Smithsonian exhibit looks at how sports affected American culture

click to enlarge The Smithsonian exhibit "Hometown Teams" examines how sports shape American life.
The Smithsonian exhibit "Hometown Teams" examines how sports shape American life.

Whether you’re a player, coach, fan or just an innocent bystander in America, sports have probably touched your life.

The Smithsonian traveling exhibit “Hometown Teams,” opening Saturday at the Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History, takes an interactive look at how sporting traditions have shaped American society.

“While the theme is about sports in America, it goes deeper than that,” says Debra Fitzgerald, the center’s director. “There are parts of our life that are touched by sports in our culture that we might not even realize. I think this exhibit helps people think about that.”

The importance of sporting venues, food, uniforms, sports equality, mascots and rivalries are all part of the main exhibit, along with newer alternative sports like NASCAR racing and board sports.

There is something for all ages, even the littlest children, Fitzgerald says. A set of bleacher seats lift up to reveal questions and answers. A squeeze bottle releases the scent of stadium popcorn. People can pose for a photo in a “Baseball Card” photo booth. A tailgate party Saturday will feature free hot dogs, cracker jacks, tours and more.

The center has created a local exhibit to complement the traveling display. One focus is the history of baseball in the area, including the Broncs professional team and the LCSC Warriors. It also includes historic photos of the Nez Perce Tribe’s baseball team from the 1890s and early 1900s. Individual athletes in a variety of sports, including log birling (see accompanying story), will be highlighted; along with the long-standing rivalry between Lewiston and Clarkston teams.

The exhibit is visiting six Idaho communities this year and comes to Lewiston via Boise timed to coincide with the NAIA World Series starting May 23. The center is partnering with the LCSC athletics department, the Lewiston City Library and the Nez Perce County Historical Society for multiple events and displays connected to the theme.

if you go WHAT: Hometown Teams Smithsonian Exhibit WHEN: April 19 to May 31 WHERE: LCSC Center for Arts & History, 415 Main St., Lewiston OPEN HOURS: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday COST: Donation

Schedule of Events All events are at the Center for Arts & History, unless otherwise noted.

Saturday, April 19 — Exhibit opening 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Tailgate party Hot dogs, music, crackerjacks and tours of the exhibit and corresponding exhibits at the Lewiston City Library and Nez Perce County Historical Society

2:30 p.m. — Kevin Marsh, statewide scholar for Hometown Teams, “Foul Ball? Sports and the Evolving Fabric of American Life”

Tuesday,  April 22 7 p.m. — Sharon Stoll, University of Idaho professor, “Character and Leadership: Musings from a Weathered Athlete,” at the Lewiston City Library

May 6 7 p.m — Carole Smolinski, Lewiston historian and author, “Rugged Recreation & Celebration in Idaho’s Territorial Mining Camps”

May 8 7 p.m — Amy Canfield and Heather Van Mullem, LCSC professors, “You Hit Like a Girl? Gender and Image in High School Yearbook Photographs,” at the Lewiston City Library

May 13 7 p.m — Marty Most, associate professor Boise State University, “Reel Baseball: Hollywood and America’s National Pastime”

May 17 11 a.m — Hometown Pep Rally, LCSC Baseball and Beautiful Downtown Lewiston, downtown

May 20 7 p.m — Steve Moore, nationally syndicated Boise cartoonist, “In the Bleachers — a Cartoon Look at the Fearless Leader of Every Hometown Team — the Coach!”

May 22 7 p.m — Ted Dyer, instructor at College of Southern Idaho, “The Negro Leagues: Waiting for Jackie”

May 25 Movie, “The Sandlot” at Harris Field, time to be announced

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