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Discourse Community Ethnography: Soccer A discourse community is a group of individuals working together towards one common goal.

Soccer is a discourse community because the players as a whole are working together to win a game. The interesting thing about this community is they do not discriminate against people who are not experts at the sport. They help the new players become better. The players use teamwork to work towards a common goal. The group does not just interact on the field, but they also interact with each other off the field. They are a family on and off the field. They use certain gestures to communicate on the field. The Sun Valley High School boys team did not have a great season this year, but that did not stop them from having fun and creating new friendships. This was the first year for the boys season that they had a JV and a Varsity team. When observing this team, it is clear their teamwork helps improve the team and the players even if the outcome of their games is bad. This paper refers to John Swales six characteristics on discourse communities and Ann M. Johns article on communities of practice. Other information given in this paper is about the discourse in the community. According to John Swales, there are six characteristics to determine if a community is a discourse community. The first characteristic is a discourse community has a set of common goals. Second, a discourse community has mechanisms of intercommunication among its members. Third, a discourse community uses its involved mechanisms primarily to provide information and feedback. Fourth, a discourse community utilizes and possesses one or more genres of communication to accomplish its goals. Fifth, a discourse community has a specific lexis. Finally, a discourse community has a certain number of experts (Swales 471-473).

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The players common goal is to win games. The group exists because they love to play the sport and also love having students at their school support them at games. The mechanisms of intercommunication they have are hand signals, daily practices, and written forms that need to be filled out. When they want to talk about game plans they text each other in group messages. The most common intercommunication they use is daily practice. The purposes of practice are to run-through set plays and talk about things they need to work on as a whole before their next game. The genres of communications are text messages, hand signals, and forms they have to sign in order to play. The paper work consists of physicals, insurance waivers, concussion policy, and parent/player/coach pledge. Each player has to fill these forms out before they can play because the forms communicate with the coach in a confidential way. In the soccer community there is a lot of specific lexis. The most common terms heard when observing them are cross it, switch, overlap, diagonal runs, leave, shield it, keeper, set it up, long ball, shift, man on, and time. The players say overlap to indicate that the player runs around a teammate and ahead of the ball for a pass into space. On the team, the old-timers or experts would be the seniors that have played all four years. The newcomers are mostly the ones on JV with little to no experience. The newcomers learn the discourse and knowledge from the old-timers and picking it up while at practice or games. The experts are helpful to the ones who do not know what is going on. According to Ann M. Johns, there is a difference between a discourse community and a community of practice. A community of practice is a complex collection of

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individuals who share genres, language, values, concepts, and ways of being. Often these ways of being are very distinct from those held by other communities (500). In her article Discourse Communities and Communities of Practice: Membership, Conflict, and Diversity, she talks about different types of communities of practice. She also talks about the conflicts and diversity within the communities of practice. When observing the community many would see that there are no conflicts or diversity because the team is a family and they would do anything for each other. The only people that have authority are the coaches. The athletic director appoints the coaches with the authority over the players. The newcomers must learn the terminology and certain plays the team uses. The different ways the community communicates with each other are text messages and tweets. The members of the group are stereotyped by outsiders calling them grass fairies. The outsiders call them grass fairies because they think soccer is an unmanly sport. Even though people stereotype them, they still enjoy playing the sport they love. In an interview with a two-year Varsity player and a one-year JV player, they both said they are involved because they love the sport (Rojas, Viveros). The words switch, leave, and man on mean, respectively, change it to the other side of the field, leave the ball, and someone is behind you (Viveros). The words shield it, time, and keeper mean, respectively, keep your body between the ball and the opponent and let it go out of bounds, you have no one around you and you have time to dribble, and the keeper is getting the ball (Rojas). Both players said they use these words to inform their teammates. To learn these words they both said they use them at practice (Rojas, Viveros). The methods they use to talk to their teammates are talking, yelling, and hand signals. The team is mostly Hispanic, so they use Spanish to communicate with each

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other during the games. They both said the coaches are in charge, but everyone on the team is a captain. Geovanni said his individual goal is to increase his skills. He said sometimes his goal creates conflict because he tries to do everything by himself when he is on the field and all that is doing is making his skills worse (Viveros). They agree that people should participate in this community because soccer is a great sport (Rojas, Viveros). Jose said if someone participates they will create great friendships. When interviewing the eight year head coach of the team, Steve Hancock, he said he is involved with the team because he loves the sport and he enjoys coaching the players and having an impact on their life. When he is communicating with the team, he sends them text messages with details about practices and games. When they are playing on the field he criticizes them if they are doing something wrong. Steve says he does not like to say there is one person in charge because everyone on the team has the right to say something we need to work on (Hancock). The group starts off practice by running a mile and then they head down to the practice field to get ready to practice. When they are at the field they get touches and then go through drills. On game days, they all wear the same thing to school to be unified. For example, they wear their away jerseys and jeans. During their games, players are talking and passing the ball around and trying to score on the opponents goal. The guys are using hand signals to communicate for the ball when they do not want the other team to know they want it. The players use a lot of lexis during the games. For example, team members say man on, leave, switch, keeper, time, and shield it to inform the player of what to do. After games players text each other about the game and talk about what they could have done to improve their

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game or talk about how bad the other team was. When watching them play someone could tell who is in and who is mushfaking. The ones who are in are the ones who have superior skills. The ones who are mushfaking are the ones who have passable skills, but still look lost when they are on the field. The community has verbal and nonverbal discourse. The verbal discourse includes codes and lexis. The nonverbal discourse includes hand signals, side line referees waving their flags, center referees using their whistles, and scoreboards. When they are playing on the field they use codes to indicate which set play they are using. When they are setting up for a corner kick, throw in, or a penalty kick they call out numbers to set up a formation. A corner kick is kick taken by the attacking team that is earned when the defending team puts the ball out of play behind the goal line. A throw in is a throw taken by a player when a member of the opposition has put the ball over the sideline. A penalty is a reprimand given by the referee for a violation of the rules by the defending team (World Soccer). For example, when they call out 1 on a corner kick that means the person kicking the ball from the corner is going to cross the ball to the back post of the goal and the other players standing on the 18 yard box are crashing the goal and trying to finish the cross. They use a lot of vocabulary during the course of play. The hand signals the players use during the game are raising a hand to indicate they are about to throw the ball in or kick the ball and holding up a certain number of fingers to indicate which set play they are taking. The sideline referees indicate different things like off sides, out of bounds, and a penalty by waving their flags from the sidelines. The center referees use their whistles to start the game, indicate half time, and end the game. Referees also use hand signals to designate play on (which

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means that the referee judges that there was no foul commented), a goal, or to stop the play clock. After observing the soccer community, the non-soccer player will have a better understanding of the sport and the players. One could be an outsider, not knowing anything about the sport, and the team would welcome that person and teach him or her everything about the sport. The players teamwork shows that even if they do not win they try their hardest to do great. The groups discourse in the community tells them apart from other communities. Witnessing the discourse community of soccer in action, it is easy to tell that they are a true family on and off the field.

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Works Cited Hancock, Steve. Personal interview. 30 Oct. 2013. Rojas, Jose. Personal interview. 30 Oct. 2013. "Soccer Glossary." About.com World Soccer. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013. Viveros, Geovanni. Personal interview. 30 Oct. 2013. Wardle, Elizabeth, and Doug Downs. Writing about Writing: A College Reader. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2011. Print.

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