Category Archives: sports

Selling The Fear: The ‘All-American Basketball Alliance’

by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

Sweet River Baines

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Just before MLK Day, a jabrone by the name of Don “Moose” Lewis announced his intention to organize the All-American Basketball Alliance: a new hoops league open only to U.S.-born white people – you know, American natives, but not Native Americans.

As a rule, any “announcement” by self-avowed boxing and pro-wrestling promoters should be taken with not just a grain, but a whole mine’s worth of salt. Nevertheless, even for (former?) hucksters, this stunt is pretty low.

Nothing personal, says Commissioner Moose; it’s just that Those Darn POC have corrupted the game, as he told the Augusta Chronicle:

“There’s nothing hatred about what we’re doing,” he said. “I don’t hate anyone of color. But people of white, American-born citizens are in the minority now. Here’s a league for white players to play fundamental basketball, which they like.”

Damn you, Sweet River Baines, what hath you wrought? Also, while Grayson Boucher would technically be eligible to play in the Tea PartyAABA, as he is a “… natural born United States citizen with both parents of Caucasian race,” odds are he wouldn’t be welcome. Why, just look at him – playing alongside those black dudes like they’re people!

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Is the Caster Semenya Sex Controversy Racist?

by Special Correspondent Nadra Kareem, originally posted at Nadra’s Race Relations Blog

Caster Semenya is making headlines after winning an 800-meter race in the World Championships in Berlin on Wednesday by 2.45 seconds more than the second-place athlete. The fact that the 18-year-old South African literally left her rivals in the dust during the competition has led some of them to accuse her of being a man.

Both Italian runner Elisa Cusma Piccione and Russian runner Mariya Savinova made the accusation, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Now, the International Assn. of Athletic Federations is requesting Semenya to take tests to determine if she’s indeed female. If found not to be, she would be barred from racing and stripped of her medals.

The request has not only infuriated Semenya’s family but South African dignitaries as well. The L.A. Times printed a statement issued by the Young Communist League of South Africa, which supports Semenya.

“It feeds into the commercial stereotypes of how a woman should look, their facial and physical appearance, as perpetuated by backward Eurocentric definition of beauty,” the league stated of the accusations against Semenya. “It is this culture which has forced many African women to starve themselves with the objective of reaching the model ramps of Paris and Milan to become the face of this or that product or magazine.”

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A Vegan’s Perspective on Dogfighting and Michael Vick

by Guest Contributor Dany Sigwalt

Rumors are flying about Michael Vick’s future in the NFL. He has been conditionally reinstated to the NFL, and is now looking for a new home team.

Michael Vick, of course, was the NFL superstar quarterback who was charged as a “key figure” in April of 2007 of an extensive illegal interstate dog fighting ring. He was released from federal prison after serving 23 months. Although the Atlanta Falcons, the team he was with when he was lifted to celebrity ,dropped his contract after multiple attempts to trade him to another team in the NFL, many are still encouraging teams to “forgive him” for his actions. The NFL is now considering reinstating Vick into the NFL, with a possible four game suspension at the beginning of the 2009 season.

Last night, I got into my first conversation about Vick and really even dog fighting since this fiasco broke into the media two years ago. Up until a few weeks ago, I was convinced that single issue animal rights activism (like anti-fur or boycotting KFC until they improve their treatment of animals they eventually kill) was ineffective and merely helping people feel comfortable about choices that don’t address my core concerns regarding animal rights. We live in a world where 10 billion land animals are reared and murdered for consumption in the US alone to support an unsustainable lifestyle that harms everyone involved. I have a hard time believing that throwing red paint on a person wearing fur would create the shift in our collective consciousness to end human exploitation of nonhuman animals. Vegans often locate the root of our projection of power and violence onto animals in speciesm. Speciesm, like racism, sexism and other “-isms” involve an analysis of privilege and oppression, wherein humans project unwarranted power over nonhuman animals, simply because of the availability of exploitable bodies.

Holding both anti-racist and anti-speciest ideologies, I frequently find myself disagreeing with the majority of what I have heard and read regarding the Michael Vick Case. As much as I hate single issue campaigns, I do think that if people are unable to acknowledge the person-ness and worthiness of a good life of animals we have accepted as a species to be members of our families, there is little hope of breaking down the cognitive processes that allow us to forget that the cow on our plate was a sister and a daughter, who I think are as deserving of life as you or me. My intersectional anti-oppression ideologies force me to realize that dog fighting circles are frequently located in low income communities and communities of color where the practice has provided a resource for financial survival. Taking this into consideration, I think that the real question is how those of us who are invested in ending dog fighting rings can create a campaign, or a movement, that takes these issues into consideration, a long with the larger issues of the policing of of black bodies, economic alienation, and the powerlessness that living in an oppressive world that leads violence against human and nonhuman animals alike.

First, we must understand that the legal system is still extraordinarily racist and classist. Vick was raised in an environment where he was not taught that it is a moral “wrong” to breed and train dogs to exist for the sole purpose of fighting them. Not only that, but as mentioned above, dog fighting frequently offers an alternate source of income. The whole issue of dog fighting, to my mind, presently speaks to the overt ways in which the law exists to serve particular groups of peoples’ moral compasses. Just as the war on drugs largely exists to strengthen the prison industrial complex, and serves the unique few who are privileged enough to own stock in the corporations that are making a profit off of the incarceration of bodies of color.

Both of these laws, and their sensationalist media coverage, maintain a culture of fear of the “other,” for harming their own bodies and those of the dogs they are fighting. Vick did not hurt another human, and yet, the media swarm around him, fueled by his celebrity as well as his wealth, and yet, is vilified and presented as a monster to be feared and punished — not at all dissimilar from the ways in which black men at large are regarded in our society. Continue reading

Race and the Full Court Press

By Guest Contributor G.D., originally posted at PostBourgie


Malcolm Gladwell has caught a lot of flak for his piece last week on how underdogs win, and perhaps rightly so. His central point, though — that the outgunned can have a fighting chance at success if they ditch convention and play to their strengths — is one worth considering, and given the resilience and tactics of the insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq, is a topical one, too.

But in making his point, he goes to some weird places. The framing device for this story is a not-particularly-talented eighth grade girl’s basketball team at Redwood City in the Silicon Valley. There are only two decent players on the squad, and their coach is a TIBCO software executive named Vivek Ranadivé, an Indian emigré who had never seen or played basketball before he arrived in the States. The upshot of that background is that he didn’t have any preconceived notions about the right way to play basketball. So instead of having his players run back on defense after a score or an opponent’s rebound and wait to be picked apart by more skilled players, he instituted the full-court press. His team proceeded to beat up on and frustrate teams with better players, and found themselves in the national championship game. Obviously, the press can make up big gaps in talent.*

But one of the things that raised the eyebrow of my blogmate and fellow sports junkie blackink was the problematic way the Redwood City Girls were described, versus the way their ‘talented’ opponents were characterized.

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Don Cherry’s Xenophobic Remarks on Ovechkin Should Not Be Tolerated

by Guest Contributor Jehanzeb Dar, originally published at Broken Mystic

Someone needs to call Don Cherry out on his childish xenophobic rants. Regarded as a legendary ice hockey analyst and Canadian icon, Don Cherry is known for his often inflammatory and controversial remarks, but it seems that the general public recurrently lets his ethnocentric diatribes slide rather than holding him accountable.

For years, Cherry has been characterizing European players as “cowards” for not understanding the “Canadian way” of hockey. When asked to comment on why he didn’t have any European players on his junior team, he said, “They call me a racist because I don’t want any Europeans coming to play for my Ice Dogs. If a kid comes over here and becomes a Canadian, I’ll put him on in a minute. But I will not parachute him in so that he can grab the money and run.” Cherry took similar jabs at the dazzling Czech center, Jaromir Jagr, accusing him of being “everything that’s wrong with the NHL. He gets hit, he goes down and stays there. Get up!” In the same interview, Cherry compared Jagr to another hockey legend, Tim Horton, a player who, according to Cherry, would stay on the ice and finish his shift even if “blood would be coming down his face.” Apparently, Cherry thinks only Canadians know how to play “tough.”

So what’s eating at Don Cherry these days? See number 8 on the Washington Capitals, a remarkably talented Russian left-winger named Alexander Ovechkin. Actually, to say he is “remarkably talented” is an understatement. The guy is a magician with the puck and arguably the most exciting player to watch in the NHL today. Playing in his fourth season, Ovechkin not only led the league in goals, but he has also earned his place in the pantheon of hockey superstars. Cherry’s beef? Ovechkin’s goal celebrations are too “over-the-top.” That’s right. Ovechkin’s enthusiasm is too much for Cherry’s “Canadian” standards.

On CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, Cherry complained that Ovechkin was acting like “those goofy soccer guys” by “jumping up and down” after scoring goals. In pure dogmatic fashion, Cherry pointed at the screen and lectured Canadian kids not to act like Ovechkin. Instead, he tells kids that they should behave the “Canadian way” and act like Joe Thornton, Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan, Jarome Iginla, and Bobby Orr (all Canadian-born players). I didn’t realize the NHL had a “Canadians only” stamp on it.

What’s more disturbing is how ethnocentric and racist Cherry’s presentation is. He shows clips of dark-skinned international soccer players jubilantly celebrating on the field, calls them “goofs” and says, “Look at this! This is what we want our hockey players to act with?” Then he shows clips of Ovechkin’s celebrations and yammers, “Look at this! Does he not remind you of a soccer player?” For those who missed it, here is the clip:

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Vijay Singh: Categorically Black?

by Latoya Peterson

Over on the Hyphen blog, Erin writes about Vijay Singh, golf star and winner of the 2004 PGA Tour Player of the Year award.

In an entry titled What’s the New Black? Shifting Sands of Race, Erin takes a page from Jeff Yang (who made the argument that Barack Obama’s life story resonates with the Asian American experience) and speculates on Singh’s racial categorization:

In interesting counterpoint to that is a conversation I recently had with a friend who speculated that Vijay Singh — and not Tiger Woods — may be professional golf’s “colored person,” if by that we mean a category that renders invisible, unwelcome, or second-class those who are tarred with it. Singh has been cast as an uppity and hypermasculine threat to a gentleman’s game; he gets a fraction of the press he deserves, and seems to be the guy that the establishment would love to watch fall on his face. So, pointed out my friend Sameer, might it be said that Singh is categorically Black in a way that also transcends biological race?