determine who may speak with what authority. In a football game it is usually the referees. They are the ones who make the calls on the field when there is a penalty. The argument being made here is that a player or players from one team have committed a penalty against the opposing team. The referee is arguing that something illegal, in the form of professional football rules, has been performed.
The coaches are also the ones who argue in the communities through authority. They are experts on football, so when they recognize something that isn t working for their team, they are the ones who argue for change. This change is usually comes in the form of the plays that the players perform.
Finally, the display of these rules and social practices can be in response to challenges from within or outside the community. An example of this can be when the fans become upset with a call an official has made. They are displaying the rules of being a fan through their social practices. These social practices may be booing or showing other forms of dissatisfaction. The challenge in this case is coming from the official. The official here is saying that your team (the fans ) has done something wrong so therefore your team will be punished for it. This is another way in which an argument is occurring in this community of a professional football game.
A community is generally thought of as a collective group of people interacting in a space-time continuum. (McKerrow, p.28) This is why I chose a football event. The first argument that occurs is within the audience itself among the fans. No matter if the fans are for one team or the other, they share a set of rules for verbal or non-verbal behavior which are authorized and guided by the uniting rationale for their common aspirations, and which are observed in the display of their communal interactions. (McKerrow, p.28) An example of this is the verbal/non-verbal actions of the fans. When they are happy with their team and what they have accomplished, fans cheer by yelling words of encouragement to their team and congratulating them for what they have done. Non-verbally they show their satisfaction by jumping around, waiving their hands, giving other fans high-fives etc. These are the basic rules that fans follow.
Additionally, these fans are united through their rationale for their common aspiration. Their common aspiration is for their team to win. So when their team does well, the fact that they cheer and do other non-verbal actions, they are reinforcing their rational of winning.
The display of the fans communal interactions takes place at the football game. Their community is the arena or stadium, which the game is taking place in and all the people who are there to take part in the game. The fans themselves are apart of this community. Through interaction of the fans they are once again arguing for the victory of their football team over their opponent.
Another argument to look at in the community is the discourse we use. One common feature which all communities share, and which serves to distinguish them, is the discourse in which they engage. Discourse-language aimed at members or at outsiders-constitutes the community by presenting it with those symbols which it defines itself. (McKerrow, p. 29) The discourse that is used in the community of a professional football game is very simple whether it is members or outsiders. For example, if your football team loses you may speak about the game in another community like work. The discourse that you use in your argumentation is straightforward which both parties understand. The other person may feel that your football team deserved to loose. You on the other hand argue for reasons why the team lost. Within this argument, you are using this discourse that you relate to the community of the sporting event. Why this may occur in your argument is because you may need to use words related to that community like offense or defense. This is how we can look at discourse, which may be aimed at members or outsiders in an argument.
The final part when looking at argumentation in communities is, that if you participate in this community it is a matter of choice. So by presenting yourself to this community you are also agreeing to participate in any argument, which may occur in that community. Those who chose to argue are doing the argumentation, which is occurring here.
By defining the community of a professional football game, we can look at how it is possible for argument to occur within that community. A good example to look at is the argumentation, which occurs between fans of either team. These fans recognize that they are apart of a community. They also realize that it is by choice whether or not they want to take part of the argument, which comes with belonging to this community.
The ways in which the fans argue are simple. They can one, argue with a fan from another team that their team is the better one and will prevail with a victory. Secondly, the fans can argue with the officials of the game by not agreeing with a call they have made. Finally, they can argue with players of either team for how they are performing. These are the main types of arguments that occur among the fans.
By looking at a professional football game we can see how arguments can occur in any community. First by defining the community that argumentation occurs in specifically for a professional football game, we could then look at what the argument is within that community. We can also see what elements must occur for there to be argumentation at all in that community. Finally, not only was shown the community, which argumentation can happen in, but also the audience that is involved in the argumentation that happens in this community.
1. McKerrow, Raymie E. Argument Communities. Perspectives On Argumentation: