Tag Archives: football

A Trailblazer Twice Over: Remembering Wally Yonamine

By Arturo R. García

Ever hear the theory that life depends on a few breaks here and there? In Wally Yonamine’s case, this is literally true. As in, physiologically so.

It’s not hard to imagine that Yonamine was at a personal crossroads around 1948. Yonamine, coming off his rookie season with the San Francisco 49ers, injured his wrist, to the point that it forced him out of the game.  This in itself threatened to be a tragic loss: Yonamine was not only a prodigy, drafted out of high school by the Niners, he was the first Japanese-American to play in the National Football League.

So what’s a guy to do after his history-making accomplishments are cut short? Why, do it another way, of course. Yonamine, who became a pioneer in a way perhaps no one could have imagined, passed away this week at the age of his 85.

Within three years after the wrist injury, Yonamine had transitioned to playing baseball, completing a season apiece with minor league teams in Salt Lake City and his native Hawaii, when Lefty O’Doul, manager of the San Francisco Seals (his SLC team’s parent club), made a fateful suggestion.

“O’Doul told me to play my style,” Yonamine once said. “He told me ‘ you’re going to change Japanese baseball because of your aggressiveness. The Japanese will love the way you play’”

And so Yonamine set out on a journey that was the mirror-image of the one he started with the Niners: instead of being the first Japanese-American NFL star, he became the first American to play professional baseball in Japan.

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Coming Attraction: After The Cup in L.A. Friday

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

I just wanted to tip our readers in the L.A. area off about the West Coast premiere of After The Cup: Sons of Sakhnin United, which has been garnering praise around the documentary circuit for its’ story about Bnei Sakhnin F.C., a football team based out of the city of Sakhnin, an Israeli town that is home to more than 25,000 Arab Israelis. The team’s roster is comprised of both Arabs and Jews, and though some elements in the film hew close to more traditional “underdog” fare – because Sakhnin is a small club, for example, its’ facilities aren’t as modern as its’ competitors – it does change up the formula in one significant way: After The Cup deals with Sakhnin in the season after it won the Israeli Premier League’s championship, the State Cup. Slight spoiler here: the team soon finds it really is harder to stay on top than to get there.

Unfortunately, I can’t make the premiere – I live too far away – but if any of our readers can catch it this weekend, I’d be interested in getting your take on the film in this thread.

Brett Favre: The Chimercal Trickster of American Sports

by Guest Contributor invisman52, originally published at Max Protect

After Brett Favre threw an interception at the end of the NFC Championship Game–a fatal mistake that cost his team a chance to make the Super Bowl–I knew that if the Saints would go on to win the game in overtime, many in the media would bemoan the end of Favre’s incredible, improbable season.  (At age 40, he had the best statistical season of his career.)  Since the Saints did win the game in the extra period, I was immediately attuned to how those in the football punditry would react to the game.  To be fair to Favre, with the exception of that crucial late-game turnover, he played remarkably.  Yet, in a twisted sort of poetic football justice, and if Favre retires, his last pass as a Minnesota Viking will be an interception.  His last pass a New York Jet: an interception.  His last pass a Green Bay Packer: an interception.  For all of Favre’s success, he has also thrown more interceptions than anyone in the history of the league.

Many will attribute this fact to his longevity and durability, that Favre has played so many games.  This argument is often coupled with the notion that Favre is a “gun-slinger,” risking whatever it takes to help his team win.  But what underlines most of this line of defense is a love affair that many in the media have for Favre; and it is much more than a so-called “man crush.”  What is clear to me is that what courses through pundits’ constant approbation and excusing of Favre is a deep, racialized identification.  That is, many white pundits in the media are quick to absolve Favre of any kind of blame because of his particular brand of whiteness–a whiteness that I argue is consciously performed.
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