2 Going To College in Digital Spaces & Places

Sport Community through Digital College (Pandemic)

Lily Maul, Sherry Zou, Ziyuan Zhou

John is a UW student and also a baseball player. In his second year at UW, he was forced to take online courses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this period, everything was so different from what he experienced in the first year.


He was desperate and stressed at first because he had to move out of his apartment and had online classes in the Odegaard Library due to the fact that his roommate got Covid-19. But when he took a class about psychological health, he was inspired by what the instructor said, and sharing his worries with classmates through Zoom meetings during the group activity made him feel much better. From this experience, John felt that he was included at UW because he could always find a physical or digital place to find help or resources at the university. He also realized that UW is a thick institution where he could find his identity and engage in it completely with his body, heart, and soul (Brooks, 2017). According to Brook’s article, a thick institution has a physical place where includes collective rituals, stories, idiosyncratic cultures, and moral ecology


Image of an online class John took in the Odegaard Library
Taking EDUC 215 on Zoom. Photo Credit: Qianle Zou | CC BY

Photo: This is related to the concept of the thick institution because having online classes in the library at UW indicates that students could be included in the environment by completely participating and finding resources in a physical place.

Going into his third-year, John felt as if he was living the ideal college experience. He was striving academically, had made numerous friends on his team and in class, and truly felt at home on the UW campus. Just like the rest of us, John felt as if his life had turned upside down when the pandemic began. A few weeks into the online Quarter, John had gotten into the swing of school and even made some new friends virtually. However, he was still missing the overall energy of campus. There’s something about walking through the quad when it’s filled with other students, or attending a tailgate UW fans of all ages and backgrounds that makes you feel part of something bigger than yourself.


Photo by Joe Mabel, “American sakura: University of Washington (Seattle) at cherry blossom time.” Photo Credit: Joe Mabel | CC BYSA
Photo by Ali Eminov, “Tailgating parties at University of Washington.” Photo Credit: Ali Eminov | CC BY NC

Through his education course, John began to think about how not everyone is able to attend university in person. He started to consider how his collegiate ideal may vary. For some people, taking classes online is their ideal situation. He thought about his cousin, who was considering going back to school after giving birth to her second child. He also thought about people with disabilities, and how a college campus isn’t often designed with their needs in mind. He began to think about how sporting events can act as a place for students who attend school online or in-person to come together as one community.


He felt that online sports could be developed with the live streaming of games. He missed the old days when he could play with his teammates and hear the sound of the crowd cheering for them. He sees sports as a way to bring the collective together. Sports offer a chance for players and the audiences to share their interest and root for the same cause. Sport builds a community within a place.


Although online sports do not have a fixed physical location for the audience to watch the game, by considering the ideal of a thick institution, Zoom also belongs to a fixed location for both the players and fans, a place they both share the same interest, cheering for their team. Now on the field, because of the impact of the epidemic, many people who support them can not come to the scene, he felt that the game lacks motivation. If they could stream the game live on Zoom, then those who can not attend physically can have a new way to watch and cheer on the team. This way, the player can still feel supported and the audience can maintain their involvement.


Alt text: This photo shows a baseball game at the University of Washington. The game is happening at night. You can see the stands, and there are a few spectators.
Baseball game, UW Baseball Stadium. Photo Credit: Ziyuan Zhou | CC BY

This is related to the concept of the thick institution, zoom also belongs to a fixed location for player and supporter have a place to share their interest, and watch game


Brooks, D. (2017). How to leave a mark on people. New York Times. https://nyti.ms/2pwdTYz




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Stories From The Place of Sports in The University, 2022 Edition Copyright © 2022 by Students in The Place of Sports In The University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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