Understanding Available Spaces at a Boys and Girls Basketball

Understanding Available Spaces at a Boys and Girls Basketball
Clinic in North Philadelphia
Christopher Bonnaig (cpbonnaig@gmail.com), Department of Anthropology, Drexel University, Advisor: Dr. Anthony Glascock (glascock@drexel.edu)
As a part of my Ethnographic Methods class this winter, I conducted research at
Strawberry Mansion High School in North Philadelphia. Every Saturday, between
January 10 and February 28, I attended basketball
clinics for 4-7 year olds conducted by “Basketball
Builds Bridges”, a community based organization
that uses basketball as a means of engaging both
adults and children in activities that can lead to
success. During the clinics, I used the method
of participant observation to collect information
on the interactions between: parents and children; children and coaches; parents and parents;
Picture 1
and coaches and parents. My emphasis during
the first three sessions was to establish rapport, as
well as to create a role that allowed my presence
at the clinics to be viewed as normal. Based upon
the field notes that I took during these first three
sessions, I was able to develop a topic—how do
the parents at the clinics arrange themselves,
during the clinics, within the available spaces
in the gym?”—and a series of five working hyPicture 2
Over the next five sessions, I collected
data through observation and interaction with all three groups to test these
five hypotheses.
1) If multiple parents are sitting in Space 1, then all parents in Space 1, then at least
one of the parents will stand up during the clinic. Supported in 4 of 5 sessions
2) If parents are sitting in Space 1, then all parents in Space 1 will be
African-American males. Supported Supported in 4 of 5 sessions
3) If more than one parent is sitting in Space 2, that at least two of the parents will
be female. Supported in 5 of 5 sessions
4) If a parent is sitting in Space 2 or Space 3, then they will not sit in rows five or
six. Supported in 4 of 5 sessions
5) If a parent is in Space 4, then they will have interacted with one or more of the
coaches. Supported in 1 of 5 sessions, as Space 4 was unavailable in 4 sessions
Picture 4
Picture 3
Picture 1: Space 3, Space 2, Space 1
Picture 2: Space 4
Picture 3: CB, parents, and children
Picture 4: BSmith and children
Picture 5: BSmith and children
Raw Data
Picture 5
The most important thing I learned
from the research was the difficulty
of conducting research in an environment, which, on the surface appeared
to be relatively confined, but turned
out to be quite complex and challenging. My findings have also led to a
larger research project on the role of
personal networks in the success of
community organizations in North
Philadelphia which I will be pursuing
during the Spring Term.