Humanities Council Announces Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America Statewide Exhibition

Olympic champion and soccer star Mia Hamm plays for the University of North Carolina, 1992.  UNC Athletic Communications

GREENSBORO, NC (June 4, 2014) – Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America, a Museum on Main Street (MoMS) exhibition presented by the North Carolina Humanities Council, the Smithsonian Institution, and rural communities statewide, begins a year-long tour throughout North Carolina in February 2015.

The six Hometown Teams host sites include

“With Hometown Teams, our state will uniquely engage the many themes of sports as they relate to our society and culture,” says Humanities Council’s Donovan McKnight, Program Officer. North Carolina has a central place in the unfolding history of sports, dating back to ancient Cherokee Indians with anetso, the ancestor of modern day lacrosse. The Colonial era in North Carolina introduced the traditional sports of horseracing, fishing, hunting, cockfighting, and footraces which tested skills considered valuable in North Carolina’s early agrarian society. By the late 1800s, team sports like basketball, baseball, and football dominated the sports world of America, emphasizing strategy and cooperation. Even educational institutions began to see sports as an essential aspect of modern education. With North Carolina’s history of sports, there is much to celebrate, but also much to learn from. The inequalities that existed in society translated on the field as well. Women, African Americans, and American Indians were shut out of many institutions and thus forced to create their own sports teams. But, these same sports eventually helped to integrate American society.

The modern era of sports in North Carolina also brings with it professional sports teams like the Carolina Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, and the Charlotte Hornets. These professional teams bring not only social entertainment, but economic impact and international attention to North Carolina.

Hometown Teams tells these stories and many more, showcasing the unique sports history of America and North Carolina’s rural communities.

Hometown Teams offers rural communities – where one-fifth of all Americans live – access to exhibits from the Smithsonian Institution and gives North Carolina the opportunity to collect and showcase its distinct development via sports. Hometown Teams will capture the stories that unfold on the neighborhood fields and courts, and the underdog heroics, larger-than-life legends, fierce rivalries and gut-wrenching defeats. For more than 100 years, sports have reflected the trials and triumphs of the American experience and helped shape the national character. Whether it is professional sports or those played on the collegiate or scholastic level, amateur sports or sports played by kids on the local playground, sports are everywhere in America. Each host site will develop programming and activities to complement the exhibition – lectures, films, performances, personal stories and oral histories, digital humanities, and photo essays about the legacy of sports in our communities.

Support for MoMS has been provided by the U.S. Congress. Learn more at www.museumonmainstreet.org and www.nchumanities.org.

The North Carolina Humanities Council is a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Humanities Council serves as an advocate for lifelong learning and thoughtful dialogue about all facets of human life. It facilitates the exploration and celebration of the many voices and stories of North Carolina’s cultures and heritage. In addition to grants and publications, the Council offers the Road Scholars speakers bureau; the Let’s Talk About It library discussion series; the traveling exhibition initiative Museum on Main Street, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution and rural communities statewide; Literature and Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Healthcare, a literature discussion series for healthcare professionals, and the Teachers Institute, a professional development program for the state’s public school teachers. To learn more about the North Carolina Humanities Council, visit www.nchumanities.org.