Deflategate scandal will be the subject of new college course


There’s nothing like turning a scandal into a good learning opportunity.

This fall, the University of New Hampshire will offer a course on Deflategate.

Students will delve into the “legal, regulatory, and journalistic systems governing sports,” according to the course description.

Taught by law professor Michael McCann, whose other course offerings have included the more mundane-sounding “Amateur Sports Law: Legal Issues in Youth, College & Rec Sport,” the class is a stark departure from traditional legal courses that tend to focus on case studies decades, even centuries, old. Deflategate is current, and ongoing.

An NFL investigation found just last week that the New England Patriots likely knowingly used underinflated footballs in a championship game. Fans are still waiting to hear whether quarterback Tom Brady, who the investigators said probably knew the footballs had been tampered with, will be suspended by the league. And given the school’s location, students are paying attention.

“You have that raw material to work with, of somebody being a fan and being pretty passionate about that,” Margaret McCabe, an associate dean at the university’s law school, told the Chronicle of Higher Education. “And you have to unpack that in a very measured way as part of being a thinking person.”

The University of New Hampshire isn’t the only school to try to reel students into thinking about complex topics with pop culture references.

The University of Texas at Austin has introduced students to linguistic theory through a course called “Invented Languages: Klingon and Beyond.” Rutgers University has used Harry Potter to draw students into a comparative study of religion. And Skidmore College tackled race, class and gender identities through the “lens” of Miley Cyrus.

Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.

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