I absolutely love learning about politics and how it is used by governments. In this class, I have greatly enjoyed learning about how sports can and were used for the progress of a political view. For example “While the World Watched,” the Argentine government used the 1978 World Cup to display Argentine achievements. While simultaneously they used the same World Cup to cover up acts of state terror. Politics are so interwoven into sports, I knew that for my digital project I had to look at politics. Hence the reason why I decided to look at how Fidel Castro had an impact on the growth of baseball in Cuba.
When the class talked with Katie Taylor (scholar on women’s football), she hinted at how sports depend on the inclusion of the media. Depending on the media, sports will grow exponentially or struggle to survive. The same could be said about the way politics interact with sports. The support or their lack of could make or break a sport. For example, I think of college football and how the national champions are invited to the White House. However, when I look at the WNBA, I do not see the same endearment from the government in the media as bluntly clear. Turning this to baseball in Cuba, I wondered how much of an impact the Fidel Castro regime had on the growth of baseball.
In order to understand the impact the Castro government had on baseball, we have to know what baseball was before he arrived. “From La Bomba to Béisbol: Sport and the Americanisation of Puerto Rico, 1898–1950,” we can learn about the possible introduction of baseball from Americans in the Spanish-American War. However, baseball did not truly become a favorite pastime in Cuba until the Castro government began backing it. Castro encouraged a national identity around baseball. He, through government backing, used baseball as a way to establish Cuban superiority and dominance over a normally “American” and “Democratic game.” In his book “Fidel Castro and Baseball,” Peter Bjarkman looks at how Castro’s love for the game himself only spurred his ambition to use sports to display Cuba’s talents. Castro has created a league that has produced MLB stars like Yasiel Puig, and Livan Hernandez. Castro used baseball as a platform to display political views of communism as far as exceeding those of democracy. Proving that sports can not be separated from politics and that politics (like the media) either make or break a sport. As Thomas Carter points out in “The Quality of Home Runs: The Passion, Politics, and Language of Cuban Baseball,” the passion for the game can never be separated from politics.
My research was focused on the 60s and its progression to the current day. As I look to the future of sports and the relationship that it shares with politics, I am quite nervous. As “A Dream Re-Routed: Deported Maryland Brothers Seek Options, Play on After Being Banished,” reveals that even in America, politics are hard at work to either grow a sport or continue to keep it in the dark. Furthermore, I find it fascinating that we (as citizens) give the government power to decide who can and who can not be a part of sports. Although sports and politics are intertwined, why are they still (in our modern-day) still so unequal? As I researched Castro’s impact on baseball, I saw how political powers can excite a nation to rally behind a sport. Yes, Castro had a political agenda against democracy, however, he also united people and showed how politics can (within certain limits) can be helpful to the growth of a sport and the identity of a nation.