Why ‘Transcending Race’ Is a Lie [The New York Times] Few American athletes have been as widely beloved as Simpson was. Even today, his popularity seems inconceivable. “O. J.: Made in America,” the ESPN “30 for 30” documentary [ESPN] directed by Ezra Edelman that is airing this week, busies itself with the making of the man at the myth’s center and with the country that helped him become a monster. It’s the best thing ESPN has ever produced. And it answers my question: Simpson’s story is that of a black man who came of age during the civil rights era and spent his entire adult life trying to “transcend race” — to claim that strange accolade bestowed on blacks spanning from Pelé to Prince to Nelson Mandela to Muhammad Ali. Which is to say, it’s the story of a halfback trying, and failing, to outrun his own blackness. [more inside]
He does not flip his bat after home runs. He does not insult the hard-working fans with talk about politics. He never takes more than one day at a time. As a result, he cannot exist without a foil to embody all those “flashy” or “hotheaded” or “provocative” things he is not. The foils, of course, have generally been black. But as the demographics of the sport have changed, so, too, has this dynamic.- Jay Caspian Kang on The Unbearable Whiteness of Baseball , and the decline of the sport's cultural relevance
On the racial injustice of big-time college sports: "Amateurism rules restrain campus athletes—and only campus athletes, not campus musicians or campus writers—from earning a free-market income, accepting whatever money, goods, or services someone else wants to give them. And guess what? In the revenue sports of Division I football and men's basketball, where most of the fan interest and television dollars are, the athletes are disproportionately black."
Jesse Owens usually gets all the attention when people talk about the 1936 Summer Olympic Games, but the documentary Olympic Pride, American Prejudice looks at the other black athletes who traveled with Owens to Hitler’s Berlin 80 years ago, including Jackie Robinson’s big brother Mack, and Tidye Ann Pickett-Phillips, first black American woman to compete in the Olympics.
A variety of documentaries about Negro League baseball: Only The Ball Was White, Black Ball, Extra Innings: Preserving the History of the Negro Leagues, and The Long Summers of Lou Dials. [more inside]
The NBA season has ended, and the playoffs have begun, causing a figurative ton of internet ink to be spilled on predictions and power rankings. But one word in particular seems to keep popping up in articles to describe white players like Steve Novak, Cody Zeller, Mason Plumlee, Andrew Bogut, and Josh McRoberts: "Dorky." And the writers that use it are inevitably white. Triangle Offense's Khalid Saalam (previously) thinks they should probably cut that out.
We Simulated The NFL White Vs. Black Race Bowl On Madden So You Don’t Have To "Earlier this week, reader Dustin asked who would win between an all-white NFL All-Pro team and an all-black NFL All-Pro team. Mind you, this question was asked without ANY ROOTING INTEREST, and without any hint of RAYCESSNESS. Are we clear on that? Good. BECAUSE WE TOTALLY SIMULATED THAT RACE WAR ON MADDEN TO SEE WHO WOULD WIN." [more inside]
Ultimately, there is no separating Vick from his circumstances: his race, parents, economics and opportunities.
What if Michael Vick were white? The cover of the September issue of ESPN The Magazine features an image of the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, but another picture might end up getting more attention. [more inside]
The unlevel playing field - "Contrary to popular perception, poverty and broken homes are underrepresented in the NBA, not overrepresented. ... We believe that skills always trump circumstances. But that's a myth."
MeFi has seen a GoPro camera attached to a sword, but after running across a video of one attached to a Hula Hoop (it'll make you dizzy) I decided to look for more and found a trove of sports, most of which are created by GoPro and as such may come across as advertising, but some are independently shot, so put that aside if you can. I'll probably never take up any of these activities, but I get an idea of what they're like via helmet or pole-cam. There's the Base Jump; the GoPro at 80,000 feet (near space); Boogie Boarding Surf; Surfing; Racing up Pike's Peak; Mountain Biking; a Kayak Competition; Kiteboarding; Longboarding; the 2010 Highlight Reel and many more. Damn, now I want one!
Greatest calls in sports is a selection of 32 great calls in broadcast sports, chosen by Joe Posnanski, obviously US-centric but featuring some good choices. Want some elation this Friday? [more inside]
"This is the best day of my life. I want a cold beer and a shotgun. I’m definitely losing my mind." The third annual NW Rapha Gentleman’s (Bicycle) Race took place this past weekend. Featuring a punishing route that follows the northern base of Oregon's Mt. Hood from Forest Grove to Portland, six-person teams traverse 125 miles over a 6400 foot elevation gain. It's 20% dirt and many miles of gravel climbs. Route Map. Another Recap. Photos. Background. A Saturday in Hell. (Via mathowie)
A recent drowning tragedy in Shreveport, Louisiana has brought to light a startling statistic in America: a majority of black youth can not swim. [more inside]
Death Race (NYT) - for the third year, Pittsfield Vermont has hosted a 10 mile endurance run. [more inside]
Until now, the last World Series team without a black player was the 1953 New York Yankees. (via SpoFi)
Are you ready for some... NASCAR? "Consider, 4 out of 5 NBA players are African American, 67 percent of NFL players are minorities, and last season, 23 percent of major league baseball players were born in Spanish-speaking countries (an increase of 40 percent from 1989). All of those sports, except football, are experiencing a dip in popularity. Meanwhile, the conspicuously white NASCAR is on an unprecedented run up the profit chart."
White men can't jump...or do much of anything else. "Look how white I am. Am I lame or what? Can't jump. Can't dance. Can't run. Can't dress. Can't hang. It's O.K. I know I'm a pathetic White Guy. I'm at peace with it. In fact I laugh about it all the time. I have to. Black athletes today love to make fun of us White Guys." Does the White Guy have feelings?