UBC-O to offer course on soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo

UBC Okanagan is offering a whole course on Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo.

Luis Aguiar, associate professor of sociology at UBC Okanagan’s Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, has created a fourth-year course focusing on the sociology of the famous soccer player.

“I’m Portuguese so I was curious about Ronaldo and Ronaldo’s sort of representation in Portugal itself,” said Aguiar. “Ronaldo has the most visibility of any of the soccer players and probably any other athlete in the globe, so that makes it interesting to investigate why [and] what he means for Portuguese communities, not only in Portugal, but [also] outside Portugal?”

Like many other courses, this one currently consists of lectures, student discussions and required readings, but Aguiar also hopes to be able to bring in guest speakers to expand the course in the future.

According to Aguiar, the purpose of the course is not to talk about Ronaldo’s soccer goals, magazine features or clothing line, but to discuss the social, cultural and psychological subjects that his fame can provoke in the classroom.

“It’s not really about the skills and abilities of Ronaldo on the soccer field,” said Aguiar. “In general, we talk about Ronaldo, but we also talk about issues [such as] race and the early commodification of children into the professional ranks of athletes, so students get pretty riled up about that kind of discussion and information.”

In fact, students currently enrolled in the course this term were not even aware that the sociology course was focused on Ronaldo when they registered because of technical issues with the course registration website.

According to Aguiar, he hasn’t yet decided exactly how the course will develop in the future, but he hopes to teach it again. Potential plans include the possibility of implementing studying abroad into the course, as well as trying to reach those who are close to Ronaldo, or even Ronaldo himself to be potential guest speakers in the classroom.

“This was one of those ‘what if’ kind of moments of inspiration,” said Aguiar. “My focus beyond him is to explore a bit about how he’s positioned with Portugal and touch upon Portuguese contemporary society and culture, so this was a good thing for me to do.”