It’s no secret that sports are a big deal in North Carolina but many may not realize that it goes much 06-04-14-sports-&-society.gifdeeper than a basketball rivalry. For instance, this year is the centennial of Babe Ruth’s first professional home run, which took place right here in Fayetteville. To complement the centennial and other sports activities in the area, Assistant Professor Alex Macaulay, Ph.D., from Western Carolina University will speak about the subject in a presentation at the Museum of the Cape Fear. Titled It’s Not Just a Game: Sports and Society in North Carolina, the program explores North Carolina’s sports and the wide-reaching effects it has had on the state over the years.

“People attending this event can expect to learn the integral role that sports play and have played in the lives of North Carolinians. This is a humanities presentation that shares information that causes people to think about the way the past influences the present. During the presentation, people will find themselves asking questions about why, particularly in this state, sports has the impact that it does on our residents. Why don’t we have a professional baseball team? What attracts major sporting events like the women’s and men’s U.S. Open Championships to North Carolina, but in particular, to the Sandhills region?” Leisa Greathouse, the Curator of Education for the Museum of the Cape Fear, said.

This year is a big year for sports of all kinds in North Carolina. There is the centennial of Babe Ruth’s first professional home run as a paid professional in 1914 and the U.S. Open Championships that are scheduled for Pinehurst this summer. To embrace the convergence of events, the museum has focused on the history of sports in the area in multiple ways. “The museum has been promoting sports in the Sandhills to bring attention to the sports history of the area, and the state. Back in March, the museum created a small panel exhibit, currently hanging in the lobby, that talks about our local baseball history, including how a young George Herman Ruth picked up the nickname ‘Babe,’” said Greathouse.

Regardless of previous sports knowledge, the program is sure to be interesting for all sports or history fans. “Most sports enthusiasts will be aware of North Carolina’s sports history. Others will be surprised to learn about the significance North Carolina has played in sports. What will not surprise them will be the role sports has played in North Carolina society. I meet many people who associate North Carolina with college basketball, and Michael Jordan, and there are many who think we are sports nuts in this state. At this presentation, they can learn why,” Greathouse says.

The event is totally free to the public, thanks to a generous grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The event will be on Sunday June 8 at 2 p.m. at the Museum of the Cape Fear. The Museum is located at 801 Arsenal Ave. For more information call or visit http://www.ncdcr.gov/ncmcf.

Photo: Baseball legend Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run in Fayetteville. North Carolina is home to many major sporting events.

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