For my digital project I dove into the world of cornhole and more specifically the success of the ACL over the ACO. This divide of power most similarly brought my attention back to our week 13 reading about US and Latin American sports. In the article “Raceball by Rob Ruck” (Chapter 6 – ¡Viva México!) we see how the MLB had a virtual monopoly on players and little to no competition especially after the failure of the Mexican league. While not completely on the same level we see this monopoly forming in the sport of cornhole. The ACL has a stronghold on the sport primarily because it is main competitor the ACO cannot keep up. Thus, they have been able to hoard the top talent and improve revenue generating power for future success. As of now the ACL is the only major cornhole league garnering national attention from the likes of ESPN.

The second connection to our readings was made with the week three readings discussing sports in the age of Covid-19. In Andrew McGregor’s piece “Covid-19 Presents an Ideal Time to Rethink College Sports

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Covid-19 has changed the world as we know it especially in sports. Across the country athletes are having to stop playing their respective games due to the risk of further spreading the deadly disease. While many look at this as a necessary evil to slow the spread of the pandemic many don’t understand the long term impact this has already had on programs. Cancelling seasons results in huge losses of revenue and has forced colleges including are own App State to cut programs from the agenda permanently. App State has already cancelled Men’s soccer, Tennis and indoor track. While the immediate impact of these cuts like scholarships are in the limelight at the moment the cut goes much deeper. 

In the articles “Former App State Coaches, Players Come to Terms with the Cutting of Their Programs” and  “App State’s Rich Soccer Tradition…Was the Golden Era Pushed to the Wayside?” we are brought witness to long term and historical impacts that can be caused. Just by cutting Men’s soccer the university is letting go of a promising program that recorded 11 wins the previous season and their rich history that dates back to the 70s. Soccer used to be a serious sport on App State’s campus and hold claim to the player who has the most career goals in NCAA soccer history, Thompson Usiyan with 109. By eliminating this program you are ending what was once a national powerhouse in the game and further burying your universities roots. 

This personally was hard for me due to the fact that I work in athletics and have to see both sides of this terrible process. Seeing athletes get their sport ripped from them is a terrible thing and even worse may be the coaches. Jobs that they depend on to pay the bills no longer exist and division one opportunities don’t open up every day. On the other hand to keep the university afloat cuts did have to be made and unfortunately the big money makers like football aen;t on the chopping block. 

Overall this pandemic has had massive effects on the sporting world and maybe has given a chance for us to rethink how we do collegiate sports as discussed in  Andrew McGregors piece. Here he discusses the idea of massive funding of sports putting people in awkward spots resulting in their success in order to meet financial guidelines. In other words if we invest so much into a program but it’s not successful we can’t get our return. This is what has happened at big programs like Texas A&M, they have invested so much in football that if the season is not played they stand to lose upwards of 85 million. This raises ethical dilemmas in the sense that it wasn’t safe enough to play sports like tennis but it is safe enough to play high contact games like football.

Racism and racial stereotypes have surrounded sports forever in numerous different ways. In the readings “From Superman to Just a”Boy” and ”3 Days That Rocked the World of Native American Sports Imagery” we see first hand the drastically different ways racism still exists in sports even today. 

The first regards to superstar Quarterback (QB) Cam Newton and his actions after his superbowl 50 loss to legend Peyton Manning. Following a game where Newton was subpar from his MVP season standard the loss became too much prompting him to walk out of the post game presser. This prompted criticism all over the media world (as it should) but none more so than former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski when he said “You will never last in the NFL with that attitude. The world doesn’t revolve around you, boy!”. The key part of this tweet comes with that last word “boy” a term used to undermine and emasculate black men for centuries. This display of clear racism in 2016 is the sad truth that we still have a long way to go to reach any sense of equality. To further this argument you have to look no further than a few years prior when the man on the other side Manning lost his superbowl to the Saints. Following his loss the future first ballot hall of famer promptly left the field shaking no one’s hand and what was the media’s reaction, crickets.      

In the second article we are brought to a more recent issue that has prompted positive change already. The Washington franchise previously known as the “Redskins” finally changed their name after years of petitioning. The change comes after prominent revenue generating companies like Nike and Amazon pulled all Redskin affiliated products from their stores until the name was changed. This would have resulted in millions of dollars being lost even over the course of just one year which is unsustainable even for a billionaire owner like Dan Snyder. The question raised here however is was the change made because people are changing or because they were forced to. This is extremely important when you go back to the fact that change wasn’t made until pressure was placed upon the franchise and the fact that as recently as 2013 Snyder said “We will never change the name”. In my personal opinion I can’t believe that this was a change made in good faith with the track record of Snyder. However, the impact of this has already been felt in a positive way for stereotypical norms. Teams like the Indians, Blackhawks, Braves, Chiefs, etc… have been forced to look at themselves under the microscope. 

Overall while it is evident changes are being made we have to ask ourselves why they are changing. There is no doubt racism still exists in today’s world and in sports. With people like Romanowski and Snyder in positions of power this is a battle we will all continue to fight.

Week 14 Blog Post: Political uses of sports

Politics and sports have been connected since the beginning of time especially in countries with governments that hold a power struggle over its people. In the ESPN article “While the world watched we are brought witness to the extent of this. With a content warning before reading the reader can assume graphic content but nothing to the extent that it depicted in the article itself. The methods of torture described were utterly barbaric and all because people threatened the governments desires. Even worse was hearing the lasting impact these events had on the victims, anything from elevator noises, walking into police stations, or walking past a certain building could serve as triggers. As for sports roles in this, the military leaders used sports as a cover up for their own benefit. Rumors still swirl about the 1978 World Cup Championship and if Argentina actually won the title fairly. Regardless though a win in a major sports championship is proven to alleviate stress and portray dominance. In other words, the win allowed the government to hide the truth of their torture because people were so consumed with being the winners. It also allowed them to portray Argentina as a powerful country to others around the globe.

While not to the same extent we see this same idea of displaying dominance through sports in “Lifting ‘Round the World’: The Goodwill Weightlifting Tours of 1955”. The United States seized the opportunity after US lifter Paul Anderson out lifted his Soviet opponent by 77 pounds in the Soviet Union. This defeat on opposing soil sparked the US to send Anderson and other lifters on tours to other countries in an effort to combat the Soviets expansionism.

Not all usage is for a display of dominance or cover up though, in “A Dream Re-Routed: Deported Maryland Brothers Seek Options, Play on After Being Banished” we are shown how sports can be used as a bridge to greener pastures in politics. The brothers came over to the US to play soccer, while ultimately, they got deported they received an education and even a college scholarship. The time they had in America was invaluable to their life now and their story received national attention. As they said in the end it may be too late for them but maybe their story will give others opportunity.

The relationship between Latin America and the United States regarding sports is a story of compromise and holdout. Today we see the free flow of talent to and from one another without opposition. American basketball players are quite prominent in foreign leagues and are a viable option for those who fail to reach the NBA as seen in Eduardo Leal’s piece “Bolivian Ball”. On the other side, today Latin American countries provide a steady pipeline of talent to the MLB acting as a sort of farm system. This however was not the case in years past as described in Rob Ruck’s piece “Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game”.

Before collective bargaining agreements and player unions MLB had a monopoly on the game and its players. The owners held all the power resulting in unfair cheap contracts with clauses that kept players tied to teams for their entire career, nullifying free agency. This is where Latin American countries, prominently Mexico stepped in to challenge the system. The Mexican league headed by Jorge Pascal offered an opportunity for American players to make more money than the MLB offered them, resulting in some players jumping ship. This did not sit well with the MLB owners who saw this as a threat to their monopoly on the game and their stronghold on revenue sharing. In response to these harsh penalties were placed on players who left, most notably a five-year suspension for anyone who left the MLB for another league and for anyone playing against these players. This not only made MLB players decisions harder but anybody that aspired of reaching the professional league. MLB also put pressure on manufacturers to delay shipments of orders from the Mexican league teams due to their poaching of players. Ultimately these restrictions coupled with the financial burden caused by the increased salaries of the Mexican league put them in a situation that could not simply continue. Ultimately the league stopped its pursuit of American players and had to cut its payroll and roster sizes to turn a profit. This meant that the MLB had survived their competition in creating a challenging league and resulted in other leagues reaching agreements to act as the eventual farm system we see today.

ELSEY, BRENDA, and JOSHUA NADEL. FUTBOLERA: A History of Women and Sports in Latin America. Firsted. Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture. Place of publication not identified: UNIV OF TEXAS Press, 2019.

Futbolera: A Review of the Text

Futbolera takes a deep dive into the history of women’s sports specifically in the Latin American world of futbol. We are introduced to the idea of women’s sports as a form of physical education which ultimately laid the groundwork for clubs and the professional leagues we see today. We are also made aware of the challenges and gender biases that have plagued women in athletics for centuries. Focused on the countries of Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and others in central America we are brought to bear witness to different ways of life than what we are used to in the United States. Elsey and Nadel make sure to acknowledge the case studies of different countries and pay close attention to those with military dictatorships and the role they may have played in women’s athletics throughout all the main chapters.

Its focus on physical education is by far one of the book’s biggest successes emphasizing the history surrounding its origins. In the first chapter “Physical Education and Women’s Sports in Argentina and Chile” it states the intent behind physical education’s inclusion was to produce fit soldiers, disciplined citizens, and eugenically improved populations. This structure was established by State bureaucrats, medical experts and educators and initially aimed it at boys only. However, the last of these goals opened the doors for the potential for women to participate in physical education. The fact that women are “childbearing vessels” either doomed or justified their argument for participation depending on who you ask. Many argued that a healthier vessel would directly result in a healthier offspring while others claimed that the intense physicality could harm the vessel and perhaps result in a negative impact. While compelling many of these arguments were misinformed opinions and often contradicted each other. For example, in military led nations the directors completely ignored the fact that a healthier woman could benefit the infant. In fact, they looked at the idea of physical education as a vehicle of glorification for the nation and state and the development of healthy soldiers. In other words, military directors ignored women completely. This idea verifies arguments made by other scholarly text such as our week 11 reading by Katie Taylor “Here’s the Football Heroine’: Female American Football Players, 1890–1912.” when she mentions women being allowed to play with modified rules. From crowding the court to lower high impact collisions to ponytail rules and more.

Another point of strong emphasis in the book was providing visual representations to their arguments. Throughout the book several pictures are presented along with brief captions to give them context. This offset the complex text to an extent making it easier to comprehend. According to my count there were a total of 23 visual representations in the text of 267 content related pages averaging a little less than one every eleven pages. Ultimately this was a good usage of space to contribute more than words can tell.

On the other end of the spectrum the book seems to lack clarity in some respects. Oftentimes I was lost in the dates and diction chose requiring me to reread significant portions of the text. For example, in the opening of the fourth chapter “Physical Education and Women’s Sports in Mexico and Central America ” while introducing the multiple parties the abbreviations coupled with vocabulary like “hegemonic apparatus” issued its fair number of challenges. Another minor negative taken away from the book was its lack of clear distinction for an audience. Is this a sports history book, a women’s history book, or both? Clearly defining this would go a long way to attracting appropriate audiences.

Futbolera is composed of five main chapters bound together by an introduction and epilogue. It is then followed by acknowledgments, notes, a bibliography, and an index that bring the book to its ultimate conclusion. The context throughout the work is heavily researched with no less the 160 sources for each of the main chapters and a total of 852. The introduction and epilogue add to the vast total of sources with a respectable 13 and 24. Of these sources a vast majority of their primary sources came from museums, archives, libraries, magazines, and newspapers. They then paired these with secondary sources to further cement their arguments. The authors Brenda Elsey and Joshua Nadel both go out of their way to acknowledge all the contributions to the book and agree it could not have happened without each other. In addition, they said the research took roughly three to four years to collect and could have done more.

                                                                                   Chase Frick

Appalachian State University

Emalee Nelson and Jermaine Scott both take a deeper look into challenges that nonwhite athletes face when integrating into major sport.

Cuban Babe (Ruth): The Story of Seven Cubana Women in Professional Baseball

In her article regarding women in professional baseball she discusses the rise of the AAGPBL and how nonwhite women faced challenges in the league. First was the initial image, the league wanted to maintain an American appearance which constituted women with lighter skin tone complexions. However, this was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of struggles as a few women were able to bend the de facto discriminatory rule. Homesickness commonly plagued the foreign athletes resulting in short forgettable careers. On top of this the language barrier provided a great challenge for the women to not only communicate with their teams but in the society. Mirte Marrero is a prime example of this struggle as she was quoted as saying, ““I cried a lot because the American girls could not understand me, and I could not understand them. I had a hard time.”

“A Black School Is Not Supposed to Win”:

 In this piece we are taken directly into Howard university, a Historically Black Collegiate University (HBCU) and their success on the soccer field. The team who had won the 1971 national championship was on the verge of going back to back in 1972 before the NCAA threatened to suspend some of Howards prominent players for ineligibility restrictions. With the investigation Howard resorted to sitting its players resulting in a loss. The aftermath proved to be more devastating as the NCAA stripped the team of their 1971 title. The NCAA claimed Howard committed three violations but most importantly the “Foreign Student Rule which states athletes who participated in athletic competition in their home country for at least three seasons after their nineteenth birthday and prior to their NCAA membership are ineligible.” This rule was eventually found unconstitutional and the team came together to win the 1974 Championship in a thrilling 3 overtime game. Following the game, the school saw continued harassment from the NCAA for the next decade in forms of suspensions and other discipline actions.

How They Relate:

Throughout the challenges faced both stories had a common theme that culminated in team bonding to alleviate the challenges and achieve success. It is reported the female players in the AAGPBL formed close friendships and tight knit relationships. One quotes, regardless if women came from the United States, Canada, and even Cuba, their community was special to them. “The league gave the players a rare chance to form bonds with other women as friends, teammates, advisors, and conspirators…They grew to trust each other and depend on each other.” On the other side the Howard team came together with a term they coined as black teamwork. One player is quoted as saying they would forget about their nationalities.” Indeed, “instead of forming nationality cliques and hanging together as Jamaicans or Africans, the guys began to form a soccer clique and began having parties as a team.” While different the motivation behind both instances are the same. The teams came together to establish closer bonds and alleviate the racist prejudice that already existed in America. Sports provided an opportunity for everyone to come together rather than be separated by racial boundaries.

Both Louis Moore and Josh Howard clearly understand the importance of sports history and the need to educate more people on its significance. They argue that public domains are the key to unlocking the growth and impact sports history can have on people. Platforms such as social media sensations like Twitter, popular tourist attractions such as Cooperstown and nationally recognized sports franchises are these domains. If we can utilize these resources, we could launch an entire new generation of sports historians. Moore says it himself in his article “When I Fell in Love with Sports History”, by talking about his personal experience with Twitter. Through his years he has discovered that people enjoy learning about history on the app and even want more. Howard further back these claims with his experience in minor league baseball. He tells about how the Mobile Bay Bears sit on a rich baseball history which they embrace with plaques commemorating local legends, memorabilia from classic baseball stadiums and their crown jewel the Hank Aaron childhood home. These relics are all available for fans to witness when they come into the stadium potentially sparking a flame for further knowledge of sports history.

On the other hand, both Moore and Howard also understand that while major public domains like this can prove to be beyond helpful, they are not the final step. Change truly starts in places that you least expect, such as your local little league or even a college classroom. If a coach does not take the time to teach kids the heritage and what it means to play a sport how can you expect kids to want to learn more. Or if a college professor refuses to take a student under their wing and mentor them how can you expect that student to establish a passion for their study. Neither Moore nor Howard’s dedication to sports history was ignited thanks to a major domain like Twitter. Moore owes his passion for sports history to Professor Joseph Pitti just like Howard owes his dedication to the Clifton Forge fields and the old timers that told their stories. Everyone cannot be sports historians, but a small push in the right direction could change the way the field looks in not only size but diversity.

Hello all, I’m from a small two stoplight town called Norwood located in the Stanly county area of North Carolina. I am currently a senior journalism major at App State with the ultimate goal of covering sports for a living. On top of being a journalism major I also am a student intern for App States athletic department where I have obtained hands on experience working around the sports world. My interest in sports spawns from a young age when all I did was play games. While my early desire was to be a professional baseball player, realizations came quick and I just had the desire to stay connected with the games I love in a different way. Ultimately, I hope to obtain a better understanding of sports as a whole from this class. I want to learn the origins of these great games we all love and be able to better respect them for what they are. Lastly, I know this might make me enemies from the beginning but I am a diehard Yankees fan and will defend 27 rings with a passion.

ME and my pup Indie