This week’s readings were focused on the forgotten athletic achievements and innovative characteristics of many racially diverse sports teams within the 20th century, specifically analyzing collegiate soccer and professional baseball. The two articles, “A Black School is Not Supposed to Win” and “Cuban Babe (Ruth)”, detailed the revolutionary inclusion of POC and women within two American sports that were ideologically and culturally dominated by white supremacy. The first article resurfaces the unprecedented success of Howard Universities 1971 men’s soccer team, who became the first NCAA Division 1 champions to attend a historically and predominantly black academic institution. Although their performance against the long-time powerhouse of St. Louis University was exceptional and well-deserving of recognition, the racial and national characteristics of Howard’s soccer team became bothersome and suspicious to the NCAA. In turn, the 1971 squad was stripped of their title and this historic achievement became gradually lost within the masses. Rightfully so, the team’s head coach continued his public condemnation of the NCAA decision, and vocally identified the racial inflictions and discriminatory bias behind their actions. Although Howard’s 1971 team became a modern representation of racial subjugation within athletics, the author of this article dives deeper to effectively analyze the founding principles of American soccer and how the sport was historically structured to promote white superiority, as well as to reflect the xenophobic, racist exclusion of everyone else. To briefly summarize, the author states, “to play soccer was to be American, and to be American was to be white.” Additionally, this quote perfectly encapsulates the experience of Cuban women within Post World War II American baseball, who were recruited due to both their athletic abilities and culturally acceptable physical attributes. Baseball has historically been identified as “America’s sport”, and until the inclusion of Jackie Robinson within the MLB in 1947, baseball was similarly identified as, and dominated by, whites only. When the decision was made to involve women within professional baseball, a requirement for the league’s players were that they must at least look like they came from a white ancestry. This allowed for many light-skinned Cuban women to suddenly immigrate to America and become apart of a renowned athletic organization. Although their individual and cultural achievements within the league should not be dismissed, the new players were often marginalized and experienced discriminatory challenges from their own peers. Similar to the 1971 Howard team, both groups were forced to fit within the expectations and standards of a white authority and audience. Despite their ability to play within a sports league that failed to ever introduce their identities beforehand, the presence of true equality was minimal and ultimately suffered at the hands of a system which felt unprepared to recognize black and brown talent.

3 Thoughts on “Week 9

  1. Emma,
    Awesome opening to your post you give a lot of back ground and some opinions on the topic that relate well. Great job when talking extensively about the white power in soccer when in came to the NCAA and Howard. The quote you pulled from the author was a perfect way of getting into the second article too.

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