This weeks readings were very similar with one another, involving race and identity. One reading was in chapter 7 of the book Sports Culture in Latin American History. Our reading in chapter 7 was very catchy and interesting to me, due to it being related to boxing. The chapter started off describing Andres Escobar, a national figure on the Colombian national soccer- team, and his violent death. I was unaware it was going to start off this way, but it definitely eye-opening. Chapter 7 was about boxing in the early 1900’s, mainly the 1930’s, consisting of certain black boxers, and their role of growing the sport. One boxer was Antonio Cervantes, or as others would call him “Kid Pambele”, who was a very popular person in Columbia. Boxing was growing, especially on the coast, where famous boxers such as Jose “Chocolate Cartagenero” Carreazo and Jose “Kid Dunlop” were produced. Cervantes was Columbia’s first boxing national champion, keeping the title for almost a decade. Race was involved throughout this chapter regarding the hardships black boxers had to go through. Being called names, and overcoming obstacles because of one’s race was tough for these fighters. Mid-chapter it talked about the physical nature of national identity and movement in nations. For example, it says “Today, more Puerto Ricans live outside Puerto Rico than on the island, breaking down an old association of the national with the insular.”, and how the palenqueros identity cannot be quantified demographically.
“A Black School is Not Supposed to Win” and “Cuban Babe (Ruth)”
This week’s readings were on race as it pertains to the success stories of athletic teams that dealt with white supremacy. Both of these stories had many underlying issues of the times when it took place, though some of these key issues still remain today. The first article is about the 1971 Howard University men’s soccer team. Howard is a historic black college that usually wouldn’t be the first pick if you were betting on a team to win a NCAA championship in soccer. Though the team had success before the 1971 season the championship trophy was usually in the hands of a mostly white team. The team’s success gained some notice though and even grew some wild suspicions from the NCAA. This suspicion usually comes in the history of the College sports when a team that usually doesn’t win, or produce top quality talent comes out of nowhere to win the big games. At times the NCAA has been right and found a serious allegation against these teams though in the case of Howard they were completely wrong. After the 71 title Howard was stripped of the championship and the reason was obviously due to the race of the players. The author uses this case in retrospective to show the denial of a great team due to white power keeping down the Howard team.
The second article looks into cuban women and Baseball. The sport of Baseball is America’s game and being America’s game involves the same issues America holds. Cuban immigrants that looked the part were able to play in the white man’s game but for other women it was tough to find a game. Although some women saw extreme success we may never know some of the talent we missed due to the exceptions held to women that didn’t fit the American standard for the game. Though brave efforts and the ability to stand up for what is right has paved the way for our generation to be able to participate with any group.
This weeks reading discusses race in sports, specifically in boxing and in Argentina. In chapter 7 of the book Sports Culture in Latin American History, they discuss how in the 1930s boxing was an up and coming sport in Columbia. The author notes that this growth of boxing in Columbia and all around Latin America is because many black boxers started to become popular. Antonio Cervantes, or better known as Kid Pambele was one of the most famous people in Columbia. He was a boxer that became their national champion and one of the most historic people from Columbian sports. The author goes on to talk about how most boxers, especially in the Caribbean grew up with very little and might of had a rough childhood. All the boxers he talks about are black and them being so made it harder for them to continue boxing and a lot had negative reputations because of their race. The Second reading is The Macaquitos Affairs. In Argentina back in the 1920s there was a clear dislike for Brazil. They were seen as inferior or a less classy people. This writing goes over the time when the Brazilian national soccer team came to face off in an exhibition match against the Argentina national team. It talks about how Argentina has a history of seeing other countries as inferior and seeing themselves as superior. Argentina especially looked down on Brazilians. European white supremacy was a very common thing in Argentina as well as in Europe. This led to Argentina thinking of themselves as the superior country in South America. The people on the Brazilian team were view as people from the elite. People that were way higher up than just the common folk in Brazil. But in Argentina it was the sports press that undermined Brazilians the most. Both readings showed how racist thinking and ideals affected people in Latin America. Boxing became very popular in Columbia because of the emergence of many black boxers including Kid Pambele. Then Argentina sports writers were discriminating against the Brazilian national team because of the perception they had on Brazil.
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.
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.
This weeks readings, “A Black School is Not Supposed to Win” and “Cuban Babe (Ruth)”, both tell stories of the mistreatment of non-white athletes in America. In “A Black School is Not Supposed to Win” the article discusses the struggles that Howard University had with the NCAA following the schools first NCAA championship in soccer. The opponent in that match, Saint Louis, challenged the eligibility of Howards players leading to an investigation by the NCAA. Eventually the Bison would be found guilty of three were violations, the foreign players rule, the 5-year rule, and the 1.6 rule. Howard challenged that they were being discriminated against by the NCAA because they were a team of all black players. they fought the allegations and the US court system declared the foreign players law unconstitutional. This meant that the schools 1971 Championship would officially be vacated. Eventually the Bison would go on to win the title in 1974, all the while still facing investigation and harassment from the NCAA. The second article “Cuban Babe (Ruth)” discusses the difficulty of Women, especially cuban women, playing baseball in the United States. During WWII, when men were sent overseas, the sports organizations were looking for ways to continue to provide sports for the American public and looked toward the growing softball and women baseball league to help. Much like early MLB, the AAGPBL was very much a white only league. This was being challenged slowly and unsuccessfully at first with few Cuban women here and there. Later more Cuban women began to find homes on AAGPBL teams in America. This situation in the baseball/softball world helped leagues become integrated in the future.
This week’s readings discuss the early history of race and sports in the United States. Specifically, Cuban females in baseball and black soccer players. Sports in the United States started off racially segregated. There was an idea of white supremacy when it came to sports and we see in the two readings that athletes of color had to overcome this racist belief. When Howard won the NCAA championship in soccer, they were met with numerous recruiting allegations that would strip them of their title. The belief at the time was that soccer was a white sport and that it represented being American. A similar belief was held about baseball during World War 2. When the men were away a new league was created for women or more specifically white women only. There were a few Cuban women however that entered the league. Unlike the athletes at Howard, these women were usually embraced by their teammates even though a language barrier existed. At Howard, athletes from Africa, the Caribbean, and South America worked together to form the “Triangle of Blackness”. This was something they embraced along with “Black Teamwork”. Howard used its success to dismantle outdated theories on colonialism. It also sought to expose the racist practices of the NCAA. Even though the players came from different nationalities, they formed together to celebrate their blackness and triumph in a reversal of the triangle trade. This did not stop at the soccer team but influenced the entire student body as well. The NCAA targeted the recruitment of black immigrants but ignored when a university recruited white immigrants. What was once seen as foreign, was now seen as white. Women of color faced the same discrimination in the female baseball leagues. However, the athletes from Cuba challenged racist views as well and became pioneers for racial integration in sports. Overall, the idea that whiteness was superior to “colonists” slowly becomes dismantled after the success of athletes of color.