One would hope sport media outlets might take their civic duty to foster critical thinking, public engagement, and informed debated seriously. Their approach to the representations in Native Americans in sport suggest otherwise. Under the veil of fairness and balance, they opt to speak for, to be silent and to silence as preferred pathways.
When ESPN columnist Rick Reilly offered a defense of Native American mascots because the American Indians he knew did not have a problem with them. Flouting his whiteness and playing his privilege with little regard, he spoke for Native Americas. His word – his whiteness, his platform – made their words meaningful. His editors neither batted an eye nor cleared a space for Native Americans to express themselves.
Serena Williams winning the French Open via Sports Illustrated
PARIS — In one of her more revealing moments this tournament, Serena Williams addressed the various personalities that reside deep within her. Since she first infiltrated the Tennisphere in the late 1990s, Serena has been a bundle of contradictions and unpredictability. We call her by her first name, yet she remains mysterious in some ways. Now, 15 years into an astonishing career — filled with all sorts of plot twists and relentless, almost devotional, winning — we have some insight into the driving forces.
There’s Summer. “My assistant who lives inside my body,” Serena said. “She’s really organized and she’s amazing. I love her.”
Then there’s Megan. “I think she was a bad girl. … Haven’t seen her in a long time.”
And there’s Laquanda. “She’s not allowed to come out. She’s on probation. She’s not nasty. She just keeps it real. And you don’t want to cross her.”
The same facets that continue to make Serena a singularly compelling personality also inform her tennis. The casual fans will see she won still another major singles title Saturday afternoon in Paris — we’re up to 16, for those scoring at home — beating a game Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-4 in the French Open final. They will assume Serena did what she often does and brought her insurmountable power to bear, turning a tennis match into a physical altercation, playing with peerless intensity.
And they would be right. But they would be missing the multiple personalities of her tennis game.
— “Serena’s personalities, legendary game produce French Renaissance;” On Sunday afternoon Serena Williams defeated Maria Sharapova to win the French Open, her sixteenth singles title. With Wimbledon around the corner, Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated takes a look at Serena’s winning strategies and shows that her success goes beyond the physical.
NBA center Jason Collins in an April 29 interview with ABC News.
The statement from ESPN on Tuesday was predictably, almost disappointingly dry, given what prompted it. After willingly being the media equivalent of the person at somebody else’s celebration who tries to upstage the host’s announcement, this is what the network had to say for itself:
We regret that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news. ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement.
If you missed it, here’s what that “respectful discussion” about Collins public declaration of his sexuality, making him the first active gay player in one of the country’s more lucrative/”major” sports leagues turned into:
“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, “I’m different.” If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”
This is the first time a current athlete in any US major sport has come out of the closet. If you remember, former professional soccer player Robbie Rogers came out, but only after he retired abruptly earlier this year. And across the pond, a professional rugby player, Gareth Thomas, came out in 2009. It’s about time the States followed suit.
I’m sure by now you’ve heard or you’ve read articles about the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition fail that swept like wildfire through the tubes and pipes of the internet. We have enough “WTF, mate?” articles about this most recent cultural appropriation fail, and unless I’m breaking a story–which I’m clearly not since this happened last week–I like to add something new to the conversation. I took a look at the (offending) pictures from this shoot and, frankly, regardless of the use of race props, most of the (again, offending) pictures are just terrible. Continue reading →
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World