When Michelle Obama revealed the “secret” to her workout for perfectly toned arms, it became national news. This revelation, however, did not quell the debate and fascination over the gender politics surrounding this particular body part, as CNN and Fitness magazine are two of the many outlets that use Michelle’s arms as the ideal goal of suggested workout plans. Michelle has gracefully weathered the storm of public attention about her workout regimen by turning health and fitness into one of her defining public issues, with the “Let’s Move!” campaign. But the story about Michelle’s arms is not an innocent case of celebrity flattery or fitness gossip; it is part and parcel of the American public’s obsessive concern with the public presentation of Ms. Obama’s body.
By Guest Contributor David J. Leonard
As individuals from throughout the United States and in other parts of the world voiced their anger and outrage at the murder of Trayvon Martin, there was an initial frustration from many in the social media world about the reticence and silence from today’s (black) athletes. The wish that athletes, and really black athletes–since it is rare to hear about the failure of white athletes–would uses their platform to shape change has become commonplace. So when the Miami Heat and several other players joined the calls for justice, there was certainly a level of joy and satisfaction.
Whereas individual athletes have a long tradition of protest and using the platform of athletes to express political sentiments, from Tommie Smith and John Carlos to Toni Smith, few teams have collectively taken a stand. Donning hoodies, the Heat stood in solidarity with Trayvon, shining a spotlight on the deferred justice in his case and the real-life dangers of racial profiling. As a team, they stood together as one, although it is clear that both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James were the ringleaders beyond this effort. The picture and the tweet, under the hashtag of #wewantjustice, were in fact the impetus of James himself.
By Arturo R. García
Shaquille O’Neal announced his retirement from professional basketball Wednesday in the video posted above, telling his fans, “We did it. Nineteen years, baby. Thank you very much. That’s why I’m telling you first: I’m about to retire. Love you. Talk to you soon.”
O’Neal leaves the NBA with four world championships under his belt, capping a resume that includes 28,596 points scored – good for fifth place on the all-time scoring list – along with 14 All-NBA Team selections, 15 All-Star Game selections, an Olympic gold medal and 13,099 rebounds. But – and this is a guess – it’s perhaps more satisfying for O’Neal that he was able to one-up his idol, Wilt Chamberlain: not only did he win, not only did he command attention, but he got people to “root for Goliath,” defying Chamberlain’s famous lament.
By Arturo R. García
A report re-published this week in The Quarterly Journal of Economics suggests a racial bias among NBA referees. But the bigger story might be watching the league get forced out of its’ defensive stance on the issue.
According to the study by Joe Price and Justin Wolfers, based on analyzing 13 years’ worth of data on referee calls, the refs are 4 percent less likely to call fouls on players of their own race. (No wonder Kobe looks so surprised there.) Also, players score 2.5 percent more points during games involving ref crews of their own race. But don’t tell that to NBA Commissioner David Stern.