New program helps ASU student-athletes build leadership, service skills

June 4, 2014

Whether they excel in individual or team sports, athletes tend to be natural leaders and community builders. A new collaborative program between Sun Devil Athletics and Arizona State University’s College of Public Programs offers ASU’s high-achieving student-athletes with a passion for public service the opportunity to build upon those strengths.

Tip of the Fork acknowledges student-athletes who have demonstrated success both on and off the field. The first cohort was recently selected to participate in the program that will take them through two years of classes, culminating in a community service project. Students in the program graduate with a certificate in leadership and service in addition to their degree. Tip of the Fork 2014 cohort Download Full Image

The program brings together students across a wide range of majors, and provides an opportunity for student-athletes to work closely with other students on campus.

“There is a natural correlation between participation in athletics and leadership. The goal of the Tip of the Fork program is to cultivate our best and brightest into agents of impact among their teams, campus and the local and global community,” says Jean Boyd, senior associate athletic director, Sun Devil Athletics.

“This is an opportunity for students who have a passion for public service to put their ideas and innovation to work today to make meaningful, positive change in our community,” says Jonathan Koppell, dean of the College of Public Programs.

“I applied because I can help people and actually make a big difference within this community,” says Elisha Davis. “Additionally, I think this program will help make me a better person because I will be more hands-on in the community and I will see how grateful and appreciative I should really be due to me seeing others' unfortunate circumstances.” Davis is on the women’s basketball team and pursuing a double major in communication and social work.

Matthew Schneider is on the men’s wrestling team and pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering. He says, “I’m passionate about making a difference in the world and leaving my own positive mark on society. My goal is to make sure I improve our way of living before I die. This program gives me an excellent opportunity to take my first step towards my ultimate goal.”

During their studies, students will fulfill over 100 hours of community service. The cohort will design and implement a local leadership initiative.

Students in the Tip of the Fork program will ultimately serve as mentors for future cohorts. Learn more at

Heather Beshears

director marketing and communications, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


ASU professor examines vuvuzela craze as World Cup approaches

June 4, 2014

For the 2014 World Cup soccer matches, Brazilian government officials have banned the percussion instrument known as the caxilora from stadiums where matches will be held. So the world will not experience the same type of culture-specific sound as during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where the vuvuzela spurred a wide range of reactions.

Arizona State University communication professor Jeffrey Kassing has written a book chapter about the world’s reaction to the vuvuzela, a plastic horn blown by thousands of spectators. The chapter, “Noisemaker or Cultural Symbol: The Vuvuzela Controversy and Expressions of Football Fandom,” is included in the forthcoming “African Football, Identity Politics and Global Media Narratives: The Legacy of the FIFA 2010 World Cup.” The book will be published July 9 by Palgrave Macmillan. portrait of ASU professor Jeffrey Kassing Download Full Image

Kassing specifically looked at reactions to the vuvuzela in the form of postings by fans on the website of the British newspaper The Guardian, which ran a story shortly after the 2010 World Cup began that indicated tournament organizers were considering a ban on the instrument. Fan reactions flooded the website for three days until the comment board was closed.

Negative comments fell into several categories of themes. Some questioned the idea that the vuvuzela is actually a cultural symbol in South Africa. Others said users of the instrument weren’t “real” fans, that the sound would be acceptable if it weren’t used all the time, that the vuvuzela affected communication among players and coaches, and that the sound overpowered the ebb and flow of the game.

Together these themes led Kassing to a specific conclusion: “People felt very strongly that the vuvuzela disrupted the experience of fans and viewers because it conflicted with their expectations of how fandom should be performed,” he said. “In particular, fans felt the vuvuzela interrupted a prescribed soundscape for matches – one characterized by singing, applauding and cheering at very specific moments.

“It was very clear that people felt the vuvuzela was a fundamental threat to a specific Eurocentric version of football,” Kassing added. “And therefore it was not seen, at least by most people commenting, as a legitimate or alternative fan tradition.”

Those posting in defense of the vuvuzela used humor and irony to make their points. Comments included, “Who let all the locals in, honking their strange instruments, dancing around and having a good time. Football should be watched in silence,” along with, “The incessant droning noise completely destroys the pleasure of watching the sport on TV. Please ban Formula 1 immediately.”

“This use of humor drew attention to shared conceptions of the shortcomings in the English production and presentation of the World Cup and the English game, while also revealing the illogical and excessive nature of complaints against the vuvuzela,” Kassing said.

Other supportive comments pointed to the rights of the host country to follow its own traditions, while others challenged English soccer traditions. One concluded, “Complain about the vuvuzelas if you want but please don’t pretend they drown out anything more imaginative.”

“This comment and similar ones punched holes in the uniformity of English football fandom, highlighting how the experience had grown dreary and repetitive for some fans,” Kassing said.

Ultimately the unique sound of the vuvuzela branded the World Cup of 2010 as distinctively South African. According to Kassing, vuvuzela supporters “reminded readers and participants on the message board that there is no one universal version of football fandom and that banning a symbol associated with African football would undermine this truth.”

Kassing is director of ASU’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The school is a component of the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, the core college on ASU’s West campus. He teaches classes for New College’s B.A. and B.S. degrees in communication, as well as the master of arts in communication studies (MACS) degree.